Buying a new (used) Mac Pro

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by mkokimoto, Jun 21, 2012.

  1. mkokimoto macrumors newbie

    Jun 21, 2012
    I've been living in a state of denial. I currently run a mid 2010 2.4 c2d MBP 13 as a desktop, dual internal hdd's, 8 gigs ram with discrete graphics, usb hdd's, usb dvd and I'm now starting to have issues with artifacts appearing more and more often. After the artifacts started to appear on the primary while simply doing normal tasks, reality started set in and now I need to face that I need a new desktop computer on the cheap - hopefully. I will be going back to school in about a year or two. They had me running VM, radiance, vray, artlantis, CS4, LR, etc on my underpowered MBP during undergrad. Should be the same when I go back.

    I've built a hackintosh before but it always had problems - I was always searching for a certain kext file, things didn't always work, issues with non-updates and kernel panics - the thought of crashing during something important was too much to bear so that was crossed out of the equation.

    Also, while I'm originally from the states I live near Antartica so shipping is an issue (thus, no cheap parts).

    I was almost ready to drop the dough when I started reading these forums. That's when I realised there was so much variation in the models. I've come up with two options and I'd love some input, even though I'm new here and will probably get blasted for 'not searching hard enough' or 'use google' or something.

    1. A cheap 1,1 base with some upgrades.
    • 1,1 base: $550
    • x5355/5365 SLAEG: $250
    • 16g ddr2fb: $200
    All up and with graphics, about 1200 if I cannibalize the SSD from the MBP.

    Problems with this setup:

    • No 64 bit EFI, never ever forever. Unless you can change the logic board, have robotic soldering arms, build fan housings for a living, etc...
    • Feelings of impending doom.
    • that bad taste of deja vu when you realize your 1,1 may likely need chameleon (a la hackintosh) to boot the next release.

    Now, it comes to a point where I'm spending so much money I *THINK* I should be looking at a 3,1.

    2. a not so cheap 3,1 base, with upgrades.
    • 3,1 base: $1200
    • 16g ddr2fb: $200
    All up and attempting to keep the graphics, about 1400. Graphics will not be as great as the above.

    So. I will be spending about 200 dollars more for a machine whose only benefit is the 64 bit EFI. I understand that along with the 64 bit EFI comes a few extras, such as additional graphics cards support however it's not a huge architecture jump like the move to DDR3, is this correct?

    3 - a new mac. I will be buying from Australia. It's about 2700 for a 'new' but not really new mac pro. Education discount (I know a friend) brings it to 2500 out the door. (single core) A bit too rich for my blood.

    4. a newer mac. 4,1 and newer. These run about 1900 dollars. At this price I'd rather buy new. so I'd rather not? thoughts?


    1. does the above look right?
    2. Is it worth the extra money from the 1,1 to 3,1? Or should I take the 1,1 now?
    3. Where to go with the "should I spend a bit more" attitude?
    4. Will this hold out for grad work?
  2. R.OG macrumors regular

    Aug 19, 2010
    Keep an eye out on ebay. I was able to get a base 2010 with apple care till 2014 for $1,400 shipped.
  3. TableSyrup macrumors 6502

    May 29, 2012
    You're a bit steep on the 1,1 figures

    I'm in a 1,1 as follows

    Base $519
    Pair 5355 SLAEG's $100
    16GB $120


    So you should shop around.
    There's a cat here that recently linked an ebay seller who should have 5355's for days

    I got mine local (RAM and 5355's)

    If the 1,1 doesn't work for you, then yeah, go 3,1 or greater, but only if you need to spend that money.

    I don't think $1400 (or $1320) is a bad move on a MP.... for me, for the time being.... I figured the cheap 1,1 was a great move , and when the new MP drops in late '12 or '13, I should be able to shwoop a 4,1 or 5,1 for a great price ;)

    And, as far as my work is concerned (I use the machine to make money) it is the most practical, as all my software is only up to date up to Lion as of right now (obviously).... and will likely be a minute before solid ML compatibility that I can trust, and then I would likely have to spend more money to upgrade to new versions (Short of FCPX, which I'm sure is ML ready, or will be with a maintenance update free of charge)

    So by the time I could even benefit from a 3,1 4,1 or 5,1 and ML, they will be cheaper than they are now.... ;)

    Just some thoughts.
  4. michael_aos macrumors 6502

    Jan 26, 2004
    I'm "that close" to trying the x5355 upgrade.

    My main concern is buying old, used CPU's off eBay.
  5. TableSyrup macrumors 6502

    May 29, 2012
    Yeah, but also keep in mind that buying a used 3,1 is still old used processors as well ;) and not too much a difference in years gone by

    Also, another thing to consider....

    ROHS???? Were the 2006/2007's manufactured under ROHS compliance????

    If not, they will likely experience a longer life than a model manufactured today (on average) due to the usage of more durable materials.

    Also - chemical restrictions keep coming into play also....

