cMP, performance, longevity, choices .

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by barmann, Nov 17, 2016.

  1. barmann macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Oct 25, 2010
    Location:
    Germany
    #1
    I'm running an MP 3.1 (early 2008) right now, 24GB RAM , ATI 5770 , SSDs for system and scratch and HDDs for files .
    It's running well so far, but its age concerns me .
    Mainly I use it for heavy Photoshop work and some occasional 3D modelling .

    Used MP 5.1 are available for under 1K Euros here in Germany, including a decent amount of RAM, which got me thinking .

    So I did a lot of research, but am still a little confused .

    It seems a 2012 MP 3.33Ghz 6-core might be a good choice for me .
    A few years less under the belt than a 4.1 or early 5.1, so it will hopefully last for a bit longer .
    It'd allow for a faster GPU than my MP 3.1, maybe a PCIe SSD and a USB 3.0 card .
    A single Quad is not an option .

    Then again, I keep reading about how upgrading the CPUs in the dual-processor models of the MP 5.1 is fairly easy and affordable ( not so much with a 4.1 ) .
    I don't mind tinkering, but am not an expert , so I could only do a fairly straightforward processor swap .


    Any advice welcome !
     
  2. thats all folks macrumors 6502a

    thats all folks

    Joined:
    Dec 20, 2013
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    Austin (supposedly in Texas)
    #2
    the 3.33 hex will kick the crap out of your current machine. a lot happened to the CPUs and system architecture between 2008 and 2009 that boosted performance and potential in all kinds of ways. and as you've mentioned, you can keep adding to it to make it do even more.

    you seem uncertain on whether you should go for a single or dual CPU machine. you are right that a dual 4,1 is a more complicated procedure and should probably be avoided if you cant assume the risk. but is it necessary at all? what will having 12 (instead of 6) cores do for you? hyperthreading alone will make the hex act more like an 8 or 10 core.
     
  3. adam9c1 macrumors 65816

    adam9c1

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    #3
    Dual CPU tray will give you 8 RAM slots (you must run both CPUs). vs 4 slots on single socket tray.
     
  4. developer13245, Nov 17, 2016
    Last edited: Nov 19, 2016

    developer13245 macrumors 6502

    developer13245

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    Nov 15, 2012
    #4
    The 3,1 was the last of the "Front side bus" / "single threaded" CPUs - I still have a 3,1 with 2x 3.0GHz CPUs ( 8 single threaded physical cores total) running 10.8 that I use for developer testing.

    I picked up a (real) 5,1, which I bought new from B&H in 2014. I'm so happy that I was right to avoid the trash can. My 5,1 has a single 3.2 GHz Quad core (double threaded) CPU, so a total of 8 concurrent threads can run. It does perform better than the 3,1 for software development and light (prosumer audio/photo/video) work. I'm a professional developer, so adding the 3 year Apple Care coverage made good business sense.

    I'm hoping the 5,1 will be reasonably upgradeable for at least another few years (A CPU upgrade is something I would consider when Apple care coverage lapses) - this should bridge the "brain damage gap" that Apple's Mac Pro line is slogging through now, until (hopefully) they'll come to their senses eventually. But I'm not holding my breath (the Coffee table book seems to be a statement that they're "doubling down" on their "design over everything else" delusion.

    I really don't think we'll see a 7,1 anytime soon.

    So.. It may be a good time to make a smart purchase of a cMP due to the current uncertainty. I would look for a newer 5,1 in good condition for a reasonable price. You can get some decent use for at least a few years and defer decisions to upgrade again down the road as it makes sense. Hopefully in the not so distant future you (and I) will be able to choose from either a viable 7,1 or 'aftermarket' upgrades for the 5,1.

    Good luck!
     
  5. barmann thread starter macrumors 6502

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    Oct 25, 2010
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    Germany
    #5
    Thank you guys, that's very helpful .

    It seems like a single Hex is the way to go for me .
    A Quad would probably be just as fine for most purposes, apart from those 3D renders I do occasionally .

    I haven't checked RAM prices recently, but they shouldn't be too bad - at least compared to the MP 3.1's RAM - so 32 GB of RAM or so should be affordable with just 4 slots, and it's fine for picture editing .

    I've been tempted by specs like refurbished 3.8Ghz 12 core, which are being offered by some online sellers, with upgraded and new processors - but my reasearch suggests they often don't use the best parts, just the ones that sound good on paper .
     
