2nd Hand Mac Pro?

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by neil1980, Oct 22, 2014.

  1. neil1980 macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Nov 1, 2008
    #1
    Hi,

    I've been using my MacBook (late 2008 unibody, 2.4GHz, 4GB RAM, SSD + HDD) mostly for Aperture which does the job nicely though recently have been doing some FCP X work (rugby video for a club... 80-100 min long, 720p, just adding a score and time overlay really).

    I was thinking of upping the RAM to 8GB to help along this as when I export a match it takes forever as does compressing a version of it for DVD.

    I was looking at new iMac's and although I could afford one I couldn't justify splashing the cash on one as these videos are unpaid as I'm a volunteer at the club. I have noticed though that you can pick up 2008 Mac Pro's at reasonable money on eBay.

    Although it wouldn't be as fast as a new iMac am I right in assuming it would be a darn sight quicker than my MacBook if it had an SSD and at least the same amount of RAM?

    Any idea how long it would take to export a pretty simple 80-100 minute video with one of these?
     
  2. neil1980 thread starter macrumors 6502

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    Nov 1, 2008
    #2
    Or if it would still take an age to export the video on that would a new mac mini be a better option and just leave it running over night?
     
  3. Porco macrumors 68030

    Porco

    Joined:
    Mar 28, 2005
    #3
    I would think CPU performance would be the key factor in speeding up your video encoding. So if you can get a machine with lots of cores, that would be the thing to concentrate on probably. Might be worth checking out some benchmark sites if possible to try and get an idea of what's worth it over your macbook.
     
  4. dollystereo macrumors 6502a

    dollystereo

    Joined:
    Oct 6, 2004
    Location:
    France
    #4
    The mini is a better option. The 2008 mac pro is an old machine, better to get something with a i-core processor.
    If you can get a 2012 i7 mini for a good price is a really better option. Even a entry level imac (the one with the quad i5) is a very good option to.
    Changing your macbook pro for a more recent model is a good upgrade, just stay away of the 2011 models.
     
  5. neil1980 thread starter macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Nov 1, 2008
    #5
    Thanks for the replies both.

    I did try looking on Geekbench but the numbers don't really mean too much to me really.

    Are the newer i core processors much faster than the old ones then? I must admit I assumed say a 2.6 i5 dual core wouldn't be a great deal faster than a 2.4 C2D?
     
  6. dollystereo, Oct 22, 2014
    Last edited: Oct 22, 2014

    dollystereo macrumors 6502a

    dollystereo

    Joined:
    Oct 6, 2004
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    #6
    Yes, they are way faster.
    Especially the i7 ones with hyperthreading technology.
    I moved from the 2008 MBP (same as yours) to the 2011 MBP (2.2 GHz quad core i7) and the difference is huge in Final Cut, I would say 4x faster.
    I also have an octo-core 2008 Mac Pro, and the 2011 MBP is faster.
    Depending on your budget, you could get a substantial upgrade from any machine from 2011 or newer.
    Just to give you and idea,
    http://browser.primatelabs.com/mac-benchmarks
    The MBP 2008 has a 2400 score in multithreaded apps, and the entry level macbook air (i5 1.4GHz) has 5300 points. The 2011 MBP has 9500 points.
     
  7. neil1980 thread starter macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Nov 1, 2008
    #7
    Hmm, that's got me wondering now if I'd be better off getting rid of the MacBook and switching to a newer one rather than adding a desktop to my set up.

    I guess I need a good think before I pull the trigger on anything.

    Thanks for your input everyone!
     
  8. Tom-Create-Pro macrumors member

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    Oct 15, 2014
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    UK
    #8
    I'd have a think about a 5, 1 if I were you, great performance, price and expandability.
     
  9. neil1980 thread starter macrumors 6502

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    Nov 1, 2008
    #9
    Currently I'm thinking a 27" iMac may be the better option (I was looking at some 2010's but might stretch to new).

    I'm sure I read somewhere that VRAM was only really used for 3D rendering but Apple say "256MB of VRAM (1GB recommended for 4K)" in the system requirements.

    So does VRAM make that much difference? I have no plans to do anything with 4K but if more VRAM will speed up FCP or Aperture then its something for me to consider
     
  10. dollystereo macrumors 6502a

    dollystereo

    Joined:
    Oct 6, 2004
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    France
    #10
    In final cut, the upgrade to the i7 processor is more important than VRAM.
    Get the entry 27" model, and upgrade the processor to i7. Get the ram from crucial or macsales.
     
  11. PinkyMacGodess macrumors 68040

    PinkyMacGodess

    Joined:
    Mar 7, 2007
    Location:
    Midwest America.
    #11
    Speed and memory. You can compensate for the former with more of the later, but there is a sweet spot where everything works the best which depends on what you are doing, and how the program utilizes the resources available.

    ----------

    The Mini is a dead end machine though. No upgrades, very closed. With a Mac Pro, even an old one, you can compensate for the age, plus the Xeon processor is built for throughput. Many people have been able to upgrade their older Mac Pros to faster processors. I've got an 8-core Xeon and its great for getting the work done. It's also an older 4,1. I can load up the drives and go to town working on video and sound all night Plus the memory isn't as severely limited as on the Mini.

    ----------

    Here's where you have to be careful. Just because an i7 is newer does NOT mean that it's faster. Intel has been tweaking their processors and some higher speed processors are not performing at certain tasks better than older processors, and more cores does not mean faster processing either.

