Mac Pro for a Non-Pro

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by baselalsaadi, Dec 9, 2013.

  1. baselalsaadi macrumors newbie

    Dec 7, 2013
    Hello everyone,

    I have been doing some research on this heck of a machine about to be released. I am not a video editor, and I do not create music or anything. I am actually a healthcare professional who needs to be able to simultaneously have many programs running including ones for work, and ones for personal use.

    I am thinking of opting for a 256gb flash drive, and connect my 6TB external hard drive via thunderbolt and use the computer as a server for all my multimedia needs. Ideally, I would run 2 or 3 screens on this mac pro.

    I want a computer that will last for the next 5-10 years without slowing down or rather a computer that'll keep up for next 5-10 years.

    Is the mac pro a good option? What specs?

    Thank you!
  2. ybz90 macrumors 6502a


    Jul 10, 2009
    Honestly, no. It seems your tasks are almost entirely CPU bound and there's really no need for more than a high end i7 for what you do. You'd be wasting a lot of money on GPUs you don't need, especially when the intro nMP models
    "only" feature 4- and 6-core processors whose performance you can come close to with other options. You'd be better served with an iMac or Mac Mini.
  3. ThrawnTHX macrumors member

    Jul 20, 2009
    The biggest question in need of answering is what programs are you running? Any modern mac or pc can handle multiple programs running with aplomb as long as we're talking browsers, spreadsheets, word processors etc.

    With that out of the way, my gut feeling is that this isn't the mac you're looking for. I would say more than likely you're a fine candidate for a Mac Mini. Since you're looking at the Mac Pro, you likely already have a monitor/keyboard/mouse in mind to connect. Mac Minis make excellent servers. Typical home server demands include multimedia and syncing functionality which OS X can handle without a sweat. You can gain even more server functionality if you upgrade Mavericks to the server version. If you check out Apple's site, you'll notice that the Mini is the only offering that has a server configuration, too.

    Finally, I feel the need to touch on your expectations regarding how long this thing should reasonably last you. 5 is doable but keep in mind you're quite limited in your ability to upgrade this thing. 10 is crazy. In the PC universe, 10 years ago Pentium 4s were on the scene and even a dual core machine was four years out. In 10 years time there would have been such advancements to storage, connectivity both physical and wireless, and likely some crazy ground-breaking stuff that none of us even know we need yet.

    Ignore your heart and go with your brain. Get something cheaper that will fulfill your requirements and put it on a regular upgrade cycle. Used macs sell quite well.
  4. Sean Dempsey macrumors 68000

    Sean Dempsey

    Aug 7, 2006
    Can you afford it? if yes, than yes.

    It will be amazing for you. If the extra money bothers you, don't get it. If it's not a big deal, get it and join the future. I know I will.
  5. ThrawnTHX macrumors member

    Jul 20, 2009
    The problem with that rationale is that anyone considering it can probably afford it. At what opportunity cost however? Is this money that could be put to use in productive ways elsewhere while settling for a less expensive mac? Also, one could infer that baselalsaadi wouldn't just be buying this on a whim without any fiscal burden if he or she wasn't considering keeping it for up to 10 years.

    I'm not arguing with you, rather I'm just trying to show both sides of the coin.
  6. phrehdd macrumors 68040


    Oct 25, 2008
    Perhaps you are wise to examine each "system"

    iMac - can it handle 3 screens?
    Mac Mini - can it handle 3 screens?
    Mac Pro - can it handle 3 screens?
    new Mac (mini) Pro - can it handle 3 screens.

    Are there 3rd party items that would help with the above?

    I don't see much in the way of most computers (for the present) going beyond 5 years of use. Things are changing rapidly. Perhaps the new Mac mini Pro would be a good deal - base model and add 3rd party RAM. I say this because of the Thunderbolt 2 spec.

    What we will see in the next 5 years may include multiple types of monitors including 4k or rather "hi def" and then touch screens and who knows what else. SSD pricing will drop in the next 3 years given that no political or climate problems occur and more.

