Mac Pro, Hackintosh or another Sonnet upgrade ?

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by andy_bernstein, Jul 10, 2008.

  1. andy_bernstein macrumors newbie

    Apr 26, 2003
    Santa Monica, CA
    Hello to all,

    I haven't posted in a while but I would need everyone's input as I really need to upgrade my work station to a more recent offering.

    My job is writing music, a lot of it and on a daily basis (Digital Performer 5 / Mach Five 2 / Sibelius 5 and some other apps / plug-ins).

    However, with the current state of the music industry, it's just very hard to get paid for almost anything (past performing live when I play keyboards for local acts) and my budget is extremely low at the moment.

    Anyway, my current setup:

    2003 G4 MDD Dual 1.25Ghz (FW400) / Ram: 2 Go DDR SDRAM (maxed out) / Bus: 167Mhz

    4 Internal Hard Drives ->
    1) Western Digital 320 Gigs +
    2) Western Digital 320 Gigs (both for samples)
    3) Seagate 500 Gigs (to work on my music)
    4) Seagate 500 Gigs (For system purpose -> OS9 + Tiger + Leopard)

    1 External Hard Drive -> Lacie FW800 500 Gigs (to archive / call certain projects)

    AGP: ATI RADEON 9000 (OEM) plugged into two monitors (Dual Link DVI)

    PCI: Sonnet USB X4
    PCI: Sonnet Firewire X4
    PCI: OWC Firewire 800 Card

    In terms of the audio, I have a legacy MOTU 828Mk1 that has served me well for a long time but it's time for a change. In terms of MIDI, many boxes, Kbds...


    So what ???

    Since I've started using Mach Five 2 (MOTU) under Leopard, it takes a very long time to load certain samples and I'm limited by the maximum memory of the machine (2 Go) when it comes to running a certain number of sample synths or just samples.

    In other words, it's become harder and harder to deliver a decent quality product with my setup. :-(

    Seems I'm facing three choices right now:

    a) Realistic / Affordable choice -> I build myself a decent Hackintosh (not comparable in power to a Mac Pro but always more powerful than my G4) for around $1200-$1500 but with no real guarantee regarding music hardware compatibility. :-(

    b) Unrealistic choice -> a Mac Pro (even with the Education discount... you're looking at $4200 + taxes for the top of the line model + the extra RAM + SATA HDs, etc...)

    c) Unwilling Choice / "Been There, Done That" -> Plunge $600 into a Sonnet MDDX Upgrade (Dual 1.8 Ghz) @ OWC but this won't resolve the 2 Go Ram issue. However, this will probably resolve some other issues (been there, done that -> this G4 MDD is my third mac and they've been all maxed out via the Sonnet way... ahh I should own Sonnet shares !).

    (I also thought of getting a used Quad G5 / Power Mac on Ebay but, for the same price, a Hackintosh is not too far off).


    Besides "what would you do if you were me ?", I'd appreciate if there's another artist / musician on those boards who built himself / herself a Hackintosh. Please share your experience when it comes to running external boxes like a MOTU828 or even a MOTU Timepiece Interface.

    Thank you for your input,

  2. Genghis Khan macrumors 65816

    Genghis Khan

    Jun 3, 2007
    Melbourne, Australia
    If you're up for it, building a hackintosh is a very good option for you, however you have to be careful about choice of motherboard as sound seems to be one of the more difficult things to get to work

    although...a base iMac would be noticeably faster than you're powermac
  3. Mebsat macrumors regular

    May 19, 2003
    How about a used G5?

    You can get a Dual G5 pretty cheap, in the $1100-1300 range and max out the RAM. (one of many in LA)
  4. DarthTreydor macrumors 6502

    May 25, 2007
    Richmond, VA
    you don't really need the top of the line mac pro. you can get the quad core early 08 mp for $2000 refurbished then slowly add to it over time as the funds become available. a hackintosh is an option but not for the faint of heart. plus you don't benefit from apple support, which is worth a lot. whatever you do, don't put any more money into that g4.
  5. andy_bernstein thread starter macrumors newbie

    Apr 26, 2003
    Santa Monica, CA

    @ Genghis Khan

    -> Indeed, building a Hackintosh is not for the faint of heart and because all the sound is handled via an external MOTU (Firewire) unit, it may not be that hard after all... For the moment, I haven't made up my mind yet but it's probably the most realistic solution.

    @ Mebsat

    -> Thank you for including the usedmac link, I didn't know those folks. I just found a used Quad G5 for $1849 on their web site (they also have other used Dual G5s for cheaper). I'll take a closer look tomorrow.

    @ DarthTreydor

    Indeed, that Sonnet MDX upgrade ($600 @ OWC) is no longer on my list (and has never really been). True, I just checked the refurbished section @ Apple and they have two Mac Pros ($2000 & $2500). The good thing about Apple is that you can put the whole amount on a credit card so it's definitely something worth considering.

    BTW- I wouldn't be surprised if the next revision of the Mac Pro shows up in the Fall, maybe that would help to take those prices down a little bit more.

