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View Full Version : Any issues using MacBook as LW Renderer?



Johnny
04-07-2008, 12:26 PM
I ask this question not so much from the standpoint of whether it can do modelling and rendering, but whether that form factor can hold up against the rigors of 3D rendering 24/7 for perhaps days on end?

anyone have feelings or experience on this?

Also, I read an article which indicates that both MacBook lines are due for redesigns, including aluminum cases, and wonder whether that would enable a notebook to better deal with the heat and other issues of constant 3D rendering?

Thanks for your thoughts.

J

Steamthrower
04-07-2008, 02:09 PM
Are you planning on using these as render nodes?

If so then I would hazard a guess that a couple of Mac Minis would provide more processing power for the price.

I don't own a MacBook, however, so I can't help you specifically there. I do know, though, that a MacBook Pro holds up outstandingly. It's all aluminum, of course, but it barely gets hot even after cranking out 500,000 polygon scene renders. The fan runs a bit loud at times if the room is hot, but that's normal.

SP00
04-08-2008, 11:38 AM
I have use my macbook on location and use it to render an animation for 2 days straight. It works, but I also got a laptop cooling pad to help out. While the built in fan does a great job of keeping the machine cool. They are not convenient to replace if the fan dies. It can be done, but much more of a hassle than opening up a desktop computer. So at the end of the day, it is not a problem. Just keep in mind normal fan wear and tear :)

BigHache
04-10-2008, 06:19 AM
I would agree with SP00. I've not used a MacBook, but I have used an 800 MHz iBook for LW rendering in the past (thankfully in the past).

Personally I consider the Mac Minis throwaway machines, which could make them good nodes, as repairing/replacing any major component in them is not as cost effective as just replacing it. You can replace HD, add RAM, etc. (but does void warranty), but logic boards not so much.

If cost per node is your biggest concern then maybe the cheapest Mac Mini would work, just get FB DIMMs from NewEgg which can be had from $35-40 instead of the $100 Apple needs. This does void your warranty, but if you do several it can save you some $$$.

Phil
04-10-2008, 11:20 AM
Mac Mini makes a wonderful node and the real killer is that there are so many USB ports on the back. You can easily hang multiple terabyte drives off the back for storage. Excellent machines :)

Just make sure you wire them into the network. I've had enormous trouble with the wireless network in the Mac Mini dropping out. Wired connection works just fine.

Johnny
04-10-2008, 04:49 PM
these are all great points...thanks for responding..

I do have a pair of minis right now...g4 minis...I'm looking at what my upgrade path might be and my wallet and I are looking at the macbook or mini as offering the best value...

I was thinking the macbook might have advantages over the mini bcs of the built-in monitor...I have a KVM switch for 2 machines but can VNC the screamer nodes together; manage them via VNC.

the idea I was concerned about and which was touched on is: can those parts hang in there for 24/7 rendering, like the fan, and (as mentioned) the fans and other internal parts in either machine not easy or fun to have to replace.

wonder if I need to troll craigslist and just snap up cheap minis as people chuck them in favor of newer machines for themselves..

I'll be the King of retired Minis!

J

Chilton
04-10-2008, 04:52 PM
Hi,

I have a small army of Macs I routinely use for... things, and I wanted to point out that if you're buying new Macs, they'll have Leopard installed on them. And Leopard has Screen Sharing built in. It's awesome. I don't even use my extra monitors for my other Macs now, I just use screen sharing when I need to configure things on them. It's VERY fast, for almost anything this side of video games.

-Chilton

Johnny
04-10-2008, 05:01 PM
Hi,

I have a small army of Macs I routinely use for... things, and I wanted to point out that if you're buying new Macs, they'll have Leopard installed on them. And Leopard has Screen Sharing built in. It's awesome. I don't even use my extra monitors for my other Macs now, I just use screen sharing when I need to configure things on them. It's VERY fast, for almost anything this side of video games.

