Mac Pro Buying Advice for Budget of Around $2k

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by inaka, Jan 3, 2011.

  1. inaka macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Apr 26, 2010
    #1
    Hey all, looking for some advice on buying a Mac Pro.
    I'm using a PowerMac G5 that is working fine, but I'm running into processor limitations for apps like Aperture 3, XCode, etc.

    I mostly only do DTP work with Illustrator and Photoshop being my bread and butter apps, but I know its just a matter of time before I need to upgrade to a Mac Pro. I never game on the machine, but do need it for smooth video playing, and an increasing amount of Aperture 3 work.

    I'm not interested in an iMac, and want to stick with the tower line.

    I'm finding it a bit hard to do searches for specific 2008 models, etc. since they aren't always listed on eBay or Craigslist that specifically.

    So if you had a budget of $2k USD, what Mac Pro config would you get?
    This could be a new, refurb or used machine, but I'm trying to get the most bang for my buck with that budget.

    Any help is appreciated, thanks.
     
  2. NoManIsland macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Feb 17, 2010
    #2
    If you prowl eBay, you can get a 2008 2.8Ghz 8-core for less than $2000. The 2008s were machines very much in the sweet spot for performance to cost, and remain strong contenders, especially with a couple key upgrades. I use mine for MIDI realizations in Logic using the massive Vienna Symphonic Library - composing is my passion - and professionally I use it for graphic design, where I do a lot of the graphics work for Molson, Labatt, Diageo etc (the big breweries here in Canada). I have yet to manage to throw something at this machine it can't handle - honestly most software isn't even taking advantage of its resources, so I expect it to give me many good years to come.
     
  3. VanneDC, Jan 3, 2011
    Last edited: Jan 4, 2011

    VanneDC macrumors 6502a

    VanneDC

    Joined:
    Jun 5, 2010
    Location:
    Dubai, UAE
    #3
    yep, 2008 is the sweet spot. has enough grunt to keep up with any new apps and even has some good to go grunt in Win7 for gaming /IF/ you have a nice vid card...

    on the hardware side, i just got for chrissy (missus had a 2K budget :) a nice mac pro 2008.
    8 core 2.8ghz , 12 gigs of ram, 8800GT, and dual dual layer burners. BT, Wifi and apple care till end of Feb this year, so i can extend it :) <-- important if you do not know the history of the machine. with a new alu keyboard a and mighty mouse.

    Good luck with your hunt. You will find a good one if your willing to trawl the ebay/lists a while. :)
     
  4. toxic macrumors 68000

    Joined:
    Nov 9, 2008
    #4
    '08 2.8 and '09 2.66 both fall in your budget, so take your pick. which video card you use is largely irrelevant.
     
  5. inaka thread starter macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Apr 26, 2010
    #5
    Thank you both for your replies.

    Is there a specific model identifier Mac Pro to look for under the System Profiler for this year/make/model?

    (For example, I'm using a PowerMac G5 and the "model identifier" is "PowerMac 7,3")
     
  6. WardC macrumors 68030

    WardC

    Joined:
    Oct 17, 2007
    Location:
    Fort Worth, TX
    #6
    I just recently sold my 2.93GHz 2009-model Quad Core for $2563.00 on eBay before I bought the 3.33GHz 6-core, to give you an idea. The 2.93GHz is really a speedy machine and it will do anything you want to throw on it. Be sure to add an SSD and 12GB of RAM and it's one hell of a machine.
     
  7. nanofrog macrumors G4

    Joined:
    May 6, 2008
    #7
    Look for 3,1 in the identifier string. :)
     
  8. nutmac macrumors 68040

    Joined:
    Mar 30, 2004
    #8
    CostCentral has a good price on previous generation Mac Pros, starting at $1663.16 for previous generation quad. Beef it up with more memory and it could probably fulfill your needs just fine.
     
  9. ashman70 macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Dec 20, 2010
    #9
  10. daustin21 macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Nov 30, 2010
    #10
    I waited from months for a good deal to come across and scored well for a 2K budget.

    I picked up a 3,1 (2.8 single CPU) last year for 1800 WITH a 30" ACD.

    Came with 4G Ram and 4 500G Scorpio Blacks.

    Came off of a local studio lease.

    Did a few upgrades to the drives and ram and its been running like a champ!!
     
  11. johnnymg macrumors 65816

    johnnymg

    Joined:
    Nov 16, 2008
    #11
    Here's a 2009 Quad from a reputable dealer for sub $2K........... includes 1 year Apple warranty too!
    http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/608729-REG/Apple_MB871LL_A_Mac_Pro_Desktop_Computer.html

    cheers
    JohnG
     
  12. ActionableMango macrumors 604

    ActionableMango

    Joined:
    Sep 21, 2010
    #12
    I personally wouldn't hassle with used. I looked into used Mac Pros, but found that new & refurbs are compelling at the right places. Two examples:

    I agree with Nutmac, Cost Central for a 2009 model is the best deal around. You get a brand new computer with Apple Warranty and $340 under budget to save or spend on upgrades. A brand new Mac Pro for little over $1600 is mind-boggling.
    http://www.costcentral.com/proddetail/Apple_Mac_Pro/MB871LLA/U83343/

    Alternatively, get a refurbished 2010 Mac Pro directly from Apple for $2,119. Slightly over budget, but this gets you a much better video card, faster CPU/RAM, newer architecture, bigger hard drive, same warranty as new, and Wi-Fi.
     
  13. inaka thread starter macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Apr 26, 2010
    #13
    You guys have all made some excellent points.
    Since I tend to hold onto the same computer for many years (my current PowerMac G5 is about 5 years old) I may just stretch the budget a bit and go with the new (older) deals from bhphotovideo.com or costcentral.com.

