Mac Pro (2008) Reliability?

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by miK., Apr 3, 2008.

  1. miK. macrumors 6502


    Mar 13, 2008
    I am 95% decided to get a new Mac Pro, after making do with
    my G4 for a number of years now, but am concerned with
    all of the posts regarding problems with the new Pros.

    Sure, most of what gets posted on forums are "problems"
    and not so much "praise", but it seems the new Pros are
    less stable than the first generation?

    I really liked the "Would you buy a Mac Pro again" poll,
    and it helped confirm that a new Pro is really what I want.

    I'm just a little concerned with the problems I'm seeing
    posted (daily) here and also wondering if they could possibly
    be Leopard-related? Any convincing arguments? :)

  2. pastrychef macrumors 601


    Sep 15, 2006
    New York City, NY
    The only problem that I was aware of was that some people had sleep issues. However, I think that has been fixed with the recently release EFI update. Personally, mine has been flawless.
  3. Mr.PS macrumors 6502a

    Jan 8, 2008
    I had a few issues with the very early 2008 Mac Pro's (I ordered right away). After I got one with the 8800GT video card it was fine, except for sleep issues, the latest EFI firmware upgrade fixed that though. It's flawless now, by flawless, it's been up for 30 days before the EFI update. It runs very smooth and fast.
  4. Soop53 macrumors regular


    Jan 20, 2008
    Lets see...problems...NOPE!!! Oh, I had a bluetooth issue but corrected that reading a fix in this forum. Everything else is working just fine.

    I am a returner...not a switcher. I have an old PB G3 still in use (originally had a IIc and a Centris 650) but migrated to building my own PCs. I finally called it quits and jumped on this beast and have not looked back.

    I love this machine. I can't wait to get home each night to ride this beast after an all day PC drag!

    Now, my family and friends are taking notice. Our school district Tech Director has even stopped by and is impressed.
  5. GregPacker macrumors member


    Jun 27, 2007
    Wherever there is a queue
    I had various faults with my first three, before I got a good one. Some problems people have experienced are due to hardware, some firmware, and some software. These are my observations about my own experiences and common problems I have read about:

    Hardware/firmware issues

    Random graphics freezes with 2600XT mac pro usually requiring hard reboot. This was an extremely common problem among 2600XT owners, and my second one did this. I don't know if the 2600XT update fixed it as I had long since exchanged mine for an 8800GT, but I know that some people were still reporting freezing after updating (as well as more fan noise and power draw).

    Reboot or freeze when waking from sleep. This was another very common problem, and also unpleasantly random, but it sounds like it has been fixed with the recent firmware update. I never use sleep so it didn't bother me anyway.

    Optical drive issues, I've had 3 optiarcs and 1 pioneer in my mac pros. The pioneer let me rip one CD and then died, but I think that was just isolated bad luck, or a faulty logic board as other weird things were happening too. My current optiarc works fine with all purchased disks (although it's sometimes very loud) but it can only recognise about two thirds of the many backup disks that I burnt in the past using my powermac G4 with a pioneer superdrive. I saw a post where someone else had the same issue and apparently when they reported it Apple told them that they don't guarantee the optical drive will read disks burnt using any other drive. I wouldn't mind so much if I had used cheap disks at top speed with no verification but these were quality verbatim dvd-r that were verified after burning using toast and superdrive and I never had one coaster. The pioneer can still read them, why is it unreasonable to expect a brand new drive to read them? I think Apple are just using the cheapest optical drives that the manufacturers have left over. This is the only hardware problem I have with my current mac pro and since I can fix it cheaply by buying another drive I don't intend to waste more time returning it, and risk getting another machine with a worse fault. It took them 13 days to replace my third one, despite their promises.

    Hard disk performance; the stock drive is very slow. It amazes me that Apple reduce the performance of a "pro" machine by using such drives to save a handful of dollars on a machine that is this expensive. I almost wonder if the disk manufacturers are paying Apple to take their oldest junk off their hands, because it's cheaper than landfill tax! Some people have found the seagates to be very noisey, I have had 3 WDs and 1 seagate, and the seagate was only a little bit louder than the WDs.

    Bluetooth issues. I don't use bluetooth so I can't comment but I have seen other owners complaining about problems. I don't know if it's hardware or software related, maybe it's just some Leopard bug, or perhaps there's just too much damn metal around the antenna!