-Chilton

well, that's good to know, Chilton.. I'm into screaming fast new hardware, but another LWer mentioned here that native SN isn't able to mix Tiger and Leopard together, and on my present, Tiger-installed macs, everything works, so I'm loathe to upset that function and harmony..

which would leave me tinkering with a 3rd party controller, which, if THAT had implementation issues...

you know, headache city.

I'm *extremely* happy with my rig as-is, except for the fact that it isn't getting any faster. I do need speed, esp. for creating.


jeeze..I'm starting to sound like a whiner here!

J

BigHache
04-11-2008, 01:06 PM
Johnny, have you been able to do any tests with the G4 vs. Intel as far as what the renders look like and if there are any differences?

I think I'd go with the minis over the mac books. A little cheaper, easier to upgrade/replace parts. They'd be easier to mount in a rack too, which I would think about if you're going to amass a quantity of them. Rack 'em up, turn them on their sides. Be pretty sweet.

Johnny
04-11-2008, 01:35 PM
Johnny, have you been able to do any tests with the G4 vs. Intel as far as what the renders look like and if there are any differences?

I think I'd go with the minis over the mac books. A little cheaper, easier to upgrade/replace parts. They'd be easier to mount in a rack too, which I would think about if you're going to amass a quantity of them. Rack 'em up, turn them on their sides. Be pretty sweet.


Good points, all...

No, I haven't compared renders; only heard things others have said. As of yet, I'm not ready to actually make a buy of new intel gear; only craigslist deals, like a G4 mini for $300...

But you raise key ideas, and I will likely hold out for whatever improvements the mini is rumored to have this year.

thank you!

J

miguel_dthings
04-11-2008, 04:21 PM
If the used mini G4s run for $300 you will get less performance per dollar more wasted electricity and more computers to care for. I think intels are several times faster for rendering, even faster than a dual G5 for raw CPU power.

Johnny
04-11-2008, 04:52 PM
If the used mini G4s run for $300 you will get less performance per dollar more wasted electricity and more computers to care for. I think intels are several times faster for rendering, even faster than a dual G5 for raw CPU power.

Quite right, miguel, and that performance/dollar as well as even less overall electricity usage is *very* important to me...that's why I'd like to wait on these rumored more-efficient chip minis due to be out sometime this year..

I had 2 DP G5s and they each sucked down 640 watts!!

The minis, on the other hand, only take about 28 watts at their maximum consumption, and I can tell you firsthand that they are NOT 10 times slower than the G5s were...

J

Chilton
04-11-2008, 06:14 PM
Hi guys,

I'm getting you a benchmark for the G4 Mini vs. the Intel Mini.

-Chilton

miguel_dthings
04-12-2008, 08:56 AM
Johnny, 640Watts... that's an awful lot!


Hi guys,

I'm getting you a benchmark for the G4 Mini vs. the Intel Mini.

-Chilton

Ah, great. That will be interesting. A G4 can be a good web browsing+email+jukebox machine on the cheap, or as a first mac for newcomers to see what OS X is all about. But I suspect a G4 would have to cost about 100-150$ to be useful for pure rendering power. And it would need at least 1Gb of ram for that.

Johnny
04-12-2008, 09:29 AM
Johnny, 640Watts... that's an awful lot!

it certainly is.. in fact, I considered it to be shamefully ridiculous, especially after getting the Minis, which bench test (using XBench) at approximately 1/2 the numerical result of a DP 2.5Ghz G5), yet who's max power consumption is less than 1/20th that of the G5.

Where's all that juice going? Judging by the 9 fans, I'd say heat. And Fans. The G5s are good machines, but you pay an awful price for that performance.




..But I suspect a G4 would have to cost about 100-150$ to be useful for pure rendering power. And it would need at least 1Gb of ram for that.

yeah, prbly. I'm aggressively (but politely) making offers like that to craigslisters who are selling G4 Minis. They seem to want about $100 less than a brand-new C2D Mini which could beat the pants off of it.

but that aside, yeah, my focus is how much juice to produce how much result.

Johnny

BigHache
04-15-2008, 04:46 PM
I've been looking for some time and that's common - used Minis going for not much less than their NIB, faster counterparts. On eBay or wherever. I don't quite understand but that's the market.