Help me spend some money upgrading my Mac Pro (and advise on future plans)

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by nerdynerdynerdy, Jul 8, 2013.

  1. nerdynerdynerdy macrumors member

    Jul 22, 2007
    Hello experts,

    I'm not totally across the techy details of which aspects of my system are most in need of an upgrade, so need some help.

    I'm a freelance TV editor. Generally I'll show up at a facility and use their Avid systems, but for my next job I'm supplying my own edit suite as well.

    I have an old Mac Pro which I use to run Avid Media Composer with a Matrox MX02LE for input/output. I use it for a bit of Photoshop, Aperture and web browsing as well. Using it for small jobs at home has been fine, but since I'm installing it at someone else's facility for a couple of months I'd like to give it a bit of a boost.

    This is the setup:

    Mac Pro 1,1
    Processor 2 x 2.66 GHz Dual-Core Intel Xeon
    Memory 5 GB 667 MHz DDR2 FB-DIMM (2x 512MB, 2x2GB)
    Graphics NVIDIA GeForce 7300 GT 256 MB

    2x 20 inch Apple Cinema Displays
    1x 250GB HDD (came with the machine)
    2x 1TB 7200RPM HDD


    What areas of this spec do you think would benefit from upgrades? I've found a company called Other World Computing with a range of options, but I'm not sure what would deliver noticeable improvements.

    RAM upgrades:

    Should I get more RAM? If so how much? Do I need to get specific capacity DIMMs to match what's in there now?

    Startup Disk:

    Should I get an SSD to replace my current startup disk? What about the Mercury Accelsior thing? Big claims, but very pricey.

    Media Drives: Digital/WD1000DHTZ/

    Would this Western Digital 10'000RPM drive be an improvement, or is this outdated tech in the face of SSDs? Or am I better off making RAIDs out of 7200RPM drives.


    To further complicate the above, I'll probably replace this setup with a new machine in the next year or two. I'm having trouble deciding whether to go with the forthcoming Mac Pro, an iMac or a MacBook Pro.

    I wouldn't mind being able to use some of the stuff I've made an investment in with the new setup. I realise that may require some sort of expansion chassis, but I'm ignorant about what's available.

    Which Mac should I invest in next (I'll probably go five years between upgrading), and will any of them drive my Cinema Displays or are they about to become obsolete?

    Thanks for reading and advising on this rather convoluted question.

  2. OS6-OSX, Jul 8, 2013
    Last edited: Jul 8, 2013

    OS6-OSX macrumors 6502a


    Jun 13, 2004
    The subject of upgrading a 1,1 has been covered sooooooo many times! :)
    That's why you see 620 or so views with only this one reply. When I read that you use MC, I knew Marianna would never forgive me if I did not stop here:D
    Of course this is only one suggestion, but it is to get a used 4,1 instead. Look at the price of a 4,1 and add up what upgrades your 1,1 will total.
    Also search this forum. It's full to the rafters with upgrade ideas.
    Keep in mind if you are going to try MC7 when making your upgrade choice.
    In the sig you see I am on MC6 with this specific setup
  3. phrehdd macrumors 68040


    Oct 25, 2008
    As someone who maxed out an early Mac Pro, I have to completely agree with your recommendations. Best to hop-skip over to a 4,1 or better.
  4. philipma1957 macrumors 603


    Apr 13, 2010
    Howell, New Jersey
    sell it

    yes I am shouting. just not worth upgrading. oh btw what is the osx 10.6.x ?
  5. nerdynerdynerdy thread starter macrumors member

    Jul 22, 2007
    Thanks OS6-OSX, Phredd and Philip.

    I figured I'd asked a noobish question when the post went unanswered.

    I did do some searching on here, but I'm a little tech illiterate so a lot of it went over my head. I've done more research since I first posted, so I think I'm getting a better handle on things.

    I just looked into the Mac Pro 4,1, but used they cost $1k ~ 2k here in Australia, so I'd rather save that outlay for when I replace the system next year when I will probably spend $4k on a new Mac setup.

    If I was to upgrade minimally on my 1,1, so let's say another 4GB RAM (would take me to 9GB) and a 240GB SSD to replace my startup drive, that would come in under $400.

    Would this not be worthwhile if I run this setup for another year?

    Thanks for answering my post too BTW.