  6. barmann thread starter macrumors 6502

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    Germany
    #6
    Would yo mind looking at those specs, and tell me what you think ?

    It's more than I planned to spend, but it has the GPU upgrade and a USB 3.0 card, enough RAM and comes from a seemingly reputable ebay seller of refurbished Macs .

    What GPU would be best, you think ?
    --- Post Merged, Nov 19, 2016 ---
    Oh, and the price would be about 2100 Euros shipped .
     

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  7. thats all folks macrumors 6502a

    thats all folks

    Joined:
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    Austin (supposedly in Texas)
    #7
    that took me only a minute to find on eBay. yes, a solid machine. since it's a factory original 3.33 hex, it wont have been messed with in a any way (though I think you are paying extra for that fact). is 24GB all you need? I'd seriously consider 48. and I wonder how old the included drives are, they might not be something you want to count on. and you still will want to add an SSD.

    that graphics card is the best you are going to do for a completely trouble free experience (provided it has been flashed). hopefully the RX 480 will eventually work out that way, but no guarantees yet. I know the GTX 680 is liked by many but with only 2GB video RAM it's already dropping below the threshold of some situations.

    so it might be a little expensive (certainly is from the perspective of a US based individual) but I guess that price includes the VAT. they have some cheaper options (2010 upgraded to a 3.46Ghz) that you might consider.
     
  8. barmann thread starter macrumors 6502

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    Oct 25, 2010
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    Germany
    #8
    Thank you !
    Didn't mean to hide the ad ;) .

    Yes, the price includes 19% VAT, which I will get back .
    Ram is something I would negotiate with the seller, 32 to 48GB, and the drives I don't care about - I'll try and exchange them for an upgrade or so . I got the drives from my MP 3.1, and a bunch more ...

    I hear you on the upgraded 2010s - but then it's 2 years older, and has most likely the cheapest processor update, as you mentioned . Worth a thought, though .

    Or go the cheap and DIY way, get a 2009/10 3.33 Ghz hex from a private seller for under 1k, and add everything myself - Ram, USB 3.0 card, better GPU .
    In the end it might save a couple hundred, but require more time and research for the parts .

    Main question is, can you trust those refurb guys, 'warranty' or not, over some private seller ?
     
  9. Wiltonian macrumors member

    Wiltonian

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    Sep 25, 2016
    Location:
    Nottingham, UK
    #9
    My personal way of getting a bargain on eBay is to wait and wait and wait until someone is selling what I want within, say 70m/100km of me, and they're only selling on a "collect in person" basis. That factor reduces the number of potential buyers greatly, and therefore price, and you get a chance to see the item before you hand over the cash.

    I got a base 2010 cMP 5.1 in excellent condition for £450 recently, adding two brand new 2Tb HDs and a 256Gb SSD for around £200 more. Ex-server memory is very cheap, and a six-core processor should be less than £80.

    Stuart
     
  10. thats all folks macrumors 6502a

    thats all folks

    Joined:
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    Austin (supposedly in Texas)
    #10
    I can only guess on wether a 2012 vs a 2010 will have a meaningfully longer life. as to eBay sellers. I've had good luck on several. mostly issues with those darn loops bending (which is usually solved by a partial refund, the seller wont want it back). even used CPUs off of eBay, bought dozens, don't think I ever had a bad one. eBay is also really good at protecting the buyer so I trust those transaction more than even an Amazon marketplace seller. and I imagine Germany has better consumer protection laws than the US.

    if you are comfortable doing all the work yourself, that could definitely be a savings. and if you run into trouble, you still have the 3,1 to fall back on.
     
  11. barmann thread starter macrumors 6502

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    Germany
    #11
    Good points .
    2010 vs. 2012 can be a moot point, depending on use and even date of purchase .

    Considering what I paid to just add memory and upgrade the GPU to a meager 5770 in the 3.1 , any 5.1 shouldn't be too costly to upgrade by myself .
    And those are things I did before, no problem there .

    And yes, the 3.1 would stay; part of the attraction of the cMP is how you can just move your drives around between computers and keep going .
    Especially since I'm still running Mavericks for the time being .
     
  12. thats all folks macrumors 6502a

    thats all folks

    Joined:
    Dec 20, 2013
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    #12
    about that. the 4,1 and later use a deeper sled (which is friendlier on your fingertips when pulling sleds). you wont be able to put your 3,1 sleds in a later computer. you can put the later sleds in the 3,1 but you wont be able to close the side (they stick out). I've run Mac Pros for extended periods with the side panel off to no apparent detriment. but it's a one way trip.
     
