2010 Mac Pro 5.1, is it still worth buying?

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by kensic, Aug 15, 2016.

  1. kensic macrumors 6502

    Jan 11, 2013
    short back story - i got into photography about 1 year ago, and have been casually editing photos (2ish photos a week) on my macbook pro 2012 (i7 quad core) on Aperture. so i feel like im ready to move my work to a desktop.

    so is buying a used 2010 macpro 5.1 (6 cores) still worth it? is it still future proof? ill be using this with my dell 27" 2560x1440 resolution screen and i can always update gfx card (currently have a spare gtx 660)

    local craiglist ads are selling these 2010 macpro 5.1 6 cores for 750-900$

    thanks for you inputs.
  2. flowrider macrumors 603


    Nov 23, 2012
    ^^^^Lot's of different opinions on this, but IMHO, YES! I have a 5,1 DP cMP (upgraded) and it aint goin' nowhere!

  3. kensic thread starter macrumors 6502

    Jan 11, 2013
    Thanks I found a local one for about 600$.
  4. pastrychef, Aug 15, 2016
    Last edited: Aug 15, 2016

    pastrychef macrumors 601


    Sep 15, 2006
    New York City, NY
    In my opinion, no. The 5,1 is using technology that's approx 7-8 years old. While it's still capable of doing that many people need it to do, it does so in a pretty inefficient manner. By that, I mean these systems suck down lots of power and spit out lots of heat.

    With a 5,1, you will be getting:
    PCI-e 2.0 when 3.0 is the norm now
    SATA 2 when 3 is the norm now
    USB 2 when 3 is the norm now and 3.1 is appearing in more and more computers​

    Future proof? Sierra will drop support for the 4,1 and next up will be the 5,1s. Will that happen with macOS 10.13.x? I don't know, but it CAN happen.

    In general, I feel this is probably the worst time to buy any new system from Apple because so many models are long overdue for updates. If I were in your shoes, I would continue to work the MacBook Pro for now and wait to see what new computers Apple releases.
  5. buster84 macrumors 6502

    Oct 7, 2013
    I agree and I also disagree.

    I only agree if

    1) you need the latest and greatest at all times
    2) money is no object
    3) need to leave the computer on 24/7 (electricity cost affects overall cost if this is needed)
    4) Need a warranty/need the most uptodate OS

    I disagree with you if you

    1) Need to run OSX on a budget (not willing to do a hackintosh, or willing to buy an expensive trashcan model)
    2) Dont plan to run the computer 24/7
    3) Dont mind doing some basic upgrading to the system with new video cards, usb 3.0 cards, and using non solid state drives in the sata 2 ports. If using SSD, usb 3.0 or thunderbolt are best. For a ssd boot drive, get a PCI-E SSD (SM591 m.2)
    4) Dont mind the extra heat the computer produces
    5) Dont mind buying a 5-6 year old computer
    6) Dont mind using hacks to get the newest OS when they remove support for it one day.

    I'd also suggest buying a dual processor model, a 2009 or 2010+ with dual 6 core processors or quad core and upgrade them. The 12 core model is still very fast and still faster than most of the computers you can buy today. The only computers that have a real edge are the newer workstation machines and the new 8 core extreme i7's (over 1k for the cpu).

    If your doing video editing and photo editing, the more cores/threads the faster it'll be. If your end goal is to use this computer for gaming it can be done, but dont expect it to perform like a true gaming machine. It'll definitely do pretty well though if you play games on it with a x5680 or x5690 processor. Even 4k.
  6. pastrychef macrumors 601


    Sep 15, 2006
    New York City, NY
    If you're going to do this, you may as well invest in a hackintosh. The $600 he's considering spending on a 5,1 can almost get him a nice Skylake system with i7-6700K if he doesn't go for all premium parts. By the time he adds on SATA 3 card, USB 3 card, the total cost for the 5,1 should be able to cover the cost of a carefully planned Skylake hackintosh.

    Getting OS X installed on a hackintosh isn't that hard anymore. The tools have matured greatly. Also, with a hackintosh, he also doesn't have to worry about EFI firmware on video cards and boot screens.
  7. nrdpxl macrumors newbie


    Aug 19, 2015
    I can't tell anything about photos, but for videos especially 4K macbookpro 2015 is much much much faster to render from After Effects than MacPro 5,1 12 core beast. And i'm very sceptical about old MacPro after that experience.
  8. joot macrumors member

    Nov 3, 2006
    In my opinion the cMP is still very relevant depending on what you use it for. I used mine for Light room and premiere and I love it. It does what I need it to do. Hackintosh, I had problems all the time with different kept to get certain functions to work. Upgradin the OS has been a pain in the rear.
  9. pastrychef macrumors 601


    Sep 15, 2006
    New York City, NY
    It sounds like your hackintosh experience was with older methods. As I said earlier, the tools have matured a lot and it's really not that hard anymore.