    (Running OS 10.7.5)

    (As an aside, my startup drive failed not long after I bought the machine and needed to be reformatted and reinstalled. It's been fine since, but seems to have persistent permissions errors when I use the disk utility - this was one of the reasons I thought of upgrading to SSD)
  6. OS6-OSX macrumors 6502a


    Jun 13, 2004
    Under $400 sounds doable. Now if that 7300GT is pushing the two 20's OK, then you should be set. Only if you start looking into another graphics card and that $400 turns into $600 will things start to get "iffy"!:)
    More ram and the zip of the boot SSD should buy you at least an hour until you get used to that speed!:D
    Then you will say "gotta go faster!":)
  7. Mnowell69 macrumors regular


    Jul 4, 2013
    Bedford, UK
    The best thing to get for your mac pro would be an SSD which you could then use in a different machine in the future. Find a cheap graphics card and then wait until you can afford to change machine.
  8. paul-n macrumors regular

    Jul 12, 2012
    SSD is a good upgrade, I like the Samsung 840 SSDs, but also Intel and Crucial are ok.
  9. 666sheep, Jul 10, 2013
    Last edited: Jul 10, 2013

    666sheep macrumors 68040


    Dec 7, 2009
    Why OWC? I've found a few quite nice deals on your australian eBay in about 5 mins.
    If you want to drop about AU $400 into this machine, consider the following:
    4GB RAM - any 2Rx4 FB DIMM 667 MHz should work - $90
    128GB Samsung 840 Pro for boot and apps - $159
    1GB Radeon 5770 - $87,5 - you can flash it easily if you want, or use unflashed - just no bootscreen
    – RAID 0 those 1TB drives to double their performance - frequent backup is necessary obviously

    $336,5 total, incl. shipping
    Optionally you can add 3rd 1TB HDD to your future RAID for about $95.
  10. ChrisFerri macrumors member


    Apr 22, 2009
    New York
    I would also look into getting processor upgrades. I have a 1,1 and I'm waiting for my processors to come in. I ordered to Xeon X5355 for $95. Very easy upgrade to help performance as well.
  11. MacMilligan macrumors 6502

    Aug 2, 2012
    I would go cheap upgrades to make it usable for the job and then sell it later when you buy a new one. As long as it does the job reliably, then it doesn't really matter unless encodes are taking days, depending on your deadlines.

    I'd say for someone that claims to be tech illiterate that you made the best choices on what to upgrade. Increase that RAM and the SSD are the best options. I wouldn't dabble with the processor or GPU, I doubt that money will be recovered by increased productivity.
  12. nerdynerdynerdy thread starter macrumors member

    Jul 22, 2007
    Thanks MacMilligan,

    I guess when I say tech-illiterate, I understand what everything does (and I even installed the hard drives myself), but need a bit of guidance on what is suitable.

    The only reason for OWC was really that their website is easy to follow and could point me straight at what RAM was appropriate for my machine. This is where my tech-illiteracy was an issue.

    Is there anything wrong with OWC? Bad product, or are they considered overpriced?

    I'd be concerned about the backup from eBay sellers if anything goes awry.

    The graphics card seems fine. I've been cutting 1080p projects which play back with no problems. But I'm not sure if that is processor or graphics card related anyway.

    So another question, the SSDs don't look like they'll plug straight into the computer. Do I need to buy some sort of cradle so it fits into my last HDD bay, or do I need a PCie card? What are my options here?

    Thanks again guys.

  13. applegeek897 macrumors regular

    Aug 23, 2011
    These are the things that I think you should look at getting in order;

    1. GPU - I think at least a 5770 would be good because number one, its a huge improvement over the 7300GT (I went from the 7300GT to 5770 with my 30" and 24" and the improvement in just smoothness was amazing.) Also its quite cost effective as its an older card and this is the stock card that comes in the 5,1 Mac Pro and there are quite a few people selling them.

    2. SSD - You could put a SSD in either the Optical Drive Bays or you could put them in the HDD sleds, but I would recommend getting something like the Velocity Solo X2 which is a great option because it gives the ability to have 6Gbit/s and with a single card you can have 2 SSD's in Raid 0 for some crazy speed. I would recommend 2 Samsung 840 Pro SSD's either 128GB or 256GB each but make sure it's the "Pro" not just the normal one as there are speed differences.

    3. Storage - You could put more HDD's into computer if you want but only do so if its necessary. So if you need more storage try and get at least 3 hard drives so you can use it in a Raid 5 configuration (speed of 2 drives in raid 0 but with 1 drive redundancy). If you have 3 1TB's in Raid 5 you get 2TB with one redundant, I would recommend if you can to put either 4 2TB or 3TB WD Red hard drives into a raid 5 config with give you 6TB's or 9TB's of storage respectively with a redundant drive incase of drive failure. The reason why I suggest WD Red drives which are meant for NAS's because they are longer lasting and more reliable then normal hard drives.

    4. Ram - You could put more ram in but again only if you need it. I use Photoshop, Lightroom (Similar to Aperture) and Final Cut Pro a lot and when I went from 3GB's to 16GB's of ram I saw a huge performance increase. Maybe an upgrade to 8GB or 12GB could be a help. When I bought my ram I purchased it from Other World Computer (OWC -

    5. CPU - You could also swap the two Dual Cores with two Quad Cores for some eight core power. Options could be Dual Xeon x5365 which are 3.0Ghz which are the official CPU's used in the 2,1 Mac Pro but these are quite pricey, there are also 2.66GHz x5355's which are much more cost effective. Doing this would require you to upgrade your EFI from 1,1 to 2,1 and possibly change from 667Mhz to 800Mhz ram.
  14. OS6-OSX macrumors 6502a


    Jun 13, 2004

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