Contemplating the Mac Pro 6,1...

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by th0masp, Oct 23, 2018.

  1. th0masp macrumors 6502

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    germany
    #1
    Hi,

    I work in the 3D biz but my workhorse is currently, has always been (since the end of the SGI days anyway) and will continue to stay a PC due to software availability (and software build quality) and GPU performance.

    Still, I like to keep a mac around on my desk for everything that isn't 3D work-related. I have kept Minis and Macbooks around for a long while but seeing how many recent mac pro's are now in the used market I am wondering if a 2nd hand trashcan might be interesting as a reasonably future-proof desktop mac?

    Looking at configurations ideally with six cores at 3.5 Ghz, 32 GB and the D500. These would be in the ballpark of what I'd be willing to spend. General desktop/office use, light graphics/photo work is the target. Very compact and silent computer ideal. GPU is not a concern as long as it can drive a 27-inch screen with ease.

    I'm assuming that it's possible to upgrade the RAM if needed and I read in this very forum that installing a modern aftermarket SSD is doable, too.

    I'm just wondering about the performance of these things now. When looking at Geekbench 4 it appears that a current MBP with a mobile six-core CPU at 2.6 and 2.9 Ghz is leaving the Mac Pro in the dust by a considerable margin, is that really the case in real world scenario?

    Is there a better way to judge performance of these setups or am I better off looking at a new MBP or an updated Mini for my purposes? How long-lasting and sturdy is the Trashcan anyway? Are there known reliability issues?
     
  2. krakman macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Dec 3, 2009
    #2
    Be aware a lot of these trashcans suffer from GPU restart disease which may or may not have been fixed with the recent release on Mojave.

    I own a trashcan and when it works it works well, but so does my 2012 mac mini for a quarter of the price.

    Hopefully there will be some new hardware announcements at the end of the month.
     
  3. Hater, Oct 23, 2018
    Last edited: Oct 23, 2018

    Hater macrumors 6502a

    Hater

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    Sep 20, 2017
    Location:
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    #3
    I'd wait until October 30 at least to see how the new Mac Mini fares, if it comes.

    I run a Mac Pro daily, and for "General desktop/office use, light graphics/photo work" I think it would be overkill. I mean I have the quad core D300 model (base model) and for my real world use (FCP, PhotoShop + Motion) it's very competent.... but, also uses more electricity.

    If you don't own the 27" monitor yet, I daresay a 27" iMac would be better suited to your needs, even a 2015 or 2016 model perhaps. At least they can take more than one hard drive internally if you have a Fusion model, and don't need ECC RAM.

    It's hard to say which would be faster between a new machine and a 6,1 as it's down to which applications you use - If you're talking single threaded apps that don't leverage to GPU for computing then yeah the Mac Pro is outclassed, but heavy rendering that can put those Xeon cores to use and get those GPU's nice and hot then the Mac Pro might come out on top. Maybe.
     
  4. th0masp thread starter macrumors 6502

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    #4
    Thanks guys, yeah I'll definitely keep an eye on any hardware announcements and a new and decent Mini would be more interesting to me than a full blown workstation for sure. However I've been let down over and over again by Apple hardware refreshes for the last 5+ years so not much hope they'll offer what I want.

    Which is basically a Mac-PC that can be hooked up to my monitor setup.

    Single threaded is definitely much more interesting to me than many cores. I'm surprised by the Geekbench results, too since I would have not expected a laptop to outclass semi-recent workstations, given how little CPU performance seems to have increased in recent years. I'm not totally hung up on CPU either but the machine better be useful and snappy for several years to come (also compatible with OS upgrades) - my i5 mini is not cutting it all that much anymore.

    These are some excerpts of the results I found -
    Mac Pro Xeon E5-1650 v2 3500 MHZ (6 cores) : Single 3918 Multi 18626
    Mac Pro Xeon E5-1620 v2 3700 MHZ (4 cores) : Single 3326 Multi 10723

    Compared to -
    Macbook Pro Intel Core i9-8950HK 2900 Mhz (6 cores) : Single 5891 Multi 22738
    Macbook Pro Intel Core i7-8850H 2600 Mhz (6 cores) : Single 4882 Multi 19961

    If this can be directly mapped to CPU performance (I'm not familiar with these benchmarks at all and don't know if they perhaps attribute a lot more points for certain CPU features that are not really relevant in most cases) then all I can say is Ouch! ;)

    Just for reference this is the PC CPU I'm currently using (which is from 2014 but still very zippy by my standards for work):
    Intel Core i7-4790K 4000 Mhz (4 cores) : Single 4756 Multi 15788

    And I'm aware that these results are just user submissions. Who knows how well or not their systems are configured but the results I posted seem to be in line with averages for the given specs.

    Re: electricity usage - obviously the Mac Pro would consume more than the mini (I read it's rated at around 45 watts in normal usage scenarios which sounds fine) but how does it behave when in sleep mode and plugged into the mains? Is it consuming a lot - I know some workstations can be very thirsty.
     
