2009-2012 Mac Pro to run Adobe CS6 Suite?

cweese

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Nov 26, 2018
6
0
YXE
Hello,

Long time lurker, first time poster... After my 2012 MBP bit the dust last year I've been using workarounds on a 2016 MBP as my main work machine. I've been using Adobe CS6 and am happy with it for print production work - I really don't need anything newer or fancier. However... you probably know where this is heading... I can't keep using CS6 and upgrading my MacOS. After the 2016 MBP proved buggy in the hardware dept I upgraded to a 2017 MBP and Mojave.

This has coincided with a shift in my source of income - where it used to be 100% graphic design (specifically Adobe InDesign, Photoshop, and Illustrator), much of my work is shifting to photo/video creation and editing. The 2017 MBP is great, I run FCPX and Lightroom and just bought an Affinity photo editing app to try out. I'm also excited to see how their desktop publishing app is going to turn out.

However.

I still do some print production work, and let's face it, the print production industry moves at a glacial pace. All I really need is something that will reliably produce a printable 4-color PDF, and I want something to read all my legacy files, and I have issues with Adobe's subscription model (but let's not go there).

The result being, I would like to set up a machine with Snow Leopard/Lion/Mountain Lion specifically to run the Adobe CS6 suite and getting a cheese grater cMP tower (2009 to 2012) is the option I'm currently looking at. I don't mind some tinkering and am learning to change out computer parts (I've done simple stuff like RAM and hard drives - if I can find a good youtube video I'm OK with following instructions) but I have some questions:

- are there any non-upgradeable parts for the cMPs? i.e., what are going to be the limiting factors - what should I purchase straight out of the gate as I won't be able to upgrade or will be difficult to upgrade later on? (edit: Or, are there any parts that are impossible to replace if they fail? I don't plan on upgrading to run newer OS, I'm willing to accept some performance limitations, although I'm thinking they'll be minimal with all the RAM and HDD available in a desktop machine).

- It sounds like a lot of the driver issues happen when people upgrade to run the newer OS... is this true or will I have to deal with weird driver issues regardless?

- 2009 vs 2012? I've read some of the lid vs lidless debate... to be honest I am just starting to understand it... sounds like the 2009s are a great deal under the right circumstances but I'm not sure if they'll be OK for my purpose.

- Budget is around $1000, I don't need to be super cheap, as I said above I'd rather purchase the right "limiting factors" and upgrade ram/HDs later.

- peripherals to run with it are all USB or firewire (no thunderbolt)

Any thing else I should be aware of? Thanks a bunch, this forum is a lifesaver :)

cweese
 
Last edited:

kohlson

macrumors 68000
Apr 23, 2010
1,986
537
I have a 2009 cMP and still use CS6. Illustrator can be a small challenge - I think I had to install an older JRE or something. A friend uses his 2010. cMP with Premiere Pro every day. All of this is on 10.13.6. No driver issues with a stock 5770 or GT120.

Lidless (2009 only) only matters if you have a dual processor 2009, and you want to update the CPUs.

Given a choice, get a 2010 or 2012, though.

Upgrades:
- SSD
- Memory
- USB3
- CPUs
- Graphics

...perhaps in that order, depending on what you want to do.
 

cweese

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Nov 26, 2018
6
0
YXE
I have a 2009 cMP and still use CS6. Illustrator can be a small challenge - I think I had to install an older JRE or something. A friend uses his 2010. cMP with Premiere Pro every day. All of this is on 10.13.6. No driver issues with a stock 5770 or GT120.
Yep, I've had to install the legacy Java on my other machines. Not a problem!
[doublepost=1543329151][/doublepost]
Would running an older version of macOS inside Parallels Lite (free) to host your older CS apps not be a solution?
Maybe...? Although from what I've read (see comment above) CS6 seems to go buggy based on hardware, not software - or a hardware/software combination. Like kohlson's comment above, I also ran CS6 on my 2012 MBP with the latest OS with no problem.

I still think I want to add a desktop machine just for backup. I've had three laptop emergencies just in the past year, and since we kind of live in the middle of nowhere, it takes 7-10 days to get a refurb machine shipped in, and another 2-3 days to set it up... I wouldn't mind having a solid stay-at-home backup option.
 

