Mac Pro 2009: sell and get new one (upcoming) or upgrade?

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by rk25123, Apr 6, 2013.

  1. rk25123 macrumors regular

    Aug 17, 2010
    Hi guys, hope you can help me with my dilemma!
    I've got a 2009 4,1 (flashed to 5,1) Mac Pro Quad 2,66 Ghz, 16 GB RAM, ATI HD 4870, added USB 3.0
    For sometime I've been thinking about switching to a Windows workstation, mostly because of my disappointment in Apple for their 0 effort in supporting their Pro machines (as far as they're concerned I'd be stuck with a way overpriced 3 years old ATI HD 5870), but now thanks to Sapphire and EVGA there's new life for our machines!
    Now I'm trying to decide between two courses of action: upgrading my Mac Pro or selling it and getting the new upcoming one (don't know how it will be but I suppose it will be an improvement).
    My machine still runs fine, but I'm really sensing the GPU's age, so that would be my first upgrade, either with the new HD 7950 or the GTX 680 (only interested in Photoshop and 3D rendering performance, which one would you choose?), then I'd grab a couple of SSDs (one for OS X, one for Windows) and finally consider a new CPU (mine is still going strong).
    Supposing they're going to use the customary 1$=1€ exchange rate, just the GTX 680 alone would cost me around 600€, add to that the 2 SSDs and I'd get near to a 1000€ in upgrades. Do you think it would be wiser to direct that money towards a new machine? What would you guys do?
    Thank you all for your advices!
  2. machaven macrumors newbie


    Jun 21, 2011
    The Great Southern Land
    Question for you


    I too have an early 2009 Mac Pro (with 2. 2.2GHz processors) and up to now still find it ok for most of the things I do with it. I do note that it appears a bit sluggish and slow at times. I have considered just reformatting the system drive and reinstalling OSx to remedy the situation. I have yet to find out (enquire in this forum) if this is a worthwhile exercise for a Mac. Because of the hassle involved I have been putting this off until a rainy day when I have a fair bit of time on my hands.

    Any way, sorry that I am not answering your specific question but I'd save the money and milk what you can out of what you already have and just upgrade to a new machine when it is absolutely necessary.

    You stated that you flashed from 4.1 to 5.1. I used to upgrade the motherboard's bios file on Windows machines but I have never done it on a Mac. How did you do this?

    Thank You,
  3. echoout macrumors 6502a

    Aug 15, 2007
    Austin, Texas
    I only sold my 2012 because I can get by with my MacBook Pro for now. If a heavy job pops up I'll get a Windows workstation. If they stay like they are, I'll sit on my money and wait. But if I didn't have a really fast laptop, there's no WAY I'd count on Apple to release anything new in a timely manner or at all.

    So, depends on the work you need to get done on your MP.
  4. Macsonic macrumors 65816


    Sep 6, 2009
    Hi rk25123. For the new 2013 Mac Pro, we still don't know its actual specs and design and looking at Apple's business directions on Macs, all are being compact and smaller in form and function. Speculations have it that the new 2013 Mac Pro may possibly be less expandable. And if this is a first gen model, I am lukewarm to this and not sure of getting a first gen. Another factor to consider, if a new Mac Pro comes out, how big will the improvement, speed, fucntion be compared to the older Mac Pros in relation to the task of the user? May or may not be too big a difference.

    For maybe just hang on to your 2009 Mac Pro and just upgrade the videocard or use SSD.
  5. thekev macrumors 604


    Aug 5, 2010
    It depends what is making it sluggish. If it's beachballing look at ram/disk access first. Ram is a frequent cause of intermittent slowdowns. Check spotlight's background behavior. There are other things, but a clean installation only addresses certain issues. It does not address applications that have become more resource intensive in recent versions.

