An "old" Mac Pro for 3D?

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by Nessdufrat, Nov 24, 2016.

  1. Nessdufrat macrumors member

    Nessdufrat

    Joined:
    Jul 19, 2015
    Location:
    Between France and Switzerland
    #1
    hi everybody!
    Still in the process of fixing the iMac I found in the trash (other thread), but I've been thinking about buying an old Mac Pro for 3D. I'm not a pro or anything, I'm mostly "having fun" with architectural design and such for the moment. I've been doing stuff a few years back on my MacBook Pro 17" (late 2011, quad core 2.5ghz, 16gb ram, 256gb Samsung 840 pro SSD, so you know the specs for comparison) but I'd prefer a desktop as my MacBook Pro is having cooling problems (like it is very well know on this machine) and as it's my main work computer, I don't really like to leave it for hours doing renders.

    I've been looking at some ads, and I found one that could be interesting, but I'm not sure, because I'm not really a pro in that kind of things. At first, I was aiming for a PC, but the price was out of my range, and also, I strongly dislike Windows 10 and I'll probably end up being forced to install it because of drivers and such. I use 3ds max design, I'm using bootcamp and Windows 7 ultimate 64 on my MacBook Pro, so I was intending on doing the same on a future machine if I ended up buying a mac, because it's working quite well.

    From what I gathered talking to some people in the 3D business, what matters the most is the number of cores. 12 cores, I cannot even dream of, 8 cores, yeah, right, maybe in a few years. But 6 cores would be really great, and it would be a nice upgrade from my 4 cores MacBook Pro.

    I own a bunch of screens, I would use the dvis ones on the Mac Pro, so I don't need a thunderbolt port, or display port. If it's there, I can find a use for it (one of my screen has the old display port connection, not minidisplayport, but display port, another one too, all others are dvi except for the thunderbolt 27, which is, obviously, thunderbolt), if it's not, no drama.

    So here's the machine I was kinda considering, but I'm waiting for advice because I wouldn't want to buy anything that would end up not being right for me just to save a few bucks. Needless to say, I'm waaaaay under the price of the PC configuration some people put together for me (like you can divide that by at least two).

    Condition:
    Seller refurbished
    Brand: Apple
    CPU: Intel Xeon 6 Core 3.33Ghz
    EXTRA: USB 3.0 PCI-e Card (4 Ports)
    GPU: Nvidia Quadro 4000 (2GB)
    HDD: 2TB HDD (USED)
    Model: Mac Pro 5,1
    OSX: MacOS 10.12 Sierra
    RAM: 16GB (4 x 4GB Modules) 1333Mhz
    SSD: 240GB SSD (SATA)
    Year: 2009

    It has a one year seller warranty. I can have the seller upgrade it to 32gb if needed.

    What do you think? Not giving the price yet because it's irrelevant, just wanting to know if the specs would be good enough for what I need. It's a 2009 Mac Pro that's been professionally upgraded to the 5,1 version and fully tested.

    Thanks for all advice!
     
  2. 960design macrumors 68020

    Joined:
    Apr 17, 2012
    Location:
    Destin, FL
    #2
    I would say no to 7, almost 8 year old tech.

    Having said that, I did not know that 2009 models had the 6 core, I thought that was a mid 2010 upgrade. I assumed 2009 only had the 4 & 8 core nehalem cpus. But, even if it is the 2010 cpus, we are still talking about passmark scores below 10,000. Will it work? Absolutely, are there much better options, absolutely. You can certainly build a more powerful system for the $900US - $1300US that the combo you are looking at should be going for.

    Will it be good enough for part time 3D tinker? Yes. But so will many other options.

    The software you are running will help us determine if you are GPU or CPU / single / multithread focused.


    Good luck!
     
