Keep 2009 MacPro or go iMac?

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by kylepro88, Oct 24, 2012.

  1. macrumors regular

    Jul 30, 2006
    Atlanta, GA
    I currently own a 2009 2.93Ghz 8-Core MacPro with 26GB RAM, ATI 5870 1GB, and 3TB Internal HD's (non-SSD). One 1TB HD is boot drive, another is Time Machine for boot drive, third is secondary data drive for whatever. I also own two external 4TB GRAID's (one to use, one to backup). For those I use FW800.

    The current desktop is really fast and wonderful. It gives me no trouble, runs quiet, etc. I do web design, graphic design but more intensive things like video editing (1080p mostly), motion graphics, DVD authoring, etc. I render video often and this machine is the fastest I've ever used in that regard.

    I look at the Geekbench scores for a machine like mine and see that although "faster" the gap is closing between my current machine and newer laptops and iMac's. I realize the word on the street is new 2013 MacPro's but I'm not entirely sure it's necessary for me.

    Although the Geekbench scores are higher, in programs like FCPX that utilize the GPU's so much for final export (and realtime performance) I wonder if the new iMacs that just came out beat my current machine? I think the MacPro I have is still better for continual heavy lifting, but I do wonder if the newer GPU's combined with Thunderbolt HD's in a new iMac will best this machine overall when it comes to video editing and final rendering.

    If I sold the current MacPro I could probably get about $3000 for it. My current 24in Display would just have to go sit in a box and probably couldn't be sold for more then $50 since displays hold no resale value really, especially older ones. I would need to buy a few accessories to use the iMac like a Thunderbolt 4TB GRAID ($600) probably (unless I could find a FW800 to USB 3.0 adapter for my current 4TB GRAID's which would allow me to use current HD's but not give speed benefit), and something like a Blackmagic Intensity Shuttle so my edits can still be pumped out to my Production Monitor for color correction. Odds are too if I got the iMac I would want it fully loaded.

    What do you current MacPro users think? Just keep what I got for now? Sell and take the plunge? How would you expect my current machine to stack up performance wise? I feel like the major difference here would come in if I went Thunderbolt, and the possible increase in GPU performance, but there isn't really a way to compare them at the moment.
  2. macrumors 68020


    Jul 21, 2004
    You're nuts. Keep the pro and be happy. It will last you well for years to come.
  3. macrumors regular

    Jun 2, 2007
    I wanted to downgrade to a more power and space efficient mac, but I'm stuck with my pro. Good luck. I don't know if they're dropping in popularity or what, but I can't sell mine for a decent price. I've sold several macs and never had a problem. Not sure why the pro is different.
  4. macrumors 6502

    El Awesome

    Jul 21, 2012
    Instead of selling the MP and spending money for a slower and less reliable iMac, I'd simply get a SSD for the MP.

    Also, I highly doubt that you'd get 3k for your system. It's great, but just a few days ago somebody sold a 2.26 octo with 16GB RAM for just 1.6k.
    Although your system is much better, I don't think you'll get 3k.

    If you need GPU power: Simply install a Nvidia Quadro Card. Several threads here in the forum how to get a officially unsupported card working.
  5. macrumors 6502a

    Apr 18, 2011

    I think this is a nuts move. Thunderbolt doesn't get you anything if you own a Pro, you have the slots, you can get faster i/o speeds other ways, you can build your own internal raid, etc. It only really changes things for those of us in the field with laptops.

    You'll be able to use things like these in the future, which raided will blow thunderbolt away..

    I really doubt your 8 cores will suffer next to the new iMacs, and there's a CPU upgrade option in your future as opposed to the iMac.

    You can even move up GPUs as life goes on.

    I'm about to look for something like your machine to buy as everyone goes nuts on the new non-upgrade non servicable machines. I'd sooner suggest you go Mac Mini than the new iMac.

    Keep an eye on Geekbench and for CPU comparisons if you are worried.

    I JUST NOTICED that you are an editor. Oh, you should really stay with the pro. You have many more options to keep your performance going for years as opposed to locking yourself in a more rapid upgrade cycle. iMacs are getting more powerful all the time, and are more able to run post-production out of the box but they find their end of life as such much sooner
  6. macrumors newbie

    Jul 30, 2012
    Keep it!
    I sold my 2011 iMac and got 2009 Mac Pro and to be honest this is the only Apple product that deserves to be called PRO!

    Keep it.. :)
  7. macrumors 68020


    Apr 6, 2009
    i am sort of in the same position but I dont have either right now .. there are no used mac pros around me . so i was thinking of buying refurb and doing the cpu upgrade
  8. macrumors member

    Aug 18, 2006
    Keep It ;)

    I would keep it without a doubt.

