To be or not to Be a Mac Pro

Mac-pro-with-person.jpg

Mac pro with person

The Mac Pro is a great machine as long as it is configured right. If you go with the stock configuration everything will be more than acceptable than one thing. A 256 gig drive is, to put it bluntly, a joke for a machine of this price. People that are prepared to spend the kind of money a Mac Pro costs are probably people who are doing a fair bit on their computer.

When I bought my computer from a certified reseller of Apple products back in February I had one concern about the machine prior to buying it. It’s important to note that I made two attempts to buy a Mac Pro from Apple configured as I preferred before I bought this computer I have. In these two attempts I was unsuccessful in obtaining the product. In one case, I had all the peripheral equipment sitting in my closet for a month before I sent it back and cancelled the order.

A Fortuitous Event

Roll the dice

I finally gave up on the idea of buying the Mac Pro. I decided to take my very high end iMac to the reseller and upgrade the memory to 32 gigs. This machine was a charm with a 1 Terabyte Fusion drive and an i7 processor.

After the fellow installed my RAM I happened to say as I was leaving how I tried to get a Mac Pro but it was impossible. He said that he had Mac Pro’s in stock and to say the least I was in disbelief but he did. He only had one high end machine and I decided that’s what I’d like.

I asked him though about the drive and he said it was a 256 gig drive. My reaction was that would be too small but he said the way the mac Pro is architected is you use Thunderbolt and external drives to provide the storage you’d want. In this case, his suggestion was to purchase Lacie external SSD drive powered by Thunderbolt. The data would site on this drive and the OS and the apps would then sit on the internal drive.

I thought about it and I agreed saying this would probably do the trick. I was certainly wrong. In theory, it is workable. However, I’ll note two important things. First, the SSD drive runs half the speed of the internal drive. This makes only a slight difference in load times of an app but my iMac felt faster and that’s because it was.

The second, more important thing is third party software is not designed well for this type of configuration and most specifically backup software. if you want to make a clone drive of your computer it will not be pure. Carbon Copy Cloner deals with this the best but lest I say you’re tricking the software. This resulted in many problems. I’m quite backup crazy and I would often find backups not backing up as I hadn’t tricked the software properly. I would eventually get around this but…

Do NOT RAID your Drives

Raid

In the quest to get this system working the most efficiently Apple tech suggested creating a RAID of the two volumes making them one logical volume. Again, in theory this sounded fine. In practice, that was the end of a workable system.

The RAID blew the system to pieces. The SSD drive pulled the internal drive down to its speed. It did other things. Data writes across a RAID. You can just imagine what could potentially happen if some data was written to the internal drive and some to the external. NEVER RAID YOUR SYSTEM!!!

The Solution was always There

The solution to the problem was simple. The internal drive had to be a minimum of 512 gig. That’s what I did. I replaced the 256 gig with a 512 gig.

The Mac Pro is a Mac Pro

Apple should never have released the Mac Pro with anything less than a 512 gig drive. The Mac Pro, with the 512 gig, is a Mac Pro and it’s a delight to use. This is a wonderful machine configured right.

You always question yourself and things when you spend the amount of money on the Mac Pro that you do. I always loved the machine but there was something wrong till I corrected it. Once corrected there was now no question it was the right machine for me.

A fully loaded iMac is a spectacular computing device. However, if you need that extra raw horsepower you certainly will not regret going the step with a Mac Pro. But a Mac Pro is not a Mac Pro unless it is properly configured.

A chain is only as strong as its weakest link

Chain

The moral of this story is “A chain is only as strong as its weakest link.” In the case of the Mac Pro its weakest link is the 256 gig drive. All other aspects of any stock Mac Pro configuration is perfectly fine.

However, in this day and age 256 gig is simply not adequate. Certainly, cloud computing will change things wherein much will exist in the cloud. Yet, sync to the cloud requires a file to exist on the local drive. Pushed to the cloud the file is available in other places such as your iPhone, iPad or another Mac.

If you were to decide to get a Mac Pro I think it very wise to ensure that the drive you order is no less than 512 gig. You won’t be sorry that you did and this way the cost is only slightly incremental to the order. However, by doing this, you ensure all the links in the chain are strong and the Mac Pro you have is truly a Mac Pro.

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