  3. Nessdufrat thread starter macrumors member

    Nessdufrat

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    #3
    I'm running 3ds max design 2013 on Windows 7 (via bootcamp).
    And yeah, that's what I was afraid of, that it might be a bit old and that the fact that it was an Hexacore didn't compensate for that :/
     
  4. BenClement1978 macrumors member

    BenClement1978

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    Sep 10, 2011
    Location:
    Antwerp Belgium
    #4
    a 5.1 is not a 2009 machine. and the 6 core did not ship in 2009

    on a side not i do love my 2009 6 core mac pro.
     
  5. Nessdufrat thread starter macrumors member

    Nessdufrat

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    #5
    Like I said, it's been professionally upgraded to 5,1. I guess they changed the processors. I don't know the mac pros at all, hence the reason for my questions. I know the MacBook and MacBook Pro series, but I never really looked at the mac pros because they were always too expensive for me.
     
  6. mBox macrumors 68020

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    Jun 26, 2002
    #6
    A decent video card will help any old Mac Pro as old as 2006.

    We have a few still kicking around with NVIDIA cards and some for BOOTCAMP doing Maya stuff.

    The usual options like RAM and video cards make any cheese grater deal with mid size data sets.
     
  7. Nessdufrat thread starter macrumors member

    Nessdufrat

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    #7
    So, basically, no? Yes? It's unclear ^^
    I doubt the iMac late 2013 21.5" (basic model, without SSD, I think it's an i5 with 2.7ghz and 8gb ram) will do much good for 3D, although I guess I'll find out this weekend. (I'm adding an SSD (the pcie version, that goes on the motherboard. Long story) and probably a second SSD (Samsung 850 pro, which was the plan all along))
     
  8. thekev macrumors 604

    thekev

    Joined:
    Aug 5, 2010
    #8
    When you mention things like seller warranty, I expect this machine is overpriced. Why not buy a normal Windows box for 3ds max? You could probably do better for the same amount of money. You're right that the imac is not that great for 3D, assuming a significant number of polygons. I don't understand why anyone would buy a mac to run 3ds max. It seems like a total mismatch.
     
  9. Nessdufrat, Nov 25, 2016
    Last edited: Nov 25, 2016

    Nessdufrat thread starter macrumors member

    Nessdufrat

    Joined:
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    #9
    Ok :) I'll stick to Windows, then, and wait till I have more money.
    FIY, with shipping and taxes, I could have gotten it for about $850. The quote I had for a six core PC was $1800.

    Oh, and obviously, buying a mac to use 3ds max was so that I would have a mac AND a PC all in one machine since I'm a mac person. I was planning on using bootcamp to install Windows 7, like I did on my MacBook Pro.
     
  10. mBox macrumors 68020

    Joined:
    Jun 26, 2002
    #10
    I havent BOOTCAMP an ATI/AMD card on a Mac for awhile and have not tried Maya on it.
    You can still get a Mac and pick up a PC for 3D.
    I use a BOXX and Dell for Maya/Rman projects.
     
  11. thekev macrumors 604

    thekev

    Joined:
    Aug 5, 2010
    #11
    There are a couple things to consider here. First off the 6 core is a used machine. Logic boards, gpus, and hard drives have a finite lifespan, and this one started off in 2009. Modern CPUs rarely die, which is why I didn't mention them. You don't have to look specifically at a 6 core PC. You need to look at what it would cost for a PC with new components that would match or beat the performance of that one under Windows.

    While benchmarks won't tell you everything, it appears that the 6 core from 2010 could easily be replaced with a quad core today. That quad core would not have 5+ year old parts in it. The quadro 4000 came out in 2010 or 2011. You could do better today without spending a fortune.

    I liked the old mac pro, but I am wary of spending too much on a used machine with very old parts.
     
  12. mBox macrumors 68020

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    Jun 26, 2002
    #12
    If you can find the Quadro FX 4800, 4000 or the fable K5000 the all do wonders on the 5, 1.

