Mac Pro '09 - My Review, after a few months.

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by Dark Goob, Apr 15, 2010.

  1. Dark Goob macrumors regular

    Dark Goob

    Jun 6, 2007
    Portland, OR
    Picked up a used Mac Pro ('09 version, 2x2.26 ghz) a few months back. Thought I'd chime in with a short, impromptu review.

    I have never had a modular Mac before this. My first Mac that I actually owned was a Macintosh LC 575, which was, in a way, the first "iMac." It had built-in ethernet, monitor, CD-ROM drive, 13" Trinitron with 640x480 resolution, and a 33 MHz 68040 processor. There was also an expansion slot but I never used it. The whole logic board could slide out the back on a tray for the user to expand RAM, and the hard drive was similarly easy to upgrade. After a decade with the original Mac, upgraded to a Plus in '89, the move from the original Mac to the LC 575 was ginormous: it was a move from black-and-white to color, from a dog-slow 68000 chip to a speedy (for the time) '040. It was killer, but of course, soon outdated as PowerPC dawned and time quickly passed it by.

    We all have memories, I think, of expensive computers that became worthless wastes of space in a couple of short years. The mid-to-late '90s and early '00s littered the planet with these toxic, more-or-less useless hulks.

    But I have a friend whose G4 Quicksilver 733 MHz machine still runs Tiger snappier, and faster, than my 2.4 GHz MacBook Pro runs Leopard. Really. And it just got me thinking... I was going to spend $1200 on a maxed-out Drobo anyway, so I just spent $2700 and bought a used Mac Pro, then threw in $300 of hard drives (4TB!).

    So far I would have to say that the Mac Pro was worth it, easily. It makes you realize that laptops are pretty good, so everyone kind of dinks along with a laptop as their main machine. And that's fine for 99% of people. But I think the general view that you have to be encoding video or rendering 3D all the time to deserve a Mac Pro is just wrong.

    I used to think that a PC homebrew system, or possibly "hackintosh," would be the way to go. But then I started looking at cases. Even the very best PC cases I could find, which were $300 or more, do not hold a candle to the Mac Pro case. Furthermore, there is just nothing like AppleCare, and honestly, I'd by AppleCare for my own health insurance if it was an option -- that's how good the service is. It's insanely good.

    Furthermore I also realized that the up-front cost of a Mac Pro was high, but so was the resale value. I tell this to camera customers a lot: sure, getting a $2500 lens sounds crazy. But you can sell it later on for a decent amount, used. So really, it's not as much as it sounds like.

    Now, used home-built PCs? Crappy resale value.

    After actually using the Mac Pro for awhile, being able to have 20 apps open simultaneously, being able to leave it always on, always available as a file server for my critical documents, always backing up my key stuff, easily expandable, I can tell ya, now when I look at laptop-only people, I kind of just think, "That used to be me." It's hard to explain, but it's like the feeling of having graduated from a point-and-shoot camera, to an SLR. You don't get rid of the point-and-shoot... it's not an either-or decision. You just expand.

    If you're on the borderline, just trust me on this. It's by far worth it. One word: PCI. Expandable GPU. Trust me.
  2. harveypooka macrumors 65816

    Feb 24, 2004
    I think it's because Macs are seen as a "thing" rather than a computer made up of different components. Of course they are made up of components, but the naming helps, too.
  3. Mackilroy macrumors 68040


    Jun 29, 2006
    I've had a Mac Pro since mid-2007, and I'm going to be putting together a hackintosh today. And you're right about the cases – while my case (Antec Sonata) is a very nice one, the Mac Pro's case is easier to get in to, better organized,and has a cleaner design. And it's also a lot heavier. :D
  4. TennisandMusic

    Aug 26, 2008
    What cases are you looking at that don't hold a candle to the Mac Pro case? Are you talking looks, or function? Looks are debatable, but there are plenty with better function for less than 300 dollars. If you want to get better looks AND function just look at the corsair 800d. Destroys the Mac Pro case.
  5. lemonade-maker macrumors 6502


    Jun 20, 2009
    Yeah, "destroys" it. That case is a POS. Why do you need a window in a case?
  6. nanofrog macrumors G4

    May 6, 2008
    As mentioned, appearance wise, it's subjective. But there are better cases internally (better cooling and management).

    Especially with full systems in the enterprise realm, where the MP and XServes actually exist (they're not consumer systems). Granted, most of the other offering's appearance aren't that attractive by most people's definition. But internally, they're notably better (easier and faster to swap out bad components). This is a highly requested aspect of such systems by the IT staff, and vendors are well aware of it (systems need to be up and running, not sitting there useless in order to tear it down to swap out a part).

    Oh, how little you know... :eek: :p That said, you did do yourself a favor by getting it, as Apple parts are expensive.

    Compared to what you get with other vendors for a warranty (3yrs on-site = standard), you have to add Apple Care just to get the same period of coverage.