    I use a Mac Mini quad i7 2.0. It works well enough. If I were to replace it now I may opt for the 2.6, replace the drive with an SSD (like my present system) and populate up to 16 gigs of RAM. Don't be fooled by those that say 4 gigs is enough. If you are doing multiple apps, at least 8 gigs would be a good starting point. Also, new apps that run 64bit may be more RAM, drive and CPU intensive.

    What I am trying to say is not what you need today but where things may be tomorrow and being able to be as close to those options as possible.
    Just more peanuts from the gallery.
  7. VirtualRain macrumors 603


    Aug 1, 2008
    Vancouver, BC
    The entry level Quad-Core is probably more than you need, but it will fly. Go for it.
  8. Sean Dempsey macrumors 68000

    Sean Dempsey

    Aug 7, 2006
    If you measure this all in dollars, sure your strawman holds up.

    But what about the opportunity cost of not having the satisfaction of a magnificent black cylinder on your desk?

    Why is having something you think is awesome and makes you happy not a productive way to use money? That is what money is FOR - exchanging for the things you want out of life.

    One could INFER that fiscal burden is totally subjective. One man's fiscal burden is another's joyous investment in THEMSELVES.

    Way to slam the stick forward on this happiness plane. It's always the pedants of web forums that come in to give the patronizing "other side" :(
  9. flat five macrumors 603

    flat five

    Feb 6, 2007
    hard to say with complete accuracy as the thing isn't field tested yet but if the old mac pro is anything to go off of then yes, the nmp is probably your best bet at this point.

    basing this off me being the owner of a 1,1 which i'm still using today.. and it's not like i've been babying the thing..

    also just going off the past, the mp1 will probably lose support in approx 4 years from now so that's something else to consider if you're looking at it from a long term investment stance.

    for the record- i'm not trying to imply a mac lasts longer than any other computer out there -or- that a mac pro will last longer than an imac/macmini because i don't even know how long other computers last.. i've only used one manufacturer's flagship desktop line. just sharing a personal experience is all..
  10. ybz90, Dec 9, 2013
    Last edited: Dec 9, 2013

    ybz90 macrumors 6502a


    Jul 10, 2009
    The word you're looking for is utility, not opportunity cost. What you mean to say is what if the economic utility, or 'happiness', derived from owning the nMP is greater than utility gained from money saved.

    Everyone's utility function is different, so it is not possible to infer how much enjoyment someone might derive from the nMP; however, it is actually your logic that is unsound.

    Your original advice read as:
    Just because someone can afford it, doesn't mean they should. Just because YOU will derive great utility from owning it, that is not good advice for the OP. You don't know that it "will be amazing" for the OP, operative word being will.

    We don't know the OP's utility function and your advice is not appropriate for the average person. In fact, while I can afford the nMP and will be buying one, if I didn't need the 12-cores for my work and could get by with less, I absolutely would. Several thousand dollars is nothing to sneeze at. Even if you're filthy rich, that's a nice vacation somewhere. Or a nice TV. I'd guess that for just about anyone, the utility from those alternative items, or even not spending the money, is greater than the mere satisfaction of owning the nMP for the sake of owning it. Most people don't care about the "satisfaction of a magnificent black cylinder on your desk", and if they did, probably not to the value of thousands of dollars. If the OP did care, he/she wouldn't be asking this question in the first place.
  11. Micky Do macrumors 68000

    Micky Do

    Aug 31, 2012
    An island in the Andaman Sea.
    Go for a Mini

    The Pro is (mainly) for pros with heavy duty processing needs.

    For more general use, as some other respondents suggest, it sounds like a Mac Mini would be fine. With a decent amount of RAM, and a SSD (or Fusion) there should be no problem opening multiple programs. It is not as though they are all going to be keeping the processor busy at once. Add an external drive for greater storage needs.

