Help me get over my issues in regards to buying a MacPro

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by cs4160, Sep 4, 2009.

  1. cs4160 macrumors member

    Jul 29, 2009
    First off, i am not a troll! :)

    I am coming from the PC world and have not had a Mac since the late 80's. Apple infuriated me when they came out the Mac Plus less than 2 months after i bought the then top of the line 512k and within a day my computer was incompatable (400k to 800k drives, new rom, etc). Perhaps incompatable is an exageration and yes for a fee there was an upgrade path, but i was bitter :)

    Anyways, what is making my move to the MP difficult right now are the following:

    • Hardware pricing, especialy adding HDD and memory is not even remotely competative..yes, i know i can go 3rd party, but its almost insulting.
    • 4 core mobo is gimped -Why no option, for a fee, to have MP 8 core mb without 2nd CPU…that way I have an upgradeability path for adding cpu or more than 4 slots of memory
    • GTX 285 not part of BTO, so I have to pay for the throwaway gt120 vcard and my gtx is considered an accessory, so not supported by apple or included in apple warranty
    • No announced refresh schedule is frustrating given the 10-16 month duration for any changes to the MP bto options…most companies refresh once a quarter, or have a fairly consistent schedule, apple has neither, thus increasing the fear/frustration level that the once in a year refresh might occur 2 weeks after I pay 4k for my computer
    • Seeing the lack of support for some MP video card options that are less than a year old for Snow Leopard further compounds my fears.

    Trust me, i want to go Mac. If i didnt want to put up with the hassle, going Hackintosh would probably be a good route for me, i would love it if Apple loosely supported an open version of their OS, but i dont see that happening. But those above listed issues are real concerns for me. So, take a shot of cuervo, and flame away, but seriously, any free psych therapy would be appreciated. I really want to go back, in fact i know i will, its just a question of when...the latest date probably being the first day a new MP offering hits the website...afterall, it has been 185 days since the last change :)

    Oh, and just to be clear, i am not a troll...just confused :)
  2. Rainier42 macrumors member

    Aug 21, 2009
    There are alternatives to buying brand new. I just picked up a 2008 2.8 octo with 8Gb of memory and 2Tb of disk for $1750. off of Craigslist in my area. the only upgrade I made to this purchase is a new graphics card ($200 upgrade) since the one it came with just did not meet my needs. The 2008s are truly awesome machines.
  3. TheStrudel macrumors 65816


    Jan 5, 2008
    I'll do my best to address this:

    -Be glad you have the option to go third party. There's no way that -installed components would be cheaper than the prices at which NewEgg and OWC are selling them. It's only an insult if you're foolish enough to want to save yourself the five minutes of effort.

    -I think the cost differences here were substantial, so getting the better mobo would cost you a lot more. That's the reason the low end MP is "cheaper" than the previous generation - because the previous generation recommended model was an 8-core. Realistically, very few people upgrade the CPU so it wasn't worth catering to them. If you were likely to upgrade the CPU, just buy the crappy 8-core model and do it yourself, sell off the old CPU and get a system much cheaper than  would sell it to you.

    -If that really bothers you, get the 4870. If you don't want to, think of it more like you have a spare extra card that can run 's 24" monitor. You can always try selling it. Someone on here will buy. The 285 may not have an  warranty but it will have its own, probably longer-lasting warranty.

    - doesn't refresh BTO options. They add small ones extremely infrequently. If you're worried about being obsolete, wait until the next revision and buy right after. I use a 2008 Mac Pro and I am extremely satisfied with it; I suspect it'll be good for another 4-6 years because it's got 8 speedy cores, plenty of RAM and a decent graphics card.  also won't update the Mac Pro until the next Intel architecture upgrade (to a 32nm process). You can look at intel's schedule if you really want a refresh schedule, which is actually more than we ever had in the power mac days.

    -Are you referring to OpenCL? Nothing uses it yet and the cards that don't work with it are a generation behind or more. Anything you get now will work with it just fine. And unless you do heavy video work or 3D modeling, you don't need it. And if you pay $4,000 for a computer, you can afford to upgrade the graphics card!

     would never "loosely support an open version of their OS," because  is not a software company. Many people don't understand this. They are a hardware company. They make software, and software drives their hardware, and they make better software than some pure software companies, but the end goal of all their software is to drive hardware sales, which is why they will never sell their OS unattached to their hardware.

    That should cover everything.
  4. Gonk42 macrumors 6502

    Jan 16, 2008
    near Cambridge
    I'm in a similar position - wanting a Mac Pro and with access to a generous student discount but unable to bring myself to pay the excessive prices for the 09 models. The 08 models were good value and buying one as a refurb makes sense (I don't because refurbs cost more than student new prices so it doesn't feel like a bargain.)

