I’m taking the leap into freelancing, and I wanted a cost effective Mac Pro + Monitor solution to start.
My plan is to get the complete basic entry level Mac Pro + the LG 5k monitor to start and then fund upgrades as jobs roll in. This obviously doesn’t meet ADSK’s system requirements, so I’m wondering if the entry level setup would be good enough to start with or if I should look into financing the upgrades upfront, in some way? (ie Get ADSK recommended CPU, RAM, GRFX card etc.)
I need to be able to run other software in the same environment for a more fluid workflow (Flame, Resolve, Nuke + the Adobe Suite) I’m not that technically savvy and didn’t want to deal with the headache of dual booting Linux/Win and compiling drivers for a custom rig.
There are plenty of artists doing their thing from home on an old trash can, or even older MacBook Pros. Just ask this year’s OFoW winner, @tomothyhondrox, who created an impressive entry on self-proclaimed ancient hardware.
You do not need more than 32GB of RAM on day 1. Day 14, maybe. Day 30, probably. Day 60, yup.
You do not need a $1300 monitor on day 1.
You do not need the fanciest GPU or dual GPUs on day one.
You do not need a video card or external monitor on day 1. Most don’t ever get one. Most don’t ever need one. External monitoring is a rabbit hole…should you get scopes? And how are you going to control the volume? Oh, you have 3 sources and only 1 set of audio monitors? Great, now you need a $300 monitor controller and $50 worth of cables.
If I had to do it over again, I’d stick to 12 cores and would have bought an actual desk on day 1, instead of spending the first 6 months on a $27 folding table from Aldi that moved every time I clicked my pen.
Hello there! I was traveling and am just now seeing this thread. It’s true that I had a mostly functional workstation on my ancient 2012 MacBook with 16GB of RAM, a NVIDIA GeForce GT 650M, a Thunderbolt GRAID for media storage, and an external 1TB Samsung SSD for Framestore.
This was far from ideal, but it worked for what the majority of my freelance work is/was - low end 2D and 2.5D cleanup for music videos and web projects. When clients are working at 2K resolution and in a format like ProRes, ancient hardware can get you a long away. But EXR sequences and CG integration in general was a bit of a nightmare.
TL;DR I’m not smart enough to recommend a specific course of action for you, but your ability to Flame on older Mac hardware really depends on what kind of work you plan to do with it.
This might be controversial, but I believe that mac users are in for a big reinvestment when the M1 family chips hit the pro workstations. Watch the review videos where Resolve on a MacBook Air outperforms the current Mac Pro, then imagine your $10k machine being a doorstop in a year.
Bottom line is I would not over-invest in Mac hardware right now. Look for a used or refurb iMac or iMac Pro, buy a Pegasus, and wait.
Sam has a very good point. I had a very nice Flame years ago and worked from home on very nice things… but if you don’t need the firepower, and can get things done with less, Sam’s advice is sound. I went into covid with no Flame, got rid of mine years ago as I went back to work for studios. The first 2 jobs I did in the late summer was on my Mac laptop, and I was leading the jobs, stressful, but capable. The M-whatever chips that are rolling out I think is worth the wait. That said if you’re doin crazy big projects, then just get the best you can get right now. Pays for itself pretty quick. Don’t expect to have much fun with the ML stuff as it’s pretty GPU intensive. This has always been the chicken or the egg, or as my 12 year old will tell you, “this is the way”
To echo what others are saying: I don’t see getting a killer rig right now as the starter path. A 3 to 4-year-old Imac 5k or a (gasp) 8-year-old trashcan is a better machine to start on. I say this as someone who’s using a trashcan professionally. I’ve delivered 4k movie work off this thing, finished 6k shots, and while I’m not going to argue that it’s ultra fast, it’s also a perfectly pleasant user experience.
I’ve been working primarily from home for the past four-five months on a mac pro and although it’s not as fast as our Linux machines, it’s not bad either. I’d definitely start there, especially considering the changes coming with the M1 chips.
I think this is a very important consideration for me to take into account and very good advice. Following the tips from video that Andy posted earlier, I’m definitely going to map out my own upgrade path and try put some numbers together for better perspective.
Thank you everyone for sharing all your experiences and opinions. I appreciate the invaluable sound advice. It’s given me a very good idea of what to do going forwards. Couldn’t be more grateful to be a part of this community right now.