Help please! Research for Mac Pro purchase

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by Spin Spin Sugar, Aug 2, 2009.

  1. Spin Spin Sugar macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jan 30, 2009
    Location:
    Sydney
    #1
    I would appreciate your comments, suggestions, corrections and feedback on my thinking around purchasing a Nehalem Mac Pro to replace my Power Mac G4.

    What I use my Mac for
    Apart from the usual email, web access, productivity (office suite), iPhoto, iTunes, etc, I also run MYOB for a small business and use Photoshop at a beginner hobby level and Final Cut Studio at an intermediate hobby level.

    My current Mac and why I want to upgrade
    Power Mac G4 Quicksilver purchased August 2002(!)
    Processor: 1GHz
    Memory: 2 GB PC133
    Graphics: NVIDIA GeForce4 Ti 4600 AGP -128 MB
    Display: Apple Cinema 23" HD 1920x1200 AGP

    The superdrive is dead, the sound card is dead, the machine no longer shuts down and crashes at least once a day. I cannot install Final Cut Pro 5 or Motion 2 because the graphics card does not support these applications. After extensive research and actually buying an ATI Radeon 9600 PRO AGP -256 MB graphics card only to prove it will not work with my Quicksilver, I firmly believe there is no way I can get my G4 to run FCP 5 or Motion 2. That means I can't use my Mac to do what I like doing best (Final Cut Studio fun). And it crashes every day. And it's seven years old now - I think I got my money's worth!


    My current thinking on a Nehalem Mac Pro
    I am buying in Sydney, Australia and will quote all costs in Australian Dollars (AUD). Please give me the benefit of your wisdom here, I am posting this because I want feedback.

    Processor
    It seems to me the way to go here is to get the 4-core 2.66 GHz machine (AUD $4,500) over the 4-core 2.93 GHz (AUD $5,500) or 8-core 2.26 (AUD $5,900) or 8-core 2.93 (AUD $10,600).
    My reasoning is that the base spec processor should be good enough for how I use my Mac. I do use Final Cut Studio, but only as a hobby (there is no "time is money" consideration).

    I have read that the 4-core/4 memory slot vs 8-core/8 memory slot consideration means that the total price of processor and memory gets closer for say a 16 GB memory configuration. I examined that and found a AUD $270 saving to purchase eight 2GB memory chips for the 8-core versus four 4GB memory chips for the 4-core. That's not convincing given the AD $1,400 price difference in the machines.

    Memory
    Given a 4-core 2.66 GHz machine my thinking is to go to 16GB memory with four 4GB memory chips from somewhere like OWC.
    Using their online shopping basket with shipping calculator that's ~ AUD $770 shipped to my door.

    Another suggestion was to go with two 4GB memory for a total of 8GB and the top up with another two 4GB once the price drops later on. If only I was that kind of patient.

    Graphics card
    I could really use some advice. Some say the NVIDIA GeForce GT 120 -512MB that comes standard is plenty enough for what I want to do. Others say for Motion 4 and Final Cut Pro 7 you'd be mad not to spring for the ATI Radeon HD 4870 -512 MB (AUD $400 upgrade when ordering MP from Apple). Comments? Can the ATI card be purchased for better value anywhere other than Apple?

    Disk drives
    The standard 640GB drive in bay 1 seems fine. I was thinking to go for a 1TB drive in bay 2 and bay 3 (to be used for data and projects) and a 2TB drive in bay 4 to be used for a Time Machine backup.

    1 TB Western Digital Enterprise drive specs
    2 TB Western Digital drive specs

    The OWC calculator tells me AUD $450 shipped for the two 1TB drives and and AUD $690 shipped for the 2TB drive.

    Comments on drive selection? Better value somewhere else?

    Display
    My 23" Apple Cinema HD display still works fine so I figured I would just keep using it. The display has the ADC connector but I also have an Apple DVI-I to ADC adapter. Can anyone confirm that means I can use my current display with a Mac Pro?

    AppleCare
    Does it matter where you purchase AppleCare from or is it a matter of finding the cheapest available? BuyMac has it for AUD $339 compared to AUD $419 at Apple Store.