    Look I just purchased this graphics Radeon 6870 from Amazon to put it in the Mac Pro 1.1. It just works out putting in there without flashing. There are some programs that don't run without Flashing it but I guess with Zeus, Freya and a bit of Netkas is just easy to flash it to make it 100% compatible with the Mac System.

    The problem for me is that I don't intend to upgrade to Mountain Lion (I need to hack) but in your case you could get some of the new Nvidia GTX that would improve your system a lot more than the new iMac ;P if you follow the Mountain Lion path.

    Waiting for the 2013 Mac Pro makes the new iMac desirable but I thought that would be more wise to wait and affordable move to upgrade just the graphics.
  9. thread starter macrumors regular

    Jul 30, 2006
    Atlanta, GA
    Well I've looked into upgrading the GPU at some point but honestly the fragmented and differing instructions around the internet and here makes it tough to pull the trigger. If I had the option i would put an awesome GPU in this thing if it'll work properly, but I'm not so sure of the procedure for things not plug/play on my current machine.

    What would you say is one of my better GPU options for this current machine and can anyone point me in the right direction in terms of installation? Getting an Nvidia GTX seems like a good way to go over a Quadro (pricey and performance/cost ratio just doesn't seem right to me).

    I'm totally willing to do it, just not convinced of the ease of installation. Also when it comes to Thunderbolt, the real issue here is my footage drives. I can throw an SSD into this computer for my boot drive, that's always been possible. The real issue is getting my footage I work with to my computer faster while I edit. FW800 is the fastest I have right now and it works fine for a lot of 1080p stuff, but if I ever wanted to move up from something like that, lag will become pretty hefty. The GPU could help with that though...
  10. macrumors 6502

    Jan 17, 2012
    A $16.00 eSATA3 card from eBay will get you two fast ports (maybe not true SATA3 fast, but a lot faster than Firewire) for your footage. As I'm sure you know, eSATA enclosures cost far less than Thunderbolt. Or you can buy an extra sled or two and simply swap internal drives in and out. That's the thing about the Pro... there are so many approaches to expansion that are possible and not prohibitively expensive.
  11. hfg
    macrumors 68040


    Dec 1, 2006
    Cedar Rapids, IA. USA
    I too am thinking of doing a similar move from my aging 2008 Mac Pro (8 core 2.8GHz) to the new maxed out iMac, mainly to reduce the size and clutter, and to reduce the heat generation (mine is on 24/7) which really heats up my den year round. My most strenuous processing is photography and a little video work (all personal ... no pro work), and some gaming usually in Windows.

    I have upgraded my Mac Pro with dual SSD RAID-0 boot disks, dual 1TB RAID-0 hard disks for data, and a SSD Windows boot disk. I have 16GB RAM and have upgraded the GPU to the HD 5870. I did purchase a 2010 iMac with the intention of swapping them at that time, but then upgraded the video and SSDs before I got the swap accomplished, so the Mac Pro surpassed the iMac and I kept using it and recently sold the almost unused iMac.

    It appears the the new maxed out iMac may offer better performance than my upgraded 2008 Mac Pro does now, and I don't see much upgrade potential left in this older Mac Pro (there are some significant differences between the 2008 and 2009+ Mac Pros). I also am using a 6 yr old 30" Apple Cinema display (matt) which may be reaching its EOL. I wasn't a fan of the reflective glass on the old iMac and am really anxious to see the less reflective 27" display on the new ones.

    I don't know that I need the capability and cost of whatever Apple comes out with next year to replace the Mac Pro if the iMac (of which I really like the form factor) available in December will equal or surpass the performance of my 5 yr old Mac Pro.

    I welcome any suggestions or comments...

  12. macrumors 6502a

    Apr 18, 2011

    Kyle, you have a mac pro, you don't need to edit off of firewire drives. What kind of storage setup do you have? You have the option for SAS storage, for external hardware raids connected by PCI card, for so many different things.

    Here's one upgrade you could do’s-internal-bays-to-sata-3-0

    Here's another one from the RED user's forum

    "Which model of Mac Pro are we talking about here? If it's a 2006 model, no problem, if it's a 2008 model - even better. If it's a 2009 model, it takes some extra work.

    The '08 Mac Pro has the easiest access to the 4 internal drive bays via the mini SAS (iPASS) cable. You can disconnect that from the logic board and connect it to a RAID card like the HighPoint, Areca, ATTO or CalDigit cards, I think you will need an adapter for all but the CalDigit card, IIRC. You're in business, 4 drives in a RAID... Then you have two SATA connectors on the logic board, labeled ODD_1 & 2. Pretty easy to snake a couple SATA cables up to the optical bays and you can boot from them or whatever. There are mounting brackets you can get that let you mount 2 3.5" HDDs in a single 5.25" bay. So you can have 6 HDDs in the Mac Pro plus your optical drive. Or just mount one HDD and then use the other SATA cable to connect to a Blu-Ray. I suppose you could always go all out on internal HDDs and eliminate the internal optical bay and run 2 off the SATA connectors and 2 more off the EIDE/ATA connectors.

