Mac vs PC as a Motion Designer: The End of an Era

After more than a decade I am now the owner of a PC. Here are my reasons and then some specs for you nerds.



Our industry is at the mid to tail end of a big shift from Mac to PC. There are multiple reasons but the main one is three letters. GPU. I’m not a future teller. I just look at trends and keep my ear close to the ground while watching industry leaders. The word is that GPU rendering is not a fad but will be a big part of our collective future. If that’s the case, PC wins by a mile. The fact that you can’t really modify and add to the new Macs will lead to their demise. Get a PC and you can add 4+ graphics cards if you want. There are so many options to continue adding on to your machine which is great for future proofing. Add more cards, upgrade your cards, add more ram, buy more SSDs or internal drives. My new PC has 8 slots for hard drives!! On my Mac, you can’t add any internally. All of this is super easy with a PC, but with the new Mac Pro, it’s almost impossible.


Third party render engines like Octane and Redshift are dominating our space and if you want to keep up, you need GPU power and lots of it. PC wins hands down. There are other reasons to switch. Price vs what you get is totally in PC’s favor. One final reason to consider is if you are a freelancer. If you work with various studios, you need to be able to jump in and work with what their designers and editors are using. Currently the company I’m doing a lot of work with has gone all in with Octane. This has caused some issues when collaborating. In order to stay viable career wise, you have to take a hard look at what the industry is using vs what you have. Make sure you’re keeping up, not just with your skills and knowledge, but also your hardware so you can work with companies seamlessly. Companies don’t hire freelancers who are a hassle. People hire you because you’re good at your job, but also because you are easy to work with and that’s on you.



I’m not a tech guy. I don’t like researching this stuff and I don’t understand most of it. So instead of building a PC myself I decided to go with Puget Systems. (I’m not being paid by them and don’t have any affiliate links, fyi). They were highly recommended to me by a friend who used them. I can 100% agree. The experience has been amazing with them. You pick out what you want, customize it, and then they go over the details and talk over the specs with you to make sure you’re getting the perfect fit. After you order they build it and ship it to you in about 2 weeks. Here’s what I ended up with:

Puget Systems Genesis 1

CPU: Intel Core i7 6900K 3.2GHz Eight Core 20MB 140W

Ram: 64 gig total. 4 x Samsung DDR4-2400 16GB ECC Reg.

Video Cards: 2 x NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1080 8GB

The rest of the specs are not a big deal, just the regular stuff like SSD hard drive etc. Even though GPU is important for rendering, your CPU will help navigate big files which is a requirement in C4D. 8 core seemed like the “sweet spot” between performance and cost. 64 gig of ram is not really excessive, but again shooting for that “sweet spot.” Same with the video cards. I could get Titans, which are faster, but I don’t want to blow out my bank account. I can easily add more cards or upgrade them later if I want to, and two 1080s will be plenty fast for now.


My goal is to always be just behind the curve. That might sounds strange, but it’s my philosophy on just about everything. I want to make sure the trend is solid, so I never early adopt. I also try to find the spot where you hit diminishing return on any purchase. So, 8 core instead of 10 seemed to be the point where the price hockey sticks in relation to what you get. I can get a better machine, but I think this one is about perfect for the cost.

In addition to the computer I also purchased a Dell Ultra HD 4K Monitor, 27-inch screen, for $585 to top of my new work station.


The Result

The total price of the computer ended up being $5,250 which includes shipping. This price kind of blows me away. I bought my Mac Pro 3 years ago and it has similar CPU and Ram specs, but the graphics cards were WAY worse. And that cost me 8k. So, for a savings of $3,000 I can get a computer that is far superior, and not only that but has a ton of empty slots for RAM, hard drives, graphics cards etc. And get this, is has something ridiculous like 15 or 16 USB ports. My Mac has 4.

I will keep you up to date when I get my machine and start using it.

Good-bye Mac. I didn’t leave you. You left me. It’s the start of a new era.

112 Responses
    1. Matt

      I made the jump too. 20 years on a Mac, and it didn’t really hurt that bad switching. Been pissed off long enough. I do miss Automator and a couple other things. And I will hang onto my MBP and iPhone. The os and iOS are still great, but to the pro user even if they come up with something g amazing it will be too little too late and too expensive. Apple is used to making huge profit margins on the hardware, and price vs performance they will have a hard time doing that in the tower market.

      1. Apple is focusing on the biggest demographic: the general consumer. Our needs are pretty niche, and so they’re just making a decision not to address it.

        1. Dominik

          Bought a similar system a couple of months ago. The latest Macs are just not cutting it anymore. I understand the argument that apple is focusing on the biggest demographic. BUT they are losing their most loyal customers in the process AND who is going to buy Final Cut X and Motion when there is no hardware to use it in a production pipeline?

          I wish Apple would at least try to cater to our demographic. They have the resources.

          1. Yeah, anymore it looks like Apple’s shooting for the middle — and that’s mobile life-tech, not “Please don’t sacrifice performance for portabililty” business-tech.

      1. Lucas Windsor

        Now that it seems Mac is gonna make a better Mac Pro I will stick with Mac, unless they screw the pooch again and their idea of professional system and expand ability is not up to snuff. Just can’t imagine dealing with Windows headaches again.

        1. Erik

          I ordered a Windows PC build today Been working on mac’s for nearly 20 years. I still kind of hope that Apple will make it right with the upcomming MacPro. But even if they are, it will probably be, beyond my price range.

