Advice: Upgrade '06 Mac Pro or New Mini/MBP with SSD?

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by appledabble, Dec 23, 2011.

  1. appledabble macrumors newbie


    Dec 23, 2011
    I have a dilemma here (albeit a common one) and I'm reaching out for some other opinions. My sincere thanks for any advice that you can provide to me. The bottom line is this: Should I upgrade my current computer or get a new one? Here are my exact specs and needs:

    I currently have a 2006 Mac Pro "Quad-Core" with the 2.66ghz processors (I think it is two dual core processors back in '06) 16GB ram, 256MB ATI graphics card, 4 HDs (7200 rpm, 3gb/s SATA), two of which are in a striped RAID, and the other two are a mirrored RAID to back up the first two. It just does not seem to be that fast anymore. I'm not sure if it is just my perspective, or the demands of new software...

    I also have a maxed out Macbook from 2007 that I use only for checking email. I could probably sell the two of them for about $1300 combined and I am good at selling things online.

    Goal: Increase performance (hopefully alot) without spending alot more money. I realize that these two goals are a bit in conflict, but I am trying to get the best value. I really like the mobility of a laptop, but performance is the main priority and I have a work laptop and iPhone that works for most of my email needs.

    Primary Use:Editing and stitching large (22mp RAW) photo files and editing HD movies in iMovie.

    Important:Top priority is performance. Mobility of laptop would be nice, but not necessary. I could always just keep my current laptop for web surfing and email as it is not worth that much and that is all I use it for.

    Not Important: Using dual monitors, having lots of internal storage space (I can use cheap/slow external drives for storage space.

    All that to say that the following are my options:
    1. Put an SSD drive in my Mac Pro as the workhorse main drive and use the other drives for storage (worth upgrading a computer this old? Will I get a big boost in application performance or is this a lost cause?)

    2. Sell my Mac Pro and Laptop and put the $1300 or so dollars toward one of the following:
    A. Mac Mini with one SSD drive, best processor, 8GB ram (I am capable of upgrading the drive and ram myself if it saves some money)

    B. Mac Mini server with two SSD drives in RAID, best processor, 8GB ram (I am capable of upgrading the drive and ram myself)

    C. iMac with one or two SSDs (RAID if two), 8GB ram, best processor (it it that much faster than a mini? I already have a nice monitor, so don't want to pay alot just for a monitor)

    D. Macbook Pro (hook up to second monitor to use as a desktop) with top specs.

    E. Other ideas?
  2. Neodym macrumors 68000


    Jul 5, 2002
    A SSD speeds up boot and loading times and will make your system "feel" faster - no matter whether it's a current machine or a 2006 MP. It does not necessarily speed up your productivity software.

    My gut feeling is that the 16GB of Ram in your MP are way better for your work than the 8GB you calculate for your other options. In order to get your MP up to the speed of a modern iMac or mini though, you would have to upgrade the processors as well (x5355 is probably the option with best price/performance ratio - there are lots of threads around here as well).

    Of course this will only bring your Mac Pro up to par and in 1-2 years it will be behind again.

    One other problem you will probably face if you choose to migrate to a new machine and external boxes: How would you migrate the data on your existing raids? You can not simply put the existing drives in external boxes without losing the Raid and the information stored in them. And new drives are still a little expensive due to the floodings in Thailand.

    All in all currently may not be the best time to change systems - if you can hold out a few months more, you may be able to get better offerings (e.g. used MP's of the current generation or updated machines in the iMac or mini series, which both may be a more significant improvement worth the money - and maybe lower prices for high-capacity hard drives...).
  3. ssgbryan macrumors 6502a


    Jul 18, 2002
    I faced a similar situation with my 1st gen MacPro. My solution was:

    1. Replace the DVD cage with a Pro Caddy 2:

    2. Add 2 240 OWC ssds & put them in a RAID 0. If you care about those things my geekbench scores are over 6200. I'll be replacing the CPUs after the holidays. That should push the results to over 9000.

    3. The other thing to remember is that you can have up to 32gb of memory. I am at 22gb & it makes a real difference. I do a lot of 3d rendering & having more than 16 gb of ram does make a difference.
  4. Digital Skunk macrumors 604

    Digital Skunk

    Dec 23, 2006
    In my imagination
    I'd upgrade the Mac Pro. Check to see where your bottleneck is actually occurring I have a feeling it's in the HDDs and the GPU.

    I'd spend the cash to upgrade at least the HDDs to a single SSD to boot, (putting them in a RAID isn't going to expedite your boot times) and take your other HDDs and put them in a RAID5 for scratch.

    If you want, you can upgrade your GPU, but finding a good price on one that's compatible with your system is always a PITA.

    Your 16GB of RAM on your quad core Mac Pro is going to do you much better than anything the Mac Mini could muster, so if you are still itching to get a new machine grab the top end 27" iMac with the SSD at the very least.
  5. appledabble thread starter macrumors newbie


    Dec 23, 2011
    How to find the bottleneck?

    Thanks alot for the replies. Any suggestions on how I can tell where the bottleneck is occurring? I would think that iStat or something similar would be a good start, but I'm not sure that it would get me all the way there.

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