In the planning stage of my first cMP build, looking to comments!

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by Obioban, Mar 30, 2016.

  1. Obioban, Mar 30, 2016
    Last edited: Mar 30, 2016

    Obioban macrumors regular

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    #1
    I'm in the process of searching out a Mac Pro (4,1 or later, cheaper better) to use to replace my current 2011 iMac, which is starting to not be up to the work load.

    Mac uses will be as follows:
    -4K video editing, for the upcoming childrens/family videos
    -Plex servering, probably maxing out around 3 clients simultaneously
    -wife will use photoshop on it on occasion
    -video compression (bluray to MP4s, mostly, using handbrake)
    -normal computer use that you can do with a watch these days (internet, word, excel, whatever)

    .... and then, to make things more complicated, I need to be able to use it in Boot Camp for...
    -3D modeling using Inventor (Mechanical engineer, sometimes have to work from home)
    -around once per month play a 3D game. Very infrequently :p

    I value reliability over speed. So, I'd rather have a product with proper support from Apple than I would have the last 10% of performance. I'll be very sad if I run a software update and suddenly she won't boot up.

    I also really like the fusion drive in the iMac (which is DIY fusion, not OE), despite it not being super popular around here. But, takes all the effort of of SSD and retains 99% of the benefit...


    So, my ballpark plan is (and I'm open to suggestions for changes)...
    -2 processor 4,1 updated to 5,1 with a more modern Xeon (open to suggestions as to which, but price is a factor!)
    -48gb of ram (thought process being I've read that 3 channel is faster than 4, and 48gb is way more than I will need for a while, already... and cheaper to buy less)
    -graphics card: This is where I really need the most help. I need some sort of all purpose video card (good at video, good at 3D) that will play nice on both the Mac side and in BootCamp. I'd very much like it to work off the cMP's original power supply as well, but willing to give that up it's hugely beneficial to do so
    -some sort of USB3 card, would like suggestions here as well. Priorities are not having support from Apple dropped and working in Windows as well
    -a PCI based SSD, ideally with an Apple SSD so trim will be natively enabled. I have a non Apple SSD retrofitted in my iMac and am tired of fighting the TRIM battle with them.
    -The above SSD will be fused with a SATA platter drive in one of the SATA bays, probably a WD black unless there's suggestions for something better. Faster, better, as that'll likely be drive I do my video editing off of (pending suggestions to the contrary)
    -A large, slow HD in another SATA bay for time machine backup
    -A large, slow HD in another SATA bay for carbon copy cloaner backups
    -I'd like to have a second (non Apple) SSD for my windows boot. Is it possible to run two PCI SSDs, or is there only one slot that's fast enough to make that useful?
    -a bluray reader/writer to replace the factory optical drive. Needs to work on Mac and Windows side
    -kind of considering retrofitting a modern Airport/Bluetooth card, just because they seem cheap and I'll be annoyed if I somehow need it but don't have it.

    Lastly... is there any way to get a 5k display hooked up to this? I'd love to have 4k video editing at native resolution, with space for editing tools, ala the Retina iMac

    Thoughts/suggestions/tips/tricks/criticisms?


    Thanks!



    edit:
    To clarify, by "support from Apple" I meant not getting locked out of the OS due to unsupported hardware. I'm not expecting to be able to make warranty claims or take this thing to the genius bar!

    I just don't want to get locked out of the computer after installing an OS update.
     
  2. pastrychef, Mar 30, 2016
    Last edited: Mar 30, 2016

    pastrychef macrumors 601

    pastrychef

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    #2
    Remember, Apple recently placed the 4,1 on their obsolete list. This means that they won't officially offer support for it anymore.

    Based on what you have written, I think x5670 (6 core, 2.93GHz) is as high as you can get without exceeding Apple's original specs.

    The Nvidia GTX 680 can be easily flashed to give boot screen and gives reasonably good performance. There's no reason it wouldn't work equally as well in bootcamp.

    Any Fresco Logic FL1100 based UBS 3 PCI-E card should work without issues.
     
  3. throAU, Mar 30, 2016
    Last edited: Mar 30, 2016

    throAU macrumors 601

    throAU

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    #3
    If you value support over speed consider a recent/new mac mini (or macbook of some kind) with (or without) a thunderbolt external GPU setup (to get decent desktop class GPU power - via something like a BiZon Box hooked up via thunderbolt). or a new iMac.