    You have to look at the specs for the task you are going to be doing and see how the particular processor performs doing that task. But often, to be honest, you don't have much control over the processor you get. Meaning that you order one new, you *can* choose a different processor on nearly all models. Just be careful. I remember specs on an i5 that outperformed an i7 at certain tasks. It's not a given that the i7 will leave scorched Earth and rubber compared to an i5.

    Don't dismiss an older Mac Pro either. You can stock it with drives up the butt, and dump a lot of memory into them, and they have the expansion capabilities, like I said above, and for a decent price, you get a box with potential. I do some video and audio on my older 4,1, and it works pretty well for what I do. I have it loaded with terabyte drives and gobs of memory, and sometimes it does have to crunch stuff overnight, but it gets it done.

    I'd love a new Mac Pro, but realistically, it would be too fast, and too expensive, with the later being the stopping issue. I may upgrade the processors at some point and put new legs under it, but it works well.

    ----------

    I don't think it will help you. It's more the GPU than the VRAM, and an iMac isn't going to have a good enough GPU to help that much, if at all from my understanding.

    ----------

    I don't know if I tripped onto some hidden sale or what, but I ordered an iMac for pickup, and mentioned adding memory, and the 'Apple memory' they quoted was not much over the price of the memory (10 bucks a stick) I was going to buy when I got it home. I jumped on it there, and they installed it for free (not that it's that hard to install).

    I had an iMac go mental a few years back from what *could have been* bad memory. It was from Kingston, and I had never had an issue with memory before, or system stability. I'd check at an Apple Store and see what they are expecting for memory...
     
  12. neil1980 thread starter macrumors 6502

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    Nov 1, 2008
    #12
    Thanks again everyone... much appreciate all your input
     
  13. Macsonic macrumors 65816

    Macsonic

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    #13



    Yep. It's true that newer machines may not always be way faster than older Macs. It will also depend on the type of task and how software responds to hardware. Sometimes we are limited to the way the software was written. Benchmarks are helpful as reference though I still rely on actual real world experience. With my work, I deal with various design studios or motion graphics agencies and sometimes I am requested to use their Macs for needed edits and revisions on the design or video. I had one client who has the new cylinder Mac Pro, an 8 core and I had a chance to use their new Mac Pro. Some graphic tasks, the new Mac Pro was faster than my 4.1 2009 8 core but the speed difference was minimal and in some tasks I did not notice the difference. There was also a post I read in the Mac Pro section about a member who switched to the new Mac Pro, a six core and sold his classic tower Mac Pro. After a few months, he decided to sell his new Mac Pro and purchased a tower classic Mac Pro. He commented he did not see a major speed performance difference and and the price of the new Mac Pro did not justify the performance.
     
  14. PinkyMacGodess macrumors 68040

    PinkyMacGodess

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    Location:
    Midwest America.
    #14
    It's interesting to read the marketing hyperbole in this site.

    Early on it was revealed that throwing more cores into a processor *can* improve speed, but there is a point where more cores is just more cores, and there is an actual DECREASE in speed for certain tasks.

    Same with memory, there is a point where having more memory is beneficial, but after a certain level, it actually slows things down.

    Same is true with disk space, and especially RAID systems. There is a point, in a RAID 5 system, where the number of drives making up the volume becomes an impediment to the speed.

    People love to talk about the gigahertz speed of their processors, but there are far too many examples of faster processors on paper being markedly slower in real performance. There was and possibly still is an i5 processor that beats the crap out of the i7. But how could that be? It's in the design of the processor... Just like cars that *should* be the fastest, aren't. It's the design of the 'simple things', like drive gears, clutches, differentials, etc...

    I'm waxing philosophic here, but at some point, the basics ring true. Don't use a laptop for a desktop function. There are too many compromises for the size and power factors to make a laptop a complete desktop killer. Well, at least a 'true laptop' that doesn't need to be hooked to a power outlet because it has such a huge power draw.

    Moores law only goes so far. And Intel loves it when people get excited by the latest core count, and speed bump. It's all marketing... But if you are looking to get a new Mac, and see the processor upgrade available and wonder if you should do it, I say if you can afford it, do it. You will feel better about the system you end up with. Will it actually be faster? Maybe, maybe not. In the end, it really doesn't matter. What matters is your perception... ;)
     
  15. nilk macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Oct 18, 2007
    #15
    Assuming all the RAM modules in a computer are exactly the same (same brand, model, speed and size), what situation does having more RAM slow things down?
     
  16. PinkyMacGodess macrumors 68040

    PinkyMacGodess

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    #16
    So far I ran into it in a Windows server environment, but it has to do with the way that virtual memory is created. I believe that OSX does it in a similar way: it duplicates ALL the physical memory on the hard drive, and the system was just slow. I called HP support, and we went through some steps to find out what was going on, and they came down to the server had too much ram. I couldn't believe it when they told me that. It had to do with the way Windows server handled the memory, and the way the processors and software interacted. I yanked out some of the memory, and the system performance improved. And up to that point, I thought I'd seen it all... It didn't make sense, and still doesn't, but...

    I had heard of UNIX systems suffering similar issues, but have no direct experiential knowledge of it happening.

    I had always taken the idea that more memory was always better, but changed that after that incident.

    Something odd, I did run into another server that didn't have enough memory, although it was over what the software specs required. It had a sweet spot for the processor and drive configuration that was installed in the machine. I upped the memory to get to that spot, and it took off. It was like a whole new server after that. Strange things...
     
  17. neil1980 thread starter macrumors 6502

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    Nov 1, 2008
    #17
    Not sure how but I've gone from looking at £300 second hand Mac Pro's to ordering an iMac 5K !?!?!
     
  18. dollystereo macrumors 6502a

    dollystereo

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    France
    #18
    It happens!
     

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