  5. sbarton, Oct 23, 2018
    Last edited: Oct 23, 2018

    sbarton macrumors regular

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    #5
    My nMP with E5-2667v2 8 core benches around 4100 single and 27000 multi. One thing to consider with MacBooks is how long they can sustain max turbo without throttling. My experience with my i7 2013 rmbp is not long before heat soak forces heavy cpu throttling. But like someone above said unless your planning on gaming in bootcamp or some other use-case that you haven't listed, overall "peformance" for general desktop duty will be about the same for imac/mini/mbp.

    If you do end up getting one, I recommend picking up a low-end unit but with d700s and then upgrade the cpu and ram yourself. Be careful about aftermarket NVME drives, while they work with the right adapter, there are issues with NTFS partitions on the same drive.
     
  6. th0masp thread starter macrumors 6502

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    germany
    #6
    Lightroom and Affinity, perhaps Krita or a bit of casual use of Resolve for simple edits on content coming out of my 24mp DSLR would be my most taxing applications, I admit nothing that really requires a workstation. Always good to have some headroom though.

    Aynway, for what reason do you recommend the D700 over the lower end models? I'm asking because these seem thin on the ground and probably are not affordable within what I'm planning to spend. Would rather get a large SSD for internal installation for the money (not a fan of having boxes hang off the machine).

    I'm not using Windows on Mac btw. No NTFS , Bootcamp, games or any such considerations necessary but thanks for the warning.
     
  7. pl1984 macrumors 68020

    Joined:
    Oct 31, 2017
    #7
    I suspect because the graphics cards are the most difficult part to upgrade. By difficult I mean finding the cards at a reasonable price. RAM and CPU's are easy to find at a reasonable cost. The SSD, if you purchase an Apple one, is more difficult but easier to find for a reasonable price than the GPUs.

    As for the performance keep in mind the 6,1 Mac Pro is essentially five year old technology so that's why you're seeing lower numbers compared to more modern systems. It's a great system, I have the 3.5GHz hex core, 16GB, 256GB, D300 configuration and it's a solid system. When I use it I use it for the tasks you've described and it is more than responsive for those tasks. Performance wise it's more than sufficient for you.

    As to benchmarks I dislike Geekbench. I know everyone here uses it but it's not very representative of real world usage. All it tells you is how fast a system can run Geekbench. For example I put my rMP up against my 2010 Mac Pro in Handbrake. Both are similar spec'd systems but the rMP utilizes newer technology and outscores the 2010 in GB by a reasonable percentage. However during the Handbrake transcode the Mac Pro completed the task respectably faster than the rMP. I suspect because the rMP had to throttle as it could not operate at its peak speed due to temperature. If you have a task which you expect will be resource intensive it's best to benchmark each system with that task.

    As to reliability I can't speak to that as I rarely use mine however I have read about graphics card glitches. I recommend you research the issue before deciding. Apple had (has?) a replacement program for the affected cards. There seems to be question as to which cards were affected. I thought I had read the D700 cards were the affected cards but recently I saw a posting saying the D300 cards were the affected cards.

    I would recommend a 6,1 Mac Pro if you're OK buying five year old technology and if you're willing to pay the prices sellers are asking for it. IMO the asking prices of a 6,1 are higher than I would expect from technology which is as old as it is. But then Apple hasn't released an updated Mac Pro nor have they really done anything with the price (except once when they changed the specs but kept prices the same).
     
  8. th0masp thread starter macrumors 6502

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    germany
    #8
    Yeah I am sure the 6,1 is up to my tasks. Having something running mac OS that is similar in speed to my work-PC would be great and surely useful for a bunch of years.

    GPU-wise I'm looking into it. Makes sense to try and go for the highest end model with these but I doubt I'll want to pay for a system containing those. The 6-core D500 is about my upper limit for now. I'm looking at spending a little extra on a 2-year reseller warranty for the system to be on the safe side.

    And yeah the prices are steep all things considered. I'm only using this benchmark because that seems to be all that's available to figure out what I could roughly expect from the machine for my money compared to nowadays offerings. E.g. I'm well aware that a laptop throttles quickly (and if not will run with fans at full tilt, making it annoying to use).

    I'll probably indeed go for the 6,1 unless there's a new Mini coming out that just so happens to tick all my boxes. By end of year I'll need to have made my move.

    Thanks guys!
     
  9. ActionableMango macrumors G3

    ActionableMango

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    #9
    Yes, this is the benchmark that matters more than any other.
     
  10. tpivette89 macrumors 6502

    tpivette89

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    Newark, DE
    #10
    I'm hoping Apple will either:

    A) announce a mini that will be better than the 2012 i7 with all the modern attributes,

    or

    B) give a sneak peak at the new 7,1 that will drive the price of the 6,1 down to where the average "user" will be able to justify purchasing dependent on what's relevant from Apple.

    I would love to upgrade my early DP 2009 cMP... but currently there's nothing from Apple that can compare to what I have.
     
