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View Full Version : Looking for input on buying a new G5



MLynch
04-20-2006, 08:06 AM
Greetings, all. My name is Mike, I've only been using LW for few months now, and my current Mac (a 1.8GHz G4, 1.5GB Ram, 9800 ATI Radeon) just gave up the ghost and I'm now looking to get a new set-up.

I'm considering a 2.3GHz dual G5 (4GB RAM and Quadro FX 4500 512MB video card) and the 2.5 G5 Quad (also with 4GB RAM and Quadro FX 4500 512MB video card). Obviously the Quad will be a faster machine, but I'm curious about how much faster is it really... And perhaps even more importantly: will LW 8.5 take full advantage of the quad core?

I mean it's one thing to say that in the lab the Quad is 59% faster in LW rendering than the Dual 2.7GHz (according to the Apple web site), but when put to use in the field, where most likely a host a variables will play a part in render times, does the Quad really come in at being that much faster?

...The reason for my asking is that getting the Quad will be a financial stretch for me (it's doable, but it will be really tight), but I'm also trying to think "2 years down the road how well will my system hold up to my needs?" The dual 2.3 is more manageable as far as cost goes, but I don't want to short change myself as time goes on and the scope of my projects increase. There's also the fact that once LW is coded in Xcode will it run on the current G5's? If not, then is it really worth while to get the top of the line Mac when a few years form now the newest LW wont run on it?

...So many questions... I appreciate any and all input from those that currently use, or have used these systems.

Captain Obvious
04-20-2006, 08:57 AM
If anything, it will be MORE than 59% faster in real-life situations. Lightwave's renderer doesn't scale linearly with the number cores, but it scales a lot better than their scores would have you believe. The quad is a rendering powerhouse. For non-rendering things in LW, you probably won't notice much of a difference to the 2x2.3GHz model.

Oh, and DON'T get the FX4500. You might as well throw money down a well. Get the 7800GT instead.

And LW will keep running on PowerPC Macs for a long while. I wouldn't worry about that.

MLynch
04-20-2006, 09:23 AM
Thanks, Captain. I appreciate the insight. And thanks for the tip on the video card. ...Out of curiosity - why is the 7800GT a better choice? Not that I doubt it, I'm just curious.

Captain Obvious
04-20-2006, 12:40 PM
Thanks, Captain. I appreciate the insight. And thanks for the tip on the video card. ...Out of curiosity - why is the 7800GT a better choice? Not that I doubt it, I'm just curious.
Because it's just as fast as the FX4500, and $1000 cheaper. But it should be noted that Lightwave for Mac doesn't use the video card much at all. You probably wouldn't notice a difference at all between the 6600 and the 7800, in Lightwave. In other apps, with proper OpenGL, the difference is tremendous.

Otso
04-21-2006, 04:52 AM
I got a Quad a couple of months ago and I am very happy with it. The LW renderer seems to use all four cores pretty efficiently, although I unfortunately relied heavily on Sasquatch (which isn't multi-threaded in the Mac) in a heavy LW project I originally bought the Quad for.

It's also nice to be able to grab video clips with FCP and have a LW render going in the background while I'm working on an After Effects project!

3dworks
04-21-2006, 08:06 AM
i would buy the quad, but i wouldn't spend much on an extra video card. i did not do personally any tests with the top nvidia cards, but as far as i can tell, the mac isn't using much of their potential at all, partly because it's poor opengl support and partly because many 3d apps (also LW8) are not that much optimized. also, you can always upgrade later, if you're unhappy with the performance.

in my studio i run a quad, a 2x2.7 G5 and a 2x1.8 G5 and the speed and difference between the three macs is really strong, especially when rendering with fprime. the quad is really a workhorse. also, if this mac is going to be your only workstation, 4 cores give you the power to work with 2 'serious' applications at the same time, this is not always as smooth on the double processor macs. in this case, consider to buy at least 4G of RAM.

have also a look at http://barefeats.com/ you can find a lot of interesting tests about this...

my 2 eurocents :)

markus

MLynch
04-21-2006, 08:53 AM
Thanks, guys. I appreciate all of the input. This has been most helpful.

