Is my buyer's remorse for refurb '08 Mac Pro 8-core justified?

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by bdellasc, Apr 20, 2009.

  1. bdellasc macrumors newbie

    Apr 20, 2009
    Hi everyone:

    I'm new to the forums and am having a little buyer's remorse over the refurbished '08 8-core Mac Pro I ordered last Thursday. I wanted to poll people before it arrives, since Apple's return policy is heavily dependent on whether or not the product's box is opened or not.

    I'm a graphic designer mostly print and web who also works part-time in Windows for one of his clients. I wanted a system I could load Windows on as a virtual machine (via vmware fusion). I'm also looking to get into 3-D and possibly some animation work in the future, but because of the age of my system, has not been able to seriously play around with some of the tools out there (Maya, etc). This was another reason why I wanted to get an 8-core, and not a 4-core system, in case I really get into it in the future, this system will serve me well over the next 4, 5, 6 years.

    Currently, I'm running a dual 1.25 G4 mirror door Power Mac with 2GB RAM. While I've been very satisfied over the last 6 years with this purchase, more and more, I'm feeling the pain of the older processor with lack of speed and spinning beach balls when applying filters, 3-D effects in my CS3 suite. I also know I can't go to any OS beyond Tiger with this system, since Leopard+ requires an Intel chip and lets be honest, its been 6 years since I bought this refurb dual G4--its time!

    So, I've been watching for refurbished Mac Pros over the past few months, and finally the timing worked out where I was able to buy an '08 8-core Mac Pro tower with 2GB RAM for $2400 shipped's the basic specs:

    Two 2.8GHz Quad-Core Intel Xeon processors
    2GB (2 x 1GB) of 800MHz DDR2 ECC fully buffered DIMM
    320GB Serial ATA 3Gb/s 7200-rpm hard drive
    16x SuperDrive (DVD±R DL/DVD±RW/CD-RW)
    ATI Radeon HD 2600 XT 256MB (two dual-link DVI ports)

    I'll probably add another 8GB of RAM, which should hold me off for quite a while. I'm also on the lookout for a suitable >20" LCD display that is a good/cheaper alternative to the Apple Cinema displays.

    Since I ordered, I've had this nagging feeling that I maybe should have gone with a 4-core "Nehalem" processor that is in the '09 Mac Pros. Its $100 more, but with half as many virtual processors, among other specs...I've read that the previous processors in the system I just bought have a memory "bottleneck" that was solved with the new "Nehalem" processors. Has anyone seen if this is really a significant difference between the two? Is my concern baseless?

    While I know no matter which one I ultimately go with, they'll feel light years beyond what I'm currently running. I'm also reading that much of the software I use doesn't take advantage of the 8-core architecture, which makes me wonder if I really need it. I really can't justify spending more than $3000 on a desktop system, but if the newest systems are significantly better than the '08 predecessors, I might consider plunking down the extra $600+ beyond what I currently spent on the refurb for a new 8-core "Nehalem". Or even $100 more than the refurb for the 4-core "Nehalem".

    Any insights to either debunk or justify my current buyer's remorse would be greatly appreciated! The remorse is really dampening what should be an exciting purchase for me ;-).

    Thanks in advance!
  2. natebookpro macrumors 6502a

    Sep 25, 2008
    Either one is going to be a great system and suit your needs for a long time. The thing is if you are going to get on it every day and be disappointed that you didn't get the newer one then maybe you should get the newer one. All of these will be so much faster than your current system, and the fact that you are using a MDD still says something about how long you will keep this new system.

    I vote for spend the extra money if you can.
  3. MAC-PRO-DEMON macrumors 6502a


    Jul 10, 2008
    Up north in Yorkshire :)
    It is a great system... and get as much specs into it as you can... I'm talking lots of RAM baby :D

    Also... you will find it hard to task it... and it will be faster than anything you have used before (Providing you haven't touched a super computer or Moblin :D)

    Also... If you are a designer... Have a look at HP's monitors... or have a look at Apple's Displays...