    I think that you've just got to decide that you can either live with the failings you list (given the positive aspects of design and the OS) or you can't. The Mac Pro will always be slightly unloved by Apple, their focus is more and more towards consumer items in the order iPhone>iPods>Mac Books (pro)>iMacs >>> Mac Pro.

    If you buy a Mac Pro you must be prepared to pay over the odds now and to
    do so for any future upgrades but you'll have a nice and powerful machine and
    many would say that was worth more than the premium.
  5. bozz2006 macrumors 68030


    Aug 24, 2007
    as the owner of a well-seasoned mac pro (2006) who thought I was buying a highly configurable computer that could be easily upgraded as time went by, I feel the need to reinforce that, yes, your concerns are all very valid. I love my mac pro, but if knew now what I didn't know then, I would've seriously explored other avenues. I love my mac pro, but Apple (the company itself) can be quite frustrating.
  6. AZREOSpecialist macrumors 68020


    Mar 15, 2009
    I don't think you're a troll either, you pose legitimate questions. Here is my take on your various concerns:

    1. Go third-party for hardware add-ons and upgrades - RAM, HDD, RAID, etc. Apple has never been competitive in this area. I've owned at least eight Macs in my life so far, and currently have four. I've never EVER purchased HDD or memory upgrades from Apple and have never had any issues with third-party products in this area.
    2. Quad core model may be "gimped", it depends on your definition. From Apple's perspective it's hardware is differentiated for sales & marketing purposes. Either way you look at it, the quad gives you the most bang for your buck - especially if you are not relying heavily on the handful of applications that would even utilize 8 cores. Replace the 2.66 GHz stock Xeon with an off-the-shelf 3.32 GHz replacement, stock it with 16 MB of RAM and you've got a killer system.
    3. GTX 285 currently has no significant performance advantage over the BTO 4870. If you want a BTO option that performs comparably to a GTX 285, get the 4870.
    4. Apple does not ever publicly announce a "refresh schedule". They make changes to their lineup as they see fit and when they are ready. If they told you today that the Mac Pro will be upgraded in January 2010, a lot of people will stop buying and wait. That's not good for business.
    5. As far as new OS versions not supporting legacy video cards, it's quite possible that the older video cards do not support the technologies required by Snow Leopard. This is just my guess, I don't really know.
    My question to you is: for what will you be using your Mac Pro? If you will be spending most of your time encoding or editing audio/video, and every saved minute saves you money in a time sensitive workflow, get the 8-core. If your workflow consists mostly of web, email, MS Office, Photoshop, Illustrator, Dreamweaver, etc., your half of your 8-core investment will be wasted. This will surely change as software vendors better utilize the hooks in SL to take advantage of multiple cores, but by the time all the essential software is on board Apple will have already released the next generation Mac Pro. Investing in 8 cores now to future-proof your Mac is a waste of money given how quickly computers depreciate and the rate at which technology advances.

    The current generation of Mac Pros is probably the most user-friendly in terms of after market upgrades. You can upgrade the Quad to an 8-core, but you'll have to spend about $2,000 in parts and CPUs to do so. As far as Nehalem Xeon workstations are concerned, the Mac Pros are priced more competitively than HP or Dell.
  7. nanofrog macrumors G4

    May 6, 2008
    1. The current hardware is overpriced. But as TheStrudel pointed out, be glad you do have 3rd party options. :)

    But more importantly, you can get a better deal on an '08 MP either as a refurbished unit, or used, as Rainier42 pointed out for you. :D It has very similar performance, and if you can get higher clocked CPU's, you can out perform the '09's. Real cores are more important, and the faster the clock, the better. Now you also get EFI64 on that machine, which you want for future support. It's also the best machine (internals) for an internal hardware RAID installation than an '09 model, Quad or Octad. Far cheaper to do, as there's no 3rd party adapter required to use the HDD bays. It adds up fast, so if you're considering RAID, it may be worth thinking about this during purchase decision time. ;)

    2. They couldn't, as each uses a different chipset. It can be done, but I don't see Apple offering an upgrade service, and to do it yourself is expensive. Perhaps via a parts machine sold on eBay or something, but unless that happens, it's cheaper to sell the existing unit, and buy an Octad. The best thing to do, is get what you really need from the beginning. If a Quad will suffice for a few years, then get it, and skip the Octad. If you need the 8 cores, even if in a year, either get it now, or wait. By then, a newer machine will likely be out, and you can get the current '09's in refurb used deals then. ;)

    3. No choice, as Apple doesn't make it (or have it custom made). But you have a backup graphics card, or something you can sell on eBay.