    I don't think any of this really impacts processors in any way.... so a new processor is going to be a safer bet than a used one.... but, then you're spending more than either of these models.

    The big difference between the two will be the EFI.
    The 3,1 is 64 Bit EFI, and therefore natively ML compatible.

    The 1,1 is 64 bit hardware but 32 Bit EFI and will require patching to boot 64 and run ML, but once the GM drops, I'd give it a week or so and there will be a very very straight forward simple solution and instruction on doing so.

    As I stated.... I made the decision based on my needs.
    I mainly do audio, and my G5 was working even for major label work up until just very recently (And still works for most)
    But I needed more.... so went to the 1,1 for the reasons in my first post of this thread.
    .....For me, the jump to ML will cost me more in Software Upgrades, than the cost of a 5,1 if I wanted that machine

    Weigh what you need. After the new MP drops.... you can likely score a 5,1 for the current 3,1 cost and then sell the 1,1 for a little buffer on your purchase.

    Might be worth the wait.
  6. michael_aos macrumors 6502

    Jan 26, 2004
    I just meant buying any CPU on eBay is a little daunting.
  7. AlexMaximus macrumors 6502a


    Aug 15, 2006
    A400M Base
    two things to consider..

    My recommendation:

    I would avoid the 1,1 at all cost. Not only that you don't have the 64 kernel, you have slower pcie bus sockets, slower ram 667 speeds and limited gpu options. You will not be able to run ML. On top of this, it means you can not use available mac upgrades later on and make it future proof for your graduation. (OWC Accelsior SSD, raid solutions and such - they often require higher pci standards).


    Go at least with the MP 3,1 with a low configuration and upgrade later as funding will allow. If less budget is available I would go even with the MP 3,1 single cpu then with a standard 1,1.
  8. ashman70 macrumors 6502a

    Dec 20, 2010
    I have a 3,1 myself and it suits its purposes, if I were you I would look out for a 4,1 for the following reasons:

    cheaper RAM then 3,1
    it can be upgraded (CPUs) to a 5,1 with firmware

    While it will be more expensive then a 3,1 your money will go further and the machine will last longer.
  9. Neodym macrumors 68000


    Jul 5, 2002
    These are server type CPU's, so you can usually assume they'd been running in a proper machine with proper cooling - perhaps even AC. And CPU's may age, but normally a CPU does not fail anymore these days. They more often are destroyed by improper handling when outside of a computer or during implantation.

    Consider an eBay purchase having undergone a thorough burn-in in its "first life"... ;) Oh, and remember to look out for SLAEG variants.

    You don't have the 64bit EFI, but you can boot the 64bit kernel and can run 64bit programs without problems, even with the 32bit EFI.

    Slower PCIe bus is only relevant when we talk about (still expensive) PCIe-based SSD solutions. And even then you don't necessarily notice the difference without a benchmark program.

    The Ram speed increase on the 3,1 (800MHz) is only marginal and again perhaps measureable, but hardly noticeable.

    GPU options are similar to that of the other MP models, with the exception of the missing boot screen (which is a) rarely used anyway and b) can be mitigated by a cheap 2nd card like the GT120 or the 7300GT that came originally with the 1,1).

    Not true.

    Future proofing is never possible 100%. However, OWC does not restrict usage of their Accelsior to newer Mac Pro's and the Apricorn Velocity Solo maker claims that their product is actually running even in a MP 1,1, but would only boot on 64bit EFI machines (they confuse it a little and don't count the 3,1 as 64bit EFI machine - but still). Perhaps it would even boot when the Mac is booted using "legacy boot mode" (see link regarding ML on 1,1 above).

    Areca Raid cards are used even since the 10.5 Leopard days (read: should also work in a 1,1 - i seem to remember that the topic showed up on this forum) and other solutions surely also exist (if you would really need a Raid!).

    Usually PCIe card are downwards compatible, only that you either need to provide more lanes on a slower version or live with slightly slower speeds.

    Even graphic cards can't really saturate PCIe 1.1: German computer magazine c't found in its issue 8/2012, p. 149, that PCIe 1.1 is able to fully saturate TWO crossfired HD 7970 (provided each card has its own x16-slot)! The speed difference to using that combo in a PCIe 3.0 system is said to be within 1-2%...

    Currently i'm not aware of any upgrade option that would absolutely _require_ PCIe 2.x or newer, except for maximum speed on a PCIe SSD card...

    An upgraded 1,1 with 8 cores (x5355 / x5365) runs circles around a 2008 Single-CPU machine and is on par with the 2009 4-core machine. Ram is faster and much cheaper on 4,1 and 5,1, but for the price the 1,1 is still a very competitive beast of a machine.

    So my recommendation is: Either an upgraded 1,1 (or 2,1, if it shows up) for a budget approach or directly a 4,1 or 5,1. The 3,1 is neither fish nor flesh: more expensive than the 1,1, though only marginally faster (if at all - see above) and suffering from the same limitations regarding Ram speed and pricing. On top of that it is still locked into the same old Core architecture as the 1,1 (speed!) without a real (worthwhile) upgrade path.

