2008 Mac Pro, what would you do?

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by turtlez, Dec 11, 2012.

  1. macrumors 6502a


    Jun 17, 2012
    I have the 2 x 2.8 GHz Quad-Core Intel Xeon, 4 GB 800 MHz DDR2 FB-DIMM, NVIDIA GeForce 8800 GT 512 MB, 500GB 7200RPM, 1TB 7200RPM.

    I definitely need more RAM, one of the original sticks (1GB) flawed itself a few months back and since it has to be an even number I lost the other 1GB as well leaving me with 4. My work is very photoshop heavy and I will be getting into After Effects, FCP/Premier very soon for 2.7k footage edits and some Cinema4D 3D work (motion graphics).

    My dilemma... RAM for the 2008 Mac Pro is ridiculously expensive and only 800Mhz (if that makes any difference). I also was wanting to buy a 27" screen because my 21" is just too little real estate for my needs.

    Would it be worth buying lots more ram for probably $300 or so and a new GPU $500 I think for the 5870 which is only 1GB and already pretty extinct, add a 3G SSD or should I go for the new 27" iMac paying about $1500 more than the upgraded Mac Pro route. I am actually leaning on the iMac route because it will last a lot longer than if I upgraded my Mac Pro (I think) and will be somewhat portable (compared to my MP). Not that I need portability but it is always a plus. Also USB3 but I think that is not a must for me.

    Thoughts? Thanks.
  2. macrumors 65816


    Oct 19, 2012

    your dilemma is a tough one, but can be broke down, to me, to the following:

    Resale value, future proofing-Advantage new iMac

    Expandability, customization, proved workhorse for your workflow, cost- Advantage upgraded Mac Pro

    Also to consider the GPU upgrade per se, thinking about the real benefits you can get from it

  3. macrumors 68020

    May 20, 2011
    It all comes down to how much are you willing to sell it for?

    lol, jk!

    It really depends on what you use it for. If the new iMac can do what you want and won't fall behind on your apps, I'd say its better investing in the iMac instead. You get modern technology, warranty, etc.
  4. thread starter macrumors 6502a


    Jun 17, 2012
    if I upgraded the Ram in my current machine it would cost me $514 for just 16gb.... That is super ridiculous. I really really want to be able to upgrade my current Mac Pro because I am afraid of heat issues with the iMacs. Might just be forced to wait for the next Mac Pro or buy a PC oh crap haha
  5. Pakaku, Dec 12, 2012
    Last edited: Dec 12, 2012

    macrumors 6502a


    Aug 29, 2009
    My guess:

    Lets say you buy an SSD for apps (keeping the old HD for extra storage), and a new graphics card (OS X 10.7 - 10.8 are more open to more non-Mac GPUs now, 10.7 with a driver download from NVIDIA, and the GTX 680 is apparently very nice). Throwing in the extra RAM to the costs, I'd imagine it would all still be cheaper than a new, highest-specs, 27" iMac. You also get to keep the openness that tower PCs offer.

    Also remember that the Mac Pro uses Xeon processors, not iSeries. Xeon is in a league above the iSeries, so even if yours is from 2008, it probably at least matches the current i7s in terms of processing, if not out-performing. But I'm just guessing...
  6. macrumors 603

    Feb 20, 2009
    "if I upgraded the Ram in my current machine it would cost me $514 for just 16gb."

    Yipes, that's expensive.

    For that money (plus a little more), why not get a 2012 "mid-level" Mac Mini with the 2.6ghz CPU?

    It will probably benchmark close to (or perhaps even better than) an '08 Mac Pro....
  7. macrumors 603

    Oct 22, 2007
    An Island in the Salish Sea
    I had a very similar 2008 Mac Pro - mine was 8 cores. Earlier this year I started checking the refurbed pages obsessively, until the machine I wanted popped up. So now I have a 'new' 2010 Mac Pro - 6 cores. I am a pro photographer, though I don't do video at all.

    Here is my logic: I already have a decent monitor. I wanted lots of internal storage. I wanted something that would last at least 4 years. I needed something under warranty.

    If you have decent monitor, an iMac gives you a 2nd one -- point for an iMac in your case, it sounds like.

    Internal storage is fast, and with 4 bays (5 if you use the 2nd optical bay) you can configure storage flexibly. I decided to put my time-machine disk inside just to save space in my office. (I use external HDDs for cloned disk back-ups). Point for Mac Pro.

    No heat issues with a Mac Pro.

    Warranty coverage: As long as your 2008 is still working, it has resell value... if you keep it the 1st repair will almost certainly be more than the resale value. The 'new' Mac Pros may not be the most current machines around, but they are certainly good enough to do what you want do.... plus they come with a warranty that you can extend to give you 3 years of cost-free computing.

