Mac Pro 3,1 worth it?

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by Beachguy, Dec 5, 2016.

  1. Beachguy macrumors 6502a

    Beachguy

    Joined:
    Nov 23, 2011
    #1
    Would a Mac Pro 3,1, as described below, be worth the effort? What would be a fair price, and what would be the most you would pay? Hard drive is wiped.


    This Apple Mac Pro 3,1 includes:

    • Two (2) 3.20 GHz Intel Xeon quad core processors
    • 16 GB RAM
    • 1 TB hard drive (wiped)
    • No cables, monitors, or other accessories included
     
  2. YZFNYC macrumors newbie

    YZFNYC

    Joined:
    Oct 5, 2015
    #2
    Depends on your budget and what you want it for. You can install macOS Sierra pretty easily. Just install it using DosDude1's Method. Just google "macOS Sierra Patcher Tool for Unsupported Macs" and you should find his blog page with the downloads you need. You might need a wifi card. If you do just get a BCM94360CD card and Mini-PCI-e adapter and just swap out the Airport card and bluetooth. As far as price. IMHO, I would say anything $350 and under is fair depending on graphics card and if any other pic-e cards installed you might go a little more.
     
  3. thats all folks macrumors 6502a

    thats all folks

    Joined:
    Dec 20, 2013
    Location:
    Austin (supposedly in Texas)
    #3
    maybe $350.

    worth it for what? your 2012 MBP is a better machine.
     
  4. pastrychef macrumors 601

    pastrychef

    Joined:
    Sep 15, 2006
    Location:
    New York City, NY
    #4
    Personally, I wouldn't do it at any price.
     
  5. MacStu09 macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Aug 27, 2009
    #5
    Honestly, I'd shy away from a 3,1 with current deals that are on the market.
     
  6. nigelbb macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Dec 22, 2012
    #6
    It all depends on the price & what you want to use it for. A dual processor (8-core) 2008 Mac Pro 3,1 is still, a very capable machine. I use a similar 3.2GHz machine to that quoted except it has been upgraded about as far as is possible for a 3,1 with a 2x1TB RAID-0 SSD on an Apricorn Velocity PCIe card plus 56GB RAM plus a 4GB GTX680 plus a HighPoint RocketU 4-Port USB 3.0 plus 3 x 8TB HDD plus a 40" 4K monitor. This machine is still good for 4K video editing in Adobe Premier & FCP X & while single threaded operations are faster on my 2.6GHz i7 rMBP this system is still a great workhorse. However I purchased this system used several years ago & the upgrades have been added over time.

    If my 3,1 system were to die tomorrow then I would probably look at replacing it with a similar dual processor 3,1 as I know that it does the job OK for me. While a dual processor 4,1/5,1 is a better & faster system they are so wildly overpriced compared to a dual processor 3,1 that I couldn't justify investing that much money in old tech with no warranty. As previously noted $350 or equivalent would be a fair price & good value.
     
  7. thats all folks macrumors 6502a

    thats all folks

    Joined:
    Dec 20, 2013
    Location:
    Austin (supposedly in Texas)
    #7
    a single hex core 4,1 or 5,1 will well outperform your 8 core. a base 4,1 with the 5,1 firmware and upgraded to an X5680 (6 x 3.33Ghz) will run $500 to $600. using the X5600 series CPUs it's good for up to 64GB RAM. anyone buying a 3,1 or earlier now should have a very good and clear understanding of what they are getting into and be okay with the limitations. considering the value of what you put into the above machine, you are selling yourself short keeping it all in a 3,1.
     
  8. Beachguy thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Beachguy

    Joined:
    Nov 23, 2011
    #8
    Thanks, everyone. I knew there was a cutoff point where they were worth it, but didn't know which models were good for upgrading. I'm generally a MBP and MBA kind of guy, and the Pros are sort of a strange land to me, but I always loved the way they look..