    The 1,1 is as sturdy as a computer can be, so chances are high it will run another 1-2 years with ease (and upgraded it performs roughly as fast as the fastest consumer Mac of 2011) and then either a really "new" 2013 Mac Pro will be available (and subsequently cheaper 4,1 and 5,1 machines 2nd hand) or something completely different (xMac, iMac Pro - you name it). Enough time to save up a little...
  10. mkokimoto thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jun 21, 2012
    There seems to be an overwhelming majority in favor of the 1,1 and it seems for good reason - the large user base seems to be continuously supporting the old mac pro.

    The biggest problem for me is getting my paws on one. I live far away from everything and its hard to find a seller willing to ship out to the most remote capital city in the world - Perth. So I wind up paying a premium on everything.

    There's an ancient 1,1 2.0 2x2 which is about 550 who will actually ship to me. Seems like the best option for now.

    I've been looking more and more and I noticed a few other computers which use the same parts; I'll try and look around locally for a server to cannibalise for the cpu's - I've been seeing deals on HDD-less HP BL480c's and poweredge 2900 servers with the 5355 and some ram in it. It's going to be the luck of the draw with the stepping but if it comes from the same server at least it'll be matched.
  11. michael_aos macrumors 6502

    Jan 26, 2004
    Does anyone happen to know if 2x SATA-II SSD's striped in a Mac Pro 1,1 would benchmark faster than the OWC Accelsior's 380MBytes/sec?

    Also, are there any of the aftermarket PCIe eSATA and / or USB3 cards capable of >380MBytes/sec in the Mac Pro 1,1? I understand they wouldn't be bootable.
  12. mkokimoto thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jun 21, 2012
    I actually just pulled the trigger on one of those 1,1 machines, from a popular auction site.

    Bought 8x2 for a total of 16 gigs for about 150 shipped at the same time.

    Looking at the 5160 as an insanely cheap upgrade, but I'm not sure about what stepping is the best for the dual cores. if not that, i'll step up to the 5355. It looks like I will need to upgrade the firmware to 2,1 to get crash free performance. the multiple cores will come in handy doing rendering work though. It's a trade-off I guess.

    I'm (attempting) researching into graphics cards at the moment. It's quite difficult to research as I have _no idea_ what graphics card to get. I mean, like absolutely no clue whatsoever. All I know is that my MBP 13 chokes in archicad and it has discrete graphics.
  13. Neodym, Jun 23, 2012
    Last edited: Jun 24, 2012

    Neodym macrumors 68000


    Jul 5, 2002
    Congratulations to your new Mac Pro!

    See my link above regarding the SLAEG variants. You should always try to go for G0 steppings, which would be "SLAG9" for the 5160's.

    I'm running x5355's on a 1,1 firmware without any crash for about a year now. Don't know whether it's because I don't need microcode updates due to having G0/SLAEG already or whether it's related to the special (refurb) version of my firmware.

    Normally a 5770 or PC 6870 are the usual recommendations for a 1,1 upgrade. Are you sure that the graphic card is what makes your 13" MBP choke or could it be restraints from Ram, CPU or slow Hd?
  14. mkokimoto thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jun 21, 2012
    SLAGA - Thanks!

    The MBP 13 is spec'd as a 2.4c2d, nvidia 320m with 256, driving the first monitor, SSD primary, mechanical 250gig secondary in the cd bay, 8 gigs of ram and (sometimes) a usb-dvi driving a second monitor for text. It had issues with some of the bigger models we mainpulate. In other words, I've tried everything within reason to get it up to speed - until the artifacts started showing up.

    Ive been looking at the ATI solutions as well; some of the solutions claim that no reflash is necessary. I can forego the boot screen as I don't spend much of my time looking at it anyways.
  15. Neodym macrumors 68000


    Jul 5, 2002
    Sorry, made a mistake there: Its actually "SLAG9" for the 5160 - "SLAGA" is for the 5150's on G0 stepping... :eek:

    I would recommend to get either the 5770 or 6870 with at least 1GB VRam, depending on which card is cheaper. The 6870 will probably perform a bit better and is cheaper than at least Apple's original 5770, though both should be a significant improvement over that 320m with its meager 256MB VRam. 2GB VRam might even be better, but there have been problem reports with such cards, with e.g. only 1GB VRam being recognized by the system.
  16. thunderfunny macrumors newbie

    Apr 6, 2012
    Ok listen up every one.

    I just bought a 12 core macpro 2.66ghz 32gb for 4,250 (new)/used with 3year warranty.I saved 1,000 and it is in awesome perfect shape. So look up this guy if you are planning to get a macpro and email him if he does not have the one you want.He sells a lot of them and has 100% positive feedback. I'm not a spammer just trying to help you guys out because I know how frustrating it is getting a macpro from your saved money and because apple didn't update their macpros.

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