    Noise. This has not been a problem on any of my four mac pros, but some people have had knocking fans etc. Mine were all similar volume to each other, certainly not silent, if you are in a quiet environment you can easily hear that it is switched on but it is an ambient sound that you quickly tune out, a bit like the quiet sound of water flowing through a radiator in the room - you just forget it's there. The only thing that is noisy is the optical drive when spinning at high speed.

    Overheating. My first mac pro had a power supply where both its sensors read twice as hot as most mac pros. I have only seen one other person report that issue. My other mac pros have all been fine. Some people have had concerns about RAM temperature, particularly with extra RAM fitted. I'm using stock 2GB RAM and the temps have been fine. A lot of people manually increase the RAM fan speed when they fit extra RAM, and it does seem odd that Apple did not program the fan speed to ramp up automatically when RAM temperatures begin to get frightening.

    Software issues

    I have seen a few weird issues with Leopard, even on fresh installs to a zero'd disk. The automatic software update is very flakey. Sometimes I have done a clean install, then tried to apply the updates, only to have it get stuck forever with no desktop and the white spinning thing when it should be closing to reboot. It is definitely a good idea to get 10.5.2 combo from the downloads website rather than the autoupdate. Incidentally it is a shame it takes so long for Apple to update the pre installed software and the restore disks in the mac pro box. Many weeks after 10.5.2 was released they still send "Just In Time" manufactured BTO computers out the factory with 10.5.1. Since 10.5.2 is over 300mb it takes a long time to download if you don't have much bandwidth (another good reason to get the combo updater as you can burn it if you plan to do more fresh installs in the near future).
    I see occasional GUI bugs, such as icons becoming invisible in dock stacks. I'm sure Apple are gradually ironing out stuff like that, but it is disappointing since Leopard is hardly new anymore, and you would expect a clean install (after updates) to be almost flawless before you add any third party software.
    A couple of months ago there seemed to be big problems with Leopard randomly saying "you are not connected to the internet" even when you clearly are and other machines on the same router are connecting fine. This issue seems to have gone now so it was either an early leopard bug or a hardware issue with the first macpro I had.

    Software installation duration. I don't know if this is due to the software disks being highly compressed, or the optical drive being slow, or the hard drive being slow, but installing Logic studio (about 6 and a half dvds) takes me over 5 hours. I have seen other people reporting this too, so it's not just me. I have done this about 6 times in two months while testing and returning faulty mac pros and it has been a colossal waste of time (combined with fresh installs of Leopard and about 1.5GB of software updates to download just for Leopard/bundled apps and Logic Studio).


    If you have an apple store close by and you don't need BTO options then buy it in the store, not online. Then if there is a problem you just take it back for replacement or refund. If you get it online and there is a problem, say you need to swap one little component, the local Apple store will probably tell you they can't swap that one component nor swap the machine (since you didn't buy it from their store and they consider the whole machine to be one product) so you will have to return the whole damn machine by courier.

    Within 14 days you should run the hardware test and also try using every part of it that you are ever likely to want to use (e.g. burn a disk, try all the graphics/firewire/usb ports, check the temperatures etc). That way if you find something wrong you won't need to waste time while it sits in a repair shop, you can just demand an immediate replacement or refund within 14 days.

    If you do notice something weird but it is not crippling you then try to determine if it is likely to be hardware, firmware or software at fault. If it's software it can probably be fixed either by update or OS reinstall, if it's firmware it might be fixed but you may have a long wait and apple won't acknowledge there is a problem until the fix is ready, if it's hardware then send it back. The recent 2600XT freeze issue (and I would imagine the reboot on wake issue) put owners in a real quandry. I suspected these issues could be fixed with firmware, but I wasn't prepared to gamble £1750 on it, nor to put up with weeks or months of my machine freezing up every hour or so and me losing my work as I was forced to hard reboot. Apple did not say "don't worry guys, we acknowledge that there is a problem, we think we can fix it, just hang on a while", they said absolutely nothing until firmware updates appeared 2-3 months later. Buyers in this period did not know if they would be left with hardware that would never work as it should (apple have sometimes left owners screwed like this in the past with flawed hardware) so a lot of them bailed out before it became too late to bail.