    Starting to build a classic Mac Pro and expecting "apple support" at this point in its life cycle is unrealistic.

    If you're processing 4k video you're going to need fast storage

    for reference, the biZon box



    Maybe a 16GB 15" Macbook pro with quad core CPU, integrated GPU (because the discrete mobile one sucks anyway and you're hooking up external) and a thunderbolt external GPU...

    Upgrade GPU as you see fit (can even fit a desktop Titan).

    All your hardware is then officially supported by Apple, except for the GPU you can get seperate warranty on from the GPU vendor.
     
  4. lowendlinux Contributor

    lowendlinux

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    #4
    I'm seeing ~$1000 plus the cost of purchase being spent on a 5 year old computer that is now obsolete with no real upgrade path. That kind of money buys lots of other
     
  5. rawweb macrumors 6502a

    rawweb

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    #5
    I tend to agree. Plus, OP will have costs in getting de-lidded processors, ram, PCIeSSD, Blu Ray, video card etc etc etc. And the cost of a 5k screen? Dude, get an iMac! For the money iMac or a workstation class PC. Maybe hold out for WWDC on the glimmer of hope that a 7,1 is unveiled?
     
  6. throAU macrumors 601

    throAU

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    #6
    Exactly.

    You'll spend all that money, and if something like a capacitor on the motherboard dies, you're hosed.

    It's just not worth it.

    If you want to build it as a hobby, sure, but if you want reliability and support.... RUN AWAY.
     
  7. lowendlinux Contributor

    lowendlinux

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    #7
    Yea I didn't even think about the 5K display..so 3K plus purchase price
     
  8. throAU macrumors 601

    throAU

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    #8
    I read that as "that kind of money buys a lot of cider" for some reason.

    Which also applies.
     
  9. pastrychef macrumors 601

    pastrychef

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    #9
    I agree with these guys. An iMac makes much more sense. The Skylake i7 iMac has great specs.
     
  10. h9826790, Mar 30, 2016
    Last edited: Mar 30, 2016

    h9826790 macrumors 604

    h9826790

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    #10
    The cMP can do everything in your list. However, it's a bit late to join the party. For us the cMP Owner from the beginning, slowly upgrade the computer to extend its life make sense. But to buy a dual processor cMP (4,1 or newer) is not that cheap.

    IMO, get a cheap single processor 4,1 and make some mid level upgrade (X5677, W3680, SATA SSD, mid grade GPU) is a good way to get a cheap mid performance working horse. However, don't expect any support from Apple. And don't expect it can't out perform the new Mac in many tasks.

    4K video editing is easy on cMP, however, no official support from Apple. For FCPX 7950 is good choice. GTX 680 is generally better for other task. Both GPU has native driver support in OSX, however, don't expect anything from Apple if the driver is buggy. The 680 can take the benefit from Nvidia by installing the web driver. However, it's not risk free, performance issue / crash still occasionally exist on the web driver (version specific).

    PLEX server, a piece of cake for cMP, especially you can install up to 4 internal HDD.

    Photoshop, new iMac can do better in most of the task, because much better single core performance, and the 5K screen is vey nice for photo work as well. On the cMP, want to enjoy a reliable 4K 60Hz signal my not as simple as you wish. You need to pick the right monitor, and a OSX update may kill it.

    Video encoding, the strong area of cMP (for the mission that quick sync can't help), but dual top end Hex core setup is not cheap on the 4,1. If you want to have it in the right way to increase reliability, you need to get a pair of delidded CPU, which increase the cost quite a bit.

    Boot camp, pretty simple on cMP, especially we can assign a separate internal SSD / HDD for that, which is much better than playing around with the partitions.

    3D modelling, I have zero idea on this. Assuming you can do that with the right hardware.

    3D game, GTX680 sure can handle it properly, expect medium setting on the most modern games due to CPU constrain.

    Reliability… a big big problem of the heavy self upgraded cMP. You may need to pay a lot on this if you want everything have native support OOTB. E.g. You should not get the 850Evo, but one of the Apple PCIe SSD. Or you should not get a self flashed GPU, but buy the 7950 Mac Edition from OWC (which is super expensive compare to the PC version. There is no more new 680 Mac Edition on the market, so it's out of equation). And AFAIK, there is no official support for bluray reader on cMP. It works now, but don't know which OSX update will break it.