    The speculation is due to their other recent redesigns and the amount of time without an update. It could really go any direction. If they wait until Ivy Bridge E which seems inevitable at this point,
  6. Tesselator macrumors 601


    Jan 9, 2008
    I'd wait for the 2013 machines to come out. 4 to 6 months after the 2013 machines release both the upgrade parts you're considering and the 2012 machines will come down in price. That's the point at which I would make my decision. That way you have a full view of the landscape with which to make a more informed decision - and pay less for whatever you decide.

    If you're going to sell it you can still wait till the 2013 model is announced. It's usually not until 4 to 6 months after the release of a new model that the prices of the old ones crash by much.
  7. manamana macrumors newbie

    Feb 14, 2013
    I've got a partial answer and a new question. I decided to stick with my Mac Pro 4,1 2x 2.66 Quad and have described the upgrades and improved performance below.

    How much will a SSD for my OS/applications/RAM cache improve performance and which one is the best value?

    I recently switched from Final Cut to Adobe (mostly using After Effects and Premiere).

    I upgraded from the ATI Radeon HD 4870 to NVIDIA GeForce GTX 660 Ti 2048 MB and from 8gb of RAM to 16gb (The ETA for Kingston ValueRAM 16GB (2x8GB) DDR3 1066MHz ECC Reg w/Parity CL7 Quad Rank x8 DIMMs w/Therm Sensor) . Total cost about $450 with shipping to Canada.

    Overall, I am satisfied with the improvements. I am not super technically inclined, so it took some research to figure out the best value products and how to install everything properly.

    Premiere, which leverages the GPU, runs much faster, especially when mixing codec in the same timeline, although it still skips frames when I play back Animation files exported from AE. There have been a few random crashes/program freezes (image on screen 'glitches out') which I attribute to mixing many random codec in my timeline and possibly multi monitor use. I have not had any crashes since all clips in the timeline were replaced with Animation files.

    After Effects performs a little better mostly because of the added RAM but nothing too distinct. One area of major improvement has been the RAY TRACED renderer, which also uses GPU acceleration, seems 5 - 10 times faster.

    Even with these upgrades, I'm still looking for more, mostly because After Effects still lags when projects get detailed. How much will a SSD for my OS/applications/RAM cache improve performance and which one is the best value? Is there something else I should try?

    Thanks and I hope this helps those with the same machine.
  8. Mac Hammer Fan macrumors 6502a

    Mac Hammer Fan

    Jul 13, 2004

    Your Mac Pro 2009 Nehalem 2.66 Quad can become a Westmere 3.33 Hex.
    This is a terrific upgrade.
    Unfortunately it's much more complicated with an 8 core because the processors are different there.
  9. manamana macrumors newbie

    Feb 14, 2013
    This is daunting especially if it's more complicated with the 8 core Macs. Has anyone performed this upgrade that can breakdown cost and performance?
  10. manamana, Apr 8, 2013
    Last edited: Apr 8, 2013

    manamana macrumors newbie

    Feb 14, 2013

    Many seem happy with this upgrade but it seems technically advanced and labour intensive at first glance. I'm guessing it will cost $500-600 and take a couple of days to research and install correctly.
  11. wallysb01 macrumors 65816

    Jun 30, 2011
    My advise would be to update now. Apple has slid too close to the Ivy Bridge E release date to count on seeing a Sandy Bridge Mac Pro, in my opinion anyway. One poster thought it could be 4-6 months, I would bet it is at least 6 until you see new Mac Pro's shipping, if ever. Ivy Bridge E5s aren't expected until the 3rd quarter, so I doubt we see a Mac Pro until early 4th quarter at the best.

    Second, even if they do ship, we really have no idea what to expect at this point. Will Apple chase this smaller form factor into the workstation market, nerfing upgradability and performance while also bringing higher prices, for example? I think that's a real posibility. So you may wait until Dec 2013 to find out that the new Mac Pro that works for you is $3500, for what used to be fairly equivalent to the base $2500 machine.

    On a more general point, I think you have to just buy computers or upgrades when you need them. There will always be the next thing to wait for. Lower prices and new models are always just a couple months away. So if you need it now, get it. If its just kinda annoying you, but it isn't costing you money, then maybe you can wait.

