Some security issues are also covered.
Qn: What's your computer specification?
- Computer: Apple Mac PRO 6.1 late 2013
- Processor: 6x 3.5 GHz / Turbo 3.9 GHz (Intel Xeon E5-1650v2)
- RAM: 32 GB DDR3 ECC 1866 MHz
- GPU: Dual D700 (aka FirePro W9000) each 6 GB GDDR5 VRAM with total 7 TFlops
- Internal drive:1 TB PCIe SSD with > 1 GB/sec read and write (fully encrypted)
Setup around the computer:
- Promise Pegasus Thunderbolt J4 Raid 0 with 4x HGST 5k1500 24/7 drives
- LG BluRay drive
- Inxtron Raid 1 with 2x HGST 5k750 24/7 drives
- Synology DS214+ with 2x Western Digital Red 4 TB 24/7 drives
- Apple LED 27" Cinema Display
- Lexar USB 3.0 multi format reader
- Unitymedia Internet connection 150 mbit down and 10 mbit up
- Apple keyboard and trackpad
- USM Haller table with Nero Impala granite desk
- APC Power-Saving Back-UPS Pro 1000
- 12-ink 24" printer HP Designjet Z3200
Main software used:
- Adobe Web and Design Premium CS6 Suite
- Lightroom 5
- GoLife CS2
- Microsoft Excel
- Turbo CAD MAC PRO 5.1
- Garage Sale
- Delicious Library
- Mail and Safari
Qn: What do you use your computer for and can you talk about the performance and your workflow?
I use my computer mainly for photo retouching and office applications (desktop publishing) as well as for music.
In the future also more for 4K video. My previous Apple Mac Pro early 2009 was not fast enough for 4K video work.
(Beside my Mac Pro I also use a MBP 13" late 2013 for mobile use with the same use case for lean traveling)
Photo Editing and Workflow
I shoot currently all my photos in RAW (CR2 from Canon). In the past I've been shooting analog and I've been scanning the large format slides (5x7" in 3200 dpi) resulting in 2 GB Tiff files. The files are stored on the Pegasus Promise J4 Raid and managed entirely by Lightroom. When importing the files I convert them into DNG format.
Most of the basic workflow is then done in LR 5. I try to stay as close as possible to the original view of the image that I had in mind when shooting it. I also try to avoid harsh contrasts and manipulating changes. The goal is always to get the purest possible look and the least possible manipulation. That's easier written than done.
With all the possibilities it takes a lot of discipline to use only the settings that enhance the initial idea rather than to overdo the image.
In cases where I do four images with my Tilt & Shift lenses I also use PS CS6 extended to stitch them with repositioning together. Also for focus stacking and for harsh retouching (stamping, seamless carving... ), I use PS CS6.
Normally the end result is a FineArt print on Baryta paper. Luckily the color workflow on Macs is straight forward and working extremely well these days and thus the end result has enormous depths and contrast while maintaining subtle details and a clean analog look without digital artifacts that would disturb all the cautious work before.
The main reason for getting the Mac Pro 6.1 was to have the ability to work in a near silent office while leaving room for further new activities like 4K video editing. Also the power consumption is including the display now roughly ⅓ of the previous electrical power consumption for normal work.
The sheer computation power of the previously used Mac Pro 4.1 (early 2009) was already exceeding my needs in terms of speed. PS and LR worked flawlessly and more thnn quick enough.
The new Mac Pro 6.1 is in every respect even faster. The user interface is snappy and fast and the response time after clicks is just a joy. PS CS6 opens in just 2 seconds and browsing through the ever growing LR library is responsive and fast.
As said before - my previous Mac was fast enough but the new one leaves nothing to be desired in any respect while reducing the CO2 footprint immensely.
Printing from Lightroom is a joy especially with the print menu and output sharpening. For Web usage the export function does a great job and even 100s of images are exported in no time (faster than I need the results -- getting a coffee while waiting for the results is unfortunately a matter of the past).
Office Work and CAD
Well with 10.9 Mail has gotten a bit worse in MS Exchange compatibility and thus I am not so happy with the current stability. That said it is absolutely o.k. and better than my company Laptop based on Windows 7.
I still use Office 2008 and it does what it's supposed to do. The built in PCIe SSD does a fine job speeding up the otherwise slow work environment in the Mac adapted Microsoft programs. Nothing to complain about and also nothing to freak out about.
My trusty old TurboCad MAC PRO 5.1 still runs fine and does it's job for basic CAD purposes including 3D modeling.