  1. Miike

    Yeah, sad true 🙂 To bad that apple goes this way 🙁 Im working as render farm manager and Im still with my maxed-out mac mini – because I’ve got plenty machines to render on farm 😉 – however it would be nice if apple came back to pro-seqment. I know, Im living dreams 🙂 Btw, for rendering Ryzen seams to be better than those i7. It costs 50% of price with almost exact same power 🙂 Check this out – Ryzen is 500$. This i7 – 1000$ 🙂 Im building some PCs as well, and to be honest – except GPUs – youre overpaid 🙂 I suggest to check Z800 workstations. You can get it pretty cheap and put 2x X5670 CPU (total – 24 cores) + those GPU + really a lot of ram (96GB is not a problem for Z800:)
    Z800 are cheap as f…. 🙂

    1. Exactly what I did, found a used/reconditioned HP Z820 with dual Xeon six-core 3.5GHz (32GB of ram) for about 1500$, loaded it up with SSD’s and a new GTX 980 ti and this thing is flying! Using it for 3D, VFX and editing.

  2. Serge Ploton

    Félicitations, config génial.
    J’en visage pour bientôt la même. Configuration et j’espère trouver ca en France.

  3. I’ve always felt this was the case. Never bought Mac so I could top out my dollar and upgrade as I go. Worked on macs at most studios when working in-house and never had a preference. Did seem Apple had some brainwashing of their customers. If you live on the back end of trends ryzen is too early for you, but seems real similar.

    1. Looks awesome man! I know building your own is great for cost savings. I’m not confident enough technically to trust myself though! I’m impressed you did it 🙂

  4. This is brilliant, you’ve chosen an almost identical rig to the one I did 6 months ago, although I got the parts from different places. Identical case, RAM, similar screen. I got a 6-core i5, and a 980 Ti though, gonna put another in soon.

    Totally with you about being slightly behind the curve. I was so excited about Octane but waited to get it, and the cost/performance ratio makes complete sense when buying hardware. The thing I’m most sad about is that I’m not gonna be able to buy another macbook pro when I get a new laptop, I love the build quality on those…

  5. Too late now 🙂

    However another long-time-almost-disolusioned mac user sent me this:

    I am still waiting for C4D R19 with regards to:
    before making the Mac-to-PC leap. It is not just my work machine it is my whole ecosystem is geared up for Mac/IOS. There are also a lot of apps I use that are 100% mac only (madmapper, millumin, tumult hype, screenflow, etc) 🙁

    1. Yeah, it will be very interesting to see what Maxon comes up with. You have to imagine they will be jumping into the GPU game soon! Either way though, for me it’s “too little too late” for Mac, and also I just think having more customizable options with a PC relating to GPU and video cards will be handy in the future. Thankfully almost everything I use has a Mac and a PC version, like dropbox, adobe, c4d. The main thing will be just finding the PC versions of things like screen capture, ftp client apps, office tools etc. That will definitely be annoying!

      1. I am in the same boat as you. I’ve been a Mac user for the past 15 years and I just ordered the parts for my custom built PC last night. One thing I’m gonna miss is all of the amazingly designed 3rd party apps that work so damn well on OS X. For example, I’ll miss Memory Clean, Window Tidy, Alfred, Screenflick and others like it pretty bad. I know there are Windows equivalent apps but in general, the UI design behind Windows apps are generally really bad.

  6. I too made the switch from Mac to PC after 16 years on Mac. Mine is a similarly spec’d Puget System which I’ve had for a week or so now. The machine has been pumping out large video productions in Premier Pro CC 2017 non stop.

    I am very very happy. The whole process with Puget Systems has been fantastic. The whole crew is great.

  7. Adam Cahill

    Shame you didn’t get the new 1080ti cards Joren. 40% faster with more VRAM for the same price the 1080s were.

    Building your own PC is pretty easy with a bit of research plus you can get better specs and save a good whack too.

    By the way Octane is a toy compared to Redshift!

  8. Oh, man. I’m simultaneously nervous and excited. I paid about the same (5.5k) for my souped-up USED late-2010 Mac. It’s good, but to buy a 2010 mac in 2014 felt like weird, like hot-rodding a classic car.

    Thanks for providing the specs. The burden of sorting it all out is probably the biggest hurdle.

    Speaking of specs, I’m 20% C4D, 80% After Effects. Would you make any revisions to your box knowing you had the bulk of your work to do in AE?


    1. Eric Peacock

      Remember, currently AFX doesn’t even use multiple processors, so it’s definitely CPU. Oddly I haven’t had any complaints with the transition away from the older multiprocessing support.

