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christiann

macrumors 6502
Original poster
Jun 7, 2020
449
166
North America
Hi all. When I got this computer in mid-2020, I didn’t know the true capacity of it. This Mac Pro is an odd one. It’s not like the older 1,1 and 2,1 models, but not like the 4,1 and 5,1 models either. I want to start out by saying I did have some expectations for this machine. I wanted a machine I could do some light gaming on, something I can run FL Studio on, and something that is a workhorse. Keep in mind I know all about that “bottleneck” stuff, but this was plenty for me. I installed 8GB of RAM in my 3,1, as well as 2 SSDs, and a Radeon RX 560. I dual booted macOS Mojave with Windows 10. I did play Fortnite and GTA V on the 3,1 with no problems. Microsoft Office was as smooth as butter. Multiple applications was no problem. FL Studio was snappy and runs very well. The Radeon RX 560 provided a great amount of performance for the price. I planned on upgrading the 3,1 to 64GB RAM, 4 SSDs, and a few PCIe cards, however, I think it may be time to retire the machine. Even though it is a workhorse, I want something more efficient. This tower is over fourteen years old, it CAN run Monterey, but is it worth it? Well, kind of. I used the OG graphics card to install Monterey on it, then switched to the RX 560. I think that this machine is still a great choice for people that want power but don’t care about the power consumption. If you max it out, it’s still good at accomplishing heavy tasks. This is by far my FAVORITE Mac. However, it’s big, the 800 MHz RAM is expensive, it’s Core 2 based, and it’s very heavy. I am now going to retire this workhorse. I am looking into a 4,1/5,1 to use for a few more years. So let me know what you think— keep it or sell it?
 

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socamx

macrumors 6502
Oct 7, 2004
360
16
the pale blue dot
I am looking into a 4,1/5,1 to use for a few more years.
I'll be perfectly honest, but I don't think you're going to gain a whole lot by going to a 2009-2012 model. What you described is honestly a very light workload. Office, being a productivity suite isn't ever going to be a hard workload unless you get into some really crazy spreadsheets. GTA V is quite a few years old now and can run on pretty low end specs and the same goes for Fortnite.

Why not just ride out the 3,1 and see what comes up in the horizon?

Unless you invest quite a bit into a 2009-2012 model with a CPU upgrade, at least 16gb of ram (which yes, is cheap), and maybe a PCIe 3.0 USB card, the uplift might not be as much as you expect.

And all of that, and it's still a large, heavy tower with high power consumption and heat output.

As a final note, these old Mac Pros are pushed pretty far with their software limits as it is, and I suspect we're going to finally get hard locked out of the next major macOS pretty soon.

I come from the perspective of someone who has been running a dual 6 core 3.33ghz 4,1 with a Radeon RX 580 (Mac BIOS), high quality SSD boot drive on a SATA 3.0 PCIe card, and 32gb of ram.
 

christiann

macrumors 6502
Original poster
Jun 7, 2020
449
166
North America
I'll be perfectly honest, but I don't think you're going to gain a whole lot by going to a 2009-2012 model. What you described is honestly a very light workload. Office, being a productivity suite isn't ever going to be a hard workload unless you get into some really crazy spreadsheets. GTA V is quite a few years old now and can run on pretty low end specs and the same goes for Fortnite.

Why not just ride out the 3,1 and see what comes up in the horizon?

Unless you invest quite a bit into a 2009-2012 model with a CPU upgrade, at least 16gb of ram (which yes, is cheap), and maybe a PCIe 3.0 USB card, the uplift might not be as much as you expect.

And all of that, and it's still a large, heavy tower with high power consumption and heat output.

As a final note, these old Mac Pros are pushed pretty far with their software limits as it is, and I suspect we're going to finally get hard locked out of the next major macOS pretty soon.

I come from the perspective of someone who has been running a dual 6 core 3.33ghz 4,1 with a Radeon RX 580 (Mac BIOS), high quality SSD boot drive on a SATA 3.0 PCIe card, and 32gb of ram.
I do have a 2013 iMac which I use, and it definitely outperforms the 3,1 (sadly, I want a reason to have to use the 3,1). I just sold my RX 560 and now I need a GPU for the 3,1. Should I put in an 8800 GT and sell it or donate it?
 

socamx

macrumors 6502
Oct 7, 2004
360
16
the pale blue dot
If you can get away with that 2013 iMac for your needs, then consider the space savings, power savings, and reduced heat output of it against the Mac Pro. It probably runs quieter too.

Unless you've got some major nostalgia for the 3,1, put that 8800 GT back in it and consider selling it or donation. If sold, you could put that money towards ram or SSD upgrades for the iMac.
 

Dannyshing27

macrumors regular
Jan 29, 2013
156
235
United Kingdom
I agree with the OP comments having had a 3,1 as a daily machine since 2010. They are fantastic machines, however, in the climate of rising costs of living and electricity costs, more power efficient computers do start to make a greater degree of sense!
 

DouglasCarroll

macrumors 6502
Dec 27, 2016
377
381
Nice info! I have a 3,1 that I saved from the recycle bin (i.e. free) and the only thing I have spent money on is a PCI card to add an SSD and some more RAM which was cheap. I'm not sure if I would use this machine as my main computer anymore myself since I just find laptops easier to deal with, but in term of having an old computer to screw around with, I just love the old Mac Pros. I actually used to own a Mac Pro 1,1 that I bought new and used for years, but I then sold it when I moved about 10 years ago so I'm familiar with the upgradability and usability of them and am thrilled to have jumped from my old 1,1 to the 3,1. Anyways, to me these are just fun to mess with and see what you can do "for free" as parts come into my possession. I'm looking forward to setting mine up with an older version of the OS and running some old 32bit software and just having fun.

Are you able to keep yours to mess around with as a hobby computer or do you need to get rid of it to make space, etc?
 

christiann

macrumors 6502
Original poster
Jun 7, 2020
449
166
North America
Nice info! I have a 3,1 that I saved from the recycle bin (i.e. free) and the only thing I have spent money on is a PCI card to add an SSD and some more RAM which was cheap. I'm not sure if I would use this machine as my main computer anymore myself since I just find laptops easier to deal with, but in term of having an old computer to screw around with, I just love the old Mac Pros. I actually used to own a Mac Pro 1,1 that I bought new and used for years, but I then sold it when I moved about 10 years ago so I'm familiar with the upgradability and usability of them and am thrilled to have jumped from my old 1,1 to the 3,1. Anyways, to me these are just fun to mess with and see what you can do "for free" as parts come into my possession. I'm looking forward to setting mine up with an older version of the OS and running some old 32bit software and just having fun.

Are you able to keep yours to mess around with as a hobby computer or do you need to get rid of it to make space, etc?
Hi there, good for you! Long lives the 3,1. Glad you saved it! I’m actually getting rid of my iMac to get a 5,1 (hex core, 32GB, r9 280x). I want something I can max out to 128GB RAM and add four SSDs for fun!
 

ssj92

macrumors regular
Mar 30, 2022
121
45
East Bay, CA
Hi there, good for you! Long lives the 3,1. Glad you saved it! I’m actually getting rid of my iMac to get a 5,1 (hex core, 32GB, r9 280x). I want something I can max out to 128GB RAM and add four SSDs for fun!
I just finished my 5,1 build. You'll like it. Added a 30" Apple Cinema Display. Be warned, the costs keep on increasing once you upgrade one thing, you'll want to upgrade something else. :D
 
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