advice on purchase - 2008 mac pro

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by paronga, Nov 9, 2011.

  1. paronga macrumors member


    Nov 9, 2011
    Australia, Melbourne
    this is the mac pro i'm looking at.

    i can get it with 1 screen.

    any advice on the model?
    How long would it last.

    I do mathematical computer simulations for my physics degree and i do lots of photography and audio work.

    I'd look to put an SSD in there at some stage.

    Also thinking to upgrade the ram before it gets really expensive.
    I think i can upgrade to any graphics card that the new mac pros can use.
    So i guess the question is about the CPU and the RAM.
    how many years can i get out of this?
    i expect about 5.

    and possible good CPU upgrades?

  2. gpzjock macrumors 6502a

    May 4, 2009
    I love my Octo MP 2008.

    I use an Octo Mac Pro myself, they are very good machines with plenty of upgrade potential. So far mine has 16 GB RAM, HD 5870 GFX card, 2.4 TB of HDD storage and a 128 GB SSD for the OS boot drive. It scores over 10000 on Geekbench tests and I plan to keep it till the wheels fall off.

    Buy one you won't be disappointed. :)
  3. Sonhascome macrumors 6502

    Feb 18, 2010
    that 5 year expectation seems pretty reasonable if you take good care of it. i don't know how much that guy is asking but those two 23" cinema displays might well be worth the price alone
  4. paronga thread starter macrumors member


    Nov 9, 2011
    Australia, Melbourne
    he's asking 2k for it with the screens.

    I've said i'll take it and i'm just wondering if i can get 4-5 years out of it.

    I'm running a 2006 MBP and have got about 4 years out of it. I'd like this to last the same! I use my iPad and iPhone for all portable needs, and a laptop is just too weak for what i do.

    What graphics card should i be looking to upgrade to for photo/video work and games? I've never done the whole graphics card thing :S
  5. 321estrellas macrumors 6502


    Sep 28, 2007

    I have the same machine and it's still doing very well. It's almost its 4th birthday and it's still going strong, and I'm sure I'll get another 4 years out of it. In a couple years it might not meet future requirements for video editing (which is what I do). I'm sure it'll do fine for photo but who knows what kind of power games will look for 5 years from now?

    I just bought a video card upgrade last night and I can't wait to install it. I bought a Gigabyte 6870...not an Apple card but it's *supposed* to work on a Mac Pro out of the box! Guess I'll have to wait and see.

    I think it's a great deal. The two 23" ACD's are probably worth about $800 together, so that means you're getting an excellent machine for $1200!

    I wanted to create a new thread moreso to rant, but can anyone tell me why RAM on a Mac Pro 3,1 is SO FREAKIN EXPENSIVE??? It's seriously the most expensive RAM out there. You'd think with newer machines taking different RAM sticks the price would lower, but maybe that's also why the price is higher...
  6. 666sheep macrumors 68040


    Dec 7, 2009
    On my local market it would be a steal with 2x ACD 23". Even if it has this crappy 2600 XT ;)
    You can upgrade CPUs up to X5482 (3.2 GHz).

    After upgrades (SSD, RAM, graphics card) you could get those 4-5 years - considering photography and audio work or games. Mathematical simulations aren't my area, so I'll pass on advicing in this matter :)
  7. paronga, Nov 10, 2011
    Last edited: Nov 10, 2011

    paronga thread starter macrumors member


    Nov 9, 2011
    Australia, Melbourne
    Thanks for the input guys.

    should have joined these forums years ago!

    I'm in Australia and one of the developer of iDefrag and iPartition is selling it off. Sealed the deal today. Will be getting it next week hopefully.
    Going to have to totally re-think my desk!!

    In terms of maths/physics simulations you can ALWAYS use more power for better accuracy. But it'll be much better than my current 2.0ghz core due Macbook Pro!!

    you mention a CPU upgrade, can you shed some light on this? That chip is the same chip it came with but a higher clock yea?
    Where does one buy that?

    Also, can someone recommend a graphics card to get?
    I want movie and photo work to be FAST. Does the graphics card effect the speed for that? i would hope aperture and iMove are OpenCL and Grand Central Dispatch compatible. Surely the work is really parallel.

    I figure it's current GPU is old and crummy.
    So i figure there are two brands.
    nVidia and ATI.
    can someone give me the run down on current low, mid and high end cards for each brand. Flashing or not?
    does Os X utilise two cards for processing purposes?