  9. Roger Harris

    Hi Joren,

    I’ve read a couple of interesting articles this week. 1 is that Apple are finally redeveloping the Mac Pro to be modular component based and user moddable again thank goodness (coming in 2018), so no more trashcans. And 2 is that Nvidia have released drivers for the new pascal titans for the older PCI-e mac pros (like mine, which has dual titan X’s in it).
    I made the switch a few years back and hated the PC so much, especially after windows 10, that I converted my PC monster into a Hackintosh and love it again… I also have a souped up 2010 Mac Pro with the Titans which I use as my daily machine.
    So High end macs are going to be back with a bang pretty soon! Thank god because using windows will drive you insane! If you can ever get it to update properly in the first place..
    I’ve also recently stopped using GPU rendering (I have Octane) and moved over to Corona because it absolutely blows everything else out of the water for render quality and its almost as fast as Octane. I’ve also got V-Ray (the latest) and Arnold, but neither come close to Corona, so I’m looking forward to super powerful Mac Pro’s next year, when I shall be laughing quite smugly at all you PC users. 🙂

    1. Ha, well, thanks for the encouraging note. I hope I’ll be the one laughing at you when the 2018 Mac Pro price tag is made known. We’ll see in a year! 🙂

  10. Have there been any software bumps or hiccups? At this point, I feel like there’s parity between Windows and MacOS? I live off my MBP, but the death of literally All the Ports™ has me looking at PC options more seriously lately.

    1. I’ll let you know. From what I gather, people with PCs don’t really have much to complain about, so I’m not sure why the stigma that they are un-reliable. I mean, my Mac Pro seized up last year and I had to re-install the OS, so every computer has issues at some point!

      1. Dominik Eber

        We got our Windows machine a couple of weeks ago. So far nothing to complain. YES Windows has its flaws and strange behaviours. But so does OS X. My biggest gripe with windows so far is that there is nothing like quicklook. God I miss quicklook on this machine.

          1. Dominik Eber

            Thanks for the tip … I´ll try it out. On a related sidenote. Nvidia has announced that they are working on a driver for the latest pascal-cards (GTX 1080 etc.). So we are going to upgrade our old 12-core MacPro 5,1. Will be pretty interesting to compare it to our Windows Workstation

  11. Ingvar Nilsen

    The freedom of hardware choice that you describe, Joren, has always been there. Glad that you finally have discovered this. I wonder why not more people see this. The answer is of course that Mac ha managed to create a cult, disseminate the perception that the cool, trendy people, use Mac. As opposed to whatever kind of folks who do their work PCs. At the end of the day, our machines are all Personal Computers, and at the same end, of the same day, the result, the outcome, the rendered C4D animation, is what counts.
    Ingvar, a ThePixelLab customer in Noway

    1. Alastair

      It’s nothing to do with appearances, I’ve used Windows in the firms I go into as a consultant and I use Mac for myself. I just hate Windows, that simple. Even though I spend most of my time in Adobe CC and other apps. But Apples (bullshit) trash can design ideology (Power Mac Cube design all over again and lessons NOT learnt by SJ) has lost them the Pro Market and they’ll have to win it back now. Funny it took them about five years to work it out, but I guess all that iOS distraction clouded the vision. Wish there was a nice Linux front end 🙂

  12. Lance Moody

    Hi Joren,

    Congrats on the new machine!

    I bought my Puget Systems rig in Dec.:

    6950X 10 Core
    256GB RAM
    2 Titan X Pascals
    2 1080’s
    M.2 Main

    So far-so good with almost none of the things I was so worried about being an issue. The difference between Mac and Windows was negligible.


  13. now you know why the “i’m a pc” argument was so serious for pc users for the past 15-20 years. mac people only saw pc people as gamers or paper pushers but we saw ourselves as being smart for getting more bang for our buck as opposed to a logo on a box or a sticker on a car!

    1. It’s pretty amazing the turnaround PC is making honestly. From the old ‘I’m a Mac” with the hipster vs the “PC” loser, things have really changed this past couple years. Incredible to see…

  14. David jolosky

    Two 1080s? I have puget systems box as well. I didn’t think about two 1080s. Cinema performance? Adobe? Thanks for the article. Confirms my purchase 10 fold.

  15. I’m an equal opportunity offender, and I’m so pleased that this discussion hasn’t turned into a flame war. At the end of the day, these are our tools, and the proof of their value is the product you produce in a reasonable time frame.
    I have El Cap on a mac, and Win 10 on a workstation. Both perform admirably, but as a person that loads in a lot of esoteric software, I just feel hamstrung by win 10. It burns my bacon to call in an IT guy to decipher some permissions issue. The Win workstation is a monster on paper… 32 cores and 96 gigs of Ram.
    It renders like a boss, but has trouble allocating RAM to multiple apps.
    Now, my 8 year old mac Pro desktop is still a pertinent machine, and having upgraded to SSd’s and a modern GPU, it does a terrific job authoring in a more stable environment. Yes, you can put in non flashed cards into old Macs and the latest OS’s access them just fine. Apples latest MacPro form factor is really a high octane device that increases your operating costs exponentially. They really should have stuck with the previous architecture, with the same performance enhancements for editing bandwidth.
    Its the ever present Apple manifesto to shrink everything that drives me crazy. I feel betrayed. Do desktops workstations need to be small?

    I think I’m maybe one more Windows release away from totally migrating.

  16. Interesting read! I (a lifelong Mac guy) bought a dual 8-core Windows machine at the end of 2012 with Nvidia maximus config, and it was actually pretty bumpy (wish I’d known about Puget!). It was pretty frustrating how quick those very pricey GPUs seemed to go out of date.

    But the good news is I could just upgrade those GPUs.

    Questions —

    – how frequently do folks upgrade GPUs?
    – sounds like the trend is towards one monster GPU as opposed to multiples?
    – my PC is running Windows 7. Safe to upgrade to 10 at this point?

    Every time I visit the Nvidia site it gives me a headache! 🙂 Thanks for any insights.