    So, back to your plan.

    Dual X5677 has a good balance between cost / single core / multi core performance. But delidded them can cost as much as the CPU itself.

    6x8G RAM cost about $140. And should be good enough for most of the normal job.

    GPU, discussed already, only one choice if you need reliability, native support from Apple and factory. (TBH, there is no real world difference between flashed card / official card, I have both. You can kill 3 flashed card and only get the 4th right, but still cheaper than the official card. And it's not that hard to flash the card properly.)

    Inateck KT4004 is the no brainer for USB 3.0 upgrade, which use FL1100 chip, same chip in the newer Mac, so should always have native support from Apple. HOWEVER, AFAIK, it can't charge the electronic device like the normal USB port does. So, it may not have enough power to drive some external HDD (which only can get power from the USB line). If you want it able to charge, you need the Sonnet card which is more expensive. Also, you can't boot from USB 3.0 port regardless which card you use (unless you can rewrite the Mac EFI by yourself). If you want all 4 port can maintain max speed simultaneously. You need another Sonnet card which cost about 5x the Inateck card.

    Apple PCIe SSD, you can buy it and use it with a cheap adaptor. No problem for 2 adaptor and 2 PCIe SSD on cMP. The cMP can actually have 12 PCIe SSD at the same time if you have enough money (Assuming the GPU still there). Anyway, any SSD can get native TRIM now, all you need to do is run a terminal command. However, if that's not what you want. Apple nMP PCIe SSD is the way to go.

    Large HDD for time machine is OK, but you know another HDD in the same machine may not be a good way of backup. All eggs in one lay…

    Bluray, discuss that already, no reliable way, from memory, Apple never ship a Mac with Bluray drive.

    Wifi ac + BT 4.0, just get the correct card then it's done. Not cheap, but it's native.

    5k display, yes, possible, but not that reliable a this moment. And you need some unofficial GPU to drive that. So, that may means a NO for you. For me, I just edit them in the 1440P ACD, and then use my 4K TV as the 2nd display to watch the full screen video in native resolution in real time.
     
  11. Obioban thread starter macrumors regular

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    #11
    To clarify, by "support from Apple" I meant not getting locked out of the OS due to unsupported hardware. I'm not expecting to be able to make warranty claims or take this thing to the genius bar!

    I just don't want to get locked out of the computer after installing an OS update.
    --- Post Merged, Mar 30, 2016 ---
    I have to admit, part of the reason I want to go the cMP route over the iMac route is my experience has been that they hold up much better.

    I've had two MPs in the past (well, one of them was a PowerMac) and they're both chugging along as strong as the day I bought them. One of them, a quicksilver, is in a garage getting heat cycled through the entire range of PA temps (say 10° to 100°), gets dusty everywhere, and is only used with oil/dirt/grease covered hands, and it still functions as well as it did the day I bought it 15 years ago. The Mac Pro (first gen) I'm using as a web server. Both have been on continuously since the day I bought them.

    In the same time period, I've gone through 4 iMac. All were replaced due to failing (all screens or logic boards). The iMacs just don't seem to hold up as well to extended hard use.

    I also love being able to have everything, original or aftermarket, in one box.

    I'm okay with some fiddling.
     
  12. pastrychef macrumors 601

    pastrychef

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    #12
    Once the 5,1 gets added to Apple's "obsolete" list, whether or not future versions of OS X can be installed without jumping through hoops is anyone's guess and there are absolutely no guarantees.
     
  13. ActionableMango, Mar 30, 2016
    Last edited: Mar 30, 2016

    ActionableMango macrumors 604

    ActionableMango

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    #13
    2009, 2010, and 2012 Mac Pros are all essentially the same. So the 2009 should be compatible with OS X as long as the 2012 is.

    I suppose Apple could go out of their way to manually detect a 2009 and purposely block it. They have done things like that in the past. But it's also been shown that people find ways around artificial blocks.

    There are CPU and USB 3.0 guides linked in my sig.
     
