Mac Pro advice

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by Ken_D, Aug 18, 2015.

  1. Ken_D macrumors newbie

    Aug 18, 2015
    I'm a semi-professional developer, mainly of Windows software via Parallels - I like having the "best of both worlds". I have a faithful Mac Pro (early 2009), kitted out with 3rd party SSDs and 16Gb of RAM. It's never let me down and still holds up pretty well, but is starting to feel a little stretched.

    Fortunately, I now have a budget for a new machine, and I'm looking to replace it with a current Mac Pro. I currently have 2 monitors, to which I'd like to add another, along with some external storage.

    I'm aware that the current Pro has been around for nearly a couple of years, and there may well be a refresh pending; of course, no-one knows when, how, or even if this will happen.

    My main criteria for a new machine is a decent processor and fast internal storage; external storage doesn't need to be that speedy, and graphical performance isn't a huge concern. From what I've read, the speculation is that any refresh will have USB3.1, Thunderbolt 3 and newer GPU's, none of which really impact me, and therefore there's nothing to wait around for. However, I've seen mentioned speculation of "even faster SSD", which would be of interest.

    Does anyone have any advice or opinion on whether there's anything I should be waiting around for in a future refresh, or is today's Mac Pro still worth the outlay? Would I be stupid to buy a Mac Pro right now when a refresh may be just around the corner?
  2. keysofanxiety macrumors G3


    Nov 23, 2011
    IMHO some refresh or mild spec bump is a definite. The reason being that the rMBP and even the rMB were updated with the faster Flash. The Retina MacBook Pro's SSD benchmarks even quicker than the nMP, so I can't imagine they'll want to keep that the case for much longer. Mind you, we saw how often Apple updated their last Mac Pro, even when it was so long in the tooth ...

    I'm hoping there'll be a silent refresh in September/October, but that's pure conjecture/hope.

    Can't offer you anything other than what you already know I'm afraid.
  3. phairphan macrumors 6502a


    Sep 21, 2005
    Reject Beach
    I'm curious about why you feel your cMP is feeling a little stretched. If better graphical performance and faster, updated connection standards aren't of great interest to you, I presume you're referring to CPU performance? What's the profile of your MP?
  4. Ken_D thread starter macrumors newbie

    Aug 18, 2015
    That's a very fair question. My current machine is quad-core 2.66GHz. I do a lot of disk-intensive stuff; compiling code, parsing very large data files etc, and I'm starting to feel that the 3Gb/s SATA interface to the Crucial M500 SSD is holding me back a little. Although in CPU horsepower terms, my current machine does the job fine, a boost in that area would never hurt.

    Finally, I'd like to hook up a 3rd monitor; although I know this could be done on my current machine if I really wanted.

    I have to admit there is an element of "just wanting a new machine" - head vs heart as usual!
  5. Jack Burton macrumors 6502a

    Jack Burton

    Feb 27, 2015
    This might depend entirely on when Intel releases new Xeon chips. I wish Apple would just switch to the i7. Intel has an 8 core i7 out now, and it's decently overclockable.
  6. mfram macrumors 65816

    Jan 23, 2010
    San Diego, CA USA
    OWC offers PCIe flash storage upgrades for the cMP if you want faster storage.
  7. puckhead193 macrumors G3


    May 25, 2004
    Nothing wrong with wanting a new toy!!

    whats the next chip update from intel that is suitable for the mac pro that apple could be holding off? Do think will see USB C?

    OP have you thought about refurbished? You might not feel as guilty buying a new machine if you know you could save a few bills and put that towards external storage or a new 3rd monitor.
  8. shaunp macrumors 68000

    Nov 5, 2010
    When you say disk speed is important, do you mean sequential or random I/O? I run a lot of VM's on my nMP and I find the performance of these running on the SSD is very good. Some of these VM's are ESXi servers (running other VM's) others are backup servers that do I/O intensive tasks like deduplication. The internal SSD works fine with these and I don't feel like I"m constantly waiting for it, or at least I should say that the performance feels right for the price as I often work with high-end storage that is a lot quicker, but then again costs millions.