  17. Todd VanSlyck

    I made the switch 2 years ago and haven’t looked back, for the exact same reasons. More bang for the buck. That, and I got really tired of waiting with baited breath about a new MacPro while Apple said absolutely nothing for several years.
    I still miss the Mac OS, but Windows 10 is pretty dang good (IMO)

  18. Gerald

    Thanks for the insight!

    For people on a budget I can recommend a dual xeon e5-2670 build, they are so cheap second hand ($65-$100) that you can build a system for less than $1000, minus the gpus that is. That will give you 16 cores, 32 threads running at 2.6ghz.

  19. Mike

    I have been thinking the same thing and got tired of Apple leaving us in the dust, so I went on a two month journey to find the best that I could get at a not so craze price. At this point I am still waiting on some of the very high in demand parts. The motherboard that I chose has two M.2 NVMe SSD slots and the best I could find. These SSD’s are the fastest on the market that you can buy right now. So you may ask why two SSD slots, you want the fastest configuration you can get, so my 1 terabyte SSD is the boot drive and will hold all the operating system and programs, the 512 GB SSD is the Starch/Disk and Cache drive and this will have a place for all the files that your programs like AE, PP and C4D will write and read and not take up space on your boot drive.

    The new AMD Ryzen 7 1800X is just as fast as the Intel i7 6900 at half the price and you can over clock it. The hard drives are for media storage and back-up. As can can see this complete system cost me only $3841.86.

    Based on my research and what other experts have told me this should be a killer system and as soon as I get it all put together, I will report back to you on how well it is doing.

    Hopes this helps you.

    ASRock Fatal1ty X370 Professional Gaming Motherboard $268.55
    CPU – AMD Ryzen 7 1800X $449.99
    Corsair Hydro Series H100i v2 Liquid CPU Cooler $109.99
    VENGEANCE® LED 32GB (2 x 16GB) DDR4 DRAM 3000MHz C15 Memory Kit – Blue LED (CMU32GX4M2C3000C15B) $287.50
    C Drive – Samsung 960 Pro SSD M.2 NVMe 1 Terabyte $629.95
    D Drive, Starch/Disk and Cache – Samsung 960 Pro SSD M.2 NVMe 512 Gigs $353.91
    E Drive, Media Disk – Seagate BarraCuda ST3000DM008 3TB 64MB Cache SATA 6.0Gb/s 3.5″ $89.99
    F Drive, Back up Drive – Seagate BarraCuda ST4000DM005 4TB 64MB Cache SATA 6.0Gb/s 3.5″ $124.99
    Case – Corsair Cystal 460X RGB $135.99
    GTX 1080 Ti Video Card – (35% faster than the GTX 1080) $754.24
    Power Supply – Corsair CX850M $88.13
    LG 27UD68-P 27-Inch 4K UHD IPS Monitor with FreeSync $436.99
    Windows 10 Home $95.00
    Water cooler mount $10.65
    Anti-Static Wrist Strap $5.99
    Total $3841.86

    These are some websites that are helpful.

  20. I was a PC user from birth – 2008, then I bought a unibody Macbook Pro and loved it! Totally abandoned the PC world. Worked on a couple Mac desktops for years and loved it until about 2012 but I just kind of dealt with it. Then Apple stopped supporting Nvidia cards. Last year I bought a budget PC for $800 as an extra render node. Since then I’ve purchased 2 more PCs with the Nvidia cards I need to do my job and did not pay nearly the price tag that apple puts on their products. I will miss OS X but it’s not worth the hassle of dealing with apple hardware. Windows 10 has been a pretty ok experience so far.

    Also the guys at Puget Systems are pretty great, I got to talking with a few of their sales reps at SIGGRAPH last year. I would buy from them but I know a small business near me that does custom builds and always has the best support and price –

      1. Alastair

        Grew up with Apple ][, then Mac across the road to drool over and occasionally use. Macs and PC at uni, PCs made me depressed whenever I had AutoCAD class 🙂

  21. You can also decide to camp in the middle and build yourself a proper Hackintosh. My workflow on Mac OS is much faster due to the convenience of the Finder and the simplicity of the OS and I always feel lost on Windows when I have to dig around my windows and files. Mac is very intuitive.

    That said, I hate the fact Apple locks down its gear. The new MacPro has been a joke making most of my friends laugh, and not just CG artists, but musicians and sound producers too. Lot of them…
    So i chose the best of both world. I build my own PC with similar parts as yours (though the GTX1080 is still not available or stable on Mac OS, but a pair of 980ti works like a charm) and i can upgrade things whenever I see fit (or my wallet sees it, rather).

    Interesting to see that more and more digital artists are switching back to PC world due to the lack of incentive from Apple to get real professionals to use their computer. They make much more money selling phones and tablets than computer anyway, so i guess they don’t give a rat’s arse about this market anymore, which is why Windows is getting back on top and is fitting the needs of the modern digital artists. Far away is the time when Apple was the designers preferred choice.

    Thanks for sharing your experience with us and keep up with the good work !

    Bless !

    1. Robert Vitale

      Hi Charlie, I have been considering also to build a Hackintosh. I’m in Australia and have spoken to someone about this who builds them. I just wanted to ask what specs do you suggest? Thx. Robert.

  22. Shelley

    I have both older Mac Pro (2010), and newer PC’s similar to Joren’s.

