Mac Pro 4.1 vs Mac Pro 5.1

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by lumencreative, Feb 11, 2015.

  1. lumencreative macrumors regular

    Joined:
    May 19, 2014
    Location:
    Lancashire
    #1
    Following on from my previous thread, I have decided I definitely want to go down the route of a Mac Pro. I was originally thinking of a Mac Pro 3.1 but I think I would be better off getting something as new as possible, however, I am on a limited budget and now my wife wants one as well, so need to get the best value for money.

    Out of the two configurations below, which would you opt for? Is going for the 5.1 worth the extra £220? I'm not too bothered about the hard drives as I'll be putting SSD's in anyway.

    Mac Pro 4.1
    Quad Core Intel Xeon 2.93GHz
    2 x 4 GB Ram
    2 X 250GB Hard Drive (One Caddy Missing)
    Bluetooth
    Nvidia Geforce GT120 512MB
    Airport Card
    £629

    Mac Pro 5.1
    Quad Core Intel Xeon 2.8GHz
    2 x 4 GB Ram
    1 X 1TB Hard Drive
    Bluetooth
    Radeon 5770 HD 1GB
    Airport Card
    £849
     
  2. Macsonic macrumors 65816

    Macsonic

    Joined:
    Sep 6, 2009
    Location:
    Earth
    #2
    Hello. Both the 4,1 and 5,1 Mac Pro are fine machines. If you can get the 5.1 Mac Pro that would be great. If you will get the 4,1 Mac Pro, the video card would be needed to be upgraded so that would eat up the £220 savings you get. The performance and stability of the 4,1 Mac Pro is just as good as the 5,1 Mac Pro. I am using both machines. Other advantages is the cpus, being single socket, are easily upgradeable. You can add USB 3 card and a SSD PCIe later on, plus more rams.
     
  3. Thessman macrumors regular

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    Dec 8, 2005
    Location:
    GR
    #3
    If you intend to upgrade the GPU, or if the specs of the 4,1 are enough get the cheaper 4,1.
     
  4. h9826790 macrumors 604

    h9826790

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    Apr 3, 2014
    Location:
    Hong Kong
    #4
    Unless the 5,1 is perfect for you, no CPU / GPU upgrade required.

    Otherwise, get the 4,1. It's cheaper, but effectively the same machine.

    The cost difference is enough for you to get a graphic card that better than 5770. The GT120 is a good backup card, you can keep that even though upgrade the GPU.

    Or you may use that £220 to get a better CPU (upgrade to 5,1 firmware may be required) e.g. W3680 (Hex core 3.33GHz Turbo 3.6GHz).

    Or a SSD for the OS and Applications. All these £220 upgrade may make the 4,1 works better than that 5,1 (depends on your workflow).
     
  5. lumencreative thread starter macrumors regular

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    Lancashire
    #5
    Thanks for the input guys.

    Can I ask, why is the GT120 so bad? Will it be sufficient for running two 23" screens?
     
  6. reco2011 macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    May 25, 2014
    #6
    I think the opinion is it wasn't a great card when it was being sold new in 2009 and today, six years later, it's a poor performer.

    One of the reasons you gave for choosing a Mac Pro is the ability to upgrade. So take advantage of that capability. You can buy the 4,1 and try out the GT120 for your needs. If it's insufficient, and I doubt it will be for your workflow, then you can replace it. A Radeon 5770, as found in the 5,1 Mac Pro you're considering, can be picked up for less than the difference between the two systems (though don't hold me to that as I'm looking at US dollar pricing, I don't know what it would cost to ship something like that to your location). You can also purchase other video cards. For example I picked up a GTX 660 Superclocked PC video card for $130 for my brothers 3,1 Mac Pro.
     
  7. Macsonic macrumors 65816

    Macsonic

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    Sep 6, 2009
    Location:
    Earth
    #7
    Hi Lumencreative. The GT120 can run 2 23" monitors. If you'll do heavy graphic and video rendering tasks the GT120 may not be adequate. Though it's fine for light to moderate graphics work.
     
  8. lumencreative thread starter macrumors regular

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    May 19, 2014
    Location:
    Lancashire
    #8
    Thanks Masconic. To be honest, what graphic work we currently do, we could do on an integrated graphics card, so the GT120, as long as it will run dual display, should be fine. I have seen on ebay some flashed ATI 5770's for about £90 so could always upgrade to something like that if the GT120 proved insufficient.
     