    Ive ran Maya on OSX as well as BOOTCAMP Max/Maya on these with the 4800/4000.

    Never had the pleasure of testing a K5000.
     
  13. Nessdufrat thread starter macrumors member

    Nessdufrat

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    #13
    I think you're perfectly right. I got carried on because I really liked the idea of owning a Mac Pro (the old ones. I don't like the new ones), but it's true they are kinda old.
    I could however get the case and out a PC inside, ahah. I'd probably end up with stuff not fitting inside, so not the brightest idea, but who knows, I might find one in the trash one of these days ^^ (I did find the iMac and two apple TVs 1st gen 160gb, and numerous power adapters, keyboards, screens, cool stuff like that that I gave away to my friends because who needs so many screens... I own 5 already ^^) I do live in Switzerland in a place where people are insanely rich (not me, I'm super poor) and throw away brand new things, just because they can't be bothered giving them away to goodwill (they'd have to make the trip, too much hassle)
    Anyway, back to the subject ^^ I'll wait, keep on having fun with my MacBook Pro, maybe try to install 3ds max on the iMac if I manage to reassemble it without ruining it (cross fingers for me please, I'm doing it tomorrow), and then I'll buy the right computer for the job. I need a PC anyway. I have one right now (found it in the trash... No kidding. It's old but mine was older. I mixed both and now I've a good enough machine), it will need to be replaced sooner or later.

    MBox : the one I was talking about had the quadro 4000.
     
  14. mBox macrumors 68020

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    #14
    Curious to see if MAX will run on an AMD/ATI display box.

    The Quadro 4000 was a decent card but got old/slow fast.

    It was great to use multi-GPU in a CUBIX expansion chassis for Resolve but didnt live up to its hype for Maya.

    If you can get one for $50 then your gold :)
     
  15. kschendel macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Dec 9, 2014
    #15
    That machine sounds like a 4,1 that was firmware upgraded and a new CPU installed. It is certainly not an original Nehalem CPU, it sounds like a Westmere, maybe a W3680. It's going to be a lot faster than the original Nehalem CPU. If the price is right (let's say in the $1000-ish range) then I'd say it's an entirely reasonable purchase.

    I have a very similar system, except with 24 Gb memory and an original GT120 because I mostly use it for software development and don't care about the GPU. I expect to get another 3 or 4 years out of it, minimum, and I work it pretty hard. I know nothing about the Quadro 4000 and you might need to upgrade the GPU for doing 3D work. 256 Gb SSD is a bit light, but if you need more storage space you can very easily drop another SATA compatible SSD in there, or for real speed install a PCIe drive.

    You can install Windows on the same machine with Bootcamp (you might want more storage), and I can vouch that it will run Linux very happily as well.
     
  16. Nessdufrat thread starter macrumors member

    Nessdufrat

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    #16
    Price was interesting but has gone up. Now it's not really interesting anymore. And I guess what most of you said is right, it is an old machine, I'd better wait, and I'd better buy a PC just for 3D.
    Anyway, the iMac I found in the trash is up and running, I'm installing el Capitan right now, I'll see how well it does. At least I can use it as second computer if I let the macbook pro do the renders.
    The iMac is not that bad, but it's an i5 (my macbook pro is a quadcore i7) and has only 8Gb ram. But right now, it has 2 SSD's inside (long story), I guess it will be quite fast in any case. It won't be a bad computer. Only thing is : no screen.
     
  17. New_Mac_Smell macrumors 68000

    New_Mac_Smell

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    Location:
    Shanghai
    #17
    Do not try use a Mac for 3DS Mac, it's usable occasionally freelancing, but not as a main rig (Only because you're gimping your system for a single app). Get yourself a good PC, you don't need Xeon processors, 32GB RAM, and an expensive Quadro card either. More physical cores are better and will speed up rendering times, get as much RAM as feasibly possible, and any decent gaming card will work. The GPU only handles the viewport, and GPU rendering is still just not production quality.