    Using Vray 3.4, & Octane. I love being able to visualize quickly with Octane, but I have found, at least in my limited circumstances, that Vray, via CPU, is still a better price/performer compared with GPU rendering with Octane. In addition, material systems & other, lighting, are much more sophisticated.

    If I do a simple product shot, Octane. But anything more complicated, or Archviz (especially interior), Im finding CPU & Vray. There is robust discussion on the Vray for cinema forum, on this subject as well.

    Disclaimer – I have 980 Titan and 1080 card, and use Vray with 4 computers – host and three slaves.

    For me, regarding Apple, its difficult to make long term purchasing decisions, since they haven’t’ been terribly reliable – 4 years since 2013 trash can, for instance. And somewhat surprised that it will be another year before we see rollout for new modular based system. Will that come with higher price in line with current Mac Pro?

    I would prefer to continue to use OS X, but for now, at least, PC’s offer more viable alternative at this point. Some of this is result of both operating systems maturing, and also the equality of pro apps on both sides, and of course the variety and pricing point offered on PC hardware side. I have the same Fractal case that Joren has, and its pleasantly quiet, and attractive.

    1. Thanks for your feedback! I hear the same thing a lot about Octane too. Plus some rumbling about the upcoming Redshift C4D launch. That might be interesting!

  23. I’m not morally opposed to switching, but I have a few counterpoints.

    STORAGE: rarely the bottleneck, especially in 3D.

    MOBILITY: I had to schlep a Mac Pro (the old kind) out of town for work and it was not fun. Amtrak wouldn’t even let me board with my luggage. (Coming home, that is. For some reason they were fine with taking me there. Modularity helps with this.

    CPU & RAM: Okay, so it’s kinda hard to upgrade the CPU in my 2012 MBP. Solutions: 1. Network rendering. Build your own farm or use one of the many cloud farms. Haven’t tried em yet, but I bet they’re a lot faster than any hardware we mortals can afford. 2. As you said, GPU rendering is where things are heading, so this factor is much less important when you consider…

    eGPU is (finally) here, and only getting better. (Check out Barefeats or TechPowerup articles if you think bandwidth is an issue.) I’ve even seen SLI versions.

    EFFICIENCY: I think there’s a LOT to be said for trying to work efficiently rather than trying to hulk through everything. Firepower is good to have, but an ounce of efficiency is worth 50 (or even 70) pounds of hardware. Greyscale Gorilla has a great article on this:

    That said, I don’t love everything Apple does, and building computerbots is pretty fun. That Puget system looks pretty burly.

  24. I do postproduction and was in a similar situation before Apple launched the “new mac pro”. After happy years with my classic intel mac pro I bought a PC *beast* in 2013. (at in berlin, germany)
    Am I Happy? With the hardware definitely Yes. I still love OS X more than Windows, but Win 10 has its pros. And I recently found “seer”, a quicklook substitute.

  25. Well it´s quite expensive setup but I think that´s very good and powerful setup if you are working with animations and film. I would suggest seeking alternatives from AMD Ryzen 1700 setup that core price is really dropping atm. It´s also faster than I7.

  26. Eric Peacock

    Apple certainly flubbed with “the trashcan”. I think most missed that it was designed for video editors primarily, FCPX is insane on it because they optimized the hell out of the software for OpenCL ( Of course there is a whole bunch of chatter about how FCPX sucks and nobody uses it seemingly due to how it was launched, a lot of which is bullshit when you filter out the usual Internet noise. It’s the fastest editor I’ve ever used, even on older hardware. I can turn projects ridiculously fast with it, and when necessary round-trip to After Effects, Premiere, DaVinci Resolve, etc. In my experience Premiere is slow, and it crashes a lot with the sophisticated stuff I do (plug-ins are partially to blame of course). At any rate there are a lot of happy trashcan video editors out there.

    Despite all that it’s NVidia ruling the roost and OpenCL hasn’t really taken off. I think that like OpenGL we need an open standard like OpenCL; but obviously CUDA has been the more useful technology. But CUDA is proprietary. At least you can install CUDA/NVidia drivers on a Mac with the right card, but have to dual boot to Windows to access tech like DirectX which is what most games are optimized for.

    I don’t feel that sorry for anyone who bought a 2013 Mac Pro thinking it was going to suffice like the previous tower. It’s an interesting piece of kit in some ways, but not the right fit for the niche pro.

    As a multi-hat mograph/editor/2D/3D designer I opted to keep and hot-rod my 2010 tower(s), which until the NVidia 1080 architecture shipped could support the best NVidia GPUs just fine. Surprisingly the older Mac Pro “Cheese Grater” towers held up OK through the entire trashcan run, assuming you made some relatively simple enhancements (PCIe SSD disks, NVidia GPU, USB3 card, etc.).

    The lack of Thunderbolt ports did eliminate trying an eGPU solution, which isn’t that robust or great yet anyway but seems that it might be a thing eventually since it allows laptops to plug into a GPU “bank” for rendering. That seems like it is going to be high-demand as portable laptops get more “pro” (

    With at least a year till we see what Apple is going to do to try to fix their mistake, it’s definitely too late for many. I haven’t decided if I’ll go your route, wait and see, or roll my own “Hackintosh” (I enjoy this sort of thing, but the reality is that my time is better spent doing actual work than fussing around with building my own PC).

    I double as the IT guy at my day job and I can’t say that I approve of the freemium ad-based Windows 10 approach (e.g. remove the Microsoft Office Trial nag app, it gets reinstalled with the next point release, repeat).