  9. Jordan1990 macrumors member

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    Jan 17, 2015
    #9
    Personally i would go for the 5,1 if you plan on leaving it as it is because its the better machine to start with, however if somewhere down the line you plan on upgrading it anyway then you might aswell get the cheaper 4,1.
     
  10. reco2011 macrumors 6502a

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    May 25, 2014
    #10
    Better in what way? The 4,1 has a quad core 2.93GHz processor versus the 5,1's quad core 2.8GHz processor. Memory wise they're equal in capacity and configuration. The 5,1 has a better video card which isn't much of a concern given the OP's requirments. The 5,1 also has more hard disk capacity but the OP said HD capacity wasn't a concern of his given he'll be installing SSD's in either system.
     
  11. kohlson macrumors 6502a

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    Apr 23, 2010
    #11
    Something to consider is that either machine can be upgraded to a Westmere 6-core 3.33 chip. If you're CPU bound, then this could make a difference. There were some Bluetooth issues in the 4,1 system. I was never able to get my Magic Mouse to work well, even though it was just 4-5 feet away. I don't know if this was fixed in 5,1. Keep in mind both machines have a capacity for 6 SATA devices, including the optical bay. IIRC it's all SATA-2. Of course, something else to consider is one of the systems is at least a year newer, which may affect its useful service life for you.
     
  12. Jordan1990 macrumors member

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    Jan 17, 2015
    #12
    Of course as you said the HDD and RAM make no difference, those 2 CPU's score as near as makes no difference the same too.

    I was thinking purely GPU, however light the graphics work might be its always better to have something that will always do the job rather than something that is just adequate.

    As i said if he plans on upgrading it anyway then by all means get the cheaper 4,1. Also if one day he decides to go down the CPU upgrade route, as we all want these machines to last as long as possible, then its far better have a 5,1 in the first place.

    I just always think its better to get as newer machine as your budget will allow. Also the case condition plays a BIG factor for me too.
     
  13. reco2011 macrumors 6502a

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    May 25, 2014
    #13
    For the difference between the two he could buy a better video card than the 5770 and still be ahead.

    The 4,1 and 5,1 are essentially the same system. One can easily upgrade the firmware in the 4,1 to 5,1 levels and effectively have a 5,1 system. To my knowledge the only tangible benefit the 5,1 firmware offers over the 4,1 firmware is the ability to utilize a broader range of processors. I'm not aware of any bug fixes, performance enhancements, etc.

    Normally I would agree with this statement. However the 4,1 and 5,1 are, for all intents and purposes, the same system.
     
  14. Jordan1990 macrumors member

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    Jan 17, 2015
    #14
    Of course, everything you say is true. However he may not want to have to mess around with firmware updates. Im purely stating which machine i would buy if i was in his situation. Im sure most people on here would most likely go for the 4,1.
     
  15. reco2011 macrumors 6502a

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    May 25, 2014
    #15
    The only reason he would be messing around with a firmware update is if he were going to upgrade the processor in the 4,1 to one which is not supported by the 4,1 firmware. If he has no intention of upgrading the processor then the two systems are, for all intents and purposes, identical. If he does decide to upgrade the processor the firmware update is the easiest part of the upgrade.

    As for the higher end graphics card in the 5,1 he can buy the 4,1 and upgrade the graphics in it to equivalent (the 5770) or better for less than the difference of the two systems. He has £220 to work with. Unless he immediately needs the increased graphics capability of the 5770 over the 120 and has zero intention of upgrading beyond the 5770 capabilities he's throwing money away buying the 5,1.
     
  16. Jordan1990 macrumors member

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    Jan 17, 2015
    #16
    Once again, i was stating my preference of the two.

    I realise they are essentially identical systems, i realise they can be upgraded to be identical to a 5,1. So why would anyone ever buy a 5,1 if its throwing money away? Because it was their preference to do so. Im sure many people on here have. I even said myself he would be better off with the 4,1 if he wanted to upgrade the GPU anyway.
     
  17. reco2011 macrumors 6502a

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    #17
    It wasn't your preference I was responding to. I was responding to the reasons you gave for that preference. If you want to waste money that's your choice. I think the OP should be aware that's what you're doing.
     
  18. Jordan1990 macrumors member

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    Jan 17, 2015
    #18
    I dont feel as if ive wasted my money and im sure no other 5,1 buyers on here do either. In fact im betting if you started a post telling all 5,1 owners that they have wasted their money you'd get many people disagreeing with you. I was simply voicing my opinion which is after all, along with advice, the main point of a forum. But some people have to have a louder voice because they disagree with someone elses choice.
     