    As per the on-site aspect, technically, it does support it if you're within 50 miles of an Apple Store. But they'll also make you feel like they're doing you a massive favor by doing so. Likely with no parts in hand. It will take longer to get the system operational in such instances, as they'll show up to diagnose it, order parts, and finally install them after they arrive (takes days).

    Overall, other vendors offer much better support experiences than Apple. Nothing to carry in, and it's faster (parts & tech show up the next day).
  7. TennisandMusic

    Aug 26, 2008
    Uhh..well some people want one, and I thought you could get a windowless version. I am not a big window fan, but if you don't know why people want them then you don't know the "hardcore" PC market. The cheese grater silver thing is so old and passe.

    And yes, the corsair 800d DOES destroy the mac pro case for looks and functionality overall. The interior is amazing, and the exterior is a minimalist powder coated black. It's a better case. You ever try servicing the inside of a Mac Pro?
  8. nanofrog macrumors G4

    May 6, 2008
    There's Lian Li as well, especially if the buyer want's silver (clear anodized aluminum).
  9. TennisandMusic

    Aug 26, 2008
    Yep, plenty of choices. Antec, Cooler Master, Zalman, etc. etc. etc. I know there are a lot of "gamer cases" but there are plenty of "pro" cases. It just seems like some people live in a bubble where only Apple makes a good case. It just strikes me as kind of bizarre.
  10. policyvote macrumors newbie

    Mar 12, 2010
    I'm sorry man, the Mac Pro case is tremendous. As a PC enthusiast for years and years (been doing casemods, etc. for over a decade), the cheese grater was a huge lust object for me. It's what homebrew PCs can't ever be: whole, complete, curvaceous, elegant, and pure of purpose. Moreover, the Mac Pro case is built for heat dissipation with minimal noise. PC cases are almost always one or the other.

    That Corsair 800d looks like every black PC case ever, replete with crappy-looking block-off plates. Lian Li, and others, give you the aluminum look--but are just more tall rectangles with block-off plates and a button in front. I have an appreciation for a well-done enthusiast's case, but the Mac Pro case is in a class by itself.

  11. nanofrog macrumors G4

    May 6, 2008
    There are options. Unfortunately, each individual's tastes aren't the same, so it comes down to "Beauty is in the eye of the beholder" as the saying goes. :D

    The previous post (from what you quoted), was only to illustrate the fact that Apple's systems aren't perfect, despite the marketing that has created that impression.

    Externally, see above. ;)

    Internally, I've seen far better. And beleive it or not, it's from other system vendors, not 3rd party cases (actually makes sense from an engineering POV, as they can custom design them for the specific internals used - i.e. baffles to direct airflow -, such as board, cooler,...). This applies to both cable management, and cooling. I actually have a problem with the way Apple chose to solder the SATA + power connectors to the board, as it means that if that connector goes bad, the board has to be replaced (it could be possible to find a person that could solder on new connectors, but it's getting harder to find such a person, as the electronic repair bus. has declined in the wake of disposable electronics).

    That said, some of the 3rd party cases do have good cable management, and much better cooling than the MP's cheese grater enclosure.
  12. TennisandMusic

    Aug 26, 2008
    I guess some people don't get it. I agree with you Nanofrog. It's really a shame how brainwashed Apple can make people. I do like the Mac Pro case, but it really needs an update. It's way long in the tooth and simply out performed now.
  13. nanofrog macrumors G4

    May 6, 2008
    Apple's Marketing Dept. is definitely good at what they do. ;)

    As per the case's age, it's a low priority, given the sales volume. It's not cheap to do a complete redesign (and the case itself isn't cheap either, as it's all aluminum = sheet metal manufacturing and finishing), so they chose to take the less expensive route of modifiying the internals instead.

    Who knows when the case will get a full re-design. It's possible it could show up on the next model line, but I wouldn't bet on it, as it would mean either a price increase (which they have to be aware that users are complaining about and could lower sales volume just that much further), or accept a lower margin by keeping pricing similar to what's offered now (which they don't seem to be interested in :eek:). :p
  14. lemonade-maker macrumors 6502


    Jun 20, 2009
    Yeah, none of the people reading this forum have any experience that is of use. None have ever built a pc. None see the big picture as well.

    Some people come into a mac forum, cut up on the mac, and expect to be appreciated. Those people don't get it.
  15. Transporteur macrumors 68030

    Nov 30, 2008
    Is it all aluminium? I rather think it's just the coating that is aluminium. The actual frame seems more like normal steel, which would explain the weight of the case.

    The G5 I had also seemed to have a metal frame inside.
    But I'm not sure about that.
  16. nanofrog macrumors G4

    May 6, 2008
    I think you took his post out of context.

    Compared to a consumer budget-box PC (or some DIY systems), they're drastic improvements. But please keep in mind, they're enterprise units, not consumer systems. Unfortunately however, Apple is a consumer electronics company, and the enterprise market isn't their primary focus given the sales numbers.

    Other vendors make better internals than Apple does in the enterprise segment, which is exceedingly improved over the cheap consumer systems they also sell. Warranty support and options are much better as well. The exterior styling however, tends to be not as appealing by most people's standards, though they are slowly getting better.

