Help Me Build My Mac Pro

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by redmeister, Oct 27, 2010.

  1. redmeister macrumors 6502

    Jan 26, 2007
    Hey all,

    I've determined I need a Mac Pro so now it's time to build it and I would love some opinions/help on the matter. This machine will be much more boring than what many of you have! Here's what I will be mainly using it for: lots of web use with streaming data for financial markets (Google Chrome with 25+ tabs, Firefox with 10 tabs or so), Word, Excel, Preview, Skype.. nothing too crazy for daily use. Also some gaming with Starcraft2 and eventually Diablo3. The main reason I need the Pro is for 3 monitors.

    So for computing purposes, it sounds like I need a pretty basic Pro. Will one 2.8GHz Quad-Core Intel Xeon Nehalem work for my needs? What's everyone suggest here?

    I figure I would just get the base 3GB and then upgrade the RAM myself (you can do that easily with the Pro right?) I was thinking 8 or 12 GB total so I wouldn't have to upgrade later down the line.

    I'll be starting with 2 24" monitors but will eventually upgrade to 3 27" monitors in the near future. I would only need 1 graphics card with either setup, right? One ATI Radeon HD 5770 1GB fits the bill here?

    Hard Drive
    My current setup has around 250GB of data that I'd transfer over. I also already have a 1TB external hd for back-up. So what do I put in the Mac Pro? SSD seems to have some great benefits but it's quite expensive. Can I buy an SSD from someone other than Apple and install it? This is the part I'm having a tough time deciding on.

    And then finally I only need 1 SuperDrive. Given that I don't need too complex of a Pro, I was thinking about going the refurb route, but I just wanted to check with everyone to see if my specs matched what I'd be using it for?

    Thanks for reading and any opinions are greatly appreciated!
  2. neckarb macrumors regular

    Jun 29, 2007
    Hey dude,

    I've just done quite a similar thing, personally I went for an original Mac Pro 2.66 and upgraded everything, from Processors to optical drives. My experience has been nothing but fantastic, If I were you I would definately go for a 2009ish version or later, that way you'll get EFI64bit (personally I've had no problem with EFI32bit, but hey) Faster DDR3 Ram, SATA optical drives, handy for blu-ray drive upgrades and the like.

    As for Processor, 2.8ghz Quad core sounds great, if you arn't into hugely intensive processor stuff, I.e. video rendering etc. But if I were you I would go for one with dual CPU sockets, more upgradable if in the future you decide you need more.

    With RAM the more the merrier but like you say I would upgrade it myself. 8GB+ is pretty much more than your'e going to need right now, again unless you use lots of large apps simultaneously, photoshop etc.

    Graphics: There's nothing to say that you couldnt get by with a 5770 but if I were you I would (and did) go for a 5870, the upgrade cost isn't massive on a new one and with Starcraft2 you might like the extra power. No problem with three monitors on either, but again I'd go for the 5870 if I were you.

    Hard drives: SSD as a boot drive all the way, such a massive speed increase that you will notice instantly definately don't go for an Apple one, buy it yourself, 3RD party are better, I went with OCZ Vertex 2's but there are allsorts out there that will meet your needs and save you cash by going third party.

    Optical Drives: 1 Super drive meets your needs by the looks of it, and if needed you can always add another or a Blu-Ray Drive or something later.

    All in all it looks like you've got the right idea for what you need, can't go wrong with buying from Apple, refurb or not, always good to have the warranty. Any more questions I can answer I'll do my best :cool:

    edit: I should also have mentioned that some of the things I suggested are entirely dependant on how technically proficient you are, for example there is no reason to buy a Dual CPU set up for the upgradability if you have no idea how to upgrade processors. For 99% of things one CPU will do you just fine, it's just if you fancy doing something that will push them or if you fancy a project in a few years, for me it's always nice to have the option to spice things up in the future if needed (that's not to say you couldn't upgrade a single CPU system with a later CPU) for me it's always about the potential a machine has rather than the capabilities it currently has.

    Hope my answer wasn't confusing.
  3. toxic macrumors 68000

    Nov 9, 2008
    a 2.8 will do fine, or even last year's 2.66. I think 8-12 GB will be plenty.

    if you'll be gaming in OSX, you're better off having multiple cards, since the VRAM will be split between monitors in a multiple-monitor setup. you can grab a used GT120 for $80 or less if you need to...not a powerful card, but you won't need one anyway. if you think you'll want a 5870 for your primary video card, you better get it with your MP, because you won't be buying it separately anytime soon... the 5770 is slightly weaker than last year's 4870 (the high-end video option), and the 5870 is twice as powerful (I think) as the 4870.

    for hard drives, you can buy an SSD, you'll just have to buy a 3.5" SSD, or a 2.5" plus a sled to fit it in either a 3.5" bay or in the 5.25" optical drive bay. I don't think they're something you absolutely should get, though...just have two or more hard drives, one for OS and applications, the other(s) for data. make sure you have much more space than you actually need and that setup should be fast enough. you can even do a striped RAID if you really want...but I don't think your purposes are speed-critical, so that's not really necessary, either.
  4. cnstoll macrumors 6502

    Aug 29, 2010
    Everything sounds good from what you and others have said.

