Advice: Future-proofing of current Mac Pro

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by Gilfanon, Feb 22, 2009.

  1. Gilfanon macrumors member


    Aug 8, 2007
    London town

    I'd like some advice from this forum- for various reasons (tax relief and discounting being the principle ones) I'm obliged to buy a replacement desktop computer in the next month. I'd like it to be a Mac, and I'd like it to be future proof enough to last me 2-3 years, preferably longer with upgrades. My time constraints mean I can't wait for the new Nehalem Mac Pros, and future-proofing means iMacs are probably out, so I'm looking at buying the current Mac Pro. I'll be running 2x26" monitors and in terms of max system load it would be: Moderate Photoshop work in a Parallels window on Windows XP (I don't have a Mac copy of PS), Handbrake encoding, gaming (FPS and WoW), and editing in Logic Pro 8 (wouldn't be too heavy though- I don't usually use more than 10 software instruments). I've never used hardware based on server-class chips so I have no idea of the relative power of a Mac Pro, therefore my questions are:

    1) How close would I be to straining the current 2x2.8Ghz quad core Pros if I was running the above apps concurrently? Is the extra £500 for the 3Ghz chips a sound investment or would that be better served getting more RAM in advance of Snow Leopard?
    2) How upgradeable would the system be? I know RAM is reasonably easy, but what about adding another Gfx card? Is that likely to be possible at a later stage or will new Mac Pro compatible cards only be released for Nehalem-based systems?
    3) Can anyone recommend a UK retailer who stocks Mac Pro-compatible RAM (800MHZ DDR2 Fully Buffered ECC RAM right?)?
    4) Am I right in thinking that after Snow Leopard Macs should be able to address silly amounts of RAM as well as spread load across cores better (depending on software obviously)? Does this mean I'd be looking at a fair performance jump within 6 months? Has anyone done any testing on Beta versions to see how significant it is?

    Any help would be much appreciated. I know the general mantra is 'if you need to buy, buy', but with the amount I'll be spending I really want to make sure I'm investing the money wisely...

  2. TrapOx macrumors 6502

    Dec 4, 2008
    It wouldn't even break a sweat.
  3. peskaa macrumors 68020


    Mar 13, 2008
    London, UK
    1) I'd recommend getting the second CPU. They cost a fortune for just the chips off a retailer, and as time goes on, more cores is good.

    2) Graphics cards probably will be released. Apple made the 8800GT available to the previous Mac Pros.

    3) I use Crucial for my memory, hasn't let me down yet.

    4) Grand Central will utilise the cores much better, but won't increase the amount of RAM addressable by the system. However, that currently stands at 32GB which should be plenty...
  4. Umbongo macrumors 601


    Sep 14, 2006
    Buying faster CPUs isn't really future proofing. All the really give you is a reduction in processing time. Nothing will ever need a 3.0GHz or 3.2GHz processor over the 2.8GHz. You're money is better spent on memory and fast disks in a RAID.

    If you haven't already then read this:
  5. kevink2 macrumors 65816

    Nov 2, 2008
    I think this can depend. If you are using it daily in a work environment, and you could have an extra 15 minutes of productivity, and your full cost to the company was $50/hour, that is $60/week. Over the course of the year, that would pay for a faster CPU.

    Now, if it is for personal use, probably not. Which is why I went with the slowest CPU's last year. The premium for me wasn't worth it. Actually, going 2 CPU's probably isn't either :)
  6. Umbongo macrumors 601


    Sep 14, 2006
    Oh the price of the processor upgrades can be justified but it isn't really future proofing. To me future proofing is making sure software will run in the future, no software will end up not running on 2.8GHz processors but work on 3GHz or 3.2GHz and the speed differences shouldn't see any software being too slow on 2.8GHz but work well on the faster processors.
  7. sommls macrumors member

    Sep 7, 2008
    I very much agree with this post. It obviously depends on what you use the machine for, but I lived with my old G4 Cube until last year.

    Memory expansion to the max (1.5 gig, near same as my current 1st generation MBP) kept the system running most effectively and replacing the internal HD to maximum hardware capacity (137 gig on ATA60) did by far the most to keep the computer functional.

    CPU was slow but not fatally limiting until the last OS compatibility change (no 10.5 on PPC and no Boot Camp). I have to confess the thing that most annoyed me was the increasingly large stack of peripheral devices (redundant HDDs, second optical drive, audio card, dirt cheap Windows box to run stuff like GPS mapping software etc) that now all fit in the MacPro: that returned a lot of acreage on my desk.
  8. kevink2 macrumors 65816

    Nov 2, 2008
    Must have not been clear. The reason for spending the extra money on the faster CPUs is if it can pay for itself. Not that you will be avoiding an upgrade a year or 2 earlier.

    Futureproofing would have been buying an intel mac when they started coming out vs buying ppc macs still available then. The ppcs ran the existing software better, but you didn't have the same future software support. Like snow leapord and netflix.

    And even the early intel macs weren't future proofed to 64 bits. I thought 32 bit intel chip usage was a mistake by apple after they had already released 64 bit ppc computers.
  9. Chunk72 macrumors member


    Mar 16, 2008
    Durham, UK
    For RAM I just bought a 4GB upgrade kit from came the next day and installed easily.

    My 2x2.8 Mac Pro is coming up to a year old and I expect it to last me another 2 years. Even then it won't be prehistoric and will still hold its own.

  10. sidewinder macrumors 68020


    Dec 10, 2008
    Northern California
    While Grand Central will not increase the amount of accessible by the system, Snow Leopard will.

    With Leopard, the OS is 32-bit and is limited to using 4GB of RAM itself. Leopard does allow for 64-bit applications and they can access as much memory as is free in the system. Snow Leopard with allow the system to use more much as is free in the system.

  11. wheezy macrumors 65816


    Apr 7, 2005
    Alpine, UT
    I didn't know/don't think that Leopard is still a 32bit OS. Is that what they had to do to allow it to run on PPC/CD Intel boxes? Is this why Snow Leopard isn't expected to have PPC support? When I read this from the OS X page I get confused

    "Leopard delivers 64-bit power in one universal operating system. Now the Cocoa application frameworks, as well as graphics, scripting, and the UNIX foundations of the Mac, are all 64-bit." Link

    When I read that, and it states that the frameworks etc are all 64bit, that would lead me to believe that Leopard is a 64bit OS. However, they don't flat out say Leopard is a 64bit OS that can (as you say) access more than 4GB of RAM.
  12. jjahshik32 macrumors 603

    Sep 4, 2006
    I know you said you cant wait... but the absolute BEST way to future proof yourself would be to wait for the new mac pro.

    Anyway I would get the 2x2.8ghz model or look at a 3.0/3.2 refurb.
  13. Consultant macrumors G5


    Jun 27, 2007
    You can pay adobe to change your license to OSX. Small fee I heard.
    google: adobe photoshop crossgrade

    NO. OSX is not windows.
    "certain Mac models ... address as much as 32GB of installed RAM, despite Mac OS X's use of a 32-bit kernel"

    3gb per app in 32bit kernal app though, but 64bit processes can be used with OSX.

Share This Page