Best bang for buck upgrades for 2010 Mac Pro 2.8?

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by GMunroe, May 26, 2012.

  1. GMunroe macrumors member

    Mar 24, 2012
    Hi, after being tired of waiting for a refresh, I purchased a 2010 2.8 Mac Pro refurb, and I am now fixing to do an upgrade or two to improve performance. Ideally I would like to do this in a best bang for buck forward.

    At the moment I am running with 6GB RAM, stock 1TB HD, and the 5770 GPU. I am hoping with some upgrades I can get some blistering performance out of this unit. If not possible compared to my previous setup (see next paragraph), or cost effective, back to the store she will go.

    Main uses are for Adobe Flash CS5.5 animation for broadcast, and exports to 1080p. Almost went iMac, but was on the fence. Worry of course stemming from the 2011 MBPro 2.2 i7 8GB Ram I was previously using; whirring fans up and down when working with large files on a timeline. Lots of copy/paste crashes. Didn't want that repeated in the iMac. My thoughts that with the extra airflow the tower allows, the spinning balls/crashes/grey screens would be minimal.
  2. snberk103 macrumors 603

    Oct 22, 2007
    An Island in the Salish Sea
    Generally speaking, the best thing for just about any setup is to increase the RAM. I didn't see how many cores your new machine has (Congratulations!) but that has a direct impact on how much RAM you can install. Many people recommend OWC (I have no experience with them). One of the things the OWC website includes is the max RAM that a Mac is capable of handling. Apple will say "supports" up to a X... but OWC often finds that a Mac can actually handle more... sometimes twice as much more... so check the OWC site.

    Since it's animation, I'd guess a different GPU might help... but I'm a still photographer so I don't know much about that.... for us any decent GPU works well. But animation is a different beast.

  3. GMunroe, May 28, 2012
    Last edited: May 29, 2012

    GMunroe thread starter macrumors member

    Mar 24, 2012
  4. sinned72, May 29, 2012
    Last edited: May 29, 2012

    sinned72 macrumors newbie

    May 7, 2010
    Toronto, ON
    I have a no direct experience with the applications/use case that you have however I can offer the following information:

    I have used OWC for memory and I have found them to be most excellent in quality and results (I live in Canada and got the memory for my new laptop before the BTO laptop arrived.) I am considering them for some other options as well although I had already picked out and bought an SSD before they had there newest ones.

    I have a Mac Pro 2010 with the 3.33GHz Westmere 6-core and I order the system with 8GB original but have since upgrade to 16GB from OWC. My system runs very well with a 240GB Vertex 2 SSD and 3 other HDD or the 1TB or 2TB nature. I use the system for my work as a Unix Systems Administrator/Engineer and Network Administrator/Engineer and I also play games on it. The hardest I have pushed the system was most likely playing World of Warcraft with maxed settings under Mac OS X and playing Star Ware: The Old Republic under Windows 7 Ultimate inside Parallels 7 also at max settings at the same time. Now, neither of these games drive graphics as hard as other games but I was impressed with being able to play both together (each was full screen in a window running on 24" displays at 1920x1200 - the displays are Dell 2408WFP and a Dell U2410 running via an AMD Radeon HD 5870 which I order with the system initially)

    At one point I could play two 720p movies (or TV show episode) full screen however OS X Lion makes that not possible anymore (did not try with 1080p as it is harder to find for TV which is what I mostly have - now I can not do this test as I can not run full screen separately on each display.)

    Oh, to answer the question more, memory is pretty cheap for that Mac Pro from OWC and if what you do can make use of the GPU cores then a second 5770 may make sense if you can get the second power connector for it (I assume an Apple Reseller type can probably get it.) Alternatively the 5870 is a slightly better performer (I believe it is equivalent to two 5770s on one board) than 2 5770s but may be a bit more expensive than the single 5770 and it will also need the second power connector.

    The CPU(s) can be swapped out/upgrade by some places but that is a more expensive option I think and probably not as worthwhile for bang for buck (of note, I weighed heavily on whether to get a single CPU for 6-cores or dual CPUs for 12-cores but at lower clock speed as 6k was my cap for spending at the time and was eventually sold on the 3.33GHz single CPU option as best bang for the buck for what I wanted - I am not regretting that decision for me.)

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