    I would recommend waiting on the SSD, and maybe upgrade to that in the future. The nature of your work with browser's and games is that you're basically working out of RAM, not really reading/writing back in forth to disk often. So while and SSD would make all your apps launch instantly, it wouldn't really help with anything else for you. I'd just stick with a large internal HDD or two and upgrade to an SSD later when you have more money to spend, or want to give that tower some freshness.

    Also, I'll add that I just upgraded mine from 3GB of RAM to 12GB and the difference is absolutely stunning. I don't believe you need 12, but I think Id go with that anyway if I were you, or at least get 8 but with 2x4GB sticks...not 3 or 4 2GB sticks. That way if you choose to add more later all you need to do is buy an extra stick or two, not replace all of them with larger ones (like you'd need to if you got 4x2GB sticks).
  5. ActionableMango macrumors G3


    Sep 21, 2010
    CPU - Yes, it's fine.

    RAM - Your plan is fine.

    One ATI Radeon HD 5770 - Nope, you can use any two connectors at once, but not all three. If you connect to all three, the DVI port is disabled.

    Hard Drive - Get an SSD if you want vastly decreased boot times and application load times, and if you feel the price is worth it. Otherwise it sounds like the stock drive will be fine.

    Refurb - Sounds like a plan to me. I got the 2010 refurb myself, 2.8GHz/3GB/1TB/5770.
  6. silby101 macrumors member

    Jun 20, 2003
    I would go with buying 2x4Gb Ram and use your orignial 1Gb ram for a total of 10Gb. It's much cheaper than getting 12Gb by buying 3x4Gb from OWC for $320. I bought mine for $165.99 USD from newegg.

    If you do get some other ram than those talked about in that post, make sure it's ECC, 1333Mhz, with Thermal sensor, and unbuffered if you want to use the stock Apple ram.
  7. After G macrumors 68000

    After G

    Aug 27, 2003
    HD - Get a 3.5" Momentus XT - most of the performance of an SSD but without the heavy price tag of one. Use it for boot at least.

    CPU - fine.

    RAM - fine.

    Refurb - excellent plan.

    GPU - Get more than one, especially with a large amount of monitors.
  8. Transporteur macrumors 68030

    Nov 30, 2008
    There is absolutely no reason for a dual CPU system for his requirements. It's not even worth considering for an eventual upgrade in one or more years.
    Both high clocked 4-core, and 6-core processors that would be needed for such an upgrade are $1000 to $1700 each.
    It makes more sense to buy a new machine, instead of upgrading it in one or two years and losing the warranty.
    There is no question that buying the cheapest 8-core today and upgrade it immediately to a 12-core in case that you need the performance, but given the OP's requirements, it doesn't make any sense.

    You can use ALL three connectors at once, absolutely no problem.

    The Momentus is a nice drive, but doesn't even come close to an SSD. Better than a standard mechanical drive, though, so yes, might be worth buying if over an SSD if the budget is tight.
  9. dave239 macrumors newbie

    Oct 11, 2010
    I am also considering the use of 2 or 3 off 27" Cinema Displays.
    As I believe you need a "quite" expensive Dual-link to minidisplayport adapter, to run the third display from either the HD 5770 or the HD 5870, I decided it was only slightly more expensive to simply opt for 2 off HD 5770 cards, giving more graphics processing power and avoiding the cost of the adapter.
  10. philipma1957, Oct 28, 2010
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 11, 2010

    philipma1957 macrumors 603


    Apr 13, 2010
    Howell, New Jersey
    First off you want this machine

    It is out of stock but it is the way to go. The thread below it has a lot of info on how to get it.

    I have ram from superbiiz works fine

    someone says get the second graphics card for extra screens I would agree.

    don't buy apple ram or apple hdds or apple ssds. they are overpriced and you are allowed to use after market without voiding warranty.

    that is all I got. oh and down the road nanofrog a poster on this site is really good for info on raid setups./backups etc
  11. redmeister thread starter macrumors 6502

    Jan 26, 2007
    Thanks for the link on the ram and advice on going 10gb vs 12, sounds easy enough!

    Okay interesting you're in the same situation as me it sounds like. I essentially have three options for vid cards:

    - 1 ati radeon 5780
    - 1 ati radeon 5780 & then pick up an additional cheaper card
    - 2 ati 5770's

    So for 3 27" monitors, what's the best setup? I don't even know if I'd be using all 3 monitors for gaming. (Keep in mind that I'm starting with 2 24" monitors and will upgrade to 3 27" later)

    philipma1957, thank you for all the various resources you provided in your reply they've been very helpful. I agree with what you and others have said, it makes sense for me to get the refurb. It comes with 1 video card for now, but if I wanted to install a 2nd one later via the link you referenced, I can just plug and play right, not a complicated install/setup?

    Since I only need a somewhat basic Pro, what if I also looked into getting a very basic 2009 model but then upgrading ram, graphics card, etc? Is the difference in CPU that noticeable between '09 and '10? I need to thank everyone who has responded in the thread, you've all been an enormous help thus far. Just have to figure out my GPU situation, etc.
  12. ziwi macrumors 65816


    Jan 6, 2004
    Right back where I started...

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