    It's on a surplus site, and the next bid allowed would be $54, but it has 2 days left. No idea what the video is, though- all the info posted is in my post before.
     
  9. jjjoseph macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Sep 16, 2013
    #9
    I was about to sell an old 3,1 with higher specs then yours, it has a better video card, and SSD/HD fusion drive, and 24gb of RAM. I was worried I wasn't going to get more than $300 for it, so I decided to keep it for a media server.

    Apples have a high resale value in some markets, but be smart about it. I have seen a lot of people, and I know a lot of people, who have sold Apple Products way above what they should because a consumer doesn't know the diff between a MacBook Pro from 2011 to one from 2015. Same with Towers, 3,1 and 5,1 are worlds apart.

    If it has the ATI Radeon HD ATI 5770/5870 its worth more, but not much. A base model 3,1 I would only pay between $150 and $250 bucks.
     
  10. Beachguy thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Beachguy

    Joined:
    Nov 23, 2011
    #10
    I wish they did note the video card, but these placements are rarely filled with details. It's still dirt cheap, but I want to see where it is on Wednesday, when it is ready to close out. My interest wasn't so much as an investment as simply to have a Pro for the heck of it.
     
  11. jjjoseph macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Sep 16, 2013
    #11
    If its one of those AS IS surplus websites, your probably getting a MacPro offloaded from a company where it was used 24/7, might be pretty beat up.. But Apples are pretty tough.. but you will probably have to pay for shipping, and if its a SHADY site, your shipping will be 3x to 5x what it should be.
     
  12. nigelbb macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Dec 22, 2012
    #12
    There's precious little difference in performance between a dual 3.2GHz 3,1 & a single 3.33GHz hex core 5,1 which will be about 10% faster in single threaded performance & similar for programs that will multi-thread nicely. The price here in the UK for a 4,1 upgraded to a 3.33GHz will be a lot more than $500-600 & will cost about double what a dual CPU 8-core 3,1 model goes for. I don't think that either are particularly good value for old tech with no warranty but the hex core is more overpriced. I bought my 3,1 years ago & it has been upgraded in stages. I wouldn't recommend anyone to pay too much today for any cMP whether 3,1 4,1 or 5,1. It's certainly not worthwhile for me to get rid of a perfectly good octa-core 3,1 & replace it with a hex core 5,1 as firstly for what I am doing I don't see any performance limitations that would force me to upgrade & secondly the performance increase wouldn't be that great. If I wanted to see a real jump in performance I would need to go for a dual 3.33GHz hex-core & they sell for crazy money.
     
  13. ITguy2016 Suspended

    Joined:
    May 25, 2016
    #13
    It goes something like this.

    Technology wise the 4,1 and 5,1 (2009, 2010, and 2012 model years) are the preferred cMP models. There was a considerable improvement in technology from the previous models.

    Support wise, prior to the release of macOS Sierra, the desired models were 3,1 - 5,1 (2008, 2009, 2010, and 2012 model years). The 1,1 and 2,1 lost support after Lion whereas the 3,1 and beyond continued to receive support until macOS Sierra. With the release of macOS Sierra only the 5,1 (2010 and 2012 model years) is officially supported. Given the 4,1 is, architecturally wise, very close to the 5,1 model it can be easily made to work with macOS Sierra. However technically it is not supported.

    This is a nice configuration for a 3,1 and I would have no hesitation on buying it for $54 or even $100.
     
  14. Beachguy thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Beachguy

    Joined:
    Nov 23, 2011
    #14
    Thanks, ITguy2016 (and everyone else.) I'm kind of waiting to see. Of course, I have to make sure Mrs. Beachguy is in for the ride, too. It may be easier since I converted her to Mac goodness earlier this year when her Windows lappy crapped out. She fell in love with my older Macbook Pro- from 2011!
     
  15. pastrychef macrumors 601

    pastrychef

    Joined:
    Sep 15, 2006
    Location:
    New York City, NY
    #15
    Be careful with the 2011 MacBook Pros. They can overheat and kill the GPU.