    Early 2008 mac pros all look the same but it seems they are all unique and have little quirks of their own. I hope you are lucky enough to get one first time whose quirks are acceptable to you. I am enjoying mine now, and with a better optical drive it will be fantastic.
  6. student_trap macrumors 68000


    Mar 14, 2005
    'Ol Smokey, UK
    great post! To the OP, I really wouldn't worry about getting a dud. yes they do exist (I had one myself! dodgy 8800/intermittent whining noise and random shut-downs for those who are interested), but the point is that apple will replace machines that are faulty, its just a pain for the consumer as units get shipped over and over!

    In the end though, people come here to complain, so the proportion of faulty machines on these boards is misleading:)
  7. miK. thread starter macrumors 6502


    Mar 13, 2008
    Thanks to all for your responses (and to GregPacker for your
    detailed info on what to be aware of and how to handle it).

    I hope to order the new Pro within a week or so, and may post
    follow-up feedback or questions. Whether it's positive or negative
    I will check in with you folks about it.

    Thanks again,
  8. thxdave macrumors member

    Aug 10, 2007
    No problems at all with mine. I have the 8800 card and over 1.8 terabyes of HD inside. No sleep issues either before or after the EFI update, too.
  9. overcast macrumors 6502a

    Jun 27, 2007
    Rochester, NY
    Working perfectly here. The latest firmware update fixed the only issue I had with reboot from wake on sleep.
  10. Salavat23 macrumors 6502

    Feb 7, 2008
    I am also thinking about purchasing a Mac Pro.

    I understand that it uses Server/Workstation components, but is it really reliable enough to run around the clock, only turning it off once every 12 months?

    My PCs have no problem with that, because I know that they got a high quality power supply, and are backed up with great cooling.

    The cooling for the Mac Pro seems "just enough" to get it going. Not really to my liking.

    Also, does anyone have any information about the PSU? I know that it is 1000watts, but that means nothing. It needs to have the appropriate amount of rail, amps, and needs to be using high quality capacitors. Can you change the PSU, with some modding of course?
  11. rockinrocker macrumors 65816


    Aug 21, 2006
    i don't think that's true at all. sure it's designed to be as quiet as possible, but i don't think that means "just enough". i mean, have you seen the heat sinks on the proc.'s and ram?:D

    i can't speak to 24/7 year long running, but, i've had mine running under pretty heavy load (all 8 cores at ~%50, 5 out of 6 gigs of ram in use) for hours and the fans never even sped up. she just kinda hums along.....:cool:
  12. GotPro macrumors 6502

    Jan 29, 2007
    Um... seriously... no. The stock fans from Apple ship at incredibly LOW RPMS... as low as ~450 RPMS. Apple has a penchant for Quiet at the moment. However, the actual fans they use are some of the nicest I've seen in ANY COMPUTER. Want more cooling? Turn the fans up to 3000RPMS!

    The thing sounds like a JET ENGINE in a Lab! HA! And it will cool ANYTHING you put in there ;-)
  13. FireSlash macrumors member

    Nov 11, 2007
    The logic board is entirely intel based. It would compare to the "high durability" boards some PC MFGs advertise (Solid state caps, etc). The RAM is actually much more reliable than most non-server based PCs, as it uses FB-DIMMs, which may operate somewhat slower in some cases (see: gaming), they are much more reliable in any operation or condition than standard DDR800.

    As for the cooling, PC owners seem to have this odd mindset that anything over 130 is "dangerous". These components are designed to take temperatures much higher than this, so these seemingly high temps are still well within tolerance. I've seen many PCs with bad/failing CPU fans operate stable at over 190F without fault. The fans are more than adequate for cooling these beasts, and they will kick in to high gear before things get even close to that bad. Consider that the pro has more temp sensors than any PC out there. Try getting ram temps per bank and module from your PC. The Pro can afford to run so quiet because of this. There is no "Well, my ambient temp is xxx so my ram is probably around yyy" guesswork with the pro.

    I don't have any good details on the PSU, but I know that the voltage supplied over the PCI-E ports is a total of 300w, leaving quite a bit of extra room for spikes, surges, and other events that might require high power draw. I don't think you'll ever need to replace it, regardless of what you put in.
  14. echoout macrumors 6502a

    Aug 15, 2007
    Austin, Texas
    Mine has been great for a couple months, pushing it REALLY REALLY hard.