    I have 2*30" Cinema Displays at home... and they work great!!!

  4. legioss macrumors newbie

    Mar 3, 2008
    8 core is still a workhorse

    90 percent of the mac developers on Maya are using 8 core mac pro's. Also, as far as multi-threaded use goes, Maya will not act much different on the nahalem processors except for rendering.

    There is only remorse if you are looking for bragging rights. Otherwise, that is a good price for a good system. Plus, you can use cards like the 4870 and recently announced Quadro fx 4800 on it if you need to upgrade graphics in the future.
  5. eyeruh macrumors member

    Apr 9, 2009

    I know some people have had good luck with the HP monitors but FWIW, I bought an HP LP2475W display last week and it was already back in the box within a few hours. They use a good LG IPS panel, but it seems like they cheaped out on the backlight and power supply.

    There was a noticeable drop-off in brightness along the right-hand side of the screen, and even worse, it suffered from voltage problems that resulted in a weird 'shimmer' to the screen (something called 'pixel walk' apparently). The effect reminded me of a CRT with too low of a refresh-rate. In any event, I immediately noticed that it bothered my eyes and after trying to use it for an hour or two, I was nauseous for the rest of the evening.

    So . . . the HP is going back and I replaced it with a 24" ACD. The ACD is sitting here on my desk waiting for my new MP to arrive on Wednesday so I can test it out. :)
  6. Demosthenes X macrumors 68000

    Demosthenes X

    Oct 21, 2008
    I believe that benchmarks have shown the old 8-core system to be fairly close to the new 4-core system in speed. So you're not loosing out on much, if anything, there.

    The old 8-core, though, can address more RAM than the new 4-core system. Stuff it full of RAM in the future, and I'll wager it will hold its own or even outperform the newer 4-core machine for a long time.

    Either way, you should not be disappointed with your purchase. It's a brilliant, brilliant machine!
  7. sigmadog macrumors 6502a


    Feb 11, 2009
    near Spokane, WA
    I think you'll love the 2008 8-core. I just got one myself to replace my G5 Dual and cannot be happier. I even bumped the RAM to 14GB and added a couple 1TB hard drives (which put me just over $3300 including tax and shipping).

    There's lots of threads here going over this same territory. I started one myself early on claiming that I was going to get one of the 2009 eight-cores for sure, only to change my mind, save money, and be remarkably pleased with my new 2.8 eight-core. You can get some insight into my decision in my final post in that thread right here.

    Stick with the 2008, you won't be disappointed.
  8. TheStrudel macrumors 65816


    Jan 5, 2008
    Honestly, is there any likelihood you're going to max out the machine and find it wanting?

    Mine does slow down from time to time, it's true - and it's always the hard drives. CPU speed is in no way slow by any definition. I'm waiting for the software to catch up with the 8 cores, and I suspect that HDDs (or even SSDs unless I buy 4 and RAID0 them all...) will always be the bottleneck.

    Unless you're into incredibly complicated scientific modeling, your buyer's remorse is not justified. Maya should perform beautifully on your machine, and if it doesn't, it just means you need to install more RAM, faster disks, better graphics card.
  9. DualShock macrumors 6502

    Jun 29, 2008
    Check out some of the comparison tests at I believe they did some CS3 related benchmarks.
  10. nick9191 macrumors 68040

    Feb 17, 2008
    Article pretty much sums it up

    "With its improved graphics, memory bandwidth, and reduced memory latency, the 2.66GHz quad-core Mac Pro was faster than the 2.8GHz eight-core Mac Pro, and at $2,499 costs $300 less. It would be a fine purchase for anyone replacing an older Mac or buying a new one for the first time. That is especially true for people who work with processorintensive apps such as video or graphics."