    Again, thanks for the information to all.
     
  14. johnnymg macrumors 65816

    johnnymg

    Joined:
    Nov 16, 2008
    #14
    That 09 Quad is no slouch machine. The best part is that it's new and covered by Apple's standard warranty. Additionally, the processor can be swapped out for a Hex anytime in the future and the currently available 5770 is a drop in replacement. i.e. it's pretty future proof as far as MP's go.

    cheers
    JohnG
     
  15. nick9191 macrumors 68040

    Joined:
    Feb 17, 2008
    Location:
    Britain
    #15
  16. inaka thread starter macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Apr 26, 2010
    #16
    Yeah, I'd like to avoid the potential problems of an eBay or Craigslist sale, so these deals from bhphotovideo.com or costcentral.com sound right up my alley.
    The Apple refurb is also a safe reliable option, but there's tax to CA that pushes it past my budget a tad.

    Since the other two are under my budget, I could spend the difference on loading up on more RAM as it seems you can never have too much RAM.

    Is Other World Computing the ideal spot for Mac RAM? Back when I was in the know on hardware, the PowerMac G5 RAM I always got was from Crucial, but I keep reading good things about OWC.
     
  17. ActionableMango macrumors 604

    ActionableMango

    Joined:
    Sep 21, 2010
    #17
    Last I checked, hex isn't a "drop-in" replacement for a 2009. There's a whole thread about it here: http://forums.macrumors.com/showthread.php?t=1016076
     
  18. ActionableMango macrumors 604

    ActionableMango

    Joined:
    Sep 21, 2010
    #18
    OWC is a safe source, but their markup is a bit high and only looks good in comparison to Apple's extreme markup.
     
  19. brentsg macrumors 68040

    Joined:
    Oct 15, 2008
    #19
    I'd go with a 2010 quad 2.8 base model refurb. It'll be slightly over the limit but be able to take a 3.33 hex upgrade down the road if needed. Plus you get the ATI 5770 and built in wireless.
     
  20. toxic macrumors 68000

    Joined:
    Nov 9, 2008
    #20
    if you want ECC RAM, shop around between OWC, Transintl, MaxUpgrades, and stores like Newegg or Superbiiz. Kingston ValuRAM works, reportedly, and I think that's the cheapest option.

    if you want non-ECC RAM, I can tell you Crucial RAM will work on an '09. I've used 2GB 1066 and 4GB 1333.
     
  21. inaka thread starter macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Apr 26, 2010
    #21
    Darn....looks like this deal is dead.
    I called when the link was still up, ready to buy it and they said it was out and no more coming in. Now the link is dead. Bummer.
     
  22. ActionableMango macrumors 604

    ActionableMango

    Joined:
    Sep 21, 2010
    #22
    That's too bad. For $200 more, some 2009's can still be had at Amazon, MacMall, and B&H.

    Perhaps one of them will lower their prices later as they attempt to close out the older model. That is what Cost Central did. But I wouldn't count on it.
     
  23. inaka thread starter macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Apr 26, 2010
    #23
    yeah, bummer, but hey, you snooze you lose. I guess I overslept on this one. :D

    I saw brentsg's suggestion of getting a 2010 quad 2.8 base model refurb, but I don't see any of these of Apple's refurb site.

    The thing that's really confusing to me is not knowing if a Mac Pro refurb (or closeout) is the 2009 model or 2010 since they're all "Mac Pro". I'm a bit clueless here.

    My current setup as I noted is a PowerMac G5 with three 19" Dell Ultrasharp LCDs. It also looks like with the new Mac Pro vid cards, I'll need those expensive mini port adapters as well to get a two or three monitor setup. Argh. It's tough being out of the hardware knowledge game for so long. So much has changed.

    I'm also assuming these older single processor Mac Pros can only have a max of 8GB or ram. (I hope I'm correct here...is this right?) 4 slots per processor? Seems pretty low since my Power Mac G5 has had that too for ages. That alone might make me want to hold a bit longer and bust the budget wide open and get a dual processor for the max ram increase. However, if they can accommodate 4GB DIMMs then that would make it 16GB max...

    Wow, I thought the tough part was over when I wrote off the i7 iMac in favor of the Mac Pro. Now I have even more decisions than ever.:D
     
  24. ActionableMango macrumors 604

    ActionableMango

    Joined:
    Sep 21, 2010
    #24
    The refurbs come and go based on returned stock.

    Single proc MPs work with up to 32GB of RAM.

    The easiest way to spot a 2010 refurb vs a 2009 is that the 2010 has an ATI 5770, while the 2009 has Nvidia GT120. The 2009 refurb at $2000 is a ripoff, considering new ones are available for $1800.

    If you have to pay a substantial sales tax for the refurb at Apple, you might as well buy a brand new one from a discounter. For example:

    2010 refurb at Apple store (when available) is $2120, +10% sales tax = $2332.

    2010 new at Cost Central is $2338. Only $6 more for new. (http://www.costcentral.com/proddetail/Apple_Mac_Pro/MC560LLA/11197078/)

    Of course the $1800 2009 is still the best deal, only problem being that you now mention you need support for three monitors.
     
  25. brentsg macrumors 68040

    Joined:
    Oct 15, 2008
    #25
    There are some tools about to help you buy from the refurb store. It will notify you when a specific model comes in stock. To identify the current Mac Pro line, look for an ATI 5770/5870. Anything older is not a 2010.

    The 2.8 quads come available on the refurb store every day or two for something like $2119. I used my discover card to get an additional 5% discount from there.

    B
     

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