    Anyway, as long as you’re happy that is what is most important and you are absolutely spot-on with the freelancers requirement to be flexible with multiple GPU renders, etc.

      1. Eric Peacock

        It is a big topic. I’m actually home sick today or I doubt I would have had time to get into it.

        Anyway, I did neglect to shout-out to, which at extra expense flashes GPUs with a MacOS friendly firmware for the older Mac Pro towers or an external Thunderbolt-based eGPU setup.

        They’re a solid service, but also unnecessary if you can handle dealing with no boot screens and the somewhat annoying NVidia driver update that always follows a MacOS point release by about three days.

        1. Thanks Eric for your input and observations. You’re correct about the new Mac Pro (nMP) and the classic Mac Pro (cMP) as far as their respective markets. It’s just plain sad Apple thought that because it was such an industry leader in other areas (iOS & consumer) that it could just buck the trend of PCIe slots and create a new paradigm. Sometimes they need to learn when to follow. This is one area that Apple should have done their research and followed the trends. It sounds like Apple is on the right track now with a modular approach to the Mac Pro, but it’s too little too late. I have a 2010 cMP that I’ve upgraded the furthest that it can, and although it outperformed the nMP in almost every area (most notably being price), the main motherboard seems to have bit the dust on the exact same day as the new news about Apple releasing new Mac Pros sometime in 2018. Clearly I needed a new computer now, not in 18 months.
          Fortunately for me, I enjoy researching gear, so I’ve been educating myself over the last few months, setting up a build on and asking a ton of questions on the motiondesign slack. After over 25 years on Mac, I just began ordering my components today. I am sure the nerd in me will set this new hardware up as a hackintosh, but just as a project. My daily OS will be Windows 10, which IMHO is the first USABLE version of Windows ever.

          I’ve never bought a new Mac Pro (only used), so I have never spent more than $2500 on a computer before. You have chosen wisely with Puget Systems – I’ve heard nothing but great things. But I can’t imagine spending over $5k on any computer, especially not one that I can build myself for $2300 in components. HOWEVER that’s only because I have educated myself on what’s involved, and what each component does, what the specs mean, etc. If someone were to pay me my day rate for all the time I spent on the research, it would be well over $2500. SO… if you like nerding out on this stuff, do your research NOW in your spare time, before you actually need to buy something. That way you can keep up with what’s what as new products are released, etc. and you won’t make the mistake of buying the wrong thing or overspending on anything. Also, go for components that are one or two generations older than the latest. That’s the sweet spot in terms of price/performance. Finally, don’t be afraid to build it yourself if you’re on a budget. There is no shortage of people willing to help you out, and it’s no more difficult than a slightly complicated Lego set. Times have changed since you needed a computer engineering degree to build a PC!

          1. Alastair

            It was SJ’s obsession with the appearance of devices. I’m glad Apple lifted the standards in the IT industry immeasurably, but the trashcan made all the mistakes the Mac Pro Cube made all over again (the cube was all Jobsian obsession with appearances and what he unveil as one more thing).

            It’s interesting Apple killed the box design when introducing the trashcan, they could have kept the two lines going and even kept the marketing ok as two distinct product groups (though would have sold less Trashcans for sure). But no, hubris and pride won the day.

            I actually like the idea of miniaturization (I often have to take my MBP along with cameras etc to do livestreaming so volume and mass are both important considerations) but not the results in the case of TrashCan and the MBP getting ever thiner but constantly overheating and reducing the GPU encoding rate to below acceptable level.

  27. Brett Perry

    Hey Joren,
    I started in the post production and special visual effects business twenty years ago and just thought I’d offer some perspective. I had to decide whether to go with Mac or PC when the decision was much harder to make. I eventually choose to go with a PC. The two deciding factors at the time were freedom of choice and price. The PC world then didn’t have superior graphics to the Mac, in fact it was just the opposite – there were no GPUs, just on board graphics display chips on the motherboard (ouch) and Macs had better display chips. Apple had made a long term deal with Motorola to supply their CPUs and had the disadvantage that Motorola didn’t see the need to make better and faster CPUs. To keep up with the faster and faster CPUs in the PC world, Apple had to “gang” the slower Motorola processors together in unwieldy configurations. They also made upgrading RAM next to impossible. PCs were always faster and always more flexible with their RAM configurations. In those days RAM was essential for quicker graphics work. A comparable Mac with similar abilities to a PC was about 30 percent more expensive.
    Now with both using GPUs and Apple using Intel processors, the decision really comes down to flexibility. Apple still offers just three choices: an entry level computer, the mid level, and a top end computer. You really can’t build your own custom workstation like you can a PC. Also the price difference is still a big factor for me.
    Welcome to the PC world and thanks for your great website.
    My PC:
    Dual intel quad core processors
    64 GB RAM
    8 GB dual crossfire GPU
    500 MB SSD
    10 GB Raid 10,000 rpm hard drives
    Adobe Master Collection
    C4D v17

  28. Wolfgang Kopf

    hi joren!

    first: thanks for all your inspiring work an effort! 🙂
    second: which model of the 27 Dell monitor did you buy? i was also opting for Dell Professional P2715Q 27 inch 4k but i m not quite sure yet, since the BenQ BL2711U also seems to be a viable (and cheaper) option.. are you happy with the Dell ? 🙂

    Greetings from Vienna, Austria!

