Buying a 2009/2010 Mac Pro. Will it last me?

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by juliancs, Jun 27, 2017.

  1. juliancs macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Aug 24, 2006
    #1
    I'm looking to get a Mac Pro. I do semi-professional video and audio work, and will also bootcamp for gaming.

    I've got an offer for a 2009 with these specs:
    • Apple Mac Pro 5,1 (firmware-upgrade, 2009 model) with one 3.46 GHz 6-Core Processor
    • 24 GB Ram 1333MHz
    • 2TB HDD (7200rpm)
    • NVidia GTX 780 3GB
    • USB 3.0 PCIe card (4 ports, new).
    • SuperDrive. Airport Extreme. Bluetooth.
    • 5x USB, 4x Firewire 800, 2x Ethernet, Stereo-In and Out.

    Am I correct in thinking this is still a very powerful workhorse? I'm not quite sure what the 'upgraded firmware to 5.1' means, or if that limits my expandability/card options to the 4,1 models? The machine is from a reputable refurbish shop and comes with a 1 year guarantee.

    The card is plenty for me to game with, and I think the RAM and Processor should be enough for most games/audio work. I have a few 1TB SSDs to put in also.

    I work in Logic Pro, Ableton, Pro Tools and After Effects/Premiere Pro/Photoshop.

    He also has a 2010 Westmare machine with the same specs albeit a 3.33 GHz 6 core. The case is quite badly bent hence the same price; is there a big difference in performance in the two processors?

    As I understand it I could keep upgrading the RAM and the GFX card for some time, but not sure when the processor would become a sticking point. On paper it seems like a great machine to me but I'm out of the loop these days. Any advice would be greatly appreciated!
     
  2. juliancs thread starter macrumors 6502

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    #3
    A good price. What do you think of the specs? I eventually plan to max the ram and fill the HD slots with SSDs. Will probably add a better graphics card eventually.
     
  3. h9826790 macrumors 604

    h9826790

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    #4
    Upgraded firmware means it's now technically react / perform identical to the Mac Pro 2010 - 2012. Which means it can install macOS Sierra / High Sierra natively. Able to run that 3.46GHz CPU, and 1333MHz RAM etc. Anyway, everything is done for you, which is good.

    Yeah, install some SATA SSD into it is the way to go. One for macOS, one for Windows, and if you still have extra SSD, may be even for gaming. cMP won't perform as good as a modern gaming PC because the CPU single thread performance limitation. However, 3.46GHz is good enough for every games I played (aim at 60FPS). And with SSDs, it's very snappy.

    2 processors (assume same core count and speed) helps nothing most of the time. However, for heavily multi thread operations. e.g. Video encoding, rendering, audio work, etc. That may means 2x faster. Also, more CPU helps if you run virtual machines.

    The CPU in your Mac is already the very best you can install in a 5,1. No more upgrade avail.

    For RAM, depends on the actual CPU model, you may able to use up to 64GB of RAM (single CPU), or 160GB RAM (dual CPU). This is the max demonstrated limit so far, more RAM may be supported.

    In today's standard. I won't say it's a very powerful machine. But sure it's a decent machine for normal people (except power efficiency, which is way below today's average).
     
  4. juliancs thread starter macrumors 6502

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    Aug 24, 2006
    #5

    Thank you for the detailed reply. I was under the impression I could put in a 12-core processor at some point as I see some 5.1 (I think) with them.

    The gaming is a side thing and as long as I can play games at 1080p at 50+fps I'm happy - even if settings are low. I play mostly older games and strategy stuff anyway.

    I'm wondering if I should spend the same money (1300 euros) on a PC instead. I will miss the mac operating system/logic pro though! I guess I was wrong in thinking a 6-core processors is relatively powerful. The i7 is only 4 cores, no? I realise it is a few years younger but I figured a Xeon 6-core was decent still.

    Lots to think about. I'm stretching my budget to the limit already and the new imac pro/mac pro is just way too expensive. Thanks!
     
  5. cobracnvt macrumors member

    cobracnvt

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    Apr 6, 2017
    #6
    Older computers will eventually stop getting updates from Apple and new bootcamp drivers. Something to keep in mind when you are asking if the machine will last. I would guess this vintage Mac is right on the edge of support versus becoming Legacy status.
     
  6. h9826790 macrumors 604

    h9826790

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    #7
    The current gen i7 (e.g. 7700K) is faster than the X5690 in every single aspect, including multi thread operation.

    Yes, it only has 4 cores, however, each core perform much much better than the X5690's core.

    Remember, the 7700k is few generation newer, even at the same clock speed, it will still out perform the X5690.
     
  7. juliancs thread starter macrumors 6502

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    Aug 24, 2006
    #8
    Thanks again, I suspected as much.