    Thanks to all for sharing your opinion(s),

  6. Genghis Khan macrumors 65816

    Genghis Khan

    Jun 3, 2007
    Melbourne, Australia
    if you're considering spending that much, go for a NEW iMac geekbenchs significantly faster (3.7k v 3.3k)

    i would not UPGRADE to a powerpc...intels are cheaper and faster now
  7. dollystereo macrumors 6502a


    Oct 6, 2004
    Get the cheeeaaaapest mac pro you can get, anyway any mac pro is SOOOO superior tu your G4, now I am typing in my trusty MDD G4, but my Mac pro (first gen, bottom line) flyies around it.
    Really, Bottom line mac pro, you could get a refurbished, or maybe used (look small dog) for around 1700USD (prev gen)

    Good luck, get the mac pro.

    Anyway, audio software runs incredibly stable in Windows XP, even better than OSX, and faster. Especially Cubase. Pro tools is not working perfect in macs. (LE).
  8. Consultant macrumors G5


    Jun 27, 2007
    Why would you need top of the line Mac Pro? The least expensive option is $1800 refurb (hard to find), with many starting at $2000.

    Even Mac Mini is many times faster than that G4.

    Any reason iMac won't work? You can keep your G4 for storage if you get a gigabit ethernet switch and cat 5e cables.
  9. edesignuk Moderator emeritus


    Mar 25, 2002
    London, England
    Lack of internal hard drive bays/PCI slots/ports I imagine.

    I'd go with getting the best refurb Mac Pro you can reasonably afford personally.
  10. Spanky Deluxe macrumors 601

    Spanky Deluxe

    Mar 17, 2005
    London, UK
    Another vote here for the Mac Pro route. You say you can get an Educational discount, do they do Higher Educational discounts out in the states? I forget.

    Looking at the two choices on the US Refurb store, I'd definitely recommend going for the standard (brand new) Mac Pro with an Educational / Higher Educational (if they do it) discount.

    If the US Educational discount is the same as in the UK (8%) then you've got the choice of:

    8 Core Mac Pro (2nd Gen), 2GB RAM etc etc for $2575
    4 Core Mac Pro (1st Gen), 1GB RAM etc etc for $1999

    $575 for four extra (faster) cores, 1GB extra RAM, faster FSB etc etc isn't a bad deal imo.

    When I bought my Mac Pro, I struggled to raise the funds for it. An iMac would have been a more economically wise decision. I'm so glad I managed to plump up the extra cash though.

    PS: I would advise against the Hackintosh route, its way too much hassle than its worth. As a curiosity or a home machine maybe but as your main money-earning machine, you want something that's all warrantied up and guaranteed to work.
  11. nplima macrumors 6502a

    Apr 26, 2006

    Using a hackintosh for job-critical stuff is of course a bit risky. I would think that going that route would only be a good idea if you are sure that you can use that same hardware to go back to a supported OS and still be able to run your job-related applications.

  12. DarthTreydor macrumors 6502

    May 25, 2007
    Richmond, VA
    you can also probably get $400-$500 for your g4 if you decide to sell it which could put you closer to a mac pro.
  13. eXan macrumors 601


    Jan 10, 2005
    If you are really short on funds, search for a 2.66 GHz quad Mac Pro or even the 2.0 GHz version if the budget is extremely tight (though 2.66 will last you a lot longer as it showed a significant increase in performance over 2.0).

    Otherwise, get a quad or octo 2.8 GHz Mac Pro from the current generation.

    DO NOT go the Hackintosh route, because its not guaranteed to work and be stable. This is extremely risky.
  14. G5power macrumors 6502

    Feb 25, 2005
    I would find the Hackintosh route a little scary when you are relying on the hardware for your income.

    The refurb Mac Pro would seem to offer the best long term investment for you.

    As someone else mentioned the used G5 route. I found some very good local deals on Craigslist - once you are past the initial asking price some people are ready to negotiate. However a G5 will just be more investment in something that will need replaced sooner then a Mac Pro (intel).
  15. andy_bernstein thread starter macrumors newbie

    Apr 26, 2003
    Santa Monica, CA
    Thank you !!!


    I'd like to thank everyone who replied to this thread, thank you very much.

    I decided to go the Mac Pro way (refurbished @ $2000... a new credit card will do...).

    My only worry about the Mac Pro is that, after looking at Mac Rumors' Buyer's Guide, a new update is not far off so I might wait until mid to late August but that's pretty much it.

    Again, thank you to everyone for responding.

  16. Chandler Adaway macrumors 6502a

    Chandler Adaway

    Jun 29, 2008
    Beaumont, TX
    I would jump on that deal as soon as possible.
    If you wait for an update, I seriously doubt that system will still be up there.
    It's already the 1st generation out of two.

    That computer will work perfectly for you, and you don't really need anything else.

    Save the money and buy a nice screen and Apple Care. ;)
  17. Silencio macrumors 68020


    Jul 18, 2002
    In my opinion, the best bang for the buck system is the current generation single quad-core 2.8GHz Mac Pro. This model has some pretty key advantages over the similarly-priced, previous generation quad 2.66Ghz Mac Pro: much better video card, faster system bus, more cache per CPU core, uses less power.

    Don't bother waiting for it to hit the Apple Refurb Store, as sales tax eats into the lower price. Instead, buy it from someplace like MacConnection for $2,150 with no sales tax and free ground shipping.

    Then load it up with inexpensive RAM and SATA2 hard drives from a good third party vendor like Other World Computing.

    I upgraded from a Dual 2.0GHz PowerMac G5 and it's a pretty tremendous speed boost, plus it runs so much quieter and cooler: I couldn't imagine the difference compared to a MDD G4!

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