    In a 2009 Mac Pro, there is no iPASS cable. The SATA/SAS header is hard-wired right to the connector backplane on the logic board. If you're ambitious with good soldering skills, you can bypass and connect your own RAID card, but it's not worth even thinking about it, IMO. There are no free SATA headers, unless you have an unused optical bay. You can still put a system drive in that optical bay easily. And then you can hook up the 4 internal HDDs to your RAID controller, but it takes a little work. Easiest way is to get some replacement drive sleds that can be modded to flip the HDDs around or mount them a bit further from the SATA back-plane. Then run cables direct from them to your RAID controller. You will need extensions for the power connectors or a way to route power to them as well. It's a pain, but I've seen it done. I've almost done it to mine a few times, but I just run an internal 3-drive RAID-0 as a big scratch disk mostly. Then keep all my serious storage as an external RAID.

    I would also recommend the ATTO cards -- great support. ARECA is great too. I would take either of those over the HighPoint cards."

    About the GPU upgrades, about all of these things, maybe talk to OWC or buy a quick consultation from, as he's pretty up on what you can do with a mac pro.
  13. beltzak, Oct 25, 2012
    Last edited: Oct 25, 2012

    macrumors member

    Aug 18, 2006
    Flashing Cards

    Well I looked to flash when I purchased the Radeon 4870 because it was more expensive from the apple website but I though it lack a bit of information. Now I am forced to look again and I jumped the wagon.

    This is what I found so far:,1100.0.html ZEUS a Mac tool for flashing and backup of ROM a Mac a database tool for flashing graphics on Mac

    In the forum I found an acceptable guide for my graphics version. But I guess with a bit of work you could find more about Nvidia GTX.

    From what I understand:
    1) Search a suitable graphics
    2) Backup the Rom on Mac - I am quite sure some GTX work out the box (not full support, that is why we need to flash it)
    3) Backup the Rom on Windows
    4) Flash the graphics on Windows with windows rom (on the forum this does not work)
    5) Flash the graphics on Windows with the Mac backup rom (successful)

    I still don't know the windows tools for flashing. I will get there when I go back home in 2 or 3 weeks.

    PS check this thread:
  14. hfg
    macrumors 68040


    Dec 1, 2006
    Cedar Rapids, IA. USA
    That is interesting CASLondon, thanks for posting. :)

    I was unaware of that upgrade for my 2008 MP.

  15. kylepro88, Oct 25, 2012
    Last edited: Oct 25, 2012

    thread starter macrumors regular

    Jul 30, 2006
    Atlanta, GA
    I use a combination of FCP7, FCPX, and Premiere but Premiere gets the least attention, FCPX gets the most, and FCP7 is only when I need to open older projects I want to keep in FCP7 format.

    CUDA is the big thing for Premiere but FCPX relies on OpenCL. Aren't the high performance Nvidia cards more suited to CUDA then OpenCL even if OpenCL is present?

    What's the fastest GPU I could put into my 2009 MacPro that doesn't require external power or jumping through a ton of hoops and will be well suited to FCPX? Most of them basically look like you put them in, boot, then install drivers.

    At the moment I use FW800 drives because that's the best way for me to make my crucial content mobile. I don't want all my crucial info inside my computer but in an external I can take somewhere. Just personal preference...
  16. macrumors member

    Jul 15, 2007
    Los Angeles, CA
    I had the same question about a week ago...

    ...when I was considering buying a new iMac or a Mac Pro. I also do film and music work; Final Cut Pro X and Pro Tools 9 on Snow Leopard 10.6.8.

    I opted for this and it cost me $3,000 after finding deals and configuring my own upgrades:

    Mac Pro 8 core 2.66GHz (2009) $1,400
    24GB RAM $145
    ATI 5870 Graphics $330
    (2) OCZ Deneva 400GB SSD's (enterprise drives) $325 each
    (2) WD Caviar Black 2TB HDD's $125 each
    (1) Hitachi Deskstar 4TB HDD $250
  17. macrumors 65816


    Oct 4, 2004
    Oslo, Norway
    From what I understand, the GTX570 is the best card for video editing right now. The 4000 is a bit faster in some tasks, but cost twice as much. You can use them right out of the box, or buy them from macvidcards on eBay and they are optimised for osx and will run faster than if you use a normal windows version. Search for posts by Jeff Kilgore over at what he does not know is not worth knowing.
    I'm planning on this upgrade for my Mac Pro 2008
  18. macrumors 65816


    Oct 19, 2012
    You have a.....

    above the average setup there. Forget the iMac thing. If the Mac Pro 2013 or 201X ever see the light, then reconsider.:):apple:
  19. thread starter macrumors regular

    Jul 30, 2006
    Atlanta, GA
    Checked out this thread now that the new 2012 iMac is out.