    I'm not worrying about fan speeds and temperature if the computer is not displaying any problems.

    A few of my renders have had the machine maxed out for hours on end. In those cases the fans kicked up a bit more.

    My machine is rock-solid.
  15. krye macrumors 68000


    Aug 21, 2007
    People come here for help, they don't come here to tell you that their machine is perfect. Here, you'll more likely to hear from the people that are having the reboot-after-wake issue, or the people will the full-blast-fans after shutdown problem. You won't hear much from the other million people that are having a great time with their new Mac. So let me the one to tell you that I have have my Mac Pro for about a month, and I have not had any problems with it.

    Just remember, for every 10 people here that complain about a Mac defect, there's probably another 100,000 people out there with a perfect Mac.
  16. ewinemiller macrumors 6502

    Aug 29, 2001
    west of Philly
    sleep issue gone, got a random freeze now

    The sleep issue was fixed for me with the firmware update a little while back.

    I am still getting a random freeze that happens once a week or so that seems to be related to me launching WoW and then bringing another application to the foreground to work while I wait. The machine locks up and I have to do a hard reboot.
  17. maven8 macrumors member

    Nov 30, 2007
    I know you're trying to make a point, but that figure is exaggerated way too far. The failure rate is most definitely not .01% despite what apple claims. I used to work in a large ad agency back in the G5 days. They ordered several hundred desktops and laptops to do a complete overhaul. If I remember correctly around 10 desktops were dead on arrival and had to be sent back, (dead PSUs, PMU issues), around 10 more had annoying quirks that you could live with (the dvd drive door would get jammed or not open at all, so we used to just tape them up). A couple came with crappy maxtor drives that died pretty soon.
    The laptop death rates were much higher, random shutdowns, disco backlights (saw one that would literally strobe it, and I could make it flash faster or slower by pressing the brightness keys), dead memory slot etc. out of several hundred I would bet at least 20 went back.
    By far the worst were the early rev a and rev b imacs... 100% failure rate, there were only 4, and all 4 died.

    Now you could argue that this isn't relevant to today's intel based machines, but I think quality control hasn't improved drastically over the past 4 years, and the design hasn't changed very drastically either.
    I do have a mac pro and macbook pro that work perfectly however, I just won't pretend that nothing bad ever happens, or that 99% of the machines "just work".
  18. jjahshik32 macrumors 603

    Sep 4, 2006
    No problems whatsoever on my mac pro 8 core 2.8Ghz with 16gb of ram. :D
  19. benpatient macrumors 68000

    Nov 4, 2003
    The hard drive in my 4-core 07 Mac Pro literally broken into pieces one day with no warning.

    My 8-core 08 Mac Pro at home has had zero hardware issues to speak of.

    Leopard, on the other hand, has been what I can only describe as a nightmare.

    permissions and user privileges have been botched in a major way in Leopard. I've had two hard drives that spontaneously locked and gave me "custom" read-only access. Even as 'root' user I couldn't erase in single-user mode on my 08 MP. I ended up having to remove the discs, put them in my old PC (which thankfully has a SATA card) and destroy them in DOS so that I could get "permission" to format them in disk utility from the Leopard install discs.

    It only took a week and a half to fix.

    And the worst part is that Apple can't explain why it happens to begin with. Something about a glitch in the Get Info box and ACLs...

    All i know is that it put a strain on my relations with my wife over the last two weeks...and I can't blame her for being upset.

    But no, no hardware problems to speak of.

    I've got all the hard drive bays filled and all but 2 of the RAM slots filled, and my fans NEVER blip above the default minimum fan speed, not even when encoding with handbrake, running an HD trailer in quicktime, running a movie with VLC, and previewing another movie with Quicklook.

    All of that and I'd say I'm still only completely using 700% of my 800% total processing capacity. And not a single shudder from any of the videos.

    You might think I'm exaggerating. I'm not. It's not so much that the Mac Pro is is fast, but things still take time to happen. Its that you can do seemingly a dozen things at once and none of them slows down...It's got fat pipes, I guess is what I'm saying.

    Photoshop filters aren't much faster than they were before. But I can encode video while applying those filters, and neither process will slow down.