    Regarding the upgrades, I question the need to drop 2 SSDs into this, especially larger capacity and expensive ones. What is your current configuration with HDDs? For professional tools, SSDs don't generally have a huge impact. The more tasking processes often require large amounts of data to be read, which would be more economically improved through HDD in RAID, peg the CPU or demain lots of RAM.

    If you must, I would say just buy 1 128 GB SSD for both OSes, then use the other 3 drive bays for RAID0, with an external backup solution. If you already have a couple 1+ TB drives in it, this could all cost you just $200 or so.

    Then be sure 16GB of RAM is enough for you. If you're maxing that out, upgrading to 32 GB is probably the single best upgrade you can make dollar for dollar.
  12. darkcoupon macrumors regular

    Aug 8, 2012
    I'm in your same situation and I'd say sell it now and wait for the update if you can, but I seriously cannot sell my computer for the life of me. I'm trying to sell it before the new one is announced so the resale value doesn't drop through the floor, but it's next to impossible because almost nobody is interested in these machines anymore. There's an Apple Authorized Reseller in my area and they won't even take trade-ins on Mac Pros because they just can't sell them. Had it listed on Ebay twice and the first time it was bought by some joker who never paid and the second time it ended without one bid. It's getting tougher and tougher to sell these tanks, so good luck!
  13. fabriciom macrumors 6502


    Feb 17, 2008
    Madrid, España
    Im extremely happy with my machine and will not consider changing.
    This machine is about 4 years old and with a few tweaks is the best workstation i have ever had.

    If it aint broke dont fix it...
  14. manamana macrumors newbie

    Feb 14, 2013
    Thanks Wally.

    On the whole I'm still happy with the machine, although it does slow me down on a regular basis. I'm mostly using Adobe After Effects and Premiere.

    Currently, I have 2 x 1 TB internal and 8 TB external in RAID 5. My intention is to get a SSD for the OS, all applications, and After Effects RAM cache. Are you suggesting this will not speed up performance in any noticeable way?

    I think will follow your advice and go to 32 GB ram.


    Thanks fabriciom.

    Mine certainly aint broke but it's not suped up like your 2009 (2010 Flashed) Mac Pro 2x 3,2GHz W5580 - 24 GB RAM - 120GB OCZ SSD - 6TB Hitachi Ultrastar A7K3000 - RME RayDAT - RME ADI-8 Pro - UAD2 Quad

    Did you buy and install new CPU?

    Do you run OS and Apps from your SSD? Do you use it for your Cache as well?
  15. skyline r34 macrumors 6502

    skyline r34

    Oct 10, 2005
    San Diego
    I will be selling my 2010 MP for a 2013 MP for sure
  16. wallysb01 macrumors 65816

    Jun 30, 2011

    SSDs won't speed up your in-appication-work unless you're reading and writing files to disk while working, which doesn't happen a ton. Mostly that stuff is being written/read from RAM. So applications or files on the SSD will load faster, but once open and accessing files on your external RAID5, you won't notice a difference with an SSD or HDD.

    When you have the money, SSDs are worth it, because the user interface is pretty snappy. However, when it comes to hard core crunching of data or processing large files in anyway, small boot SSDs just don't really matter any more.

    If you really have the dollars, 2x500GB SSDs in RAID0 would make an excellent scratch space for projects you currently are working on, but its costly and not practical given your budget and other options.

    That's at least my take, from my experience and knowledge. Others may differ though.
  17. DPUser macrumors 6502a

    Jan 17, 2012
    I flashed and upgraded a Quad 2.66 2009 4,1 to a 5,1 3.33 Hex. Took no more than an hour total and cost about $600. I actually bought the Quad used with the intent of doing the update. I cannot recommend it enough. It is not difficult. Of course, adding lot of RAM and SSD's didn't hurt performance either...

