Apple's vs Oranges: Mac Pro vs Retina MBP

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by makoffee, Jul 19, 2012.

  1. makoffee macrumors newbie

    May 8, 2009
    Minneapolis, MN
    Hello Everybody,
    I'm not looking to start any kind of flame thread. Just simply seeing what the forum this about an upcoming purchase decision I'm making.

    I recently sold my 2006 Mac Pro Tower, based on the news of the 'refresh' of the Mac Pro line, and the release of the new Mac Book Pro with Retina display. Like the rest of you I was a little disappointed with the 'refresh' or shall I say incremental spec increase of the the Mac Pro tower. I don't think it's THAT big of an update from the previous release. However the new Mac Book Pro's look like a substantial update from previous models.

    My REAL question is do you guys think I should just go with a refurbished 8-core Westmere from the Apple Store or splurge a little on the latest Mac Book Pro. I'm asking from a performance perspective, and life-cycle perspective.

    I do a lot of 3D artwork (Maya), graphic design (Adobe CS), audio production (Protools) & lite gaming (Diablo III).

    Apple has shown very little interest in the Pro level user, so it's hard to support them for this, while I know the new laptop will be cool and fast, but is that worth the extra $$$?

    Your thoughts?
  2. paulrbeers macrumors 68040

    Dec 17, 2009
    Just FYI: The Hex-core 3.33ghz is faster than the 8 core 2.4ghz in geekbench by almost 1500 points and is only about $250 bucks more New instead of refurbed. Normally I recommend refurbs, but in the case of the Mac Pros, refurbs are grossly over priced.
  3. deconstruct60 macrumors 604

    Mar 10, 2009
    But $250 can buy a good sized SSD ( e.g., a $240 3Gbps OWC SSD ) that will even the odds in day-to-day usage.

    It also depends upon how maxed out the Maya instances go. The Dual Package models will scale the 32GB more affordably. They'll scale about $100-200 cheaper. If a MBP (which caps at 16GB ) is a viable option perhaps not an issue, but if that was a compromise then this is an issue.

    It is market pricing. Not many folks are selling older Mac Pros (e.g., the recent thread of someone sinking 7 hours into getting Mountain Lion to boot on a 2006 Model 1,1 ).

    Couple that with Apple's "free recycling" program and there aren't many non-new Mac Pros out there. So the ones that are out there have prices that don't crater over time.

    It isn't so much the refurb prices are high, it is more so the expectation that the prices should have cratered alot more over time. That is typically driven in part by an increase in supply of used models.
  4. paulrbeers macrumors 68040

    Dec 17, 2009
    I disagree with your assessment here of why the "older" mac pros are going for such a little difference. Actually it is the way Apple handles their refurb pricing. They take about 15% off the current model for refurb and for models from the previous year, they discount by about an additional 7-8%. This often causes some overlap where it makes no sense to buy X when you get can Y for this. This is the issue we are running into with the Mac Pros especially. Because the previous base models only had 3 and 6GB of RAM and the new ones have 6 and 12 and a faster processor many of the refurb 2010 models are being priced just under or = to today's models because you would have had to pay extra for more ram and for a faster processor in the 2010 that today would come standard (therefore the 22% reduction in cost off a base + proc bump + memory bump = today's base Mac Pro).

    For example, a 2010 Mac Pro Base 2499 + 400 to 3.2ghz quad core + 200 to 6GB of RAM = 3100 - 22% = 2418. Which puts the refurb almost the exact same price as New.

    (disclaimer: above is estimates, I don't have 2010 pricing in front of me, but just using this to explain my point of how this can happen)

    This is the same reason why a 2011 new Mac Mini Base goes for 599, but the spec bumped 2010 Mac Mini w/ Core2duo processor refurbed goes for $550 (even worse the base 2011 Mac Mini refurb goes for 519!) and no one is going to choose the 2010 Mac Mini over the 2011 (unless you really want a built in Optical Drive).
  5. deconstruct60 macrumors 604

    Mar 10, 2009
    That's a not so significant comparison to make. It should be been between the 2006 and the Mac Pro 2012. The more substantive question is "What is the difference between those two?". If there is a substantial upgrade then the price is relatively worth it. If not then perhaps not.
    At this point the upgrade between is "nothing" and a Mac Pro 2012 or 2010 is almost a no brainer. [ These stories are always puzzling how these are "absolutely critical work machines" but they get sold before have a replacement. ]

    Unless your workload primarily consists of single core x86 "drag racing" , then from a performance perspective the 8-core is likely clearly a win. If Memory isn't going a tight constraint a 6 core model may be an option also.
    It depends upon the refurb pricing.

    Depends upon what the targeted lifecycle length is. Apple's baseline is about 6 years. If want to push that to the limit then the Mac Pro 2012 is a better bet. If on a 3-4 year cycle then the Mac Book Pro is viable if meets current workload constraints.