    On my main system, I had to manually install one kext. When it came time to update OS X, I just did it from the Mac App Store like how I would do it on any real Mac. Here, I wrote about my experience. I can honestly say that this is the best Mac I've ever had.

    More recently, I purchased a used HP Elite 8300 with i7-3770 for $200. From the point I plugged in the power, I was up and running in OS X within half an hour. I documented my experiences with that computer here. Again, I updated OS X via the Mac App Store.
  10. knowhate, Aug 15, 2016
    Last edited: Oct 21, 2017
  11. pastrychef macrumors 601


    Sep 15, 2006
    New York City, NY
    Lmao. :D

    Just do plenty of reading before purchasing your components. In particular, the success stories of others helped me a lot. Just about every issue has been come across by someone else and most likely resolved.

    My Maximus VIII Gene build was my first build and it went really smoothly. I did come across one or two little issues but all have been resolved and I'm loving my machine.
  12. jbarley macrumors 68040


    Jul 1, 2006
    Vancouver Island
    The NewEgg link you supplied is for an i5-3570 processor model, would this also be an easy hack?
  13. pastrychef, Aug 15, 2016
    Last edited: Aug 15, 2016

    pastrychef macrumors 601


    Sep 15, 2006
    New York City, NY
    Yes. The only difference from that system and mine is that mine has an i7-3770 and the one from Newegg has an i5-3570. Installation of OS X would be the same on both. Try searching around on Ebay. That's where I got mine with i7-3770 for $200 shipped.

    If you have the room for it, the HP Elite 8300 Microtower will accommodate full sized PCI-e cards which means you will have more video card choices. I went with a Small Form Factor version to save space and am limited to using low profile video cards.
  14. haralds macrumors 6502a


    Jan 3, 2014
    Silicon Valley, CA
    I have an upgraded 5,1 from 2011. It has 12 cores running at 3Ghz with 48GB of RAM. It has a flashed Gigabyte Radeon 7970 with 3GB of RAM running overclocked, fans are quiet. I have 18TB of spinning drives in the main bays for which eSATA 2 is not an issue. An additional 4 SSDs with 3TB are sitting in an internal bracket driven by CalDigit FASTA-6GU3 cards that also supply USB 3. The WiFi/BTLE card is upgraded to support Continuity.
    This is likely as far as this system will go. But it will likely be enough for me for several years.

    I would not buy the current Mac Pro configuration. It would only be a marginal improvement and is much harder to customize, which makes it less future proof. I mainly use Mac (although Windows 10 and 7 are on this system in multiple Boot Camps also accessible via VMWare..)

    No question, there are cheaper Windows workstation configurations that are more current. But I use macOS and do not want to mess with hackintosh except for fun. My system runs 24/7. There are plenty of other systems in the house. I have a mini as a server and a MacBook Pro Retina (high end made to order) plus 11" Air. The Pro is docked to a Thunderbolt monitor with accessories.

    But nothing compares to the quiet, effortless performance of my cPro running one or more VMs with large compiles, video compression, etc., while keeping the tunes humming and mail going.

    The "need" for more performance at this time is mainly theoretical and I am not in the market for $1K video cards, even if they could run in this box.

    So - it's all pretty individual. I have put a lot into this system, but certainly got my money's worth. And my 2,1 and 3,1 are also still in use also running ElCap.
  15. grcar Suspended


    Sep 28, 2014
    For some reason TWO different machines are called mac pro 5,1. The mid 2010 machines have model numbers MCXXXLL/A. The mid 2012 machines have model numbers MDXXXLL/A.

    You are much better off buying the 2012 machines. Apple has a policy of keeping a model running for 7 years after introduction, so the 2012 MDXXXLL/A will last until 2019. That means the software will work, and you can bring it in to an Apple store for repairs if all else fails.

    I recommend the quad core MD770LL/A. It should cost about $700. Beware many sellers change the firmware on the 2010 models to make them appear to be 2012 machines.

    There is something special about 2012 Apple products. The mac mini people swear their 2012 mac minis are the best. Maybe the ghost of Steve Jobs wanted one last batch of insanely great products.
  16. DPUser macrumors 6502a

    Jan 17, 2012
    Just put in a SAT3 PCIe card if you are so concerned. In reality, whether you will notice a difference depends what you are doing with your SSD. For boot drive work, it is my understanding most activity is very small reads and writes, so small that no SSD outpaces SATA2 speed. For file transfers and such, especially big files, you will experience a difference. You can get a Mac bootable PCIe x1 card (ASM1061 chipset) that will almost hit SATA3 speeds for single drive for about $10, so you are not talking big bucks here.
  17. h9826790 macrumors G4


    Apr 3, 2014
    Hong Kong
    Not entirely correct. On the hardware side, they will put their product into the vintage list after 7 years, and stop providing hardware fix / replacement, etc.