    Of course that doesn't take into account Grand Central, a new technology in Apple's upcoming Snow Leopard OS that makes better use of more cores. So in future years, your 8 cores could really pay off.
  11. bdellasc thread starter macrumors newbie

    Apr 20, 2009
    I haven't had a chance to read the entire article, but one thing not in this quote is the lower RAM threshold. 32GB vs. 16GB is a huge difference...especially for someone like me who is maxed out @ 2GB ;-). Thanks for the posts and keep them coming! I appreciate everyone's feedback...2 days until it arrives...;-)
  12. Ploki macrumors 68020

    Jan 21, 2008
    dont forget the price to get 16gb in a 4 core.
    you can stack 16gb in the 2008 for a fraction of a price of 16gb for 09 quad.

    and grand central will make as much benefit for old system as it will for new
  13. Tesselator macrumors 601


    Jan 9, 2008
    Oh gawd yes. In fact you're going to want to hide all sharp objects and poisons just before it arrives. Have someone with you as you unbox it too! Preferably a licensed psychologist as you're going to need all the help you can get. I would suggest removing your shoe-laces and belt as well.

    Dude, I feel so sorry for you. :rolleyes:
  14. bdellasc thread starter macrumors newbie

    Apr 20, 2009
    "last of breed" mentality

    I think I see myself getting into a pattern...

    When I bought my first PowerMac, I forewent the new G4 systems and bought a G3 333 tower. I specifically sought one out and didn't regret it. That system served me well over 5+ years.

    When I upgraded last time (my current dual G4), it was the last power mac that would dual boot in either OS9 or OSX. Given that I didn't have all OSX compatible software, I went for that until I could afford the total OSX transition. It was sort of a "last of breed"...I figured the system had all its bugs worked out and would be a good time to buy. Seems I was right as I've had a pretty problem-free 6 years with it being banged on with the work I do.

    Whenever I choose to upgrade a OS, I typically do it just as the new OS is about to come out, or wait until there have been at least 3 or 4 point releases...again, I figured they've worked most of the show-stopping bugs and I take the plunge. This approach has worked for me, and the couple of times I didn't follow it, I regretted it. I'll be watching the Snow Leopard release with great interest to see if the performance improvements actually do materialize...

    For this system, I waited until the new version of the processor came out, then took advantage of the price drops in the previous system itself and the cost to upgrade things like RAM (as you pointed out)...It was an end-of life for that particular chipset, and I'm hoping it will follow what I've historically done all along...

    While being on the bleeding edge of technology has its bragging rights, it does what the name implies--it bleeds your wallet dry because the associated costs of current RAM chips, etc are very inflated compared to their predecessors...

    You made a good point!

    Just a historical comparison, I remember buying a 256MB RAM chip for about $300 back in the early 90', how times change!
  15. MacVidCards Suspended

    Nov 17, 2008
    Hollywood, CA
    Leopard does NOT require an Intel chip.

    You could put it on your MDD today.

    Hopefully the rest of your research is more accurate.
  16. bdellasc thread starter macrumors newbie

    Apr 20, 2009
    DOH! How did I miss that? I could have sworn G4's were dead from a Leopard standpoint...unless it was an article I read a while ago about Snow Leopard...darn Apple and these OS kitty cat names ;-).

    Does anyone out there have experience with Leopard running on a dual G4? How's the performance? Even though it was one of the issues I had in mind, it wasn't the primary reason for upgrading. Overall app performance was a real drag with my CS3 apps...I'll have to let my partner know so he can upgrade it if he wants ;-)

    Thanks for the correction :).
  17. nick9191 macrumors 68040

    Feb 17, 2008
  18. 63dot macrumors 603


    Jun 12, 2006
    I agree. The MDD is ancient and any new system will absolutely run circles around it. I had a dual 500 G4 Power Mac and in its day it was amazing. But I now use a Mac mini, five years newer, and that thing is far snappier with a much better video card and hard drive. There's only so much you can realistically do with a modified MDD or similar old computer. Bus speed, components on the MOBO and other issues makes it smart to buy rather frequently, not every six years. :)
  19. bdellasc thread starter macrumors newbie

    Apr 20, 2009
    Good while it lasted...