    Having used the current 6-core Mac Pro, I would say it's a nice machine but not amazingly fast. The 8-core and 12-core versions may be better for what I'm doing, but the price starts to get a bit beyond what I can justify. What I do like about it however is that it is very stable and utterly quiet, even when pushed. It feels like a very well made product, and 64GB RAM makes for a good compact VM lab. I think that you are running on an older 4-core, the current 6-core would be a good choice for you. Buy the 4-core to keep the RAM and GPU configs low, upgrade the CPU and SSD then buy RAM from Crucial.
  9. pastrychef macrumors 601


    Sep 15, 2006
    New York City, NY
    The 2009 Mac Pros are still great machines. If all that is holding you back is slow disk access, you may consider consulting this thread where they discuss using blade type SSDs (like the ones used in the new Mac Pros and Retina MacBook Pros) in Mac Pros with PCI-e slots. I currently have one installed. Bellow is a screenshot of my benchmark results from it.

    Screen Shot 2015-08-18 at 11.48.29 PM.png
    If/when you feel CPU horsepower is lacking, the CPUs in your model of Mac Pro can be fairly easily upgraded all the way up to a 3.46GHz 6 core CPU.

    Need a video card that can support 3 monitors? That can be done easily with a new video card...
  10. phairphan macrumors 6502a


    Sep 21, 2005
    Reject Beach
    In addition to the blade-style SSDs mentioned above (currently the apex in HD performance on the MP), you can give a nice boost to the SSDs you already own, provided they're SATA III SSDs, by moving them off of the MPs built-in SATA II ports (your feeling that they're holding back your Crucial M500 is accurate) and onto controller cards installed in your PCIe slots. A few of us here use the Apricorn Velocity Duo x2, a product that accommodates two SSDs on a single card. You can check out the MacRumors thread here.
  11. Ken_D thread starter macrumors newbie

    Aug 18, 2015
    Thanks for all the advice. I've plumped for the stock 4-core base model; inevitably this will mean the product is refreshed 2 minutes after I take delivery - good news for anyone waiting :)
  12. h9826790 macrumors G4


    Apr 3, 2014
    Hong Kong
    Interesting decision. I think the cMP can easily beat the base model nMP with just a fraction of the cost.

    $200 W3690 ($170 W3680) > E5-1620v2 (multi-core performance)

    $300 dual HD7950 > dual D300

    $200 SM951 256G (this is actually the Apple SSD in Mac Pro, however, if you pick the correct model, it will be faster than the nMP's SSD).

    So, let's say you need another $100 for PCIe adaptor, thermal paste etc. Total cost is just $800 and the machine will able to beat the $2999 nMP in few important area (e.g. OpenCL computation). Unless you need the TB (USB3.0 and WiFi ac also avail in cMP by installing the correct card) or the small form factor, I really can't see why go for the nMP now (especially it's been released for almost 2 years).

    The nMP is a nice machine. However, if I just want that (but not need that), I will wait for the next gen. Buying some 2 years old computer product with exactly the same price as 2 years ago doesn't make any sense to me (again, unless I need that machine right now).
  13. Samuelsan2001 macrumors 604

    Oct 24, 2013
    That is an interesting choice as the 4 core nMP is beaten by the 5K imac in most benchmarks you'd have saved money got an amazing screen and got a faster computer with the imac.
  14. JamesPDX Suspended


    Aug 26, 2014
    this may sound noobish, buy I've suddenly realized that I may be confusing nMP and cMP. Is the nMP the Nehalem and the cMP the Clovertown? Or is "c" for "current" and "n" for "new" ??? :eek:
  15. monokakata macrumors 68000


    May 8, 2008
    Hilo, Hawai'i
    "nMP" = "new Mac Pro" and "cMP" = "classic Mac Pro," a.k.a. old one.

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