Mac Pro 3,1 to Mac Pro 5,1 - worthwhile Upgrade?

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by Josh-H, Oct 26, 2013.

  1. Josh-H macrumors member

    Aug 10, 2008
    I have been running an early 2008 3,1 Mac Pro 8 Core 2.8Ghz machine. It has 32 Gig of RAM, Apple Hardware RAID card, OWC Mercury Accelsior 480Gig SSD (this is an amazing card), 4 WD Red Caviar Hard Drives in RAID 0+1 for image storage.

    The machine is used for photography exclusively - processing images in Lightroom and working multiple layered images in Photoshop. Its been an excellent machine all around. I was planning to update it to the new 2013 Mac Pro - but I am honestly disappointed in this machine. It really seems to me to optimised for 4K video editing - which I just don't need. Also the price of entry is very steep for even a 6-core machine - let alone an 8 core with 64 Gig RAM and 1TB flash. With an external TH2 chassis its going to run close to 10k AUD - ouch.

    I have an opportunity to get a 2010 Mac Pro 5,1 at a pretty good price. Its an 8-Core machine 2.4 Ghz and it comes with the APPLE RAID card. I could put 64 Gig of RAM in it as well as my OWC Mercury Accelsior which would give me a pretty nice speed bump upgrade as well as a nice future path for processor upgrade. Plus this machine can go to 128 Gig RAM in the future - overkill for now, but nice to know.

    Worth upgrading the video card in the 2010?

    Thoughts on wether this might be a worthwhile upgrade?
  2. Macsonic macrumors 65816


    Sep 6, 2009
    Yep it's a good upgrade. Later on you can upgrade the cpus to 3.33ghz 8 core or 12 core 3.33ghz x5680.
  3. thekev macrumors 604


    Aug 5, 2010
    Hard to say without knowing what you consider a good price.
  4. Josh-H thread starter macrumors member

    Aug 10, 2008

    The price is kind of irrelevant to the equation as why I think is a good price is probably not what anyone else thinks is a good price. Here in Australia the Mac Pro's sell for a lot more than the US on the 2nd hand market. So thats also throwing out the equation...:)

    I was really interested in the performance advantages between the machines and also the long term upgradability of the 5,1 compared to the 3,1.
  5. pastrychef, Oct 27, 2013
    Last edited: Oct 27, 2013

    pastrychef macrumors 601


    Sep 15, 2006
    New York City, NY
    I went from 3,1 to 5,1 and felt it was a great upgrade.

    -It solved my Bootcamp booting issues with Velocity Solo X2 card.
    -System seems to run cooler. (my old 3,1 RAM was HOT)
    -System is snappier.
    -CPU upgrade path greater.
    -Benchmarks speak for themselves.

    I can't quite explain it, but it just feels like my 5,1 handles things without struggling as much as my previous 3,1. Kinda like sprinting across the street to beat the traffic lights, the 50 year old can do it, but the 10 year old does it much more effortlessly.
  6. flowrider macrumors 603


    Nov 23, 2012
    I haven't been participating much here lately due to some personal problems, but the question the OP is asking, is exactly what I did. The 3,1 Mac Pro was a great machine, but the 5,1 is so much better..

    I was able to upgrade to better CPUs and I am running a MVC flashed GTX680 in the 5,1. The RAM architecture is much better and faster and the RAM is actually less expensive than for the 3,1.

    Yes, it's worth upgrading, and the performance improvements you have made with your 3,1 will make a bigger difference in the 5,1.

  7. SpecFoto, Oct 27, 2013
    Last edited: Oct 27, 2013

    SpecFoto macrumors member

    Oct 23, 2013
    So Cal
    Another one who did the same upgrade and thinks it is very worthwhile. I am so glad I got the 2012 MacPro instead of the nMP. So many options are available, now and in the future, and all are inside the box, unlike the nMP.

    My old 2008 Map Pro was a 14GB 8 core 2.8GHz and the new one is a 20GB 6 core 3.3GHz. Geekbench scores went up 40%. My use is mainly photography too, and PS/Bridge/Aperture just flies with the new 2012 Mac Pro, even with my D800 raw files.

    Regarding the video card, yes upgrade the 5,1 card. Using the same Radeon 5770 in each Mac Pro, my Heaven scores were about the same, 15.5 FPS and overall scores of 385. With the 2012 MP, I dropped in a MSI Twin Frozer Radeon 7950 (non-flashed pc card for $150 less than the Mac version). It works just fine, but the boot up screen is dark and then about 10 seconds later the log in screen appears. The Heaven scores went up 300% to 45.8 FPS and overall score of 1154!

  8. Josh-H thread starter macrumors member

    Aug 10, 2008
    Thanks all - I bit the bullet and grabbed the 5,1. Already up and running and noticeably snappier :D
  9. Macsonic macrumors 65816


    Sep 6, 2009
    Congrats on you new machine. We're using the same model and I still use my 2008 3.1 Mac Pro occasionally. You can upgrade the video card to a Radeon 5870 or a flashed Nividia 570.
  10. BJonson macrumors 6502a


    Aug 26, 2010
    Dude if you can get a 5,1 mac pro 8 core I would GRAB it as fast as you can. These are the best machines ever made and are going to be super RARE if you can find them at all right now even. Get it. I have both, a 3,1 and a 5,1 and I love the 5,1. If anything the hard drive caddies are better. LOL.

    HA. Just saw you got it. Didn't read that far. Good show. Smart!
  11. Josh-H thread starter macrumors member

    Aug 10, 2008
    Thanks - I already have it rolling with a 480 Gig OWC Mercury Accelsior SSD, 4 x 3TB drives in RAID 0+1 and 64 Gig of ram :D Currently contemplating an upgrade to 12 core :D And sitting right next to it is my maxed out 3.1 - which I think I will keep - its become part of the family :D

    Attached Files:

  12. paronga macrumors member


    Nov 9, 2011
    Australia, Melbourne
    sitting on a 3,1 myself (in melbourne!!)
    don't think i can finance any sort of upgrade, though. All my work is amateur/artistic and not work sort of thing, so i don't pull in many money with it.

    your machine sounds like my dream machine :D:D

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