    Get appropriate quality peripherals, and you have a modular system that should be good for years, with upgrades or updates as needs dictate.

    I have a 2009 Mini, to which I added extra RAM for the update to Mountain Lion…. haven't gone to Mavericks yet as my internet connection is so slow. For now, ML serves my needs just fine. I got the monitor and speakers with my original Mini in 2005. I recently got a new external HDD.
  12. flat five macrumors 603

    flat five

    Feb 6, 2007

    yet another coin to consider though.

    in the realm of luxury buying -or- buying things you don't 'need'..

    there are way way worse examples of this behavior out there and it happens on a far greater scale.. one example

    buying a bmw...

    you know, people that are spending 40,000 dollars more on something they don't 'need'.

    mac pro vs mac mini is chump change if the topic is luxury spending.
  13. alphaod macrumors Core


    Feb 9, 2008
  14. ChrisA macrumors G4

    Jan 5, 2006
    Redondo Beach, California
    Ten years? Seriously? Do you know what you will be doing with this computer in ten years.

    for your use case I'd buy an iMac for your desktop and buy a Synology NAS for the media server. Leaving the nMP on 24x7 will cost you $1,000 in power

    You don't need much processing power to serve up media, all the computer does is copy data from a disk to a nework port. The NAS

    Look at this plus an iMac
  15. cinealta, Dec 9, 2013
    Last edited: Dec 9, 2013

    cinealta macrumors 6502

    Dec 9, 2012
    I can't imagine anyone in healthcare needing more than a Mac Mini at most. Basic drug interactions, dosage apps etc can run on the iPhone. Unless your a bench scientist, eg a chemist researching the 3D surface conformations of new pharmaceuticals, at the molecular level etc, you won't need a Mac Pro.

    This is a bad strategy with today's technological advances. As Moore's Law, and Intel's own roadmap suggest, we'll be seeing faster & faster microprocessors. The new Mac Pro will be outdated by 2015. There are already new technologies on the drawing board which are not implemented in this model (eg Haswell-EP CPUs, DDR4 RAM, 100 gigbit ethernet, 10 Gbps USB 3.0, 802.11ad wifi etc). I would suggest the opposite strategy. Get a computer that suits your needs for the next 3 years and then reassess what you need & what capabilities are available.
  16. flat five macrumors 603

    flat five

    Feb 6, 2007
    that's only important if you're a spec battler / drag racer..

    i use a computer that's 7 years old.. if i started using a 5,1 right now, i'd shave maybe 2hrs off my work time next year.

    specs aren't as important as many people seem to make them out to be.
  17. ybz90 macrumors 6502a


    Jul 10, 2009
    That's not a fair generalization. While I agree with you, specs really aren't that important in many scenarios, there are a lot of people who aren't "spec battlers" that would benefit greatly from more powerful CPUs.
  18. flat five macrumors 603

    flat five

    Feb 6, 2007
    yeah.. like me :)

    i estimate my cores were peaking for ~750 hrs last year.. modest but still a fine case for more cpus.
    if i double my core count then my cores would peak for 400 hrs..

    sounds great at first except i still only shaved maybe 2hrs off my personal work.
  19. flat five macrumors 603

    flat five

    Feb 6, 2007
    oh.. and hey @ybz

    i'm not saying my line of thought is the correct line of thought.. it's just the line which corresponds with my individual case and i don't expect for a minute that my way can be applied to everybody's way.

    the best case i can think of for more cpu is when you're operating under deadlines with cpu intensive work.. in situations like that then yes, stacking cpus is incredibly beneficial and can potentially justify/pay for your investment in one week's time (a stretched example but possible nonetheless)

    but with me personally and the cpu intensive tasks (not talking about clocks- rather core count).. it doesn't matter if ,say, a render finishes today or tomorrow.. the renders aren't a key component in a project and if it really comes down to a time crunch, i can just use 2D exports from the files for communication purposes instead of going photoreal.. just less of a wow factor to other people but not deal breakers at all.
  20. ssls6 macrumors 6502a


    Feb 7, 2013
    I think it is a good choice for what you describe. CPUs have been in the 3 Ghz range for quite a long time now and they will remain there for a long time to come. The only way to go up in performance is to off load tasks which is where the industry is heading (multi-core, OpenCL, ...). You want to run 3 screens? You want it to last? Then the new thermal management combined with external monitors and an external disk array is a good plan.