      1. Wolfgang Kopf

        how do u like the monitor? 🙂 after lot of thought i think i m going for the Dell UltraSharp U2717D, cause i m not quite sure if i really need the 4k res

          1. Wolfgang Kopf

            thanks for the tip 🙂 yeah its really a shame that the 4k one is MUCH more expensive in europe than in the U.S (here around 700 Dollars..) 🙂

  29. Did you guys know that Apple just announced that they come with a complete new Mac Pro that will focus on customisation. Did even admitted that the current Mac Pro was not what the industrie wanted. So they are working on it, but probably to late since the revolution has started.
    Besides that Nvidea is making new mac drivers again.

    Btw I also switched a year ago for the same reason as you Joren.

    1. Yes, it’s interesting how they “announced” it way ahead of time before an event. I think they can see everybody switching and are pretty nervous. The issue I have is that it says it could be 2019 before it comes out. Two years is a life time in tech advancement! I can’t wait that long!

  30. reto from cbiz

    the world has become small ; )
    the 7th of April is my day to make the switch after 22 years behind a Mac!
    hardware was my motivation too! also I don’t think Apple will keep up with professional hardware anymore and concentrate on gadgets.
    and what really made me decide to switch was a friend who asked me to sign a petition that Apple should release a new MacPro.
    how far have we Mac users sunk to beg for new hardware?!

    my MacPro is sold and it has financed the new PC plus a Mac Mini to have access to my “old” data.
    that on the other hand I will miss because reselling all those old Macs was easy and will certainly not be the case with a PC.
    but what (still) worries me the most to do the switch is software!
    all these little helpers to make those daily tasks a child’s play and are done almost blindly!
    for example managing Fonts, using Terminal, Default Folder X, Quicklook, TimeMachine, all my Emails, Bookmarks, preferences, plugin’s, addons, … to build a new routine will certainly take time, money, patience and nerves.

    by the way I found this helpfull link to replace some osx and 3rd party mac software for windows:

    but no solution so far for ProRes!!!
    how are you guys planning to replace this great container in the windows world???

  31. Andreas Sieg

    From time to time I am working as a freelancer for one of the biggest TV-Stations in Germany, called RTL.
    They worked on MACs since I know them and recently switched all their old Mac Pros to the new black model. I assume they will stick with this solution at least for the next 2-3 years.

    Me personal I am still running two metal case MacPros from 2010 which are still as fast as the actual ones. When it comes to CUDA Cores I can easy fit two TITANs inside, 64Gigs of RAM and 4 drive bays with 2TB each are enough for my needs.
    My 12-core XEON X5675 gives me 1450 points in the cinebench R15 test and for the i7 6900K I found 1550 points. So for now, my 7 years old machine still is very close to the i7 you mentioned in your review. So what?

    1. I’m very glad they are listening and going to re-vamp what they have. That will only serve all of use better to have competition and options! For me, it’s still too little too late, I can’t wait 2+ years for a new machine. But, you never know, if they listen to us and hear what we’re saying, and address that in the future, you just never know. I’ve switched from PC to Mac and now from Mac to PC. Maybe in 3-4 years for my next computer I will switch back! I think it’s good to not get too set on your “tools” but to just use what works best and be open to changing when you need to. We are the artists, the tools are just tools.

  32. Rob

    To be honest with everyone, I haven’t used a PC since I was like 16. I don’t even remember how to use a PC or Windows. I remember having constant issues with little files, and never knowing what they meant, or how to fix them. I switched to a Mac, and I only ever had 2 problems with it my entire life.. Both were easily fixed by doing a google search and reading what to do. The Macs are sooo expensive for machines that aren’t very fast. So I have no idea what to do. Any advice or information would be very much appreciated. I’m not really into relearning all about Windows and how to fix them. Or learning how to build a PC and how and what goes where. I just wanna do my CG work fast and without headaches. So I don’t know what I’m gonna do.. Like I said, any help…

  33. Richard

    My first experience with Apple computers was way back! I mean way back! 🙂 My first personal computer was the IBM PCjr. Remember that!? I started programming BASIC with that lovely computer and never turned back. I have seen, over the years, the evolution of the Apple PC/Macs and never bought into it superiority. I simply didn’t need all eye candy they presented and the early on, learned to deal with Windows OS issues and PC woes. Ironically, it was b/c I stuck with Window PCs, that I learned so much about the software and hardware end of computing and currently teach others on both PC/Mac systems. Also a long-time Cinema 4D user and only on PCs.

    In the end, I simply couldn’t justify spending the kind of money for a Mac when I could always get more and at a much cheaper price with a PC.

  34. David Jolosky

    Thanks Joren, great article. I also purchased from Puget Systems with a similar spec to yours. Only one 1080 though. What are you using with 2 GTX 1080s that take advantage of dual GPU’s?


    If I’m not using Octane very much, do you think it’s still a good investment for 2 x 1080s?

    Thanks again. Love your thoughts and your products.

    1. David, if you’re not using Octane much, you are probably just fine with one graphics card. That would be more than enough for most uses. The only reason for 2 is that Octane takes advantage of them in a big way.

  35. Andy B


    After 23 years with Apple, I have been making the approach to the PC world with my 4 year old Dual Boot PC (same spec as the £6k 2013 MacPro Bin but for 25% of the price) and now i’m switching the Agency I work for to PC this year alongside most of my freelance buddies. Time to disembark the Apple train with it’s useless AMD GPU’s and these OS’s which have recently started to actually get in the way of workflow.