    4. Apple doesn't work that way. The next change, will be the next CPU model offered by Intel (Gulftown) that would fit the product line.

    5. Graphics cards are a valid concern, but they're a little better it seems. Then there's the possibility to flash or use injectors with PC cards. Cheaper too, so thank the hackintosh community. ;)
  8. IronFixXxeR macrumors member


    Jun 20, 2009
    Austin, Texas
    I know how you feel. I bought my 2002 Quicksilver a month or two before the mirror drives came out. I was angry at first but this is technology. The only way you can lengthen the time between revisions is to buy soon after a new one comes out. This is what I did with my 2009 MP.

    As far as a computer and components not being compatible with a new revision I don't think that is as much of an issue these days. Computer hardware has for the most part leveled out.
  9. nanofrog macrumors G4

    May 6, 2008
    Sort of. Those with EFI32 are going to be very unhappy campers in the near future (some already are). ;)
  10. Cynicalone macrumors 68040


    Jul 9, 2008
    Okie land
    A lot of what you talk about is Apple being Apple. We put up with it for the OS and the quality design. Not really a troll post to me.

    If you want to be 100% sure you get the latest and greatest from Apple you are going to have to wait for the next update and buy immediately afterwards. Popular opinion is next spring or early summer, but no one here knows for sure.
  11. alphaod macrumors Core


    Feb 9, 2008
    To add to this, Apple is trying to incorporate their mini DisplayPort in to their entire product line and the GTX 285 does not have this. As with warranty, eVGA offers a lifetime warranty, not the one year Apple offers (3 with paid AppleCare).
  12. nanofrog macrumors G4

    May 6, 2008
    Well, that's debatable. :eek: :p

    If the OP can wait, then yes. But the prices are also unknown, and if the current systems are an indicator, I think it won't be pretty. :(

    But for me, the biggest expense with switching, is the software cost of swapping out PC for OS X applications. It will all depend on the specifics. ;)
  13. alphaod macrumors Core


    Feb 9, 2008
    Well with your motherboard, there are several things you need to consider. Adding an upgrade path to the 8-core Mac Pro from the quad is not feasible. If you read the Anandtech disassembly of the 2.26GHz 8-core, you will notice that the CPUs used do not have heat-spreaders, something you can't get from Intel. If Apple were to sell these CPUs, it would be at an extravagant price that almost no one would buy. Not a very good market for that. Apple would also have to get you to buy 2 CPUs because the quad uses a 130W TDP processor while the 8-core uses 2 80W TDP processors. Again the market is too small.

    Now with the updating schedule, if you look at major hardware manufacturers of "professional" level equipment, many do not update their product cycles very often. Take a look at Cisco; their routers are very expensive, require you to get their service plans, not to mention their refresh cycles in several years long. You see many mainstream products with N-wireless and Gigabit Ethernet, but if you look at the Cisco solutions, their product cycles are several years long. The reason is their "professional" customers do not want to have to cycle their infrastructure many times. It feels that Apple is doing the same with the Mac Pro line; minimal refresh, and if any major change is done, the change needs to be substantial for their "high-rollers" to justify it. Please don't overlook the fact that their iMac line is for mainstream customers and therefore will see changes more often.
  14. nanofrog macrumors G4

    May 6, 2008
    It's doable, as the IHS issue can be solved with a thermal pad to fill the height difference. It's already been proven possible by another member (Tutor), and I think one other. One being a Quad (pushed to 3.2 GHz via i7-965), and the other an Octad model (3.33GHz W5590's IIRC), and both began as base models. :) So even the Octad can be run at 130W TDP. :) Granted, these where Quad and Octad systems to begin with, but it should be technically possible. The daughter board is available, and the firmware and SMC would need to be flashed. That would be the hard part I think (forcing the update/s).

    Not inexpensive though, and I seriously doubt Apple would be interested in performing the upgrades themselves. Too much effort, and not enough money. (Prices would be very high, as it could cut into new system sales, as well as a few other issues, such as resulting low demand, cost of employees/program,...).
  15. Cynicalone macrumors 68040


    Jul 9, 2008
    Okie land
    There are moments of form over function. But you not supposed to notice that clearly you haven't drank enough of the Apple Kool-Aid. :p:)

    Attached Files:

  16. bearcatrp macrumors 68000

    Sep 24, 2008
    Boon Docks USA
    Allot of your questions depend on what software your going to use. Mac's are not pc's. Apple chooses to upgrade the hardware when they think the time is right, not when little options come available. When they do upgrade, its usually a speed bump or a redesign. I prefer a well thought out system than something slapped together to make a buck. There closed system insures things work well with little problems as possible. Apple innovates allot more than any PC company I have seen in the 25 years I have been working on computers, especially since steve jobs returned. If your serious about coming back, do your homework and find the system that works for you. Be smart about configuration and buy third party components.
  17. cs4160 thread starter macrumors member

    Jul 29, 2009
    Thanks for all the feedback.
    In terms of what i will be using it for: not work, both my wife and i have corporate dell laptops for that. This would be a home computer that i would monolopize with main uses being internet, cs4 photoshop and games...sadly, at my age, i still like my video games...although i will keep my 2 year old quad core pc that i built from frys around for the near future.