  19. reco2011 macrumors 6502a

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    May 25, 2014
    #19
    The problem with such a poll is each persons needs are different and the configurations and prices paid will vary. There is no one sized fits all situation to ask such a simple question. For the OP's needs both systems meet his requirements. So why pay more? Especially when the difference between the two can be used to upgrade (i.e. replace the graphics card) the 4,1 model to performance exceeding that of the 5,1?

    With that said in this situation paying £220 more for the 5,1 model is throwing money away when the buyer doesn't need the extra's (better performing graphics card, larger HD) in the 5,1.

    As the owner of the very configuration 5,1 system the OP is considering I don't believe I threw my money away. However, at the time I bought it, I was unable to find a 4,1 system for less than what I paid ($850, new open box) for the 5,1. Had the same configuration (as the OP listed) 4,1 been available at the time for less money (say $630) I would absolutely have been throwing money away on the 5,1 as the graphics card is irrelevant for it's intended use (virtualization server).

    My needs were processor cores / speed, RAM, and hard disk capacity. Of the two configurations given by the OP the 4,1 is the smarter choice. For less money I can buy a comparable system and then spend $40 on a 1TB hard disk. Bonus that I get an extra 130MHz extra per core on the older model. Even more of a bonus is the ability of the 4,1 model to Turbo Boost up to 3.2GHz versus the 5,1 models ability to Turbo Boost to 3.06GHz
     
  20. crjackson2134 macrumors 68020

    crjackson2134

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    Location:
    Charlotte, NC
    #20
    For what it's worth, I too agree with you. I'm not going to jump into this debate with both feet, but some comments here are getting a little out of hand. For the difference in price, I'd go with the 5,1, but hey... that's just me. If anyone thinks I've wasted my money, it's my money to waste and I still have over a year left on my AppleCare.
     
  21. reco2011 macrumors 6502a

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    May 25, 2014
    #21
    Perhaps you missed the part where I said:

    "If you want to waste money that's your choice."

    The 5,1 system is 35% more than the 4,1 system. If you cannot benefit from the 5770 or higher disk capacity you're wasting money. The fact you choose to do so doesn't make it any less wasteful.
     
  22. crjackson2134 macrumors 68020

    crjackson2134

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    Mar 6, 2013
    Location:
    Charlotte, NC
    #22
    It's not a waste to me. Your reply to me isn't needed. I already don't like your tone and choice of words, so this is my last reply anyway. Ignore list activated.
     
  23. reco2011 macrumors 6502a

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    May 25, 2014
    #23
    It's a waste if you're buying more than you need. While you may be OK with it that doesn't change the fact it's still a waste.
     
  24. dmylrea macrumors 68000

    dmylrea

    Joined:
    Sep 27, 2005
    #24
    Ever heard of spending a little more on something to "future-proof" your purchase? Just because the OP says what he does NOW *might* work on the old (ancient) GT120, would it be a totally crazy concept to spend a little more and get a newer Mac with better parts in it?

    Did you not ever spend a little more on something to get the better model, even though you don't need it right now?
     
  25. reco2011 macrumors 6502a

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    May 25, 2014
    #25
    The problem with this line of reasoning is the 4,1 can be easily upgraded to match or exceed the specs of the 5,1 with the money saved from buying the 4,1. If he were buying a new Mac Mini or iMac future proofing might make sense.

    Likewise buying the 4,1 Mac Pro is more future proofing than the 5,1. Why? Because it has a better processor. It has a higher clock speed and can Turbo Boost higher than the processor in the 5,1. Since the processor is, technically, not a user serviceable part (like the graphics card and hard disks) future proofing is better done with the 4,1.

    Here's the situation:

    The OP has stated integrated graphics are sufficient for his needs. He's further stated the hard disk configuration is, for the most part, irrelevant as he'll be installing SSD's. As such both the 4,1 and the 5,1 meet his needs as the graphics card and hard disks are, essentially, the only differences between the two.

    So what if he should decide he needs more graphics capability? He takes the cost of a new graphics card out of his savings from buying the 4,1 and buys the equivalent (5770) or better graphics card. If he wishes to add more hard disk capacity he can, again, take the savings from buying the 4,1 and buy a $40 1TB hard disk. He is no worse off than had he bought the 5,1.

    Given this I see zero downside to buying the 4,1 over the 5,1. Perhaps I'm missing something. If I am I'd appreciate it if you'd be so kind as to point it out.
     

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