Help deciding about Mac Pro

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by Vrism, Jun 26, 2011.

  1. Vrism, Jun 26, 2011
    Last edited: Jun 26, 2011

    Vrism macrumors newbie

    Jun 26, 2011
    Hello first time poster here :)
    I have a 21.5 iMac which is great and I also have a gaming PC. Because of this I have to have 2 monitors on the desk, well an iMac and a monitor, which takes up a lot of room due to the fact it is a standard desk which is not that large. I can see that the PC is getting slower and have been wanting just 1 computer. My idea was to just get rid of the PC, give the iMac to a family member and get a Mac Pro, and taking my new graphics card from the PC and putting it in the Mac Pro. I have a few questions though.
    1. While running Bootcamp, is the Mac Pro good for gaming (I have a pretty high end graphics card in the PC right now, should I replace the the graphics card?)
    2. Which Mac Pro should I get, I'm a noob when it comes to deciding about this stuff, for me it's between the Quad Core and 8 Core (I'm going to be a casual user who does some gaming)
    3. Would you recommend I get the Apple LED Cinema Display or just stick with my PC monitor (Samsung 24" 1920x1080)
  2. jav6454 macrumors P6


    Nov 14, 2007
    1 Geostationary Tower Plaza
    1. Mac Pros are not that good for gaming using the limited GPU options available on the Mac side. On the Windows side, I can't comment with certainty, but it should work with almost any GPU... granted you download the appropriate drivers. (Check on this, I'm not 100% sure)

    2. Games currently, and for the foreseeable future (say 5+ years) are not going to use more than 2 threads... so having 8 physical cores and 8 logical (16 total) is a waste and many times hampers/degrades performances.

    3. Stick to the Samsung monitor unless you want a larger resolution. Granted, larger resolution means you need a more powerful GPU to push more pixels and get higher FPS in it.
  3. MacinJosh macrumors 6502a

    Jan 29, 2006
    Granted, while the selection of GPUs are not quite as varied as on the Windows side of things, usually the best are available on Mac side. Some might require a little hacking to get working.

    I think the biggest limitation is lack of Crossfire support or even dual GPU (on one card) support. As to the impact that it has on gaming performance, I wouldn't think it's that significant.
  4. nanofrog macrumors G4

    May 6, 2008
    It's possible to use a MP for gaming, but it's expensive for what you'll be doing with it. As mentioned, the available GPU's are somewhat limited (though the 5870 is still no slouch).

    Fortunately, you can use a PC card (getting power to them can be a bit of a challenge) if you must go this route. Just keep in mind, that an MP + PC GPU + power = more than $1k USD than you really need to spend for a Quad core (as mentioned, anything over the base Quad would be a waste of money, as games cannot use a lot of cores - typically 1, maybe 2 is all). BTW, Crossfire is possible under Windows, and SLI can be done via a hack (not sure as to the success rate/limitations with SLI though).

    You've not stated how you use the iMac however, and I suspect it's not all that heavy a load (Mini could handle it). Assuming this is the case, it can allow another option = getting a Mini and a KVR switch, which would allow you to use a single monitor with both the Mini and gaming PC.

    It would do what you need and at a lower cost as well, so it's worth considering IMO. ;)
  5. Vrism thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jun 26, 2011
    I have thought about the mini, but with my gaming PC breaking down I would have to spend money on the Mini and on a new gaming PC. I was planning on getting a custom Mac Pro instead of the stock, with 12 GB Ram and the ATI Radeon 5870, and it came out to $3,220. With the Mac Mini I would be upgrading the Memory and Processor and with that it came out to about $1,149, and my current gaming PC was 2k so I would not know what would be a better value. I also really like the ability to upgrade the Mac Pro, which is unavailable in the Mini and iMac. I have also not had any hardware problems with Mac's too, but my current gaming PC has broken down before and I had to have the fans and other items replaced.
  6. FrankHahn macrumors 6502a

    May 17, 2011
    I think that the current model of Mac Pro with a 3.33GHz 6-core CPU and the 27" Cinema Display would make a great machine for gaming.
  7. nanofrog macrumors G4

    May 6, 2008
    Does the PC actually need replaced, or can it be upgraded for less money (and presumably fix the reliability issues)?

    I ask, as I've no idea if it's a vendor manufactured system, put together by you (DIY system), or a local computer shop (YMMV, particularly with low cost parts - hard to really know what you're getting if you let a local shop build it, or if it's a vendor selling budget systems). It really does come back to "you get what you pay for", so it's in your best interest to put in the research (as you're trying to do with the MP; but it may be in your best interest not to skip on other options, as that research could pay off in the form of fitting your needs for a lower cost).

    Please understand, I realize your dilemma. But either way you slice it, you've got to realize that whether it's a PC + Mac or a MP, you're going to be in for a good bit of money (unless the PC you have can be brought up to snuff without spending too much + cost of a Mac; used or refurbished might might be something to take a look into as well).

    If you do go the MP route, get a base model Quad, and buy your upgrades via 3rd party, as it's much cheaper. The 5770 would be fine for OS X most likely, and you can get a PC card for gaming under Windows (better than the 5870 if you wish - up to you). If you want the 5870, go ahead and order that with the system from Apple (no additional memory or storage though).

    Just keep in mind, MP's have their difficulties with gaming, namely with fitting GPU's that need more power than the MP can provide according to it's design (they use special cables to pull power off of the logic board for the GPU <smaller than standard 6 pin PSIG connectors> that terminate to standard 6 pin PSIG connectors on the other end <those that plug into the GPU card>).

    As mentioned before, there are ways to get around this. But it means another PSU (either a Juice Box that will fit in the empty optical bay, or a standard computer PSU that hangs outside the system, which is unattractive by most people's standards).

    The point of all of this, is so you can understand what you may be in for, depending on how extreme you are about frame rates while gaming.

    The faster clock speeds would be nice, but the additional cores won't likely be of use, given the indicated usage (no indication that there's any true n core multi-threaded software being used, let alone with enough frequency to justify the additional cost IMO).

    You just don't need a lot of cores for things like web browsing, composing emails, word documents, or gaming. Now the occasional DVD rip would (example of consumer software that can use the cores), but that may not even be used, or very often if it is.

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