    The typical memory workload footprints for Maya and Protools are likely a large factor here. If significantly below 16GB then a MBP is viable. If currently relatively close to 8-16GB and have grown each year or two then the Mac Pro is a better option.

    If you're workload has largely plateaued(i.e., no significant CPU, Memory , etc. resource demand increases for the last 2-3 years) then the MBP is a more viable option.

    That sword cuts both ways. The steady stream of "My G5 is OK". "I'm going to have a hissy fit if the Mac Pro 1,1 doesn't run Mountain Lion" , "The Mac Pro 2008 was the only Mac Pro ever worth buying" is demonstrative that it is in part a "two way street". That many "Pro level users" aren't really interested in Apple's products either. Lack of growth leads to lack of Apple interests. It is a negative outcome feedback cycle that has two active contributors.
  6. makoffee thread starter macrumors newbie

    May 8, 2009
    Minneapolis, MN

    Does that motherboard support multiple CPU sockets for future upgrades? It looks like an interesting option if it did. When I configure the system on Apple's site it is a $500 upgrade from the quad-core. So about $2999 vs the $2700 for the 8-core "westmere" referb.

    Regardless of what I go for be it new, refurbished or Retina MBP. It's going to be much faster than where I was on my recently sold Mac Pro 1,1 witch gave me 6 years of loyal service. MBP looks cool on paper, fast large SSD, USB 3, gorgeous screen. But will the 16gb of ram seem cool 4 years down the road? Probably not so much. MBP has a lot of wow factor, but I wonder if it will serve me as well in the long haul or will I be upgrading every iteration. I've played the Mac Pro game before so I know what she's about. Go all in and hope it lasts the next half decade.

    [addtional note] - I did keep my old 5870 Graphics upgrade kit, to sell if I went for the laptop or keep if I got another mac pro.
  7. Melbourne Park, Jul 19, 2012
    Last edited: Jul 19, 2012

    Melbourne Park macrumors 6502

    Mar 5, 2012
    I am not in the USA, and what happened here was a bit different to the USA. Here, it appears that Apple sold their superceded twin CPU models to dealers, but did keep some single CPU models as well, for their "refurbished" label. Here, the difference between the single and twin CPU is around $500, and the twin CPU comes with 8GB of RAM. It is also sold as a new model, from a dealer. If the dealer has any left.

    As far as geek bench, the twin is slower at single thread apps, due to clock speed. And it only gets faster, if there is multi-threading which can use more than 4 threads.

    It does have a better memory upgrade path though, due to 8 RAM slots, and also its memory access has a greater data path, due likewise to the two banks of RAM.

    My view is that as time goes on, apps will better utilise all the cores available. The upgrade path for the twin CPU, is two 6 core processors. However, the cost of those is more, than the Xeon chips needed for the single core. Because a "5" prefex Xeon core is needed for twin processing, while a "3" prefex core is needed for a single 6 core processor.

    Its not sensible to sell "5" cores under warranty. So ... the upgrade path for the twin CPU, is to wait, until prices fall on the "5" core six core processors. If that happens one year from now, then perhaps for under $1,000, it will be possible to remove the CPU tray, remove the heat sinks, open the lever holding the CPU, remove the CPU, and replace it with a 6 core. It is an relatively easy thing to do on these 2010 machines, as easy an any home PC guy who buys his motherboard, and has to put in the CPU. The danger though, is a bent pin. Which is a danger, that is always there. But when done, the machine will be a 12 core. And as time goes, Apps will more and more use all the cores available.

    As far as Geek scores go, a single 6 core is around 15,000. A 12 core 2010 generation, starts at around 22,000, and goes up a bit with faster clock speed CPUs.

    For the long haul, I think the twin is the better buy. But if you want 15k speed right now, and want to sell the machine to get into a new generation Mac Pro some time next year, the single CPU upgraded to 6 core (although perhaps you might loose warranty so best to not sell the 4 core processor) would cost $500 extra for the 6 cores, and it would therefore cost around the same as the twin CPU. And be faster on the many apps that do not use all the 8 cores.

    I bought the twin CPU machine.
  8. Melbourne Park macrumors 6502

    Mar 5, 2012
    The other issue with a MBP/r is that if you use it a lot, I worry about the keyboards on them. And also, can one live with a 15" monitor? That is hinged off the back of the keyboard? I don't like that myself - I just put up with it. But I like to sit back and view things ... its tough for me to do that with a 15" that is stuck to the keyboard.

    Perhaps soon, a a Mac Mini will come out with the MBP's architecture, and hence thunderbolt and USB-3. Really, the comparison is better to imagine that hypothetical machine, compared to a Mac Pro.

    For myself, my next notebook will be an iPad. They achieve all I need on the road, and they are truly portable. The coming 7" one will be really cheap I suspect, and even more portable.

    While the world is moving to portable computers, even the Macbook Pros might get stuck out there "in the middle" ... being threatened by low powered iPad style devices, that have great battery life, great screens too, are genuinely portable, communicate well and are as cheap as chips.

Share This Page