Is the upgrade to 3,1 to 4,1/5,1 Mac Pro worth it?

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by devon807, Nov 18, 2016.

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Which do I go with?

Poll closed Nov 30, 2016.
  1. Keep Mac Pro 3,1, keep upgrading it.

    2 vote(s)
    20.0%
  2. Buy Mac Pro 4,1 upgrade that.

    8 vote(s)
    80.0%
  1. devon807 macrumors 6502

    devon807

    Joined:
    Dec 31, 2014
    Location:
    Virginia
    #1
    Hello all, I currently have a 3,1 Mac Pro that I purchased last year. It is the 8-core 2.8 GHz model with 16GB of RAM and a SSD and a GTX 960. I am a part-time casual video editor, and am starting to notice a small amount of slow down when the people I began editing for began using 4K video. The income earned to time spent ratio is not enough to justify building a full rig/hackinitosh to edit this video, as the mac pro usually does it without a hiccup. I was wondering if upgrading to a 4,1 would be a good (cost effective) decision and eventually upgrade to a 8 or 12 core cpu tray later on down the road. I also use my computer for school (an computer major) and emulation of different OS'es.
     
  2. fatespawn macrumors member

    fatespawn

    Joined:
    Feb 22, 2009
    Location:
    Chicagoish
    #2
    How soon would you earn $800 back to upgrade? You can get a bare bones 4,1 (quad core) on eBay for $400. Then flash it to a 5,1 and buy a 6-core 3.46 Ghz W3690 Xeon for less than $200. The processor upgrade is very easy BTW and much easier on the single processor than the dual processor. I did it myself and I can't glue 2 pieces of wood together. Youtube is your friend. Buy a PCIe card for < $100 for your two SSD's and raid them. Buy 24GB of DDR3 PC1333 ECC ram for ~$100. If you need a Graphics Card, you're looking at another couple hundred over the $800 budget. You'll be future proof for a couple of years at least. Is it worth it? Dunno. Just my 2¢.
     
  3. OS6-OSX macrumors 6502a

    OS6-OSX

    Joined:
    Jun 13, 2004
    Location:
    California
    #3
    There are a few things missing from your post that you should probably add
    1. The app you use to edit the 4K footage
    2. If it's PP using the Mercury Engine, are you using ram or the CUDA cores? If ram is 16GB enough?
    3. The speed of the disk/disks the footage is on
    4. If you are using Avid MC, AMA and an outdated plugin
    5. How may tracks of 4K?
    6. Editing in Full Rez?
    7. Is the 4K Panasonic GH4?

    If you are using Avid MC with an outdated AMA plugin your 4K will be sluggish. Play that same footage with the updated AMA plugin and it's smooth. And yes this is in green/green!
     
  4. nigelbb macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Dec 22, 2012
    #4
    A 6-core 4,1/5,1 will not show a whole heap of extra performance compared to an 2x4-core 3,1. Depending on which processor you get single core performance can range from very little faster to a bit faster while multi-core performance will be lower so rendering out final video will be slower. Don't think that you can buy a single processor 4,1/5,1 & later upgrade to a dual as the CPU trays are almost unobtainable & when available are so expensive that it's not cheaper than buying a complete dual processor system.

    More memory & another SSD in your existing 3,1 system will be the most cost effective upgrade if your current performance is currently basically adequate 95% of the time.
     
  5. Synchro3, Nov 19, 2016
    Last edited: Nov 19, 2016

    Synchro3 macrumors 65816

    Synchro3

    Joined:
    Jan 12, 2014
    #5
    I do not agree. A MP 4,1/5,1 Single 3.33/3.46 Six Core CPU beats MP 3,1 with two Quad Core CPU's.

    Mac 3,1 vs Mac Pro 5,1
    Note: MP 5,1 2.8 and 3.2 GHz = Quad Core, 3.33 GHz = Six Core

    MP 3,1.png MP 5,1.png
     
  6. pastrychef macrumors 601

    pastrychef

    Joined:
    Sep 15, 2006
    Location:
    New York City, NY
    #6
    In my opinion, the 4,1/5,1s are much better systems than the 3,1s. That being said, I wouldn't sink too much money in to upgrades for any of these systems since they are so old. You should also consider which video card to use based on the software that you will be running.
     
  7. thats all folks macrumors 6502a

    thats all folks

    Joined:
    Dec 20, 2013
    Location:
    Austin (supposedly in Texas)
    #7
    this is mostly bad info. between the 2008 and 2009 releases, there were significant changes to the CPU and system architecture. the 4,1/5,1 systems are definitively better than their predecessors in every way imaginable. you can keep investing in your 3,1 but at some point you are just putting more racing strips on a Ford Fiesta.

    now, if you intend on heading down the route of upgrading and modifying a base model you need to understand what you are getting into and arm yourself with knowledge. there is a lot here in these forums. there are also a lot of tinkerers who like pushing.

    for the most trouble free process, find an original 2.8Ghz quad 5,1 and made the following mods:
    - CPU, a X5690 SLBVX. (6 cores with hyperthreading will beat up any 3,1)
    - RAM, 3 X 16GB (for 48 total)
    - GPU, flashed Radeon R9 280X ( two mini DP, HDMI, DVI).

    if you want to spend more, you can go for a dual CPU and 12 cores. but one or two, get a 5600 series. if you want an Nvidia (CUDA) card, just make sure you understand the implications of that.

    drives, SSDs. you have 4 bays with sleds (similar to your 3,1) and you now have 2 positions in the optical bay htat can be well used with the right adapter.