  11. Naimfan Suspended

    Naimfan

    Joined:
    Jan 15, 2003
    #11
    And how sad is that?

    Same boat - we had to switch to HP Z8s for work, as they are blindingly faster than the the 5,1s we had (mostly data analysis).
     
  12. AidenShaw macrumors P6

    AidenShaw

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    The Peninsula
    #12
    Every month of delay in getting the 7,1 out reduces its potential audience.

    Much to HP's pleasure.
     
  13. th0masp thread starter macrumors 6502

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    germany
    #13
    Ok, with the Apple conference now over and the new Mini looking good but not great and - as expected - with interesting storage options quickly approaching (refurb) Mac Pro pricing - I just ordered a 6,1. Should be here by end of the week.

    I read up on the GPU issues and will stress test it with rendering and GPU heavy tasks for a few weeks (30 days return period) to make sure it's not a lemon.


    One question: I have the SSD adaptor on order now and the machine will come with High Sierra preinstalled. Can I just do the swap and install the OS on the new SSD or is there some firmware upgrade needed? Do I need a specific High Sierra patchlevel before attempting this?

    Just downloaded the latest installer for it from the Appstore and have the Combo updater as well, just in case.

    I'd really want to avoid going with Mojave as the OS for now. Sounds like early days and app-incompatibilities being an issue right now.
     
  14. MisterAndrew macrumors 65816

    MisterAndrew

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    Portland, Oregon
    #14
    If I was choosing between a new Mac mini and the 2013 Mac Pro I'd choose the Mac mini with the i7. It has TB3 so it officially supports eGPUs, etc. I'd start with the base i3, upgrade to i7, 512GB or 1TB SSD, and probably the 10gig ethernet. Then upgrade the RAM later.
     
  15. th0masp thread starter macrumors 6502

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    germany
    #15
    It looks like the SSD can't be swapped out on that one though. With just a 1TB SSD the i7 comes to 1900 before tax and plus the aftermarket RAM upgrade. Also eGPU is another box on top of it all. Pushes it past the Mac Pro.

    I still have nightmares from the little towers of SCSI devices we used to have next to workstations. All with their own wall-wart, too. And from forgetting to turn them on in order before booting. Noooooooooo.... ;)
     
  16. MisterAndrew macrumors 65816

    MisterAndrew

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    #16
    That's true. The price definitely starts to creep up there. May as well go for a refurbished iMac Pro.
     
  17. iMactouch macrumors member

    iMactouch

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    #17
    The main reason why I stay at my Mac Pro 6,1 is the loudness of the Mac mini.
    I owned a 2012 Quadcore i7 Mac mini before and when it had to run Handbrake the temperature has gone up to 100°C and it was really loud!
    The Mac Pro now has a 10 core (which is surely slower that the 6 core i7 in the new Mac mini) and when it is running at full speed with Handbrake it is still quiet!
    I don't expect the new Mac mini to be so quiet as the Mac Pro 6,1.
     
  18. Selsk macrumors member

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    Mar 18, 2017
    #18
    I love my 6,1. I only wish there were more Thunderbolt 2 peripherals available but oh well.
    I mainly use it for Photoshop & Lightroom. Both of which it crushes. I know that Lightroom runs like a dog on a lot of macs but my 6 Core / 32GB ram / D500's have no problem with it and my library is on a regular ol spinning HD via USB3.
     
  19. th0masp thread starter macrumors 6502

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    #19
    Interesting to hear about the noise. My 2012 i5 is not audible in Handbrake encodings - or anything else. It's just not very fast and noticeably choppier than my same generation i7 MBP. Both of these use mobile CPUs whereas it appears the new Mini in the very same form factor now ships with a desktop i7?

    I wonder what that does to the noise levels.
     
  20. th0masp thread starter macrumors 6502

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    germany
    #20
    First session today setting up the new machine. I received a 'refurb' that according to the serial number was made in June of 2018 - no complaints there! I have been with my tweaked user profile setup on other machines since the days of Leopard. Dealing with this vanilla High Sierra install just reminded me how many tweaks I will have to port over. Oh my.

    In terms of the design (hey, it's an Apple after all...): I had not expected the outer casing to be that massive. Very cool. On the other hand - giving it that polished surface - what were they thinking? Who wants to look at a weird distorted mirror image of themselves? :)
    Apparently not made for people who tend to wear white shirts.
     
  21. iMactouch macrumors member

    iMactouch

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    #21
    You have the i5 and not the i7! The i7 runs really hot and is very loud!
     
  22. th0masp thread starter macrumors 6502

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    #22
    Sounds like I should be glad that back then I missed out that one. Nothing worse than having a noisy thing sat on your desk while you're trying to concentrate.

    The trashcan so far has not really made any sound during stress testing. I have to put my ear right next to it to make out the fan whirl. It's not as silent as my mini but you have to try really hard to notice it.
    I seem to be unable to wake it from sleep via keyboard though - is that some setting somewhere? Right now I have to reach for that unbelievably inconveniently placed power button every time.
     

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21 October 23, 2018