    But on the software side, it's been more then once that they put a Mac (less than 7 years old) out of the new OSX support. However, I personally tends to agree that the 2010 5,1 or even a 2009 4,1 (flashed to 5,1) may able to stay up to date until 2019, because of the 2012 5,1.
  18. pastrychef macrumors 601


    Sep 15, 2006
    New York City, NY
    My hackintosh is a quad core i7-6700K@4.7GHz with 64GB or RAM. I run a reference GTX 980 with 6GB RAM and don't have to worry about EFI firmware for boot screens. The fans in my system are inaudible to me even under full CPU load. I have three 3.5" drives and two 2.5" SSDs all on hot swap bays (which Mac Pros don't have) running off of SATA 3 and an M.2 SSD. USB 3 (as well as 3.1) are built-in to the motherboard. Like you, I used a Wifi/Bluetooth card pulled from more current iMacs for Continuity.

    I spent about $1400-1500 to put together my system. I bought the best fans and heatsink I could find which is why the system is inaudible to me even under full load. The fans alone cost me over $80 and the heatsink cost another $60. I wasn't looking to save money on this build. I was looking for a system with the features I wanted. This thing also runs 24/7. That's how I used to have my Mac Pro 5,1 which this system replaced and that's how I will run this.

    I also have a Mac mini that runs 24/7 acting as a server and a MacBook. I also have an 8 drive NAS that runs 24/7. Transfers to and from the NAS are extremely fast due to the use of 10GbE.

    I also put in a lot in to my old Mac Pro 5,1 before replacing it with my current hackintosh. CPU upgrades to 12 core 3.33GHz. High end video cards. 64GB RAM. PCI-e SSD. SATA 3 card. USB 3 card. 10GbE card. Wifi/Bluetooth upgrade. But nothing could upgrade its inefficiencies. Power consumption was ridiculous and the amount of heat put out by that computer heated up the room enough that it was necessary to crank up the A/C.

    Power consumption of my hackintosh vs my old Mac Pro 5,1 3.33GHz 12 core:
    Sleep: 5.1W vs 10.1W
    Idle: ~80W vs ~170W
    Internet surfing: ~90-130W vs ~210W
    Full load: ~190-193W vs ~410W​

    Based on the amount of power a Mac Pro consumes and the amount of heat it puts out, I hardly call the way it performs "effortless". Although normally quiet, once it is put under full load, the fans in my Mac Pro became quite noisy. Again, I don't consider this "effortless". VMs, video compression, iTunes, mail. My hackintosh truly handles this much more "effortlessly" than the old Mac Pro.
    Screen Shot 2016-07-12 at 3.15.11 PM.png Screen Shot 2016-07-09 at 7.02.09 AM.jpg

    Both of us put a good amount in to our 5,1s. I also got my money's worth from that old 5,1. The difference is that you continue to pay for that Mac Pro in the form of increased electric bill and higher air conditioning costs. I've moved on to something that consumes far less power and runs much, much cooler.

    I used to have a Mac Pro 1,1 and a 3,1 too. But there's no way I would continue to use either of them today. When I got my Kill-A-Watt, it really changed my thinking on the importance of efficiency.

    I loved my Mac Pro 5,1. I will always remember it fondly and it will always be one of my favorite Macs of all time. But it's past its prime. When using high end video cards, the CPU(s) and, to a lesser degree, the PCI-e 2.0 are bottlenecks.

    There seems to be misconception here that a hackintosh requires constant tinkering with and is unreliable and can't run 24/7. This just isn't true. Once set up properly, they don't require any more maintenance than any other Mac. There are even a lot of people who have already upgraded to macOS Sierra with little to no tinkering required.
    --- Post Merged, Aug 16, 2016 ---
    The 2008 MacBook lost OS X upgrade support after just 4 years. No amount of hacking could get Mountain Lion to run properly on those systems because Apple never made 64-bit versions of the graphics driver.

    I was unaware of a way to change a 2010 Mac Pro 5,1 to a 2012 Mac Pro 5,1. Please provide a link to the procedure.
  19. ScottishCaptain macrumors 6502a

    Oct 4, 2008
    The 2010 Mac Pro and 2012 Mac Pro are identical, except for the CPU. Same logic board, same daughter card, same SMC and EFI firmware versions. If you want to turn one into the other, all you have to do is to swap out the chips.

    People are constantly trying to flash the firmware on a MacPro4,1 (2009) to turn it into a MacPro5,1 (2010 or 2012), then sell that machine as the 5,1. However, this does NOT completely turn the machine into a MacPro5,1. Several of the parts inside have different revisions, and the SMC firmware will not match a 5,1. Likewise, the dual CPU card for the 4,1 is inferior to the 5,1 as the 4,1 requires lidless CPUs (and lacks an LGA retention bracket) whereas the 5,1 accepts standard lidded CPUs and has a proper LGA retention bracket installed around the socket.