  14. Obioban thread starter macrumors regular

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    #14
    I don't mind getting my hands dirty (e.g. flashing the card) so long as the result is indistinguishable from the genuine article from the computer's perspective.
    --- Post Merged, Mar 30, 2016 ---
    How much graphics card performance am I giving up, going with one Apple officially offered vs one where I have to stay on top of drivers?
     
  15. ActionableMango macrumors 604

    ActionableMango

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    #15
    Argh, I just realized that the barefeats test I linked to was for running 4K resolution on the 5K monitor, so I have to take back what I said. I'll edit my post.
     
  16. CapnDavey macrumors 6502

    CapnDavey

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    #16
    You have some good ideas if you can get the mac pro at a good price like under 500 dollars it might be worth doing. FYI I've been editing HD and 4k video on my 2006 mac pro for over 2 years and making blu ray disc of it to so don't believe it can't be done.
    good luck
    Dave
     
  17. throAU macrumors 601

    throAU

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    #17
    Well to clarify, my interpretation of support was "will continue to run OS X versions released in the medium term" (i.e., 2-3 years).

    Given the hardware has been listed as "vintage" by Apple recently, there's no guarantee this is going to be the case.

    You'd hate to drop the money on one that you could have spent to get the same or similar performance on a macbook or iMac that will very likely continue to be supported for the next 5+ years.
    --- Post Merged, Mar 31, 2016 ---
    An absolute boatload, depending on how much you're willing to spend on a "non-official" card.

    Like... more than an order of magnitude i suspect.

    And yeah there is every chance the Mac Pro you're looking at MAY continue to be supported and the hardware MAY survive without some 2c capacitor or such dying to render the machine useless. But it's going to be a crapshoot and very much a roll of the dice only you can decide to take.
     
  18. pastrychef macrumors 601

    pastrychef

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    #18
    As well as the 5,1s have aged, they have indeed aged and the gap in performance between it and more modern hardware will only increase. Software will continue to advance and take advantage of new hardware and performance demands of said software will continue to increase.

    Personally, if I had to jump through hoops to get future versions of OS X installed, I would seriously consider putting together a hackintosh. Since I'm going to have to apply similar hacks to get OS X installed anyway, why not invest in modern hardware? I have never put together a hackintosh before, but based on what I've been reading, the process has been greatly refined over the years. It would be great to be able to pick and choose motherboards/features I want and not have to worry about video card firmwares to get boot screens anymore. I will, however, miss the startup chime...
     
  19. rawweb macrumors 6502a

    rawweb

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    #19
    It's my opinion that once the last 5,1 is dropped from Apple Care, assuming sometime this year or next, they will moffball her into vintage. An early sign? No boot camp support drivers/revisions for Windows 10 moving forward. Since 4,1 has really the same hardware more or less, it should be no shocker.
     
  20. strukt macrumors member

    strukt

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    #20
    I think you are getting ahead of yourself here. Take a 2012 Mac Pro for instance. It is actually still covered under warranty. At least in Norway where you can use our consumer law claim system, if you have bought the computer as a consumer.

    The latest updates of OS X have supported older and older hardware as far as I know. Just because the computer is out of warranty doesn't mean it will stop getting software updates.
     
  21. Macdctr macrumors regular

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    #21
    Ian, if you want a cMP that can run current Mac OS for awhile then I would suggest getting a 5,1 instead of the 4,1 although the 4,1 can be had much cheaper cost-wise. Like other's have said, Apple has stopped supporting the 4,1 but the 5,1 is still supported. Something to think about. Also if you're looking for a dual processor setup, the 5,1 is much easier to upgrade.
     
  22. rawweb macrumors 6502a

    rawweb

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    #22
    I was referring more to hardware support, that's what all of this vintage talk is about. I used the windows 10 bootcamp driver support as some evidence that they are starting to look the other way software wise. In 2017 the 2012 "upgrade release" will be 5 years old. Apple pulled it from their online store and refurb store just after the 2013 was announced at WWDC in 2013, if memory serves. Moral of the tale, the 4,1 uses the same hardware and design...5,1 can't be far behind. Thinking otherwise is not logical.
     
  23. pastrychef macrumors 601

    pastrychef

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    #23
    I believe that here in the US, Apple supports systems for 5 years after production has ended. So, the 5,1s have approximately 1.5 years left before it is added to Apple's "obsolete" list.

    Again, that's not to say that OS X releases after that won't install on the 5,1s, but it could.
     

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