  13. Mac Gus macrumors regular

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    Dec 31, 2013
    Location:
    New York City
    #13
    I wouldn't stress too much about whether its a 2009, 2010, or 2012. Just try to find a good deal on one in good condition. IMO if you're gonna go through the trouble you might as well get a dual processor unit. I've had my 2009 since I bought it new and it's going strong. I expect to keep it several more years. You can see all the upgrades I've done in my signature.
     
  14. pat500000 macrumors 604

    pat500000

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    Jun 3, 2015
    #14
    Curious..what apps would be dropping the threshold for gtx 680?
     
  15. thats all folks, Nov 21, 2016
    Last edited: Nov 21, 2016

    thats all folks macrumors 6502a

    thats all folks

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    Dec 20, 2013
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    Austin (supposedly in Texas)
    #15
    Blackmagic Davinci Resolve is the one I'm most aware of. certain aspects of that program just stop working if you don't have enough GPU RAM.

    and more generically, CG work certainly. The Nvidia Quadro line (their workstation class GPUs) now tops out at 24GB for desktop and 8GB for mobile. AMD even offers a 32GB FirePro option. they're not doing that to get rid of excess RAM inventory.

    also it's another one of those things like all the, "is 8GB RAM enough for editing?" threads. the answer is sure, how much time you got?

    and the past isn't a reference point for the future. software is evolving to take advantage of new resources and new price points. After Effects was first released in 1993. The mac Quadra 800 released that same year maxed out at 136MB of RAM. After Effects had to work within those constraints. but now its not unreasonable to have 32GB and ideally 64 and more in a media workstation and After Effects will use that, to great effect. as higher levels become normalized, the old normal drops off. GPUs are the latest version of that. GPU for compute didn't barely exist only a handful of years ago. now it's becoming normalized. and the more you can push to that resource, the greater the benefit of processing power and RAM on that resource. I could go on...
     
  16. ActionableMango, Nov 21, 2016
    Last edited: Nov 21, 2016

    ActionableMango macrumors 604

    ActionableMango

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    Sep 21, 2010
    #16
    Just a minor point, but there are also 4GB versions available for the GTX680.

    I have personally seen higher than 2GB used on my 4GB GTX680, so yes there are scenarios where 2GB would have been limiting.
     
  17. barmann thread starter macrumors 6502

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    Oct 25, 2010
    Location:
    Germany
    #17
    I know, but swapping the sleds won't be an issue , it's just for emergencies .
    Easier than squeezing your old harddrive into a nMP . ;)
     
  18. barmann thread starter macrumors 6502

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    Oct 25, 2010
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    Germany
    #18
    Thanks, I see your point .
    However, dual MPs seem to cost quite a bit more than single ones, unless you go with the low clock speeds .
    I assume you upgraded the CPUs yourself ?

    I'd love to have a 12 core, but I don't really need that many physical cores (threads?) for mainly image processing and editing to justify the premium .
     
  19. Mac Gus macrumors regular

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    Dec 31, 2013
    Location:
    New York City
    #19
    I started out with the base model duel processor that I had bought new in 2009. I've upgraded the processors twice now, most recently to the most powerful pair that the machine can accept as prices have come down significantly. Updating processors is a project, but it's not that hard and can be kind of fun. If you don't need all the cores than perhaps you don't need the dual processor version. My thoughts on it are more like, if you're going to invest in an older machine and go through the trouble you might as well get the most powerful iteration of it since it's already out dated.
    --- Post Merged, Nov 23, 2016 ---
     
  20. 840quadra Moderator

    840quadra

    Staff Member

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    Twin Cities Minnesota
    #20
    If you have spent any time building PCs, or working on older G4 systems with regards to processor upgrades and such, upgrading dual processors on a 4,1 is trivial. If you possess the technical (actually Mechanical) skills to Delid, or, shim the heat sinks, you have the wealth of used Xeon processors to chose form on the net, the same pool as the 5,1.

    YMMV, but, the 4,1 Duals are usually considerably cheaper than dual 5,1 systems, and in my area some go for less than single processor 5,1 machines on local swap ads.

    I am still a diehard Aperture user and batch process thousands of photos at a time. That software is MP aware, and utilizes all 12 cores during batch changes, as well as doing exports. It is markedly quicker than my 2015 15" AMD Graphics MBP.
     

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