    TLDR; if someone is selling a true MacPro5,1 as the 2012 machine because they swapped the CPUs, that's fine. That's the only difference between the 2010 and 2012. If they're selling a flashed 2009 as a 2010 or 2012, that's not OK. There are (potentially significant) hardware differences between the 2009 and later machines.

  20. pastrychef macrumors 601


    Sep 15, 2006
    New York City, NY
    There is a slight difference between the two. When you look in "About This Mac", they report whether it is a 2010 or a 2012. CPU changes will not change this.

    Screenshot 2015-12-22 17.54.58.png
  21. knowhate, Aug 16, 2016
    Last edited: Oct 21, 2017
  22. pastrychef, Aug 16, 2016
    Last edited: Aug 16, 2016

    pastrychef macrumors 601


    Sep 15, 2006
    New York City, NY
    I use a Kill-A-Watt clone to measure power usage. I've used it on my Mac Pro, hackintosh, Mac mini, NAS, and several other computers. The readings fluctuate in direct correlation to CPU usage. I have no reason to believe that the measurements are inaccurate.

    Believe me when I tell you I was as shocked to see how power hungry my old Mac Pro was. This little device has drastically changed how I look at computer equipment and power consumption is always a concern for me now.

    www.tonymacx86.com is an excellent resource. I did a lot of reading there before taking the plunge. The same rules apply on a hackintosh as it does on real Macs. AMD video cards offer better acceleration for FCPX and Nvidia video cards will offer better performance with Adobe apps. My best advice would be to make a trip to your local Apple Store and play around with their iMac 5K with i7-6700K. The performance you experience from that system can be pretty easily replicated on a hackintosh. The benefits of a hackintosh with similar hardware would be that you don't have to worry about thermal throttling because you can design your system with far better cooling than the iMac and you will have the option to use faster RAM and can overclock your CPU.

    Yes, I'm on the latest version of El Capitan. I updated to the latest version on the day it was released via the Apple Store just like how you would on any other Mac.

    In regards to future OS upgrades, I will try to explain what I know (anyone, please correct me if I make any mistakes)... When you first install OS X on a hackintosh, one of the first things you do is install Clover. Clover is a boot loader that does "on the fly" patches. Clover reads a plist file that tells OS X what kind of Mac it is with proper serial number and uuid. Then, it tells OS X, "Hey, it's all good. This machine is a Mac. You can go ahead and continue to load."

    I think that this method is fantastic and don't see it failing with any future updates. As I've stated earlier, there are already quite a few people running the Sierra betas on their hackintoshes with little to no tweaking needed. Of course, there's no guarantee that this won't change but through the years, Apple hasn't really gone out of their way to block hackintoshes and I haven't seen any indication that this will change. I believe that I will be able to upgrade to Sierra without any issues and will try once the final version is released.

    Compatibility depends on the hardware you choose. For example, we know that the latest iMac is based on the Intel Skylake platform and uses an i7-6700K. So, if you choose a Z170 motherboard with an i7-6700K, you will have a very high level of compatibility and your install will be easier and smoother. If, on the other hand, you choose an X99 motherboard and i7-6800K which no current Mac uses, you will have to much more work to try and get OS X installed.

    Secondly, whatever hardware on your motherboard that is not found on real Macs will require drivers. For example, the sound chip on my motherboard is not used in any Mac, so I needed to install a driver for it. However, there is a tool called MultiBeast that contains all of the most commonly found components on motherboards and all you have to do is click on the ones you need and it will install it for you. This tool does a number of things to help simplify the process of hackintoshing.

    Not a prob with the questions. I'll try my best to answer. ;)
  23. SolidCake, Aug 16, 2016
    Last edited: Aug 16, 2016

    SolidCake macrumors member


    May 20, 2016
    I completely missed the obvious....

    I bought a 4,1 and flashed it to a 5,1 and now I'm able to outperform the 2013 models at half the cost. It all comes down to what you are looking for when considering "future proof".
  24. theitsage Suspended

    Aug 28, 2005
    OP, go for it. The Mac Pro tower has been the most future proof Mac of all time. I can see myself using one 10 years from now. Will it be practical and efficient? Absolutely not but I like what I like.
  25. ITguy2016 Suspended

    May 25, 2016
    I disagree with this. While they are essentially the same one is a 2010 model and the other a 2012 model. If someone is selling a 2010 model which has been upgraded to 2012 specifications I would want to know about it. Not only because they're different years but one has been upgraded. All else being equal I would take the unmodified 2012 model over the modified 2010 model.

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