Considering used MacPro

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by comatory, Jun 6, 2012.

  1. comatory macrumors 6502a


    Apr 10, 2012
    I am looking into the option of buying used Mac Pro. I am video editor and I've been able to do most of the work on C2D MBpro and similar machine - I always felt like I could use more juice, especially for HD content and rendering times.

    Professionally I am video editor and we use Avid workstations at work, for my little freelancing stuff I've been able to do the work the way I do. However I am very intrigued by Mac Pro, I haven't had desktop machine in over 4 years and I have 24" 1920x1200 display already (Fujitsu-Siemens P24 Scenic View), I use firewire DV camcorder and external USB drives.

    I am definitely interested in making a "budget" machine with OEM parts. It'd be really cool to get 128GB SSD and have 2x1TB regular drives in RAID, internal HDD for Timemachine and max out the RAM as possible.


    I do not have experience with it and I don't have any estimate on processing power of the processors used in Mac Pro. Also I'm not sure on the price.
    I'd hate to get Mac Pro and then find out that processor-wise I'm on the same level as i5's in current MB Pro's.

    For example I have stumbled upon used 2010 Mac Pro with Nehalem W3520 2,66 Quad-Core processor and 6GB of RAM, Ati Radeon HD5770 1GB graphics + 2TB drive (could repurpose this one for TimeMachine backups).

    The seller is selling it at $1700 and I could test the machine personally. Does this sound reasonable?

    I really need help at estimating the value - processing power. Is it worth, for example getting 2009 (or 2008) Pro and maxing those out or are 2010 Pro's much superior?

    Thank you for your suggestions.
  2. thekev macrumors 604


    Aug 5, 2010
    W3520= 2009 machine. He could have upgraded parts, but the 2010 used a W3530. They both used the same logic board. Firmware was updated in 2010.
  3. comatory thread starter macrumors 6502a


    Apr 10, 2012
    OK what would be the reasonable price for that setup?

    How can you compare the processor like W3520 to current MacBook Pro's (i5, i 7)?
  4. thekev macrumors 604


    Aug 5, 2010
    I've seen them go for $1500 or less. It can vary. It's possible to turn it into the 6 core via upgrading firmware and replacing the cpu. A W3680 sells for $500-600. Here are a few links. I used barefeats because they have so many comparisons, but this doesn't tell the full story. The mac pro does have way more in the way of options for expansion and IO. With a macbook pro your fastest IO port is also your only way to hook up an external display.

    Note that's a faster quad than the one in the mac pro you referenced.

    You'll notice the 2011 macbook pros took a huge step up if you're looking at the quad core level which would cost more than a used mac pro. It's also more limited on memory with 16GB being the practical ceiling there for upgrades. Things other than the processor could make heavy editing suck on a laptop, and if they get too hot they do throttle down. If you're looking at a used machine, I'd wait to see if replacement models push the pricing down further. The 2008 is okay too given that video work tends to scale better than most things with high core counts. Just keep in mind that ram is extremely expensive for that model, so it's mainly practical if you find a good deal on one with enough ram. The 4,1 and 5,1 should be compatible with whatever gpu replacements come on the new ones. This means if you're going to buy an upgraded card and you want something official, wait for 7XXX cards before upgrading. The 5870 is quite expensive for an aging card.

    This one shows an example of photoshop with OpenCL/Mercury Engine functions.

    I hope this helps.
  5. comatory thread starter macrumors 6502a


    Apr 10, 2012
    Thanks that does help very much! Wow, so the cores really DO matter :) Just had to see it with my own eyes. I'll definitely wait if new MPs are out, if they do, I'll try to get my hands on 8-core MPs as they seem to be huge improvement over 4-c.

    I might choose to get 2009 model, that seems like a good value/power to me and it should have cheaper RAM than 08 model plus it would be cool to have options for GFX replacement. Not doing much with GFX but some light gaming, plus I was thinking of learning some 3D modelling (simple stuff, home project).

    So, 2009 looks like a winner to me, 2010 if price can be good.

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