After six years of almost daily use as my dedicated photography workstation, I decided it was time to upgrade my trusty and dependable Apple Power Mac G5. It’s been a workhorse for everything I do in my studio, from photo and video editing, to printing and graphic design. But it has been showing its age, especially given that Apple now uses Intel processors, while this model is based on the past generation IBM power pc chip. More and more applications and plugins are now only available for Intel, and that includes the upcoming version of Photoshop and Lightroom 3. It was also becoming very sluggish, probably due to the increased processing power demanded by the latest versions of the applications I use, as well as my growing library of RAW and large 16bit Photoshop files generated by my Canon 1DS mk III. I think I got my money’s worth after 6+ years!
Apple’s latest offerings are all very attractive, especially the new 27″ iMac’s which were very tempting. However, in the end, I opted for a Mac Pro Quad-Core 2.66GHz tower with 10GB RAM. I decided to go this route for a few reasons. First, I have a an NEC MultiSync 2690W 26″ monitor, which I love for its color accuracy and beautiful display quality. Second, I don’t buy computers very often, so expandability is very important to me, whether that may be adding additional video cards, memory, or eSATA cards for increased storage and speed in the future. Also, I love that the Mac Pro’s have 4 internal drive bays, which allowed me to install several drives I already had that were in external firewire cases. This means they’ll perform better since the internal connection is faster than firewire, and I get rid of extra cables, power adapters, and free up the external ports. I also have the option of creating internal RAID’s in the future. Finally, the overall speed and performance is hard to beat with any other Apple computer with the exception of the 8-Core Mac Pro (unfortunately out of my budget.)
Upgrading and transferring my data and settings was amazingly simple using Apple’s Migration Assistant. I started the new Mac Pro, and was asked if I wanted to transfer data from another computer. At this point, I started my old Mac holding down the “T” key on the keyboard. This puts the Mac into “firewire” mode which means it just becomes a huge external drive. I connected it using a firewire cable to my new Mac, it recognized it and asked me what I wanted to transfer. I checked off everything (applications, user accounts, network settings), clicked ok, and about 3 hours later, it was done.
When I logged into the new Mac, it was like home sweet home, with everything as I expected it. I did have to upgrade all of my printer drivers to the latest Intel versions, as well as a handful of applications I use regularly. And I was finally able to download and use the latest Lightroom 3 Beta which I had only been able to use on my MacBook Pro laptop until now.
I have four hard drives inside my new Mac Pro configured as follows:
- System HD (640GB)- Snow Leopard OS X operating system, all applications, and all my personal and studio data.
- Lightroom Library (1 TB)- contains all of my original RAW files
- Image Files (750GB)- all processed files from my library; basically everything I output from Lightroom or Photoshop for printing, products, or web use.
- Lightroom Library backup (1TB) – a backup of my Lightroom Library hard drive (#2) which gets backed up daily.
In addition, I have a 2-bay Sans Digital external case that I can swap in three more drives for backups of my System HD, Image Files drive, and a 1 TB drive dedicated to video. Finally, I have a separate external hard drive that I backup my Lightroom Library to each week and keep off-site for additional safety.
In my next post, I’ll cover my favorite Mac, web, and iPhone applications and how I use them for personal and professional purposes. Thanks as always for reading, and feel free to leave comments or questions about my setup.