    It might seem like nitpicking, but it depends if that sort of thing matters to the specific use or not. Ultimately, it's just a tool used to get something done. Pick the best overall system suited for the task, and go with it (there's going to be a compromise in it somewhere, no matter how minor).

    They're all aluminum (and it's not super thin like a soda can), so they're heavier than you might think.
  17. Loa macrumors 68000


    May 5, 2003

    Anyone who ever had to install/change something in the optical bays, or had BT antenna issues (2009), or wanted more than 5 (or six without the optical drive) internal drives knows that the MP cases are badly designed.

    Why the *&$% make the CPU tray incredibly accessible? Because half of the Octo's RAM modules are behind the huge heat sink. And that's a good design? Forcing the user to pull out the most important and sensitive part of the computer just to put RAM? I'm not impressed.

    I'm a Mac fanboy that bothers all his PC-using friends, but bad design is bad design...

  18. Inconsequential macrumors 68000

    Sep 12, 2007
    Agree 100%! Having mac pro and a laptop is a godsend.

    I used to do my photo work on a MBP but having a Mac Pro is just so nice. I was without the Mac Pro for a week and the difference in speed, convienience and whatever was easy to see.

    Mac pros for the win!

    @Loa, how the hell is the CPU tray bad design!?!? TWO clips and it pulls out. I don't quite understand what you see wrong with it!!! Best design for that i've ever seen!

    BT and hard disk bays I agree tho. 2010 will have ssd bays I'd imagine.
  19. nanofrog macrumors G4

    May 6, 2008
    Potential of bent pins in the connector if it's not aligned just right, the potential of ESD, and possible flexure of the daughter board during removal, memory installation, and replacement (will break solder joints if twisted too much). A reasonable amount of care and common sense will help, but it's possible.

    Maybe, but they might sacrifice something, such as either the 2nd optical bay, or one of the HDD bays (assuming there's not a full case redesign that could add in some additional space for SSD brackets/locations as a standard feature).
  20. jedijoe macrumors 6502


    Oct 13, 2005
    Boulder, CO
    Yea, window in a case is just stupid. It looks cheesy, like a big tail pipe on a honda civic. BARF.

    Personally I think, Lian Li has one of the nicest PC cases. I have one for an 8-core Harpertown Linux Box. The outside is basically a rip-off of the MacPro/PowerMac design. The inside fits 6 drives, extended ATX boards. Its quality build. $240.

    LIAN LI PC-V1200Aplus II

    Just skip putting the lame wheels on it :)
  21. Inconsequential macrumors 68000

    Sep 12, 2007
    I have to disagree there to be honest, they have catered for that possibility by adding two long guiding pins. You can't physically get the tray in far enough to bend the pins.

    Also i've been taking the tray in and out quite a few times without being stupidly cautious and it's fine.

    Thing is how else where apple supposed to do this? Some people on this forum (not saying you personally ;)) think they know better than engineers who do this for a living.

    As an engineer myself, I think it's a superb design IMO.
  22. Loa macrumors 68000


    May 5, 2003
    To add to nano's input on that, let's make an analogy with another field completely: cars. Imagine if a car company came out with an engine design that forced the mechanic to remove the engine block in order to make the oil change. That would be utter stupidity.

    Even if the engineer added two long guiding pins, it would still be stupid.

    Except for RAM on an octo core, how many mac pro users actually "need" to pull out the CPUs out of the case? A tenth of a percent?

    Again: being forced to make the CPU removable because of bad RAM placement is ridiculous. Period. Looks neat, and it caters to people who like to fiddle with their toys ("Look Ma, I can pull it out myself!!!"), but it's bad design.

  23. Inconsequential macrumors 68000

    Sep 12, 2007
    Well you could say that the memory riser cards in the previous gens were fragile and whatever.

    I think it's really a non-issue and really isn't something that needs to be considered.

    You fit memory once and push it back in, compared to dell workstations where the memory banks are flat against the mobo hidden by wires and really inaccessible.

    And your metaphor is poor, you regularly change oil in a car, you fit memory once and then you leave it. Or maybe a year later you double up or add two more sticks, it's really a non issue.

    In my engineering opinion it's a neat, simple, well executed solution. But we're not going to agree so let's leave it there? ;)

    On the bluetooth front, whoever decided to place the antenna at the back by the PCI-E slots needs to be sacked, what a stupid place to put it :rolleyes:
  24. nanofrog macrumors G4

    May 6, 2008
    I don't know the exact distances (in relation to the guide grooves in the PCB and guide pins to the socket never having access to an '09 personally), but I was taking the "Idiot Factor" into it. Any reasonable hardware literate person shouldn't have any issues.

    But I've seen some amazing things that I didnt' think possible. I still swear that some of what I've seen involved Beavis and Butthead + hammers.
  25. Inconsequential macrumors 68000

    Sep 12, 2007
    No amount of design and innovation cannot protect against idiots. :p

    If someone is dumb enough to be able to bend the pins on that CPU tray they deserve whats coming :p

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