Transcoding a 720P Film with handbrake to Apple TV 3 runs with three times the frame rate compared to my previous Mac Pro and I am sure that handbrake does not even fully touch the capabilities of the new machine.
I have yet to work on 4K video to really be able to judge the quality of the software but I am sure I won't be disappointed.
This is an area of future work and investigation on my side and I am really looking forward to.
PCIe SSD and file encryption
All my backups are 256 bit AES encrypted.
Unfortunately software enabled RAID setups and PCIe SSDs from 3rd parties have not been supported by FileVault of Apple. Thus I was not in a position to encrypt my main drive in the Mac. This was one of the main driving forces behind the decision to acquire the Mac Pro 6.1.
The 1 TB built in PCIe SSD fully support booting from a FileVault 2 encrypted fast drive. Even with the encryption turned on the speed is still roughly 1 GB/sec measured with Aja Kona system test 4K video.
This is very important for the security of your privacy. If someone steels your computer the robbery is fully covered by the insurance. Yet your precious data is in the hands of the thief and all your data can be used to do crazy stuff. This weak link in my storage concept is now finally closed without compromises in speed and accessibility.
Too many cables on the desktop?
A commonly used assumption is that the Mac Pro 6.1 is not a workstation due to the limited "expandability" internally.
In the recent 10 years I've had absolutely no need for a 3 ½ inch disk drive and my usage of the BluRay drive is also lately going near to zero.
Other than that my Raid 0 works fine and since the MAC stands on it the consumed space is negligible.
Also the amount of cables is optically not present - as long as I view my desktop from the front.
The backside of my desktop is a bit more crowded (connections of the Mac Pro) but since all connections are on the back in one place it is absolutely fine for me and in total even less compare to my previous workstation.
The only difference is now that the Mac can stand on the desktop rather than collecting dirt and dust with the air intake on the floor - it was a yearly reoccurring tradition to do a great cleanup of the interior of my Mac Pro 4.1 to lower the noise again and to allow a better cooling with less dust on all internal components. This tradition is now fortunately gone and the audible noise of the new Mac Pro is near to zero - even beating the 27" iMac in the same office.
Qn: What monitor do you use? How’s the quality?
I use the Apple LED Cinema Display 27".
It serves me well and it is with the built in speakers and WebCam a very neat display.
Color reproduction, sharpness and color space are o.k.ish - yet I'd like to have such a setup with at least 4K resolution and an improved color gamut for photo editing.
The color gamut is my main criticism on this otherwise extremely well display. The color gamut is only sRGB. This is o.k. for most work and knowing the limitations I can work with it knowing that my printer has more subtle dark tones and a higher saturation in the RGB colors.
Unfortunately I don't see 100% of the final image and thus I need sometimes two or three iterations to get to the final FineArt print - especially when using the Baryta FB paper from Hahnemuehle. This paper is just gorgeous and offers unparalleled warm and rich tones.
That said the 4K displays are still extremely expensive and the full OS support is at least with 10.9.2 not fully covered. End of 2014 the situation might be different and I am planning to replace my LED CD by the end of 2014.
Qn: What’s your best IT purchase recently?
Synology DS214+ in combination with the enhanced bandwidth of my internet service provide going up from 100 mbit down and 5 mbit up to 150 mbit down to 10 mbit up.
Now I can host with the Synology NAS my own cloud while maintaining a low CO2 footprint and backing up all my data on the Synology NAS in a different room (always on and only 12 W power consumption).
The only thing that's missing is two 6 TB drives instead of the installed 2x 4 TB drives and then I can fully backup all computers I got. A great small and versatile NAS with an easy to use GUI and a low electrical power demand. Blends perfectly into my mobile life and the backup demand for my Mac Pro.
10 Mbit upload speed is good enough to stream all data I'd like to have while being abroad and it integrates seamlessly in my Mac environment.
Qn: If you were to upgrade your setup, what would you upgrade to?
Nothing with respect to the computers - I have exactly what I've been looking for and I guess it will take a looong time until I feel the pressing need for any kind of upgrade.
The only exception is the Promise Pegasus J4 Raid. It fulfills my current needs - yet a similar setup with Thunderbolt 2 instead of the current Thunderbolt 1 interface equipped with e.g. four 2 TB SSDs with totally 2500 MB/sec transfer speed and a hardware Raid 5 controller would be a nice thing - but I am dreaming here - it might take a while until such a setup will be in reach for a reasonable budget - Other than that I don't see any other computer with such a small physical and CO2 footprint while offering such a computation power in a perfectly fine tuned setup. The total power consumption of all devices on the USV is some 2 W and the wake-up time is purely dependent on the speed of the password typing.