    I've never been convinced that 3DS Max is a well written piece of software myself, and personally hate it with a passion. Used to run it on a 12 core Xeon, Quadro and 64GB RAM. Still would take a good hour for production renders, V-Ray RT would still produce lots of artefacts too (Not to mention crashes). The software runs quite well on a decent gaming PC, but I don't think it scales well.

    If I were you, and you wanted to keep using a Mac, give Cinema4D a try. Vectorworks also is a fantastic piece of software (And better than AutoCAD for Mac in my opinion).
     
  18. Nessdufrat thread starter macrumors member

    Nessdufrat

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    #18
    Thanks for the advice! So it's settled, I'll wait till I have more money and go for a PC with as many cores I can afford and lots of ram :)
    I'm mainly doing architectural design and interior decoration at the moment (that could change) so that's why I'm using 3ds max design. I might venture into other 3D programs when I'm more comfortable doing stuff. I must say, I've taken a really long break from 3D (a little over 3 years) so getting back on the horse might be a bit of a challenge :)
     
  19. pat500000 macrumors 604

    pat500000

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    Jun 3, 2015
    #19
    Get yourself 2010 5,1 and upgrade the cores and gpu.

    Or you could get yourself z 840 series.
     
  20. thekev macrumors 604

    thekev

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    Aug 5, 2010
    #20
    Make sure you consider things in relative terms. The current quad core cpus slightly outperform the 6 core models of that generation. You can also do better on gpus today without spending a ton of money. I used maya for a long time, and i know it pretty well. Given that I'm unlikely to budget for it today, I'll probably pick up blender in the near future. I just need to find a suitable renderer for it.
     
  21. thats all folks macrumors 6502a

    thats all folks

    Joined:
    Dec 20, 2013
    Location:
    Austin (supposedly in Texas)
    #21
    first, 3ds Max Design. is that an end of lifed product? doesn't seem to be a current version of it.

    3D/CG has two different needs, working and rendering. in general working is served by the graphics card and rendering is served by CPU cores. this line is blurring as newer renderers also take advantage of the GPU. I say this because that is he piece you may want to focus on.

    as you've concluded, your money is best spent just getting a Windows specific Box. since money is tight and you are ready to get your hands dirty you might want to look for a used basic system and invest the bulk of your funds in the graphics card as that is likely the biggest return on your money. that way, if the effort proves profitable, you can move that card into the next machine. or even look for a machine that you can later add a better CPU / RAM / storage to. that way, you spend what you can when you can.

    I'm not endorsing purchasing this specifically, but workstations from a few years back (other than Apple's) can be had for a song on their original price, something like this. and as they were the best built machines at the time, they hold up well. you could use that as is and slowly add new graphics card, RAM, storage and even a CPU upgrade as you have the need, money and inclination to do so.

    you will want to do some research before you start spending to make sure the path ahead is passable and the steps you are taking are the best match for your software and needs. I had myself a crazy run of this, sourcing from eBay and building great machines (Mac and Win) for around 30 percent the cost of comparable new. but that ended a couple years ago so my knowledge is out of date. and then come back when you want to build a render farm.
     
  22. Nessdufrat thread starter macrumors member

    Nessdufrat

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    #22
    Thanks a lot for the detailed advice! 3ds max design is actually 3ds max but with a slightly different interface, so that most of the tools are oriented towards people that are into design and stuff like that, more than into video and animation. Basically, the programs are the same.
    I'll probably end up doing what I always do: get a new case, with a new motherboard and graphic card, and take out most of the stuff I had in my old computer to get a working machine. I've been doing that since 2000 with my PCs.
     
  23. mBox macrumors 68020

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    Jun 26, 2002
    #23
    Most of us do the same. Keep an old PC around for 3D work.
    For me, I still have an old BOXX and DELL for Maya/Rman.
    Mac Pro for everything else.
     

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