Advice: Mac Pro 2008 for Design

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by kwales20, Jan 2, 2012.

  1. kwales20 macrumors newbie

    Jan 2, 2012
    I wanted to purchase a used 2008 Mac Pro (with 4GB of RAM) and was wondering if anyone would recommend it for design work? I currently use the 2009 Mac Pro, and wasn't sure if downgrading my machine would make much of a difference. My main concern is speed, and the ability to have at least six different design programs open at once without any hiccups. Are there any designers out there who have experience working with this machine?

  2. Loa macrumors 68000


    May 5, 2003

    Not a designer, but one thing you must know: RAM for 2009-2010 Mac Pros is very cheap compared to the expensive RAM for the 2008 machines. 4GB is not much if you want to run a lot of apps or load a lot of projects at the same time, so adding more will be very expensive.

  3. jablko, Jan 6, 2012
    Last edited: Jan 6, 2012

    jablko macrumors member

    Nov 12, 2007
    Lincoln, Nebraska
    They still work ...

    I have a 2008 quad core Mac Pro at work, and it isn't scheduled for replacement until late this year or early 2013. I have 12gb of RAM in it, and I almost always have the following programs open simultaneously: Photoshop, InDesign, Safari, Firefox, Acrobat, Adium, Word, Excel, Outlook, iTunes, FileZilla and Taco HTML Editor. It's not going to win any speed contests, but for most everyday tasks, I don't really notice the difference between it and the video editing machine we have which is a much newer and more powerful machine.

    However, I also know the Geekbench scores for my machine and the newest i7 Sandy Bridge Macbook Airs are about the same, which is slightly depressing. I would still argue the older Mac Pro will prove better for all-day, long-term productivity. (And you didn't mention how many cores your model has, but if it has more than eight, it will still best many current laptops). Still, it's something to consider when doing your cost analysis and weighing your options.

    If you do go with the 2008 Pro, I would highly recommend budgeting for more RAM (and buying it from anyone except Apple to save money). Four gigs is just not enough, and sadly it's the Web browsers that seem to demand the most.
  4. george-brooks macrumors 6502a


    Oct 31, 2011
    Brooklyn, NY
    I am running a 2008 mac pro for photography and design work. I have 8GB in it right now and want to upgrade to 16. 4 is definitely not enough. Plus, I don't get the best performance out of the Radeon 2600. If you're going to downgrade, definitely budget for more RAM (very affordable from OWC but still more expensive than 2009-2010 RAM) and perhaps a better GPU. Like someone else said, my i7 MB Pro beat the mac pro by about 2000 points on Geekbench, so I've actually been doing the majority of my day to day work on it, but I generally have few to no issues running multiple design programs at once. The only hiccups come when you throw something really heavy like FCP 7 or Aperture in the mix with the rest.

    Why are you trading in the 09 model?
  5. wonderspark macrumors 68040


    Feb 4, 2010
    I think it's an incredibly poor choice to trade a 2009 for a 2008 Mac Pro. If you plan to pursue this terrible idea :p how much are you planning to sell the 2009 for?
  6. Mactrunk macrumors regular

    May 12, 2005
    I just tried out a 2010 8 core.
    This was to replace my 2008 8 core.
    I put my drives in and went for a test drive.
    Running 10.6.8 all of my old stuff ran slower.
    The test benchmarks were about 30% higher, but in real time my favorite programs were slower and quirky.
    Boot time was longer too.
    I didn't have the luxury of tweaking the new box, but I'm waiting for something significantly better before I jump.
  7. thekev macrumors 604


    Aug 5, 2010
    You are taking the absolute wrong approach to this. Inquiring about a machine with 4GB of ram when you keep so many design programs open at once is just really silly. Take a look at your activity monitor when you're experiencing these hiccups. More than cpu usage, I expect you'll see issues with ram and pageouts. You'll want to view activity monitor on some of this stuff. It would help to know a few more things. How big are your project files? What software are you running (design is a very broad term)? Are you doing any tasks like rendering in the background while working on whatever program?

    16GB of ram is $100-150 for that machine. This is the minimum you should go to if you're experiencing pageouts with that many programs open. 32GB could be more like $300-400, but may be well worth it (again I'm not there to test or gauge it). If you can't hold everything in ram which is entirely possible depending on file sizes, the next step is to add SSDs as their speed as scratch drives is significantly higher. If by some chance the cpu is capping out during your normal use, I still wouldn't go with the 2008 model. I'd either do the w3680 upgrade that is popular on here or wait for the next mac pro. If you're working with 3d modeling programs quite a lot, the gpu can also be a factor.
  8. VanneDC macrumors 6502a


    Jun 5, 2010
    Dubai, UAE
    ive got a 2008 MP, and love it, but i wouldent downgrade a 2009 mp to a 2008 if i had one, that is just silly. >;P

    on the performance side of things, my 2008 MP still chugs anything down i am throwing at it, including Skyrm. >;)
  9. minifridge1138 macrumors 6502a

    Jun 26, 2010
    Why are you considering downgrading FROM a 2009 to a 2008?

    If you're thinking about buying a 2008 in ADDITION TO the 2009, that would make more sense.

    Very seldom does it make sense to go backwards with technology.

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