    I only have small issues with the PC world. Here and at other agenceis (including some large post production houses in London) They crash crash crash (a few times a week) and hot-plugging USB or FWire often results in …nothing.

    Looking at the wide range of PC backline out there, the cases themselves are mainly horribly designed and cheaply made (apart from Project Christine- please hurry up and make this!), but we’re ready to hide the black boxes under the desks and get on with our lives.

    Of course we’re all hanging on to our MacBooks as long as possible (the MBP NVIDIA 750M’s were a great freelancer staple and my favourite hard-working MBP) and i’ve seen two MBP’s with GPU bays giving great results in AE, C4D and Octane.

    I’m kinda looking forward to seeing both systems for a while but yes, Mac will disappear very quickly here in the MoGraph/Pos Production world. We’re building the first of several dual-sli 8 Core’s this week and i’m certainly looking forward to being to work in AE and on 4K footage with far less wait time 🙂

  36. Jose

    I understand the hardware change. It souns logical and clever.
    But in the OS side… Why not to try a Hackintosh way, mantaining the best of both worlds?

    Windows 10 it’s a good OS, for sure. But has that kind of… of… «things» 🙂 that make a long term Mac user uncomfortable. Do you agree?

    Sure, not being a technical guy maybe a reason, but out there are plenty of information, lists, user grous of Hackintosh, and even some shops selling custom-ready-to-use Hackintosh.

    That huge amount of money on your system without an Apple (pirated) logo on your upper left corner hurts me!!! 🙂

    A final question: Hmmm… a single, one, alone, minimal 1 monitor? Why? Are you sure?

    Greetings from sunny Spain 🙂

    1. Hey mate, the only reason I didn’t check into a hackintosh is because I’m lazy and don’t enjoy tech stuff! 🙂 If Windows 10 doesn’t work for me I will check into it in the future. As for monitors, I have 2 right no, I’m just “retiring” one and upgrading one. So, I still have dual monitors, my main working monitor will be the new 27″ 4K one, and my side monitor for e-mail, web apps etc. will be my older 22 inch one. Cheers! Enjoy your sunny weather, it’s supposed to snow today in Minnesota! 🙁

  37. The ideal is a pc machine with the mac osx, the solution is Hackintosh, I built mine, today is very easy, so I have a powerful machine with the best OS, I can do upgrades hardware, GPU at maximum power, without the problems of Windows (viruses, files constantly created to fill the disks, interconnection with my mac devices …) let’s see if Apple will remember us again, but for now Hackintoch is the best solution.

  38. Eric Peacock

    So if you went Hackintosh or Windows but might want to leverage your older Mac hardware more for rendering or other automation, here’s the latest on incorporating the latest NVidia GPUs.

    Bleeding edge beta driver benchmarks on NVidia’s Pascal supported cards with the 2013 “trashcan” Mac Pro or MacBook Pro with an eGPU:

    Also, the same new Pascal cards in the 2010 or 2009 Mac Pro tower is still a massive improvement:

  39. Also, I built a little ‘sidecar’ for my cMP that runs a backplane and cable connected to a host bus card in the Mac Pro.
    You can check out a little pdf I put together when I first started the project here:

    …and a post I made to

  40. Hi Joren (et al)

    I, too, moved to windows in the past few months. I’m now wondering about building a render node. (Full disclosure, at moment I’m using Rhino 5+Vray 3.4)

    I have a Hackintosh that I built before moving to PC, and wondering whether I should sell it, and ultimately build another Windows Render Node. I’ll leave link to my build ( but mostly wondering:

    What is important (read: where should I spend my money) when building a render node? Does it need everything a full computer does, or just certain elements?

    Thanks in advance to Joren, and everyone else who has any thoughts! (I’m doing more research than just posting here, but thought this might be a good place to ask)

  41. Edit: Wondering if I should sell the Hackintosh, or just make it a windows machine? I spent $1850 on it when I built it, and now will prob have to sell for around $1k-$1500 I’m imagining.

    Thanks again!

    1. Honestly, it’s been awesome. I haven’t looked back. Had some hardware issues in the beginning that Puget helped me sort out, and now my computer is running super smooth. No issues and the transition has been very seamless. So yeah, no problems on my end! 🙂

  42. Christian Prieto

    Nice article here Joren. I just made the switch from Mac to PC this past week, however I haven’t seen the benefits quite yet… I primarily bought a more powerful machine so that I could get into C4D more heavily. However it seems as though the latest version of C4D (R19) has constantly been crashing, making it unusable. I also haven’t really seen much improvement in performance in AE either.

    Some of the specs on my machine include an Intel i7 7820X, GTX 1080 GPU, 64GB of RAM and three SSD’s. I’ve been seeing that MAXON has been having issues with the Nvidia cards? Would love to hear any of your insight. Thanks!

    1. Hey Christian, I wish I could help you more, but if you’re having issues with C4D crashing, that’s a hardware issue I know nothing about. That’s something you will probably have to sort out with either Maxon’s help team or the people you got the machine from to see if it’s a hardware issue. I have 2 GTX 1080s and C4D has never crashed, so not sure. Sorry I can’t be more helpful, all I know is that it should work based on your specs, so something is definitely broken…

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