    Transferring software/settings and upgrading Final Cut Studio
    I've heard that transferring from my G4 to a Mac Pro should be a piece of piss. And the same with upgrading Final Cut Studio (AUD $429 upgrade). Any comments on that? The Apple store wants to sell me a "one on one" service for AUD $129 where they provide some level of help and assistance in doing this. Comments?

    Any help is appreciated!
     
  2. gatepc macrumors 6502

    gatepc

    Joined:
    Apr 11, 2008
    Location:
    Pittsburgh PA
    #2
    It sounds like you have everything right. I would go with any nvidia card though ( not because I don't like ati don't get me wrong ) but I am not sure Snow leopard will support any of the ATI cards. I think you have everything else down though. Congrats on your purchase!
     
  3. Umbongo macrumors 601

    Umbongo

    Joined:
    Sep 14, 2006
    Location:
    England
    #3
    OpenCL will be supported on the Radeon 4850 and 4870.
     
  4. TheSilencer macrumors regular

    Joined:
    May 27, 2007
    #4
    ATi 4850/4870 are supported by Snow Leopard if you meant OpenCL.
    Snow Leopard Tech Specs, Apple

    You may consider the 2.93GHz and 12GB (3x4GB) tripple channel configuration except you really benefit from more RAM. And if you go with the 2.66GHz, you maybe can upgrade the CPU later.

    Get Apple Care within a year, preferable within 90 days tho. It´s worth, also might give better resale value in 2-3 years and yeah, doesn´t matter where to buy as long the reseller/retailer is trustworthy.
     
  5. Genghis Khan macrumors 65816

    Genghis Khan

    Joined:
    Jun 3, 2007
    Location:
    Melbourne, Australia
    #5
    Well, from the computer you're currently using, anything would be a massive jump :p

    Although, if you're going to buy it only for hobby work, have you considered an iMac? Apple updated all of their desktops when the Australian dollar was at its lowest point against the US dollar (screwing us over), so you may want an intermediate machine (even a Mac Mini would be a huge step up from your Quicksilver in every way) until Apple updates the Mac Pro's ~April 2010.


    However, if you're set on going for a Mac Pro, just get the base one with the 4870 and 6GB of 3rd party RAM. It'll take you at least 6 months to get accustomed to the jump in speed :p
     
  6. bearcatrp macrumors 68000

    Joined:
    Sep 24, 2008
    Location:
    Boon Docks USA
    #6
    For what you do, I would suggest a refurb 2.8 (8 core) mac pro. Not sure what they sell for in australia, but in the US its 2399.00. More than enough for your needs.
     
  7. snberk103 macrumors 603

    Joined:
    Oct 22, 2007
    Location:
    An Island in the Salish Sea
    #7
    I'm with bearcatrp.... look at a 2008 MP Octo. It should meet your needs for a long time. Here in Canada today - an 8 core 3.0 GHz refurb is the same price as a new entry level 2009 2.66 Ghz 4 core. I've seen slower (than 3.0GHz) 2008 8 cores go for $hundreds less. With your needs you likely won't see the difference in CPU speeds, so you can use the savings to max out the HDs or RAM. I'm counting on Snow Leopard to make my 8 core faster over time, as more applications take advantage of the technology to use more cores concurrently.
     
  8. Genghis Khan macrumors 65816

    Genghis Khan

    Joined:
    Jun 3, 2007
    Location:
    Melbourne, Australia
    #8
    yes, i third this....however, i haven't seen a 2008 Mac Pro on the Aussie refurb store in a month or so (are refurb store struggles to have any Mac Pros in it)
     