    As this is not for a business and due to my fears of tech refresh, i will not be going all in and getting a 8 much as would like to.

    What i was thinking of getting is:
    Base 4 core 2.6 MP with the only option being a 1gb harddrive and the 3 year warranty.
    From OWC i was thinking of getting the 3x4 gb memory for 460 bucks...although as i dont think i really need this much memory, spending 150 bucks more from apple for 3x2gb of memory and forgoing the owc memory and saving 300 bucks, albeit with a more costly upgrade path in the future was tempting.
    I was then thinking of getting 2 1.5tb WDC HDD as well.

    The only other thought was the video card. Should i go 4870 through apple or get the base card and the gtx 285. If anyone has any real workd xp with snow leopard and these cards, i would appreciate any input.

    Am i going the correct route, any blunders? If the MP's are not upgraded until intel comes out with Gultown in Q12009, i am not sure i want to wait 4-8 months...
  18. Macinposh macrumors 6502a

    Jun 7, 2006

    Are you absolutely sure you want and "need" the MP? I mean,it is a big powerhungry box sitting there?
    The interwebz and whatnot are easily done with lighter machines.
    Even photoshop.And games,well,there are better machines for that as well.

    Unless you are hardcore gamer (needing the 285),why have you ruled out iMac?
    It is sexy,easily placeable,ok with most modern games,runs photoshop etc well enough.
    External HDDs hidden away or even network nas.
    Would be at least half the price. You could donate the rest 2000$ bucks to Amnesty International or take your wife to aruba for a week.
  19. cs4160 thread starter macrumors member

    Jul 29, 2009
    aruba with the wife instead of buying toys...ok, obviously you know her...or she is reading this post :)

    not a real imac guy, my impression, perhaps falsly is that its a laptop with a big screen. I want a bit more power, i like the upgradeability of internal harddrives and vcards...and i already have a nice monitor...

    not that aruba isnt a nice idea...or truk or palau :)
  20. Plutonius macrumors 604


    Feb 22, 2003
    New Hampshire, USA
    EF132 ?
  21. Plutonius macrumors 604


    Feb 22, 2003
    New Hampshire, USA
    Get the 2.6 quad, default sized HD, default RAM with a 4870. Add third party RAM (12-16G), and any extra third party drives you want.
  22. Umbongo macrumors 601


    Sep 14, 2006
    EFI is the system for the OS to connect with the firmware of the hardware. The 2006 Mac Pros use a 32-bit one and newer Nvidia graphics cards only work with 64-bit.
  23. nanofrog macrumors G4

    May 6, 2008
    Nope. I'm not drinking it. :eek: Especially after what's happened with the '09's (pricing and no more MiniSAS cable that makes internal RAID easy). :p
  24. tekboi macrumors 6502a


    Aug 9, 2006
    WOW!!! I think i'm going to take a look at CL now!! That price is insane.
  25. VirtualRain macrumors 603


    Aug 1, 2008
    Vancouver, BC
    I like your thinking... but I would just get the 3x2GB from Apple. I "only" have 6GB of RAM in my machine and I use it for HD video editing and am not left wanting anything.

    I would get the machine equipped with the 1TB drive as you suggest and then buy an SSD for your OS/Apps drive. Ideally an Intel.

    I'm not sure what the difference is between the 285 and the 4870 in gaming so can't counsel you on that, but some preliminary testing of Snow Leopards use of OpenCL seems to favor Nvidia cards by a large margin. If you opt for the 285 you can keep the stock GT120 in there for even more OpenCL potential.

    I don't think you need to fear an immanent refresh of the line rendering your machine obsolete. Intel has really slowed the pace of their new product introductions due to a complete lack of competition from AMD and a crappy economic environment so who knows when we'll see the next gen CPU's from Intel and thus a refresh of the Mac Pro lineup. Besides, Nehalem represents the biggest advance in Intel CPU's in a decade, so anything coming along for the next several years will be incremental improvements (a couple of new cores here or there, more cache, and possibly a speed bump or two along the way) but the Nehalem architecture upon which the 2009's are based, is radically new and it's going to take awhile for software to take full advantage of it.

    Edit: BTW, get the AppleCare extended warranty from ebay and save a couple hundred.

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