How to best show my Mac Pro some love?

Moof1904

macrumors 65816
Original poster
May 20, 2004
1,041
43
I have an early 2008, dual quad-core 2.8 GHz Mac Pro (stock ATI Radeon HD 2600 256 mb graphics card driving a 30" ACD and 19" NEC monitor) that I want to enrich a bit. It serves me very well but I recently acquired about $250 to put into it.

I know an SSD would really speed it up, but I don't have the $$$ for an SSD drive because I have too many apps on my startup for an affordable SSD.

I could conceivably:

-increase the RAM from 8 gigs to 12 gigs and add possibly some more drive space
-put in a better video card

I don't have the $$ to do all of the above items.

I use the CS5 suite, including InDesign, Photoshop, and now with the FCP issues I've started transitioning from FCT to Premier just as an excuse to learn Premier.

Even though I edit video and edit in Photoshop, I'm far more of a multi-tasker than I am a super demanding power user (a few layers in Photoshop, single camera footage in FCP, etc.). I frequently am working in Windows 7 under Fusion, listening to iTunes, ripping DVDs or CDs, surfing the web, working on a layout, and encoding video all at the same time. For this reason, I'm wondering if the additional RAM would serve me better than an improved video card. I do recognize, though, that the proper video card will also assist in non-video processing, during periods of less demanding video. (Adding a second card would let me drive three monitors, which may be cool, but not huge on my list.)

In short, I don't really _need_ anything but I want to put a little $$ in my Mac Pro and extend its useful life. And I'd like for whatever I do to make my computing experience feel enhanced.

Thoughts?
 

ActionableMango

macrumors G3
Sep 21, 2010
9,510
6,745
Check your memory utilization before buying RAM. If you need more RAM, then adding more will help tremendously and very noticeably. If you don't need more RAM, then adding more will do absolutely nothing. Well, it might make your boot time longer.

Adding hard drive space doesn't speed up your computer. You add more if you are running out. There might be a theoretical speed increase if your boot drive is extremely full, but I'm not sure it would be noticeable.

I'm certain an SSD would provide noticeable speed increase.

You might also consider CPU upgrade to speed up encoding.

I don't know about the video card.
 
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Moof1904

macrumors 65816
Original poster
May 20, 2004
1,041
43
Thanks for the suggestions. I'll check the RAM allocation and see. I understand that adding drive space won't speed the computer up. That comes more under "quality of computing experience" because there's always something nice about having a ton of drive space for storing content and cache files, etc.
 
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AdrianK

macrumors 68020
Feb 19, 2011
2,230
2
I wouldn't bother with a RAM or HDD upgrade unless you need them, I'd suggest saving up for an adequately sized SSD.
 
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TonyK

macrumors 65816
May 24, 2009
1,027
144
How about this, get the SSD and make it your boot drive. The current HD in your MacPro becomes a data drive. To this drive you would move all your DMG downloaded files, data and other things. Maybe even your usr folder.

This would allow your MP to boot quickly and to serve up applications fast and give you a good experience.
 
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Moof1904

macrumors 65816
Original poster
May 20, 2004
1,041
43
I'd really like to have an SSD boot drive. Right now, my boot drive is rather full, though, just from apps (CS5, FCP, Fusion, and a bunch of other stuff). I have drives in the other three bays, totaling more than 3TB, so I'm not urgently crushed for drive space. (My VM files are on a non-boot drive to further speed up Win 7).

I recognize that an SSD would profoundly speed up my experience, but my current startup drive is a 1TB WD Caviar Black and it's 60% full. My Apps folder alone is 250 gigs. A suitable SSD drive would be beyond my price range right now, as I'm truly limited to about $250.

Here are my memory stats. Does this suggest that additional RAM would result in a noticeable speed increase or would I be wasting my money?

Free: 482.8 mb
Wired: 2.62 gb
Active: 3.58 gb
Inactive: 1.35 gb
Used: 7.54 gb
VM size: 205.15 gb
Page ins: 13.00 gb
Page outs: 5 mb
Swap used: 23.5 mb
 
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