    Screen Shot 2016-12-05 at 4.57.03 PM.png
    Source: MacBook Pro - Wikipedia
     
  16. weckart macrumors 68040

    Joined:
    Nov 7, 2004
    #16
    It can be done for less in the UK. I bought a spotless base 5,1 very recently and treated it to a hex 3.46GHz. All in all about $650. You are right about the dual cpu boxes, though. Double the price and trying to buy the processor tray separately works out even more expensive. As it stands, my box isn't far off the performance of a 2013 MP, so the fact that it already has mega miles on the clock doesn't really bother me too much.
     
  17. Beachguy thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Beachguy

    Joined:
    Nov 23, 2011
    #17
    This one seems to have been okay. Lots of use, never gets hot. <fingers crossed.>
    --- Post Merged, Dec 5, 2016 ---
    Not a shady site- it's a government surplace place, and we use it ourselves. No shipping either- you have to pick it up on your own. I normally just look for grins, but this one kind of tickled my fancy. They also have an unopened 2015 15.4" MBP on there. Not sure what THAT story is, but it already is priced in "you'll need a divorce attorney if you just LOOK at that listing again" range. ;)
     
  18. thats all folks macrumors 6502a

    thats all folks

    Joined:
    Dec 20, 2013
    Location:
    Austin (supposedly in Texas)
    #18
    your claim of similar performance just isn't true. this isn't an exact comparison but it shows that in general, the 2.66 Quad 4,1 handily beats the 8 core 3,1. then the 3.33 hex is a generation-bumped higher-clocked CPU with 50% more cores and cache... and for multi-threaded applications, 2009 CPUs brought hyper-threading with a virtual core for each real core so the 6 core can perform more like an 8 to 10 core with all of those cores performing better than anything a 3,1 can offer. and while it's anecdotal, I ran a 3.2 8 core 3,1 for a while, thinking 'oh, it's fast enough' until circumstances (at work, so many Mac Pros) led to some emergency adding and reshuffling of desks and machines, which temporarily left me with neither... long story short, the happy ending is that I ended up working on a a 5,1 hex and could only be dissapointed in myself for not upgrading sooner.

    if you are happy with a 3,1, great. I wish you a long and happy run with it. if someone wants to buy one, knowing full well it's truths and limitations, great. I'm thrilled these old machines continue to find use and purpose. I had many 1,1s performing secondary tasks for years after they were pulled out of production. but if someone is looking at the stagnant and overpriced current Mac Pro, is looking at a sealed up and UN-expandable iMac, and wondering, what other options do they have... well, for a lot less money, an old modified 4,1 or 5,1 is a valid consideration (a fully blown out 5,1 can in some cases outperform the top nMP, and for a fraction of the cost). but a 3,1, as far as I'm concerned, is not and no one should suggest it is.
     
  19. ITguy2016 Suspended

    Joined:
    May 25, 2016
    #19
    Would you mind quoting the specific part of that reference you're referring to? There are a lot of comparisons many of which are comparing the eight core 3,1 with the eight core 4,1.
     
  20. ITguy2016 Suspended

    Joined:
    May 25, 2016
    #20
    Thought I would provide some numbers for the OP to consider. I have both of the systems (a 3,1 and a 5,1) being discussed. They're configured as follows:

    2008 Mac Pro: 2 x four core, 2.8GHz processors, 6GB memory, GeForce 8800 GT, OS X 10.11.6
    2010 Mac Pro: 1 x four core, 2.8GHz processor, 32GB memory, Radeon HD 5770, OS X 10.9.5

    Benchmark applications: Cinebench R15, Handbrake 0.10.5 using the "iPhone & iPod touch" preset.
    Transcode file: 4GB, 1080p HD video
    All applications were left at their default configurations.​

    Here are the results:

    Handbrake:

    2008 Mac Pro: 50.33 average fps, 15:32 total transcode time
    2010 Mac Pro: 38.25 average fps, 20:26 total transcode time
    The 2008 Mac Pro is 32% faster than the 2010 Mac Pro.