    Oh my! I'm so excited and so clueless :):)

    hmm, i'm still thinking about this.
    Would an '09 mac pro be better in the long run?
    With it's hyper threading it'd get 16 threads. Is the performance better?
    it also uses ddr3.

    hmmm. I'm really not sure.
    Any advice? was the 2009 a really big step up over the '08?
  8. thekev, Nov 10, 2011
    Last edited: Nov 10, 2011

    thekev macrumors 604


    Aug 5, 2010
    Not exactly.... some things supposedly run faster on it but it wasn't exactly a step up as it went from two quad core cpus (total of 8) to one. The 2008 consumes a bit more electricity. There are tests and benchmarks online.

    Regarding the 23" cinema displays, they were hit and miss. Some of them looked pretty good and some had poor uniformity. I haven't seen many of them die, but they do degrade with use like any other display. I know the other poster said they're worth $400 each but for that amount of money you can buy a better display new today with a warranty. Keep in mind the 23" ACD is something like 2004 technology here.

    Doh just read photography/animation. The 30" Apple was the easiest of their older ones to work on for that stuff. The 24" was ok. I wouldn't buy the 23" ones. I wouldn't buy their LED displays or any LED display for that stuff.

    On the Mac Pro 1,1 through 3,1 it used fully buffered dimms. You may notice the heatsink fins on them. These have always been expensive. Wasn't it something stupid like $200-$250 for a 1GB stick with the original mac pro when it first came out? I remember the ram was the thing that really pushed it over the price of the G5.

    So yeah 2009 = cheaper ram, possibly newer gpu, cpu power might be slightly lower. I'd have to look it up. I don't understand the desire for an SSD. It won't significantly impact the uses you mentioned. If you have enough ram, those tasks are really more cpu intensive. I'd look up some tests and comparisons on various models before you purchase something regardless.
  9. paronga thread starter macrumors member


    Nov 9, 2011
    Australia, Melbourne
    Hmm, are you saying that the 09 mac pro was single socket?
    because i'm pretty sure they came in 2Xquad core configurations, which is what i'm looking at.

    As for the screens, i've seen them before. With a calibration, i can't be that bad. I'm not professional by any means, and it's already a step up from what i've got.

    First and foremost i care about the computer and future proofing.
    I can buy new monitors later down the track when i've got money.
    But i want a computer that lasts.

    Would there be any benefit to longevity by getting a 2009 mac pro?
    I really want to make the right choice on this as i can only really afford computers every 5 years or so.

    also, thanks for all the input thus far!!

  10. Neodym macrumors 68000


    Jul 5, 2002
    Upgrade chips can be purchased from various dealers all over the internet - or second hand via eBay (pulled from servers - normally no problem in there). On the 3,1 you can upgrade to 3.0 GHz (E5472) or 3.2 GHz (X5482). The increase in performance is probably not as high as upgrading a MP 1,1 from 4 to 8 cores, so it's up to you to decide whether it'd be worth it.

    The upgrade is pretty easy to do - search this forum for the respective threads with info about required tools etc. There's even a video-Step-by-Step-HowTo. You can use guides for MP 1,1 (2006) as well, as those generations are pretty similar in terms of mechanical construction.

    On the 2009 MP it's much more difficult, as Apple used proprietary CPU's without attached heatspreaders, not available usually for end users. You can also easily damage those when upgrading. You can on the other hand upgrade the 2009's firmware to that of the 2010 model and get a new daughterboard, allowing to use standard (and better) CPU's again for upgrading (more expensive though).

    Fastest AMD/ATI card is the 5870 currently. 6870 about 10% slower, but consuming less power. ATI is better supported due to being the official choice by Apple. nVidia may offer better performance for mathematical calculations. For details check out sites like netkas or insanelymac, dealing with Mac grapic cards exclusively.

    I thought you sealed the deal already?

    Biggest advantage is the change in architecture (Core -> Nehalem/Westmere), which is more powerful clock-by-clock. With it comes the use of standard DDR Ram (instead of FB-DIMM's on the older machines), which is both faster and significantly cheaper.

    Serious audio work is a resource hog nearly as bad as video work and will massively profit from more CPU power (cores) - this is probably also true for hyperthreaded ("virtual") cores, which the 2009 has, but the 2008 not.

