Mac Pro 3,1 Replacement Recommendations

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by mcc, Nov 12, 2014.

  1. mcc macrumors member

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    Jul 18, 2007
    #1
    I retired last year after working as a network, security, software, and system engineer for the last 40 years. I have a some Apple systems that are beginning to show their age.

    Sitting around, gathering dust is an Apple PowerMac G5 with 23.5-inch Apple Cinema Display. Actually, it doesn't gather that much dust as I use as an HP printer stand in conjunction with my Apple Mac Pro 3,1.

    My Apple Mac Pro 3,1 system with its 30-inch Apple Cinema Display has had some problems this year requiring boot and data disks being recovered from backups.

    As I am retired, I can't really justify getting Apple's newest Mac Pro plus a new monitor and replacing a bunch of backup drives.

    I was thinking that Apple's 27-inch iMac might be an adequate replacement. What do you think?
     
  2. NOTNlCE macrumors 6502a

    NOTNlCE

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    #2
    What kind of work do you do with your 3,1? Have you had any other issues other than (what appear to be) hard disk issues? If you're happy with your 3,1 it might be more economical to upgrade your current setup. I know the 3,1 is an old machine, but I owned one myself until a few months ago, and it's still a great machine if it's brought into this decade. With the ol' cheese graters, the nice thing is you can replace hard disks/graphics cards/etc. There are quite a few threads around the forum about 3,1 upgrades, but a current iMac would also be nice if you want a replacement. It will certainly kick out a lot less heat, which is one of the reasons my 3,1 was retired. I can imagine that 30 inch Cinema Display is kicking out quite a bit of heat as well.
     
  3. Ph.D. macrumors 6502

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    #3
    Is your 3,1 a quad or eight core? The 8-core versions are still quite strong, but by now all classic Mac Pros need updates to be competitive. Add a decent graphics card (a used genuine Apple 5770 or a 290x or 980 if you are a bit more bold) and a good SSD on a PCI card (say a Samsung 840 evo plus Apricorn card) and you should be good for a few more years. There are a lot of threads on these upgrades.

    On the other hand, there comes a time when you will just want to start fresh, and it sounds like you have reached that point. I suspect you would like an iMac quite a lot, and it will almost certainly be far faster than your current setup on nearly any general task. Get the fusion drive or, preferably, go all solid state. I'd say the latter is more important than the retina display (the fewer spinning things inside a closed system the better).

    [It does not sound like a new Mac Pro is for you. If you do heavy-duty video all day long, fine, but if so your 3,1 with a good video card is still good and, otherwise, an iMac is very likely the better choice.]
     
  4. Gav Mack macrumors 68020

    Gav Mack

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    #4
    I only have to replace my 3,1 because of bootcamp and large disk support in Windows which is unaffected by OS X.

    I would go SSD for booting OS X which will transform your 3,1 utterly and second Ph.D comments. Would also add that the Sintech PCIe card which uses the Apple SSD blades would right now be my choice of upgrades with Mac Pro 6,1 disk speeds with a 6,1 blade, much faster than the rest of the new models.

    Spinning disks always fail eventually, they come and go.

    But if you want a new Mac and a fresh start, as long as it's not going to get hard CPU and GPU work the new 5k 27 inch retina iMac is a lovely piece of kit. So really depends on how you are going to use it.
     
  5. nigelbb, Nov 15, 2014
    Last edited: Nov 15, 2014

    nigelbb macrumors 6502a

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    #5
    The 6,1 blades used seem to sell for >2X the price of a new SATA3 SSD of the same capacity. For upgrading a 3,1 that is worth less than the 6,1 blade that would be to quote my late father's phrase 'Like giving the donkey strawberries':)

    Is the performance of the 6,1 blade in the Sintech card that much better than a regular 2.5" SSD in an Apricom Velocity Solo?
     
  6. Gav Mack macrumors 68020

    Gav Mack

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    #6
    It feels about twice as fast as the 840evo/x2 but that was a 512gb nMP blade in a 5,1. My Sintech is in wait for my 4,1 and my 1tb blade I am on the lookout for.

    Both are hugely faster than a spinning disk but the blade I will also add humongous :D
     
  7. Check 6 macrumors regular

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    Nov 12, 2007
    #7
    I am enjoying this thread as I have a Mac Pro 3.3 6 core I got about a year ago loaded with an SSD and two additional Hds ( internal) 16 gig of RAM etc and a refurbished 30 in Cinima display. All of which is more than I need now that I am also semi retired and the system just takes up too much space. So I'm looking at the consolidating with an iMac and finding a new home for my MacPro workhorse.
     
  8. Ph.D., Nov 15, 2014
    Last edited: Nov 15, 2014

    Ph.D. macrumors 6502

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    #8
    The reasons I suggest a standard 2.5" form-factor SSD instead of a less-standard (Apple only) blade is (a) it's considerably less expensive (get an 850 Evo, even), and (b) the ease of eventually placing it in a cheap USB-3 enclosure or the like. I have a 3,1 (octo) myself. I added a 290x and will add an 850 Evo. I figure this will extend its life for another year or two, by which time the whole external 5k/whatever situation will be sorted out.

    But if you aren't willing to make all these sorts of investments (and it's not clear that the $1k or so that it would take is worth it), or if you just want a clean-sheet change, get an SSD-only iMac.
     