    My previous MP was a 2009 2.93Ghz Quad with 12 GB ram and a GTX 680. It did most of my audio work (started to have issues with massive 40 track+ projects) without a hitch and was fine for video stuff. Gaming was OK to, I was starting to have to turn down the settings. Am I right in thinking this is quite a step up from that MP?
     
  8. SoyCapitanSoyCapitan macrumors 68040

    SoyCapitanSoyCapitan

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    Jul 4, 2015
    #9
    I wasted my time with 12 cores thinking that developers would support it eventually. I was wrong. More efficient 4-6 cores still dominate computing. Even rendering has moved to GPU.

    You can pick up a used 5,1 for a great price now. Buy a six core version. Just remember that very likely High Sierra is the last macOS to support it. The cMP were lucky to even get that support.

    SSD and GPUs are rising in price though.
     
  9. h9826790 macrumors 604

    h9826790

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    #10
    The 3.46GHz hex core CPU will gives you about 10% faster on almost everything. And up to ~50% faster on multi thread stuff.

    It may be a big upgrade for video / audio work, but no big difference on most general stuff.

    And I wonder why you "upgrade" (buy) to that computer. If you already has a 4,1, why not just do the upgrade by yourself? Which usually much cheaper.
     
  10. kschendel macrumors 6502a

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    Dec 9, 2014
    #11
    I have almost the machine you propose buying, with the exception of the GPU and CPU. I put in a 3.33 Ghz W3680 because at the time I did the upgrade, it was $hundreds cheaper than the W3690 and the performance differential is minimal, just a few percent. And, since I don't game or do video stuff, I still have the original GT120 in it.

    In absolute terms compared to the fastest new machines, it's a mediocre performer. In real life it's plenty good enough for what I do (heavy-duty software development) and I expect my current setup to last me another 2-3 years. The good points of the (4,1) and (5,1) MP's are the drive bays, even if they are sata 2 instead of sata 3; the sturdy construction and good thermals, you can run it flat out for days on end (and I have) without issues; and the quiet, even under load.

    6 cores is the max you can put into a single CPU machine. To go higher you'll need to find a dual CPU box, or upgrade the CPU tray from single to dual (and IIRC that is an expensive proposition, and I'm not sure it can be done on the 2009 hardware).
     
  11. juliancs thread starter macrumors 6502

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    #12
    Thank you for your reply. It seems I was overestimating the machine. I just can't get anywhere close with performance on a new mac without paying a few thousand extra. It's time like these I wish I could build my own mac. I could get a killer PC for 1300 euros and all but Logic Pro is cross platform. I do most of my work in that though, so it would be a big miss.

    I guess I have to decide whether or not its worth the performance boost from my old MP. Though I made it work with that machine, so I'm thinking it will. I'm not too worried about lack of support, I'm 2-3 years behind games and I only switched from Snow Leopard I had too. I've got 'space' to upgrade to a better gfx card, fill out the HD bays with SSDs and a long way to go with the RAM. I guess the processor is the bottle neck.

    If I can get it to do what I need it to for four years, I'd be happy.
     
  12. kschendel macrumors 6502a

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    #13
    I forgot to mention, the CPU's are 6 core but 12 threads. I don't have any idea whether OSX will take advantage of chip hyperthreading but I don't know why it wouldn't.

    At guess, the W3690 or the X equivalent would beat your older 2.93 CPU by maybe 25% or so, plus the extra 2 cores / 4 threads. Add more memory and SSD and you have a very respectable performer. One argument for maybe going with this machine is that I think we'll see more CPU advances in the next 2-3 years than we have in the last 2-3; it would be a very solid computer good for at least a couple years and then you could re-evaluate.

    (I've no idea about the GTX 680 vs 780.)
     
  13. devon807 macrumors 6502

    devon807

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    #14
    I can vouch for this. The 6 Core CPU makes all the difference. I do a lot of video work and render speeds went up by 45-75% in light 4k Timelines.
     
  14. fastlanephil macrumors 65816

    fastlanephil

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    #15
    It sounds like you sold your 2009 Mac Pro. Your best option for DAW work would have been update it to a 5,1 and swap out the six-core tray for a twelve-core tray. Then, if needed, you could have upgraded the CPUs to the X5680 or X5690.
     
  15. kschendel macrumors 6502a

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    #16
    Can you swap CPU trays in (4,1) hardware? or does that only work for (5,1) hardware?
     
  16. h9826790 macrumors 604

    h9826790

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    #17
    cMP 2009 tray only work for 2009 model. cMP 2010 - 2012 tray only work for 2010 and 2012 model. Regardless of the actual firmware version (they are stored on logic board, not the CPU tray).

    It's the SMC version's issue, nothing to do with the firmware version. Any tray physically fit for all 4,1 and 5,1. The machine will boot, CPU / RAM will work. However, a mismatch SMC version will cause the fans run at full speed. That's the real problem.
     