    Cinebench:

    2008 Mac Pro: 601 cb eight threads (8 cores), 80 cb single thread
    2010 Mac Pro: 462 cb eight threads (4 cores, 2 threads / core), 92 cb single thread
    The 2008 Mac Pro is 30% faster than the 2010 Mac Pro.

    For these benchmarks the 2008 Mac Pro outperforms the 2010 Mac Pro except in single thread performance (whereas the 2010 Mac Pro was 15% faster).
     
  21. thats all folks macrumors 6502a

    thats all folks

    Joined:
    Dec 20, 2013
    Location:
    Austin (supposedly in Texas)
    #21
    thanks for doing these tests.could you re-run Cinebench on the 2010 using 5 and 6 threads? I'd be curious about that. but overall, single thread performance is definitely better on the 2010 and that would be a better indicator of real world usage. and as the recommend was the 3.33 hex, that should show a significant improvement, even compared to a 2008 with 3.2Ghz.
     
  22. ITguy2016 Suspended

    Joined:
    May 25, 2016
    #22
    Sure thing. Here you go:

    2010 Mac Pro: 358 cb five threads, 393 cb six threads

    There's no question most 2009 and 2010 systems are faster in eight core and single thread performance than the 2008 eight core model. Given they also have hyper-threading that further adds to their performance advantage. However if one is going to consider cost the 2009 / 2010 Mac Pro's are likely to cost more than a 2008 Mac Pro...even in their quad core configurations. That's why I felt these two systems were reasonable to compare. Higher end 2009 / 2010 configurations are likely to greatly exceed the cost of the common 2 x quad core 2.8GHz configuration 2008 Mac Pro.
     
  23. nigelbb macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Dec 22, 2012
    #23
    ITguy2016 thanks for confirming with benchmarks what I have been repeatedly saying in this thread that a single processor 4,1/5,1 isn't that much faster than a dual processor 3,1. I have a dual 2.8GHz 3,1 & a dual 3.2GHz 3,1 so I know that 15% increase in single threaded performance for the same clock speed isn't really going to be noticeable in real life.
     
  24. pastrychef macrumors 601

    pastrychef

    Joined:
    Sep 15, 2006
    Location:
    New York City, NY
    #24
    With X5680s going for about $120 on Ebay now, it's easy and fairly cheap to make the performance pendulum swing in a 4,1 or 5,1's favor.
     
  25. ITguy2016 Suspended

    Joined:
    May 25, 2016
    #25
    The question asked was: Is a 2008 Mac Pro worth it? Given these results I'd have to conclude it is. Now if the question were: Can the 4,1 and 5,1 Mac Pro's be configured to out perform the 3,1 Mac Pro then we'd be having a different discussion.

    We have to keep in mind the OP is considering the purchase of a low cost 3,1 system. He can certainly pay more and buy a more capable 4,1 or 5,1. He can even buy a single processor 4,1 or 5,1 and bump it up to a six core spec. However the entry price for a 4,1 or 5,1 is likely to exceed that of the 3,1 and the upgrade will add even more to the cost. Is it worth it? As always the answer is: It depends. However I feel the benchmarks I've provided show the 3,1 is still a capable system. If we were to listen to the nay sayers the 3,1 is a piece of junk and should be avoided at all costs. That's not the case.

    Decided to run the same benchmarks on my Z600 system: 2 x six core, 2.93GHz processors, 46GB RAM, FirePro 8800, Windows 7 Professional.

    Cinebench Scores:
    1,368 cb - 24 threads (dual, 6 core, 2 threads / core)
    1,058 cb - 12 threads (I do not know if this was 2 x 6 core or 1 x 12 threads, the high scores suggests the former)
    98 cb - single thread

    Handbrake:

    103.9 average fps, 07:32 time.
     

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