  9. nigelbb macrumors 6502a

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    #9
    The cost for an SSD & graphics upgrade for an old 3,1 is a good deal less than $1000. A used PC GTX570 is less than $100 & an Apricom Velocity is $49 with a 240GB SSD about $100 or get a 500GB SSD for about $200.
     
  10. Ph.D. macrumors 6502

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    #10
    True, there's always a cheaper way. I was thinking 290x plus Apricorn X2 plus 850 Evo, or some similar combination. That would very nicely upgrade a 3,1 octo-core (along with sufficient RAM, too), but would cost ~$1k.

    However, my sense was that the OP wants something new. That's fair; we all do at some point. That much would be half-way towards a nice, new iMac.
     
  11. ToroidalZeus, Nov 15, 2014
    Last edited: Nov 16, 2014

    ToroidalZeus macrumors 68020

    ToroidalZeus

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    #11
    I had a PowerMac G5 as well and what I recommend, as well as what I did, is just gutting it and fitting off the shelf PC parts in.

    Between the iMac and the Mac Pro:

    If you upgrade the Mac Pro to a GTX 970 or 980 you'll have a much more graphically competent machine. I'm not exactly sure on what the best CPU upgrades are tho and you'll want a CPU that won't bottleneck the GPU.

    With the iMac you'll have a really good AIO but the graphics performance won't be as good.

    But like I said, I would just gut the PowerMac G5 and rebuilt it using off the shelf PC components.
     
  12. OS6-OSX macrumors 6502a

    OS6-OSX

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    #12
    Spending $250.00 on those items should get the cobwebs out! The question is what apps are used? Photographer's apps? If Premiere is a video editing app used, is there an Nvidia card currently in the 3,1? How does Premiere work with AMD that is in the iMac? Will there be $2500.00 worth of "iMac Newness" using the same apps? Is there any FW400 or FW800 gear that will be needed to be replaced? If there are 4HD's in the 3,1 to be used, what will be the cost of an external box to house them?
    If the iMac is the route taken what will be the amount spent over the $2500.00?
     
  13. nigelbb macrumors 6502a

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    Dec 22, 2012
    #13
    A GTX 970 or 980 is a ludicrously expensive upgrade for a Mac Pro 3,1 easily costing more than the machine is worth. Upgrading the CPUs isn't cost effective either never mind the hassle involved.

    The OP hasn't come back so we have no idea what applications they are using but assuming that it's general OS X then an SSD is the essential upgrade with a cheap graphics card to follow. A $100 used GTX570 & a $100 256GB SSD in one of the drive sleds will transform the performance of the 3,1
     
  14. OS6-OSX macrumors 6502a

    OS6-OSX

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    #14
    Looks as if he has retired from this site also! :D
     
  15. Check 6 macrumors regular

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    Nov 12, 2007
    #15
    Let me keep it going by asking a question of my own. I am leaning more to keeping my late 2013 Mac pro but changing out the monitor, currently a 30 in Cinima display. My graphics card is a ATI Radeom HD 5870 with 1 gig of memory.

    So what is a good hi Res non glare monitor in the 27 " range. Also is there a better and compatible graphics card? thanks
     
  16. nigelbb macrumors 6502a

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    Dec 22, 2012
    #16
    Another very cost effective upgrade for under $100 is 16GB of 667MHz FB-DIMMs. They benchmark only about 4% slower than the ultra-expensive 800MHz & in real life application show no discernible difference in performance. http://www.ebay.com/itm/16GB-4X4GB-...4070474?pt=US_Memory_RAM_&hash=item35c092274a
     
  17. Ph.D. macrumors 6502

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    #17
    "Worth" is a value judgment - an opinion and nothing more. A "ludicrously" expensive graphics card was worth it to me, because with it I refreshed my trusty 3,1 octo-core beast. If I had bought a $4000 nMP, an external RAID array, etc., I'd be out far more than 10 times the cost of that card. I'd rather keep my current machine relevant. One day it will have to go, but the $250 or so I spent for the card will have been long forgotten by then. It will have been "worth it." Heck, I could even pick up a 5,1 a little later and just swap everything over.

    For "Check 6": The 5870 is a surprisingly quick card still, at least as long as you are not a benchmark freak. The 1 GB of memory is low these days, but the importance of that depends on what you are doing. I never felt the 1 GB of my 5770 was a bottleneck.

    The current focus seems to be on two cards: ATI 290X and, most recently, the Nvidia 970/980's. Some of the 290X's seem pretty much drop-in compatible since the nMP's use a very similar architecture. The new Nvidia cards do not have CUDA working yet on OS-X, and aren't quite as quick in Open-CL, but show a lot of promise especially as they are more power-efficient.

    Personally, I use an Apple 27" cinema display (non thunderbolt), which I like. Monitors are a personal choice.
     
  18. nigelbb macrumors 6502a

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    Dec 22, 2012
    #18
    I don't regard $250 as ludicrously expensive for a graphics card to upgrade a 3,1 but I do regard spending about 3X that on a GTX980 as was recommended to be ludicrously expensive especially as CUDA doesn't even work.
     
  19. InsertCatchyNic macrumors member

    Joined:
    May 16, 2009
    #19
    Any video card faster than the 5870 in a Mac Pro 3,1 is a waste of money, because you will be gimped by the CPU. Barefeats did a benchmark on it a couple of years ago.

    About the only thing you can do to a 3,1 mac pro is pop in the 5870 video card, add any type of SSD drive and maybe a USB 3.0 adapter card and call it a day.
     

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