    By the way, the 2009 Quad update is very easy. Drop in a new CPU and clamp it in. The challenge is the 2009 dual processor models, for reasons that are readily apparent when one does a little web research. The 2010 and 2012 MPs can be updated easily regardless of whether they are single or dual CPU machines.
  18. bsbeamer macrumors 65816

    Sep 19, 2012
    If you upgrade your GPU you "should" be able to use it on a new model if/when it's released, as long as the hardware can support PCIe...

    If possible, get an "approved" GPU or look into the hacks to get them to show up in AE. Not sure if you're a Cloud member or not, but looks like a new version of AE will be released in the coming weeks - we should have a spec list with newly approved hardware soon. Would expect to see an expanded list with all the newest models when it is released.
  19. rjtiedeman macrumors regular

    Nov 29, 2010
    Stamford, CT
    What is the ACTUAL Speed comparison new VS old

    Since the new 2013 mac pro based on PCI Express flash storage. How would it compare to a existing 2012 Mac Pro with a SSD boot drive connected to a pci board like a Sonnet Tempo Pro?
    Apple news release is claiming 2.5X speed increase over the existing SSD and 10X over HD. But what is the marketing BS actually comparing. Might be a lot of smoke and mirrors.
  20. hfg, Jun 15, 2013
    Last edited: Jun 15, 2013

    hfg macrumors 68040


    Dec 1, 2006
    Cedar Rapids, IA. USA
    This is with a pair of 256GB Samsung 840 Pro SSDs in RAID-0 on the PCIe Sonnet Tempo Pro booting in a 2012 Mac Pro:

    The other test is a single Samsung 840 Pro on the same card:

    Attached Files:

  21. OS6-OSX macrumors 6502a


    Jun 13, 2004
    The "smoke and mirrors" come into play when they list the size of the storage. Then show you the option of larger sizes and those prices! If you are into music and or video editing, do you want your system on the same "drive"?:eek: So that's when the external chassis is needed and the "wow" factor of the internal "storage" is mute. Then you read on these forums where it has been stated that your PCIe cards that were in the 16x slots will take a hit based on TB2.
    Don't have the Sonnet but will not turn in my raid speed for the "unknown"!

    Attached Files:

  22. ggoerl macrumors regular

    Dec 18, 2007
    Wow :eek: look at that speed! I'm surprised no one has said anything about that! and that's without the sonnet? What drives and setup are you using??
  23. scottrichardson macrumors 6502

    Jul 10, 2007
    Ulladulla, NSW Australia
    I'm running a 2009 Mac Pro 8 Core 2.93Ghz System. 32GB RAM, nVidia GeForce 660Ti 2GB GPU and finally 2 x Samsung 840 Pro 512GB SSDs in RAID 0 on a Sonnet Tempo SSD Pro PCI Card.

    I also run two 27" maxed out iMacs in my design studio, and honestly my Mac Pro is still the king of the office.

    I'm getting ~1000MB/sec file transfers, graphics performance roughly the same as the m680MX in the iMacs, and more CPU power in general. I honestly haven't really hit the limit of my Mac Pro yet in daily use - and I am a heavy user.

    I run a design and development studio for my day job, meaning I have Photoshop, Illustrator, Coding software, FTP software, multiple browsers running, Multiple virtual machines in Parallels running WinXP, Win7 and Win8, with iTunes running. I also do music production, and mixing in Logic Pro X and Ableton Live and again, never hit my limits.

    The ONLY time I have ever felt I needed more speed was using Final Cut Pro X, or when RENDERING a 3D illustration. But they are instances where you can NEVER have enough power :)

    Anyway to cut to the chase - do you (or I) NEED to upgrade to the new Mac Pro? Probably not. But damn it, I probably will end up getting one and giving this mac pro to someone else in the studio.
  24. lewdvig macrumors 65816


    Jan 1, 2002
    South Pole
    meh, I am keeping mine

    the 2009 nehelem is still very fast, and I prefer lots of internal storage and normal form factor video cards.

    I doubt I will need to upgrade for a few more years (other than storage and gpu).

    My 7950 cost $200 and took my 1 min to modify. An MXM based card like what the new MP seems to have would be a lot trickier to come by.

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