Effective with the latest Apple tower, the MacPro, Apple is stressing its new Build To Order sales approach. Instead of multiple configurations, there’s a standard configuration and everything else is custom.
If you’re buying a new computer for the sake of running an Aperture workstation, take heed. The standard configuration MacPro may not satisfy you. Here are my suggestions for building the best system you can at the lowest cost.
1) Buy the machine running two 2.66 Ghz Dual Core processors. This is the standard configuration and the upgraded processors won’t add that much power to the Aperture system. Since Aperture relies primarily on the GPU - not the CPU, the upgrade to 3.0 Ghz is largely wasted. In fact, if you’re really trying to save money, you can get away with downgrading to the 2.00 Ghz processors, but I don’t recommend it unless it’s an emergency.
2) Buy the computer with 1GB from Apple and then upgrade it yourself to five gigs of RAM. This would cost an additional $1100 for four gigs if you did it through Apple. If you go to a third party RAM supplier, you should be able to shave a few hundred dollars off that price and get an additional gig for your trouble. That’s five gigs for around $900 based on today’s prices. At a minimum, expect to get best results by running AT LEAST two gigs of RAM. Check out DealRam.com for the best RAM prices.
3) Buy the computer with one 160 GB drive (saves you $75 from Apple) and add third party drives, either external or internal. Make sure you’re using 7200 RPM drives.
4) Upgrade the graphics card. This is crucial. In fact, if you ignore all my other advice, at least pay attention here. You want to add the ATI Radeon X1900 XT 512MB (2 x dual-link DVI) card. It will be the best $250 you spend. My experience with other cards like the standard GeForce 7300 is not good. Even in the MacPro, the 7300 offers sluggish performance. It’s important to do this when you order the computer because availability of third party cards at this point is virtually non-existent.
From there it’s up to you. Displays and other add-ons can be ordered as you see fit. But pay close attention to the graphics card and RAM, and you’ll end up with a superb computer for Aperture.