    Can't wait to see MHz start going back up again when this whole multi-core thing tops out in a couple years. 6ghz and 16 cores would be nice.
  20. gdieter macrumors member

    Nov 21, 2007
    I haven't been locked out of a drive yet, but I have also encountered glitches with "get info". Mainly that the OS sometimes refuses to update the info of the drive, no matter -which- drive I select. Seems specific to times when I'm accessing the NAS box I've got.

    But hardware-wise? No problems - runs 24/7, usually 50% CPU utilization when "idle" (running world community grid client). 2.8GHz, 10GB RAM, single stock hard drive.

    After buying this Mac Pro, I upgraded to a gigabit home network (including the NAS), plus added a Firewire 800 external drive. Large data transfers of video/photos/music are so fast now I just have to laugh.
  21. Bacvir macrumors newbie

    Jan 26, 2008
    Maybe a problem with MP 2008.....

    3 weeks out of the box and my early 2008 Mac Pro has been diagnosed by Apple to have a dead logic board. It occurred the very day that I attached my iSight camera, but I have trouble believing that this was more than a coincidence as the camera works fine on my PB and MBP.

    Unfortunately, it's going to take 4 days for a repair person to come. This may not seem like a great trouble to many, but for one that uses the compy for intensive processes at work, it is slightly more than just an inconvenience. Were it not for the 50ish lbs of metal and Si, I might have opted for bringing it to the Apple Store, but Forum members indicate this would take a similar amount of time.

    So while I love the beast, there seem to be some bad :apple:s lurking in the Mac Pro line....:(
  22. Infrared macrumors 68000


    Mar 28, 2007
    There should be a Mac Pro lifting competition in the Olympics :)

    I like the weight, btw. It's reassuring.
  23. tom. macrumors 6502


    Nov 9, 2007
    San Francisco, CA
    No problems with mine yet, and the boot camp install was smoother than I've had on my PC's.

    I think a lot of the issues from earlier this year have been ironed out.
  24. xraydoc macrumors demi-god


    Oct 9, 2005
    For what its worth, my 2006 Mac Pro (quad 2.66GHz) has been 100% solid. I could see hanging on to this nearly two year old machine for easily another 18 months - two years. That would make it the longest I've ever owned a single desktop. My others never made it more than two before being replaced.
  25. ceres macrumors regular

    Nov 14, 2007
    Dark Forests of Germania
    Right now, I have only one hardware issue to report.
    It´s the 2600xt which is still buggy for me after all EFI upgrades. The screen blacks out occasionally both under OS X and Vista 64. I will buy a PC 8800GT and do the EFI flash.

    I also suffered from the reboot on wake bug that was only cured with the recent EFI bug. The computer did reboots in almost 100% of all wake up instances. I called Apple Support and they, of course, denied any knowledge whatsoever about the problem. That´s a common practice with Apple these days and one that fills me with disgust. After having returned 3 iMacs with deficient screens I shelled out the equivalent of 3500 USD for a machine that should definitely NOT suffer from these teething problems.
    Apple was a bit behind on Companies such as Dell and HP so I assumed they would get it right from the beginning. I called a well known RAM distributor in late Feb. asking when they would ship FBDIMMS. They said they would still need to do a lot of testing as their Retail MP announced itself as PROTO1 with stock retail EFI.
    As far as noise is concerned I´d say that the early 08 MP is extremely competitive when judged against other 8 core machines such as Dell´s or HP´s offerings. The MP, however, is not really silent using Silent - PC standards because at 500-800 rpm you shouldn´t hear the fans at all (Scythe S-FLEX and such as reference).

    I would like to add to GregPackers great, great post that on the software side there seems to be a problem (at least reproducible on my machine and one other I have access to) with HDD load and overall system responsiveness. For instance, when I perform a task that puts mega-strain on the hdd-subsystem such as par-repairing of a dvd-9 image and subsequent shredding of the par files, the entire operating system becomes as slow as molasses and even basic tasks such as browsing the web or typing a letter are a pain despite ample free RAM. Under Vista 64 I get some slowdown but definitely not to the degree I suffer from in 10.5.2.
    Also there are problems with the Finder as previews are not rendered consistently - sometimes not at all.
    There is ample room for improvement.

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