    Biggest problem with the 3,1 could be the Ram. 10GB may be a little tight for huge audio projects and mathematical calculations - and FB-DIMM is expensive. On the other hand you could do it on the antique Core notebook until now, so it might be plenty.

    Regarding CPU upgrades i wrote something above. The power of the 3,1 should be sufficient to you (especially regarding your current platform), though the possible long-term upgrade path to the 2010 model with up to 12 cores (24 hyperthreaded) might be tempting (even if being very expensive at this point in time). However, it would probably be less hassle to go directly for a 2010 model if you need/want the power.

    In the end no one can take your decisions. The two displays sound like a good add-on, but keep in mind that those are backlit by CCFL's which wear visibly over time, depending on the running hours (maybe those are even the old acrylic CinemaHD displays, which look good housing-wise, but are inferior in terms of e.g. picture brightness to any cheap modern display right out of the box). You can replace worn CCFL lamps, but that costs both time and money and can be a little tricky (i know of tutorials for the acrylic versions - no idea whether the aluminum displays have similar guides available somewhere on the net).

    I also have no feeling about how good the price is for Australia.

    Hard to tell. For many even a 2006 MP is still sufficient for years to come. It probably boils down to Hyperthreading and Ram supply/prices being a Plus for the 2009, but not necessarily impairing longevity of a 2008!
  11. 666sheep macrumors 68040


    Dec 7, 2009
    paronga: 2009 is more future proof than 2008. Cheaper RAM, more (and better) CPUs to upgrade. Ability to flashing to 2010 and making 12 core of 8 core. Hyperthreading is good as long your software supports it on good level.
  12. thekev, Nov 10, 2011
    Last edited: Nov 10, 2011

    thekev macrumors 604


    Aug 5, 2010
    Screen calibration is something that most users on here don't understand. Ok first of all, you cannot calibrate a cinema display. What you can do is profile one. It's not a perfect solution when it's new. It's a worse solution when it's older. This means that you can measure the very center of the display, and attempt to describe to the software how far off greyscale values and a few rgb patches are from a target value using a mass produced device so as to feed correction information to your graphics card. Off the shelf profiling solutions vary with the display they're used on. If you had something like a DTP-94 with coloreyes or basiccolor or something decent, you might get a halfway decent profile but it will not compensate for any lack of uniformity or shift toward the edges (common in the model), crushed shadows (also common in that model), backlight deterioration meaning its brightness levels would have degraded with use, and the contrast stability of the 23" relative to others does not hold up well at lower luminance levels. It can't even guarantee you a neutral grey or a repeatable profile with stability issues.

    My point being don't count on it if you're picky. The displays made by some other companies in the past three years would blow these away if compared new. On the cpu upgrade issue, I would "not" buy one of these personally with the intention of upgrading expensive parts like cpus. If you are comfortable with that, the 2009 model could be upgraded to match the stats of the current 6 core model which uses a W3680, and you wouldn't run into any compatibility issues with the gpu going forward (2009 gpu supports OpenCL when needed).

    Now on quad vs. eight core, 2009 had both, but the eight core went to a $3300 price point with the quad being at $2500, so more people bought the quad than the previous year. The quad version from 2009 on uses a single socket logic board and only takes 4 dimms, but ram is much cheaper. I only checked one source but 2009 was $175 for 16 GB using 4GB dimms and the 2008 was $475 for 16GB using 2GB dimms or $549 using 2GB dimms.

    I hope this answers some questions for you :)

    I want to add that you can only go to twelve cores if you purchase an 8 core 2009 machine. The quad core uses a different setup. Just remember after a cpu upgrade you may be on your own as far as servicing is concerned. Hyperthreading is weird. It helps sometimes. It hurts you other times. It does skew benchmarking software sometimes (not that I go by that, but there are a lot of benchmarks posted on the internet).

    Backlit CCFL's are still considered superior for color. LED hasn't made it into high end displays yet, including the newest models simply because while it offers advantages, it still has a few compromises in areas like stability (remember when NEC tried to use tri colored leds in a high end display that ended up costing over $6k?). It's not an issue of brightness. I keep my displays set fairly dim, and they still show excellent color and detail. The 23" cinema displays are simply a very very dated design. They don't incorporate any modern lcd features for calibration, stability, or tracking the age of a display.

    I noted "Australia" there. Australia has brutal pricing on electronics/computers. This might skew what counts as a good deal a bit. I mean relative to the US, it's horrible what they pay for some of that stuff.

Share This Page