    In all honesty, up until the last two projects I did: a handful of Flash animations (in January) and some large format (3'x8') trade show panels (this month), this system was perfectly fine. But once I got those, it started becoming very painfully obvious how old the system was. I was hoping to hold out until the end of the year, but I gave in, especially when I saw the refurbs back up on Apple's site ;-).

    For me, when I saw all the changes happening to the systems the past couple of years (the G5 -> Intel multi-core switch), I wanted to hold out as long as possible. So, my ROI for my dual G4 was EXTREMELY high given the amount of work I did with it these past 6 years...and the nice thing is, with this new system, I don't have to shy away from any higher-end projects because of system limitations :). I've literally been toying with the idea of a new system for almost 2 years now (mostly out of lust, not any pressing work-related need), but these last two projects really put me over the edge ;-).
  20. Mariusz1977 macrumors member


    Nov 21, 2008
    One case where I might have remorse if I were in the same position:

    - if the low end 4-core Nehalem machine gets listed on the refurb store for $2199 or $2299. I'm hemming and hawing myself over this but I've disciplined myself to wait until the Nehalem refurbs hit the Apple store (probably June timeframe given the "90 day rule" that I've observed in the past.)

    If Apple hasn't gotten rid of their 2008 2.8's refurbs, I'm wondering if Apple will list them alongside the lower-price Nehalem refurbs at the same $2399 price, or have a "fire sale" and blow out the 2008 2.8's for something like $1999 or $1899.... Hmmm who knows?

    I'm waiting patiently for the outcome :)
  21. Tesselator macrumors 601


    Jan 9, 2008
    I'm not sure why a downgrade at the same price would cause remorse. I'd rather have the 8-core than a 4-core given the same price or even the same price-ballpark.
  22. mlankton macrumors newbie


    Mar 30, 2009
    If you buy a +$2k computer without doing your homework first, you deserve confusion.

    IMO the 8 core 2.8 is more computer than the quad 2.66. Fill it full of ram, upgrade your storage capacity and speed, and quit second guessing yourself.
  23. bdellasc thread starter macrumors newbie

    Apr 20, 2009
    No one signed for it, and yet...

    It arrived within the last hour and is safely with my neighbor (who went across the street to grab it for me)!

    One thing that really bothered me is that FedEx just left signature, nothing. Its an indirect signature package, which means (according to their site):

    * From someone at the delivery address; or
    * From a neighbor, building manager or other person at a neighboring address; or
    * The recipient can sign a FedEx door tag authorizing release of the package without anyone present.

    No one signed for it, yet on their site it says I signed for it...that driver is taking an awfully big risk for FedEx doing that sort of thing...

    Now the task of migrating to my new system! Thanks everyone for your feedback!
  24. iHateMacs macrumors 6502a


    Aug 13, 2008
    Coventry, UK
    What happens with a refurb then? What do they replace in them? Where do they come from?

    Does it look new?
  25. Eyeful macrumors newbie

    Mar 19, 2009
    N. CA
    You're obsessing over this. Buyer's remorse is justified if you paid more than what Apple is selling as refurbished - and lot's of people do, just look up this system on eBay. I'd have remorse if it was DOA or somehow broken, but not because you chose this over a similarly priced '09 2.66 4-core (crippled by RAM slots). I made this same decision you did. So far I'm very happy with the speed and ease of upgrades.

    Blow this out with all the RAM you can afford, RAID 0 couple of bays, and if you want to get crazy fast use the empty optical bay to put in an SSD drive just to run your system and apps.

    Cool runnin' - literally. My old G4 MDD FW800 1.4GHz duo sounds like a hair dryer and I hate even turning it on now.

Share This Page