    Be very patient, but check the refurb store... On occasion systems with a memory bus speed of 1333 MHz pop up (our 2008s were 800 MHz) Having fast RAM will make as big a difference as anything else.

    This may not be the right option for you, but it is worth considering. Ignore the "It's too old to be useful" naysayers. Any modern system spends 90% of its time waiting for us to make a decision, to finish reading, or to wait for a download to complete. Benchmarks only measure the max spiked peak performance that computers rarely need to reach. An exception of course is video work, which you mention... so perhaps peak performance is more important.

    So - I just mention this to make your decision making more difficult....

    I have been very happy with my old 'new' 2010 Mac Pro. It is better than the 2008. I trust it with my professional career.
  8. englishman, Dec 12, 2012
    Last edited: Dec 12, 2012

    macrumors 6502a


    Nov 6, 2006
    iMac OR if you really need a Pro then sell yours and either wait for the new ones coming soon in 2013 or get a refurb.
  9. macrumors member

    Jul 5, 2009
    Keep the MacPro 2008

    Ok, so what you have is not the shiniest and brightest or fastest that Apple has to offer. Your particular MacPro configuration is what we have, except we have 32Gb of memory, a GTX 285 and an old 23" Apple LCD display.

    We use it in our office as the server, and as far as speed and stability, nothing comes close except a newer MacPro. As someone mentioned, those two Xeon chips you have are truly server grade hardware -- they can be left on permanently and really never heat up to the point that a problem could occur. Also the MacPro ventilation is much better than whatever iMac you may be considering.

    Since you do a lot of design, you should be aware that the 2008 MacPro was the last of the MacPros which allowed you to put in a third party RAID card which can control the backplane for your 4 internal hard drive bays. In fact, that feature was so important to me, that I bought a second hand 2008 for that reason alone so that I could build a second server as a backup in my home. (and also the reason the 2008 MacPro is still in demand)

    I do have the previous generation (since the new 27" iMacs have begun shipping) top of the line iMac 27" with 16Gb of memory and a Pegasus R8 RAID box. Since your access to data on the SSDs or hard drives is usually the limiting factor of any system (it's the slowest part of your hardware), the Pegasus R8 eliminates that problem since it connects through the Thunderbolt port. That being said, I don't trust my iMac for serious work. It only has one quad core chip, its internal drives are not serviceable compared to the MacPro, and since you don't have much disposable cash, the Promise Pegasus R8 box is probably not an option for you. Not only that, a mobile graphics card is got be a joke if you are doing video/photo work.

    My advice: stick with the MacPro 2008, get a top of the line Nvidia card which does not require more than two power plugs from eBay (do a search on this forum for companies that mod those cards reliably), upgrade your memory, and consider a RAID card for your rig. I really don't think that any iMacs can be seriously considered for the work that you do. Invest in upgrading your tired old MacPro 2008. That investment is less than you would be spending on a new shiny iMac and upgrading that iMac to be as flexible as the MacPro. I don't know if you had a chance to work with any iMacs, but mine gets pretty darn hot when I am doing any photo or video work, and I really don't think the ventilation is up to the task. Now with with a thinner bezel, I think the new iMac would be at least hot enough to reheat some left overs or even fry an egg with what you plan to do with it. Bottom line, professional environment, MacPro hands down winner.
  10. thread starter macrumors 6502a


    Jun 17, 2012
    Thanks for that, it really helped out my thinking. I am leaning on keeping the Pro now. I should mention I tried to upgrade my GPU last year with a 6870 (PC) and bricked it. Kind of put me off buying another PC GPU for it so I am stuck to choose a 5870 for $500ish :\
  11. macrumors 68030


    May 20, 2010
    Los Angeles, CA
    I would say stick with it. If you look on Geekbench's database your Mac Pro compares quite favorably to most of the Macs introduced in 2011, if not all of them. $300, if shopped carefully will buy you 16GB of RAM for that machine, which isn't that bad. Yes, it's 800MHz DDR2, but it's also ECC and FB. This thing was meant to be used as a workhorse until the day it dies. As for your video card options, if you want a faster video card and need one now, I'd look for a Radeon HD 4870 (the higher-end option on the Early 2009 Mac Pro) on eBay or Craigslist to tide you over until whatever card that will ship in next year's Mac Pro comes out and then pay for whichever preferred card ships. Or, if you can wait, I'd say just wait. There's no reason to buy the "current" Mac Pro video cards unless you need exactly that much performance and you can't wait.

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