    I say the base model of mac pro combined with several monitors and an external storage array will suite you needs for 5 years easy. 10 years probably not but who still uses a 2003 computer :)
  21. goMac macrumors 604

    Apr 15, 2004
    No. Faster machines don't get outdated any slower, and an iMac with an SSD would likely be a great choice, even if you need to run a lot of apps.

    Plus, even if your computer did last 10 years, it's almost three times as expensive as an iMac. You could replace an iMac every 3 years for what you'd pay.
  22. Celedral macrumors 6502


    May 29, 2008
    Los Angeles
    I think the Mac Pro would fit nicely if you plan on using it for 5+ years. Don't forget that most apps will start to utilize OpenCL, which draws directly from the GPU. So 6core, 512gb SSS, and D500 should be a minimum. Also self upgrade the ram to 64gb.
  23. BayouTiger macrumors 6502


    Jul 24, 2008
    New Orleans
    Nearly all processor improvements in the last five years have been toward power and mobility rather than speed. Moore's law may still be in effect as it has always been based on transistor count rather than actual processor speed. As core speeds have stagnated in the near 4.0ghz range, programmers will need to look to parallel coprocessing for the "next big thing". To me, Apple's acknowledgement of this is the biggest news that comes with the nMP.

    The OP mentions the use as a media server and multiple monitors. Of course this is likely to entail video transcoding and other needs greater than basic applications. I know my iMac spends hours each week chugging away at rips of my Blu-Ray and DVD collection. I too owned a 2006 MP and while it was overkill for the time, I happily used it for 5 years and was still able to deal it for almost a grand when I retired it.

    I have no great need for the nMP at this point, though I do utilize very processor intensive modeling for work and fully intend to have one coming when released.
  24. Cubemmal macrumors 6502a

    Jun 13, 2013
    Before you guys get excited about all the apps using OpenCL, you have to understand that moving an app to it takes a lot of time and is only applicable to a subset of use cases. The CPU is good for few cores but large memory. The GPU is good for many cores but little memory (a few variables). Thus OpenCL is only useful for highly repetitive mathematical calculations, in general.

    Additionally there's overhead in using it. For most robust code you should compile OpenGL on the fly (JIT) which has a fair bit of overhead, plus the overhead to set up the GPU. So OpenCL really makes sense for intensive, long term mathematical calculations. How often does that problem come up? Well .... er, not that often frankly. Maybe in short bursts, like unzipping a file (how much time do you spend doing that?) or encrypting a file (again how much?).

    Apple apparently optimized this machine with high speed flash and RAM for a good reason - that (plus the CPU) will give you a faster machine, far more than OpenCL, unless you fall into a use case that makes sense on it like rendering.
  25. ybz90 macrumors 6502a


    Jul 10, 2009
    Echoing what Cubemmal said, I think people who don't use graphics accelerated professional programs are overestimating the effects of OpenCL on general computing. Even if it gains widespread adoption everywhere, you won't gain much more from it for the vast majority of programs compared to not having it. From what it seems like the OP wants to do (likely a lot of word processing and probably database management at least), I don't see these types of programs benefiting tremendous from GPU acceleration.

    For the OP, it is a waste of money to get the nMP. My rule for computers: Always buy the cheapest computer that minimally meets your needs. The last part is key, obviously if it doesn't meet your needs it's useless, but going overboard is a waste because the higher-end something is, the faster it depreciates. If you didn't need that extra power in the first place, you're just burning cash.

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