Well, I just ordered a Quad (500MB HD, 4GB of RAM, and 7800GT video card) - It should be here in a few days. And needless to say I'm really looking forward to using it. Being that this is will be my only workstation I'm very pleased to hear that not only does LW play well with all four cores, but using more than one heavy duty app at a time will run relatively smoothly. The latter was a serious issue on my previous system - being that it was a single processor. Actually, just rendering and running another app would sometimes give me grief. I've actually had both LW and Photoshop unexpectedly quit on me if I tried to work in Photoshop while rendering. :compbeati ...of course buying the new set-up means that getting Combustion will be put off for a while. *sigh*

Out of curiosity: does LW automatically recognize how many processors and how much RAM is available in a system when it's installed? Or do I need to modify those settings after installation?

Captain Obvious
04-21-2006, 09:39 AM
i would buy the quad, but i wouldn't spend much on an extra video card. i did not do personally any tests with the top nvidia cards, but as far as i can tell, the mac isn't using much of their potential at all, partly because it's poor opengl support and partly because many 3d apps (also LW8) are not that much optimized. also, you can always upgrade later, if you're unhappy with the performance.
Actually, it's just LW that sucks in this regard. Cinema 4D, modo, Maya, Blender... they all run really well on Macs, and they take full advantage of the video card. It's just LW that doesn't. But if you're only going to run LW, you might as well go with the default card...




Out of curiosity: does LW automatically recognize how many processors and how much RAM is available in a system when it's installed? Or do I need to modify those settings after installation?
RAM is automatic. In order to take full advantage of the extra cores while rendering, you'll have to turn up the number of threads in the render options. Preferably to 8, due to how LW's multi-threading works.

toby
04-21-2006, 10:28 PM
I got a Quad a couple of months ago and I am very happy with it. The LW renderer seems to use all four cores pretty efficiently, although I unfortunately relied heavily on Sasquatch (which isn't multi-threaded in the Mac) in a heavy LW project I originally bought the Quad for.

It's also nice to be able to grab video clips with FCP and have a LW render going in the background while I'm working on an After Effects project!
I used to do that on my dual 450! Well, not FCP, but 2 LWs rendering while I did AE.

For anything not multi-threaded, all you need to do is run multiple copies of LW, 1 for each core, ( make copies then rename them, and turn off the hub-) and render 1 thread with each of them.

I did some tests and noticed that OSX seems to handle 16 threads ( on a dual single-core ) more efficiently than 8, not to mention 2. When I rendered two copies of LW, both set to 8 threads, the rendertime was less than twice as long; rendering 2 frames at once finished both in 1hr 15 min, but one frame at a time took 45 min per. I imagine that on a quad, with enough ram, you could render with 8 copies of LW!

And if you're going to be working while you render, Jeremy Hardin has an excellent Lscript that starts up a background LWSN render on your machine for you.
http://jeremy.lwidof.net/lscript/
( at the bottom )

mike_stening
04-24-2006, 06:39 AM
in general, LW uses all four processors well (just put on the activity monitor and watch the bars max out :thumbsup: ) but using Hv's is still slow as as LW doesn't seem to like spreading the love with them, oh well, but most tasks fly.

MLynch
04-24-2006, 07:33 AM
Thanks for the tips, Captain and Toby. And thanks, Mike. ...Too bad to hear about the HVs though, but then this seems pretty par-for-course with LW: some aspects of the app are great, others could really stand to be improved.

Out of curiosity, and this is getting a little bit a way form LW, but does Vue 5 Infinite automatically take advantage of the quad core? Or does it need to be set-up? I'm only asking this here as I acquired Vue as part of the LW/V5I bundle, and figured that others here would have any idea of how it handles multi-threading on the Quad.

Thanks again, guys.

MLynch
04-24-2006, 10:27 AM
...One other question: How do you guys feel about the Mighty Mouse as a 3+ button mouse?

Darth Mole
04-24-2006, 01:59 PM
Don't use it. I think it's horrible, although some people seem to like it. Apple can make great computers and monitors, but can't seem to sort out the simplest of input devices!

avkills
04-24-2006, 06:09 PM
Vue 5 reports 2 CPUs on my G5 and 1 on my laptop.

-mark

MLynch
04-25-2006, 06:38 AM
Many thanks, guys. :)