  17. zephonic macrumors 65816

    zephonic

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    greater L.A. area
    #18
    I updated my 4,1 quad (2.66GHz) to a 5,1 hex (3.33GHz) and for the most part I don't notice much difference. Where it really does help is rendering (or rather, the audio equivalent, i.e. bouncing). It does that much quicker.
     
  18. ActionableMango macrumors 604

    ActionableMango

    Joined:
    Sep 21, 2010
    #19
    I think it is odd for a store to sell a Mac with a PC graphics card. They should disclose that, because PC cards are not worth anything close to what genuine Apple cards are worth.

    Hopefully it is flashed at least. I understand many people get by without boot screens as a matter of their own personal choice, but I don't think stores selling Macs to random people should sell them without boot screen capability, at least not without full disclosure.

    Noooooo, not really. You can't just add a second processor. The 4,1/5,1 cMP single processor model doesn't have a second CPU socket. You'd need to change out the processor tray, then buy two new processors--you cannot reuse your existing one probably isn't a dual processor CPU. Then you need to deal lidded/delidded issues too, since this is really a 4,1. If you ultimately want a dual processor model, then it is MUCH MUCH easier and cheaper to buy a dual processor MP in the first place than it is to convert a single processor model to dual processor.
     
  19. h9826790 macrumors 604

    h9826790

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    #20
    I guess he simply mean a single 12 core CPU which doesn't not exist for 5,1.
     
  20. devon807 macrumors 6502

    devon807

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    #21
    Exactly. If you want snappy/quick UI a SSD mounted on a PCIe card can help a lot as you will get SATA III 6Gb/s rather than SATA II 3Gb/s with it mounted on the onboard SATA II
     
  21. ugru macrumors 6502

    ugru

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    Caput Mundi
    #22
    My 6 years old MP 5.1 after the right updates...

    [​IMG]
     
  22. h9826790, Jun 27, 2017
    Last edited: Jun 27, 2017

    h9826790 macrumors 604

    h9826790

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    #23
    No, it won't. I tried that on my 5,1 with the 840Evo.

    UI, boot time, apps loading time, etc, won't make any noticible difference by upgrading to SATA III.

    That 6Gb/s is the theoretical max, doesn't mean that the SSD will load everything at that speed. For OS operation, the SSD only very occasionally may read >250MB/s for a split second (<100MB/s most of the time). SATA III won't make any difference in real world on this matter.
     
  23. kschendel, Jun 27, 2017
    Last edited: Jun 27, 2017

    kschendel macrumors 6502a

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    #24
    SATA 2 vs SATA 3 mostly shows up with large sequential transfers (relatively uncommon during ordinary interactive work), or when you're doing a long I/O intensive job such as a complex software build, DBMS process, benchmark, etc. I have both SATA 2 and NVMe (PCIe) SSD's in my box and interactively I think I can maybe imagine that the NVMe access is a tiny bit quicker. If I run a full build it takes 6 minutes on the SATA filesystem and 5 on the NVMe filesystem. If I run a lengthy database workload the difference might be in the tens of minutes over a couple hours' job. As always, it depends on what you're doing, but I would definitely not expect the UI experience to be significantly faster from PCIe SSD than it is from SATA 2, and SATA 3 would show even less difference.

    The effects of faster CPU and SSD are additive, if you want to see a real difference go from 2.x Gh Nehalem to 3.3/3.4 Ghz Westmere *and* add memory *and* swap spinners for SSD. My build times went from 9-10 minutes (2.26 single CPU, 8 Gb RAM, original spinners) to 5 but it took everything working together.

    Edited to add: the NVMe SSD I have is a Toshiba OCZ 256 Gb chosen for a decent price / longevity compromise. I could have spent another $100+ for a top of the line Samsung and knocked at most another 10, 15 seconds off the build time. Maybe. I'm inclined to think that 960 Pro and similar SSD's are going to be hard to utilize to their best potential in a cMP. System performance is almost always about balance...
     
  24. juliancs, Jun 28, 2017
    Last edited: Jun 28, 2017

    juliancs thread starter macrumors 6502

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    #25
    There is full disclosure! He's not pretending its a mac card and I had a few pc cards in my old MP.

    He has a 2010 model with the same specs available. The feet are badly damaged though, and I figured since the processor has been upgraded they are basically the same. He's got a 2009 5,1 with 12-Core (2x 3.46) and 48 GB RAM available. Would this give a decent performance bump? I'd have to finance for another 6 months for it but if the difference is wide enough it might last me another two years beyond the single core version.

    --- Post Merged, Jun 28, 2017 ---
    Was moving country and needed the money :(

    Isn't the the 6 core 3.46 a X5690? I'm so lost.
     

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