Question about Graphics Card and Hard Drives

in Current Mac Hardware edited January 2014
I did more reading just now and wish I had done more research before I bought. My Windows machine is just in such bad shape that I was waiting for the new Mac Pro to do an upgrade. I use a iMac at work so I am fairly literate in OS X but know little about the Mac Pro.

I chose the stock out of the box $2799 Mac Pro. Now I'm seeing most people are talking about the NVidea 8800 card. I know there are a lot of card options, some even over $1000. I'm also not interested in having two video cards in my system but I see his is just $200. I know it has double the memory but what other reasons are people making this choice?

For my use this is for home use but also for my fiancee who has a home office. It kind of will be a jack of all trades from the simple such as mail, ical, iwork (pages and numbers), some office 08 work such as Powerpoint, Word, and Excel, Safari browsing, etc. For the more intensive, I do a lot of work at home in ebooks such I'll be using Adobe CS3 (Acrobat, PhotoShop, inDesign, and sometimes Illustrator) and also I'm just starting to get into desktop video such as doing Final Cut Pro Studio. I do freelance work and am getting a HD Camcorder shortly so will be doing HiDef. Because of this I went with 8Gigs. My fiancee will use it also so frequently there will be 2 ID's logged on and also I'm a big multitasker switching data between programs, copying and pasting, etc. Now my fiancee is a gamer but he has his own Windows machine. He already wants bootcamp on here but honestly I always have programs open so prefer a solution like Parallels. The only game he really likes is flight simulators and he's looking at X-Plane for the Mac. Now that I've said what we use it for, would it be worth the extra $200 of the card or is that better spent elsewhere? I know I already ordered but even if I decide later can I simply add the 8800 card and can I just purchase anywhere or do I have to purchase from Apple?

Now my other question is about Hard Drives. I also ordered the stock 320GB drive and was actually told I'm better off doing that because I can buy a lot of accessories that are better and cheaper elsewhere than Apple and my fiancee is willing to help with the upgrades. I actually want to go with two hard drives. I want to replace the 320GB with a 750GB-1TGB drive that is used as a system drive and then get a 2nd drive that is more like a data drive. I have looked at Maxtor a lot and heard they are good and actually heard I should stay away from Seagate but I'm hearing a lot now about Fujitsu and Western Digital and saw that even their Green Power drives are good. Any suggestions of a good hard drive?

Once again I apologize for all the questions from a Mac Pro newbie. I appreciate any assistance with this.


  • Reply 1 of 4
    Bare Feats posted a hard drive review over here. Check it out. And for what its worth they love the Seagate hard drives, and unless I hear something backed up with evidence, that what I plan on getting for my new Mac Pro. They also have links to OWC which has great prices and good service. You can order your extra RAM from them as well, it is about half the price that Apple charges.

    BTW, I ordered the 8800GT and it adds 3 - 5 weeks onto your order time, so I won't get my Mac Pro until February.

    As for ordering the card anywhere, as I understand it you have to get it from Apple because they use special cards with additional firmware that you can't get elsewhere. If that is wrong, undoubtably someone will correct it.

    As for your uses, the ATI card will be fine for you. You may want to upgrade the card if you get into Final Cut Pro seriously, but all of your Adobe apps do not take advantage of high-end cards so they are fine with ATI. And the other stuff, Word, Safari, etc... are just standard programs that also don't need high-end cards.

    Enjoy your new Mac Pro.
  • Reply 2 of 4
    I'm looking at doing something similar to the OP. I went with the cheaper card since I needed a Mac Pro quickly since my Windows machine was in bad shape.

    I chose the ATI card and was looking at a 2nd card, the 8800 GT figuring I could run 3-4 monitors off of this in the future. I know since I have to buy through Apple it's not cheap and I also may not need the power of the 8800 GT. Also, I've even heard concerns on PC's they don't work well together so maybe this is a problem with Apple so I may just go with a 2nd ATI card and the same may be true for the OP.
  • Reply 3 of 4
    The only reason to get 2 video cards is to run more than 2 monitors.

    A reason to get the 8800GT is for the video work. The Quadro is the best card for doing professional work (mostly because of the drivers), but it's not exactly cheap. I don't know enough about video or photographic post-production to comment on whether or not it'd help you enough to be worth it (I mostly do production for video and audio and no post).

    I would not put money on being able to get a 8800GT aftermarket easily. There are EFI issues, driver issues, and a whole pile of software crap. It should be a solvable problem, but Apple has no incentive to do it, and the market is too small for a 3rd party attempt.
  • Reply 4 of 4
    The 8800GT will be far superior for games, but if you don't play games (or use some video app that stresses a graphics card), don't waste your money.

    As for hard drives, no brand is clearly better than another. Any "hard drive horror stories" people tell are just anecdotal and can't be taken seriously, and long term studies of HDD reliability are careful not to name names.

    One consideration is that the WD GreenPower series drives are not 7200RPM drives. The 1.0TB version is, in fact, a 5400RPM drive. They run very cool and use less power than normal drives, and may be more reliable in the long run because of it, but performance suffers. I'd buy one, though.
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