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OWC, Diglloyd reconfigure Macs as photo workstations
(Wednesday, March 31, 2010 - 21:49 EDT)

Lloyd L. Chambers -- better known as Mac and imaging guru diglloyd -- has joined forces with retailer Other World Computing to offer a reconfiguration of Apple's Mac Pro computer, dubbed the MPG Photo Workstation.

Lloyd is widely known for the meticulousness of his methods, whether it's testing lenses and photo gear in real-world situations, or testing Macintosh computer configurations and hardware to determine what *really* works to boost performance, vs just costing a lot of money and sounding cool. (See his sites http://diglloyd.com for photo tests, and http://MacPerformanceGuide.com/ for in-depth Mac performance information.)

Now, LLoyd has teamed up with a major Mac-focused mail-order house Other World Computing, to offer Mac workstations that provide the highest possible levels of performance. (Again, based on Lloyd's careful real-world testing, vs marketing hype put out by various component vendors.) Several default configurations of the MPG Photo Workstation are being offered, catering to different cost and performance points.

The Light model is based around a 2.66GHz quad-core Mac Pro Nehalem with 12GB RAM, eSATA card, and three hard drives (the stock 640GB boot volume drive plus two Hitachi 2TB drives -- one acting as the master volume / scratch disk, and the other as a Time Machine backup drive).

The Burly model boosts memory to 16GB, trades the stock Apple drive for a 100GB Mercury Elite enterprise-class SSD, and adds two more Hitachi 2TB drives, providing enough space for a RAID-1 mirrored array for Time Machine backup.

Finally, there are two variants of the Heavy Duty model. The first boosts the quad-core processor to 3.33GHz and the memory to 24GB (using three 8GB modules), while the alternate configuration uses an 8-core Nehalem at 2.93GHz with the same 24GB RAM (but using six 4GB modules). Either Heavy Duty machine can be specified with either a 100GB or 200GB SSD, or two 200GB SSDs as a RAID-0 stripe array for the boot volume. The remaining drive bays can be filled with either four 200GB SSDs in a Raid-0 stripe array, four Hitachi 2TB drives, or three Hitachi 2TB drives, respectively. Time Machine backup is catered for with an external 6TB Raid-5 (stripe + parity) array.

For those wanting specification configuration changes, it's also possible to specify any of the above machines with a selection of different quad- or 8-core CPUs, RAM up to 32GB / 64GB depending on the number of cores, an SSD-only machine, three external backup drives, and iDowell iPack 1000VA uninterruptible power supply.

With pricing ranging from $3,770 for a Light model, $4,750 for a Burly model, and $7850+ depending on spec for the Heavy Duty model, the systems aren't cheap -- but if you spend hours a day working with huge files, the performance of these systems will quickly justify their cost. Prior to shipping, MPG Photo Workstations receive a rigorous 8 hour burn-in to ensure reliability, and some models are configured to allow up to two hard drive failures. The pricing includes system software installation and configuration, including security, Time Machine and SpotLight, as well as performing any necessary software updates.

Check out http://macperformanceguide.com/bto-macpro.html to learn more about these built-to-order systems (and read the rest of macperformanceguide.com for a real education in how to make Macs run faster).

Original Source Press Release:

OWC and DIGLLOYD offer ultra-high-performance Photo Workstations

March 31, 2010-DIGLLOYD MacPerformanceGuide.com (MPG), a leading resource on Mac configuration and performance optimization, and hardware vendor Other World Computing (OWC) are pleased to announce a new computer upgrade service, the MPG Photo Workstation™.

This service, provided by OWC, reconfigures a stock Mac® Pro and delivers a ready-to-use workstation with enhanced performance and reliability features, based on research and testing detailed at Mac Performance Guide. Customers can reconfigure an existing computer they already have, or arrange for a new one (the Apple Mac Pro is the only system supported initially, others to follow). The MPG Photo Workstation targets Photoshop® and Lightroom® users, professional photographers, graphic designers, and audio/video producers, but is suitable for anyone with high performance and reliability requirements.

Not only are these systems specified for top performance, but, in perhaps an industry first, each system ships only after a rigorous 8-hour burn-in test to ferret out and fix faulty components before the customer gets the equipment.

"The MPG Photo Workstation concept embodies the recommendations for enhanced productivity that we've been making for years at Mac Performance Guide, but instead of having to figure out how to assemble and configure one of these Macs on your own, set up RAID, etc., now OWC's turnkey service just gets the job done," explains MacPerformanceGuide author and researcher Lloyd Chambers. "My consulting clients have been asking for this service for a long time, and I'm delighted to see OWC make this cost-effective service available!"

Performance features of the MPG Photo Workstation include the fastest, high capacity SATA drives on the market, the strategic use of solid state (SSD) drives to enhance the responsiveness and reliability of the computer, the strategic use of RAID to promote efficient work and/or fault-tolerance, the addition of eSATA to speed external backup, rational choices about RAM, and numerous OS X configuration details.

In addiIn addition, the MPG Photo Workstation also incorporates key reliability features:

  1. System software and applications are cleanly separated from data storage, so that failure of the system drive leaves the main data storage volume unaffected. This separation facilitates backup, data migration and future system upgrades.

  2. A pre-configured, dedicated Time Machine backup volume protects against user and software errors as well as drive failure of the system and data volumes.

  3. To protect against natural hazards (theft, fire, flood, etc.), a disciplined external backup strategy is also encouraged and facilitated by the design of the MPG Photo Workstation. First, the system is configured so everything that needs to be backed up is centralized in an obvious place. Second, the added eSATA interface makes the actual backup discipline as painless as possible.

  4. All MPG Photo Workstations are subjected to a demanding 8-hour burn-in process of the CPU, RAM and hard drives, all under maximum load before being delivered to the customer. This stress test is far more severe than most users will ever demand of their systems in regular use, and any faulty or weak system components are likely to be detected and replaced ahead of time.

"The MPG Photo Workstation concept encapsulates a turn-key, trustworthy computing tool for the most demanding Mac users, whose needs are not well served by the one-size-fits-all configurations found elsewhere. Anyone can order one of these upgrades and save hours of work and aggravation, experiencing a computer that really does what they need it to. Our upgrade service does all the grunt work so customers don't have to, whether a customer upgrades an existing system, or obtains a new one," says Larry O'Connor, of OWC.

Three upgrade configurations are offered, based on feedback from hundreds of photographers and other professionals. Each MPG Photo Workstation is configured and tested to-order, and can be fully customized. Optional consulting is also available directly from Mac Performance Guide author Lloyd Chambers to walk customers through choosing the right configuration and backup strategy based on their particular needs.

For details, including technical specifications and ordering process, please visit:

About Mac Performance Guide
MacPerformanceGuide.com publishes performance-oriented guides, equipment and software reviews, including the indispensable Optimizing Photoshop guide.

MacPerformanceGuide.com also publishes diglloydTools™, testing and diagnostic software that includes DiskTester, the de factor standard in testing hard drive and RAID performance, MemoryTester for stress testing Macs, and IntegrityChecker™, for verifying file integrity.

About Other World Computing
Other World Computing as been providing quality hardware products and support to the computer industry since 1988 and features one of the largest online catalogs of computer, iPod, and iPhone enhancement products through its e-commerce portal www.macsales.com. As a Premiere Level Apple Developer Connection member, OWC also provides extensive US based technical support for Macintosh users around the world as well as Interest access via www.fastermac.net and www.owc.net.

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