  9. gugucom macrumors 68020

    gugucom

    Joined:
    May 21, 2009
    Location:
    Munich, Germany
    #9
    You seem to be a person who tends to keep his Mac for a long time (2002 - 2009). So I would advise to look at a spec that gives you decent head room in 3 years time with the machine you select. Under that consideration the proposal to buy an Octad makes a lot of sense. Cost constaints will point towards a 2008 machine as has already been suggested. Unfortunately you will miss the Nehalem 1366 socket with more interesting upgrade options for the future by that way. If you want to keep your machine again for that long and want to max out on future proofing your best buy would be a refurbished Nehalem 2,26 Octad. It will give you plenty of power now and even more in a short time with Snow Leopard in two years time when the apps will be re written for hyperthreading. The 1366 socket Octad will offer huge improvement options from the known Intel road map. They just punched out a W5590 CPU which runs at 3,33 GHz and next year they will bring a six core CPU for that socket which may well run on that logic board. So there are huge options for the future when the high end CPUs of that socket will have come down in price considerably. So this is something to think about. In the end you have to make a choice between getting the best current tech for your bucks and the most upgradable system.
     
  10. kellen macrumors 68020

    kellen

    Joined:
    Aug 11, 2006
    Location:
    Seattle, WA
    #10
    Go with the quad or an older 8 core as suggested. Heck even try to find an older 2.8 x 4 and later you can upgrade to an octo.

    I don't see that much taxing an octo and it would run fine on a quad for years to come.

    2.8 x 8 if you can find it, perhaps refurbed. Ram is heading back up for these, so try to get some now.

    If you want new, go for a 2.66 quad. 6gb of ram, 4870 should do it. If you are outgrowing the 6GB of ram, then you can put in 2gb or 4 gb modules later when prices go down.
     
  11. King Mook Mook macrumors 6502

    #11
    G'day,
    Firstly I think it would help to know if you have some form of budget? I live in Australia too, and when I was looking at getting a Mac Pro here in Australia I was appalled at the price hikes Apple put here in Australia. It seems as if us here in Australia have to deal with firstly the Apple tax, then the Apple Australia tax, and then the GST!

    So I think if you are serious about getting a Mac Pro I would certainly look at getting one from overseas possibly eBay? When I looked at eBayeven with shipping you could save around $500 - $1000 dollars depending on which Mac Pro you get, so I recommend you give it a browse. However if you do buy it from America you may have to buy a power transformer however I do not know but I am sure some of the god like Mac Rumors kings can tell you.

    Another benefit of getting the Mac from America is you can get a AppleCare plan here and they will still treat it like a normal Australian Mac, so you don't have to send it to America if something goes wrong, you can just send it to the Australian fix center.

    King Mook Mook
     
  12. Spin Spin Sugar thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jan 30, 2009
    Location:
    Sydney
    #12
    Thanks for all your comments! There is little action on the refurbished front here in Australia unfortunately.
     
  13. kellen macrumors 68020

    kellen

    Joined:
    Aug 11, 2006
    Location:
    Seattle, WA
    #13
    Perhaps have a friend in the states pick one up and send it over?
     
  14. gugucom macrumors 68020

    gugucom

    Joined:
    May 21, 2009
    Location:
    Munich, Germany
    #14
    So what are you leaning towards at the moment?
     
  15. gugucom macrumors 68020

    gugucom

    Joined:
    May 21, 2009
    Location:
    Munich, Germany
    #15
  16. Spin Spin Sugar thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jan 30, 2009
    Location:
    Sydney
    #16
    Yeah two Nehalem MPs in the refurb store now! Brain working overtime here!
     
  17. Spin Spin Sugar thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jan 30, 2009
    Location:
    Sydney
    #17
    Thanks for all your help guys, every single post was good advice and I appreciate it.

    I listened to what was said and decided to go with a refurbished 4-core 2.66 GHz Mac Pro. I'll go without the upgraded graphics card (I can always upgrade later if needed).

    I also listened to the advice about looking at iMacs (being sufficient for my needs) but decided I will stick with a Mac Pro.

    Again I'll take your advice and go with 8GB of memory to start (I can always add more!).

    Now to find the best value 1TB and 2 TB HDD and Apple Care.
     
  18. TheSilencer macrumors regular

    Joined:
    May 27, 2007
    #18
    Enjoy your new Mac! :cool:

    Look for WD Black 1TB series and Samsung SpinPoint F1. If you buy more than one HDD, mix manufacturers just in case of faulty drives. I experienced that once with an DROBO and 4xWD 1TB, two died after two weeks for no reason.
     

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