Zeke D

macrumors 65816
Nov 18, 2011
1,006
155
Arizona
I use CS6 pretty regularly on my dual-CPU 2010. I also have it installed on my single-CPU 2009 (flashed 4,1 > 5,1). I ran it without issue on my 2008 cMP, as well as my 2008 24' iMac. So go for a 2009 or newer cMP, and you should be good to go.
 

mattspace

macrumors 65816
Jun 5, 2013
1,221
942
Australia
we kind of live in the middle of nowhere, it takes 7-10 days to get a refurb machine shipped in, and another 2-3 days to set it up... I wouldn't mind having a solid stay-at-home backup option.
Good reason. I'm still running CS5 on my cheesegrater, and at 31 Celsius ambient (35-38 in the case) machine is quieter than the ceiling fan. It's a tank, and by far the most reliable mac I've even owned, despite all the non-sanctioned upgrades.

For Adobe stuff, the single processor seems to be considered the best option. If you go a dual, and get the 2009 (because the dual 2.26 is usually a cheap find), save yourself the trouble of worrying about CPUs and just get the pre-delidded versions (dncomputers on ebay is where I bought mine, and I'd recommend them) - a turnkey "zero worries" solution. You might also investigate a non-electrically-conductive thermal paste for them, because the chip surface is quite small. Data Memory Systems, likewise I'd say I'd recommend on RAM.

An SSD is really important for performance in these machines, just an ordinary 2.5" form factor one, you can even install it in the secondary optical bay, and keep all your drive sleds for spinners.
 

spacedcadet

macrumors regular
Mar 5, 2009
154
18
Good reason. I'm still running CS5 on my cheesegrater, and at 31 Celsius ambient (35-38 in the case) machine is quieter than the ceiling fan. It's a tank, and by far the most reliable mac I've even owned, despite all the non-sanctioned upgrades.

For Adobe stuff, the single processor seems to be considered the best option. If you go a dual, and get the 2009 (because the dual 2.26 is usually a cheap find), save yourself the trouble of worrying about CPUs and just get the pre-delidded versions (dncomputers on ebay is where I bought mine, and I'd recommend them) - a turnkey "zero worries" solution. You might also investigate a non-electrically-conductive thermal paste for them, because the chip surface is quite small. Data Memory Systems, likewise I'd say I'd recommend on RAM.

An SSD is really important for performance in these machines, just an ordinary 2.5" form factor one, you can even install it in the secondary optical bay, and keep all your drive sleds for spinners.
[doublepost=1543394296][/doublepost]Just my two-penceworth. I'm a graphic designer, mainly print/photography, including lots of multi gigabyte Photoshop layered files. I bought a secondhand 2010 Mac Pro 5,1 a good few years ago with the stock 2.8Ghz single processor. Upgraded it to the 3.33ghz 6 core W3680 which was super easy and cheap. 3 x 16gb sticks and an 8gb for 56GB Ram is also super cheap nowadays. SSD boot in the optical tray, 4tb drives set to clone.
Currently running Sierra 10.12.6 as I don't want to go to the new file system yet, rock solid for CS6 and CC19 for print work even with the stock 5770 card, although I'll upgrade to a Radeon RX580 soon as that's super cheap too.
I know there's lots more things I could do with nvme drives etc. but really overkill for the kind of work I do. We were running these machines in our studio when brand new and nothing about print design has changed that much since!
Amazing workhorses really, 8 years old and still current.
Some great tips above, I do seem to remember needing the legacy Java to get Illustrator CS6 working, but I'm on Cloud now so not an issue any more.

I'd recommend grabbing the pre Sierra Disk Utility if you can as it's been really dumbed down, but that's not really a dealbreaker for running the CS6 apps.

For Adobe print apps they are mainly processor bound and don't multithread well so higher clock the better. RAM for Photoshop as you know.

https://macperformanceguide.com is a great resource.

Go for a 2010 or 2012 at this point the 2008 isn't worth it IMO.
 

Macsonic

macrumors 65816
Sep 6, 2009
1,473
17
Earth
I still think I want to add a desktop machine just for backup. I've had three laptop emergencies just in the past year, and since we kind of live in the middle of nowhere, it takes 7-10 days to get a refurb machine shipped in, and another 2-3 days to set it up... I wouldn't mind having a solid stay-at-home backup option.
A 2009 4,1 classic Mac Pro upgraded to 6 core 3.33Ghz or the base 4 core 2.66Ghz would be adequate for your print production work and Adobe CS6. The 2009 model is just as fast as the 2010 or 2012 cMac Pros. The limiting factor would be newer OSX are not supported but I think you’re ok with using older OSXs. You can add USB 3.0 PCIE card and SSDs later on. Spare parts like CPUs, CPU trays, logic boards or power supplies are still offered for sale.

https://www.ebay.com/sch/i.html?_from=R40&_trksid=p2380057.m570.l1311.R1.TR1.TRC0.A0.H0.X2009+mac+pro+logic.TRS0&_nkw=mac+pro+2009+logic+board&_sacat=0