    Posted my results at the end of the thread.

    Looks like my current 2009 MacPro is still about 14% faster then the new iMac maxed out. Not an insane amount, but it's something...typically the same margin as a previous gen iMac vs. new.

    Still seems like I have one of the faster Mac's you can have. For the moment I'm keeping this machine...
  20. macrumors 68040


    Jun 16, 2007
    Not to mention you can put in a new Kepler GPU card and it will be rocking :D
    Would still kick the iMac's butt.
  21. macrumors 6502

    Jul 10, 2007
    Ulladulla, NSW Australia
    I own the same Mac Pro. Only I have 32GB RAM, and I DO have SSDs. I have a 240GB OWC 3G Mercury Extreme Pro as my main boot/OS/apps drive, and then TWO OCZ Vertex 2 drives in a RAID 0 striped array for all my project files.

    I am a web/graphic designer/developer, and also do audio engineering/music production, some light final cut pro x stuff, and lots of browsing/chatting/iTunes etc.

    I ALSO just got TWO of the fully maxed out 27" iMacs for my design studio for my other designers. I have used the machines for a few days and they ARE REALLY nice, and VERY fast.

    Anecdotally, the new iMacs FEEL snappier than the 09 Mac Pro, in terms of general OS X performance. And the GPU is DEFINITELY more powerful than the 4870 that I have in my 09 Mac Pro - BUT, in terms of raw power, our Pro is still slightly in the lead.

    Could I handle working on a 27" maxed out iMac - yep probably. But I'd have this nagging feeling, knowing that yes, some of the time the iMac is faster, but then when it comes time to work hard, the 8 core pro is better.

    What I recommend, is do what I'm doing and hold out until 2013. Get an SSD (or several in RAID 0) and hang in there a little longer.
  22. thread starter macrumors regular

    Jul 30, 2006
    Atlanta, GA
    Yea it's hard to say how the new iMac would stack up in overall performance. I know this MP is technically faster, but it won't be for long. You gotta wonder what the iMac plus SSD plus TB would do for my normal graphics/video work. BUT, when it comes to the GPU you have a very large screen and lots of pixels to be handling just to web surf and display the normal resolution. I currently only run a 1920x1200 screen on my MP with 5870. Just hard to weigh these things out. We'll see what 2013 brings...right now I have no complaints about current machine.
  23. macrumors 6502

    Jul 10, 2007
    Ulladulla, NSW Australia
    Yeah, honestly this 2009 Mac Pro has been the greatest Mac I have ever owned. So reliable, so fast, and paid for itself many, many times over. It's been fun to upgrade it over time and extend it's life - and in reality I could easily continue to use this machine for another few years, pending OS compatibility (which I am sure will be fine for another couple of OS X point releases).
  24. macrumors 68030


    Feb 4, 2010
    I tricked my 2009 Mac Pro out nicely, and saw a recent barefeats test with my MP vs the latest iMac, and there was only one test out of a dozen that the iMac beat what I have. Well, less than what I have, really. I can see iMacs winning my heart in the future, but not yet. :)
  25. thread starter macrumors regular

    Jul 30, 2006
    Atlanta, GA
    I'm reviving this thread a bit. I still have the 09 MacPro I started the thread about. There haven't been any new iMac or MacPro announcements so who knows what's coming soon.

    In regards to processing power the machines are close, about 14% on comparable encodes. That's a small difference. I've tried to look into what other GPU's (better then my 5870) can be put into this thing without major headaches and haven't found much help.

    How about Thunderbolt? Video editing is really the only area where I need a boost. Everything else I do can be done on the current machine just fine. Even editing can, but I'm always curious about little enhancements that can make things snappier.

    I wonder how the iMac affording me the use of TB drives would compare to my MacPro reading from FW800 drives? Somehow I see the iMac winning if it can get to the footage faster then the MacPro. There's always a bottleneck somewhere, but since the processing/gpu power is similar between the machines, the only real difference the iMac can afford is a huge boost in access speed to files I might be editing with.

    My current FW800 drives are getting older and I don't want to invest in more FW800 drives...I want TB drives in the future if possible.

    Any thoughts? Here's hoping for a MacPro update at WWDC...*sigh*

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