    PCIe cards:
    - the most valuable will be USB 3. I recommend a card like this, that has a discrete controller for each port. cheaper cards share one controller between all ports, making port to port transfers significantly slower. hopefully we will soon see cards with USB C 3.1 ports that are Mac compatible.
    - there are also a variety of kits and cards to put an SSD in a PCIe slot.

    a word of warning. yes, everything is used part off of eBay and these parts are only getting older. so approach with caution. I can offer that I've modded several Mac Pros (and more than a few Windows boxes) this way and they all performed well. but there is risk and you have to be willing to take that on. so research, learn and start trolling eBay to get a handle on what is out there and what it costs.
     
  8. pastrychef macrumors 601

    pastrychef

    Joined:
    Sep 15, 2006
    Location:
    New York City, NY
    #8
    While that Sonnet USB 3 card is very good, it's expensive. Unless you plan on using your USB 3 ports for lots of data transfers, normal USB 3 cards with a single controller should suffice for most users and it will save you a lot of money.
     
  9. ITguy2016 Suspended

    Joined:
    May 25, 2016
    #9
    OP: Do not put a lot of weight into Geekbench scores. They're interesting to look at but they're not all that helpful. You need to detail what applications you're using and attempt to locate the source of your performance issue. Is there not enough processing power? Insufficient RAM? Insufficient graphics power?

    You can use the Activity Monitor application (located in the Utilities folder within the Applications folder) to monitor CPU, memory, and disk usage. This should help to narrow down where your performance issue lies. Also providing a list of applications, as requested earlier, would be helpful. Knowing what you're using can assist us with common performance areas with the applications you're using.

    As mentioned before there was a big improvement in the architecture of the 2009 / 2010 models over the 2008 generation. You can't go wrong buying one of these later models, especially for the price they're selling for (at least the lower end configurations). Having said that it doesn't mean a slight upgrade of your existing system is out of the question. However if you're going to upgrade you need to do the right upgrade. If you're going to buy a later model system then buying the right model is just as important.
     
  10. devon807 thread starter macrumors 6502

    devon807

    Joined:
    Dec 31, 2014
    Location:
    Virginia
    #10
    Thank you for your input! It wouldn't take very long to make the money back. I also didn't know that DDR3 ECC was so cheap lol.
     
  11. Fangio macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Jan 25, 2011
    #11
    FWIW, as long as netkas runs his 3,1 there'll be always a very special support for these machines ;)

    On a more serious note, for me the Westmere CPU upgrade options alone were reason enough to switch from a 2006 cMP to a 4,1/5,1. That was in 2012 already, when you still got considerable money for the 1st gen Mac Pro.

    On the other hand, the 3,1 is a full 64bit machine. While it takes some plist-editing to run Sierra, that might still work with the next macOS version. So if your budget doesn't allow for a newer cMP – see above.
     
  12. devon807 thread starter macrumors 6502

    devon807

    Joined:
    Dec 31, 2014
    Location:
    Virginia
    #12
    Thank you for your feedback! I use FCPX, I use a 1TB WD Black as a Scratch disk, A 240GB Intel SSD on a Apricorn Velocity Solo as the editing drive, unfortunately, I cannot take advantage of the CUDA cores because I edit on FCPX (which is heavily optimized for OpenCL), usually 2-3 tracks of 4K content from a RX100 Mk III, and yes editing in full res.
    --- Post Merged, Nov 19, 2016 ---
    Thank you for your input! I do agree that CPU trays for the dual CPU models are not only hard to find, but the same price as a fully loaded 5,1 Mac Pro!
    --- Post Merged, Nov 19, 2016 ---
    Thank you for your input! These are impressive numbers out of the 2010 Mac Pro.
    --- Post Merged, Nov 19, 2016 ---
    Thank you for your input! I agree, they are outdated by todays standards, but they are perfectly capable and cost effective for what I'm doing now. Maybe if I ever went into the industry full-time i could justify building a 16 Core X99 ( or whatever platform is current) GTX Titan system. :)
    --- Post Merged, Nov 19, 2016 ---
    Thanks for your response! I like that analogy lol. 5,1's are really expensive, but I understand why. I would go 4,1 -> 5,1 flash with the Hex-core CPU but undecided on which GPU to get, as I prefer Nvidia but FCPX prefers AMD.
    --- Post Merged, Nov 19, 2016 ---
    Thank you for your response! Very good recommendations when it comes to performance benchmarking!
    --- Post Merged, Nov 19, 2016 ---
    Thank you for your input! I agree 1000% Nekas, Pike, and others have helped so many people its insane! They are geniuses! They helped me flash a different boot.efi on my OG 07 Macbook enabling me to run Mavericks and Yosemite!
     
  13. OS6-OSX macrumors 6502a

    OS6-OSX

    Joined:
    Jun 13, 2004
    Location:
    California
    #13
    Since the Solo is rated at "up to speeds" of 400 MB/sec you should run https://www.aja.com/products/aja-system-test and https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/blackmagic-disk-speed-test/id425264550?mt=12 to get the current speed.
    A free HD speed upgrade to test your 2-3 4K trks is to plug in 4 HD's into slots 1-4 of your MP. Place boot disk in optical bay. At RAID 0 the 4 HD's should give you 746.9 Write and 681.8 read. This is the speed I had a few years ago before ATTO. See if the increased speed plays the trks smoothly. While you are there keep adding trks until it breaks so you know the ceiling. Base a new Apricorn PCIe configuration on this data if it works.
    A little work for this test but it's free if you have a few spare HD's just laying around! :p
    DiskSpeedTest 4HD.png
     

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