Mac Pro, Keep it or not?

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by gugy, Dec 14, 2010.

  1. gugy macrumors 68030

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    Jan 31, 2005
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    La Jolla, CA
    #1
    Hi,
    I have a late 2007 Mac Pro 2.8 GHz Quad-Core Intel Xeon and I am wondering I should keep it. It's a 3 year old machine and my Applecare just run out.

    I mostly do image processing using CS5 Photoshop. I am thinking on maybe keeping it for another year or a bit longer. I have 10 GB or RAM and two slots available. My plan is to buy another 4 or 8 GB of RAM and get couple SSD drives from OWC, one for apps and system folder and another 40gb for scratch disk.
    Would that be a good thing or should I just sell it and get a newer Quad machine? While I do understand the newer machines would be faster overall, am I going to see a major increase if I do the upgrades above?
    I would like to save the cost of a new system now, but if the speeds are significant then I might just bite the bullet.

    Thanks for any feedback!
     
  2. sdbforthewin macrumors newbie

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    Nov 22, 2010
    #2
    go newer

    dude, go hex core. talk about major speed upgrade... lol :apple: :D
     
  3. miguueeel macrumors member

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    Dec 8, 2010
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    Chicago
    #3
    You only live once upgrade, you deserve it for Keeping a laptop working since 2007!.
     
  4. gugy thread starter macrumors 68030

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  5. jonnymo5 macrumors 6502

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    Texas
    #5
    Are you maxing out your memory while running? If not then the extra ram won't help.

    The SSD will help loading things into memory and writing them out but it sounds like you want to speed up the processing which you will only do with a faster cpu or gpu (if that gets used)

    I don't have a frame of reference to tell you how much faster a new machine will be, so I will leave that to someone else.
     
  6. snberk103 macrumors 603

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    An Island in the Salish Sea
    #6
    It's difficult to give an informed opinion. Without doubt a new MP is going to work faster, and in all likelihood considerably faster. But only you can balance that agains the cost.

    Do you use it for work, and is it slow enough that you could do more work if you had a faster system? If so, then the price of a new MP is an investment in your work, and there are probably tax things you can do to minimize the actual net cost.

    Are you doing this as a hobby? If so, then the cost of a new MP depends entirely on whether you have the funds to have fun. I've kept some of my systems (non-Mac) for up to to 5 years with incremental hardware upgrades. However, at the end of their life-cycles they were essentially valueless, and were tough to even give away to a local charity. Your current MP may have some resell value still.... I don't know.

    The longer you save up for a new system, the better the system will be - both because you can afford more, and because systems in general are getting better over time.

    On the other hand, upgrading now allows you an orderly transfer of apps and documents, with a minimal impact on your workflow. It will be planned upgrade, plus you have a chance to shop for deals. You can wait for a Mac Pro that suits your needs to appear on the Refurb Shop. Waiting until the system dies means that you are doing a "crash" upgrade (no pun intended), often from a backup.

    So - no answers, but perhaps some questions that will help your thinking? It's a tough decision. Good Luck
     
  7. Umbongo macrumors 601

    Umbongo

    Joined:
    Sep 14, 2006
    Location:
    England
    #7
    Just a note that 2006-2007 systems were 2.66GHz quad cores (and refered to as 2006 Mac Pros), 2.8GHz quad core was available in 2008.
     
  8. gugy thread starter macrumors 68030

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    #8
    I think you are right. The machine is probably early 2008, I just based 2007 due the fact Applecare run out this last november. I got confused.
     
  9. gugy thread starter macrumors 68030

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    #9
    I use as a work machine. Like I said I do mostly Photoshop work. I just keep hearing that while CPU speeds is helpful, RAM and SSD upgrades could bring the most of a MacPro for a Photoshop environment more than actual CPU speed upgrades.
    I am just trying to figure out if that's true. I want to see if I keep my current system for another year would be a good choice if I do the upgrades I previously described. I am not familiar specifically to SSD performance with Photoshop, since I have never used one.
     
  10. aarond12 macrumors 65816

    aarond12

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    #10
    Photoshop doesn't keep most of your image data in memory, unless you're working with small files. Larger files are swapped to the hard drive (check your Preferences).

    If you're working with near- or over-gigabyte files, your best upgrade might be a RAID-0 array of disks. It's inexpensive and can make a huge difference. The next best would be an SSD, but they have a finite number of writes and are relatively expensive.

    Try this: Run the Activity Monitor application (Applications -> Utilities). Load up a typical (or large) workflow and watch how much of your RAM is being used, how much of your CPU power is being used, and how much your hard drives are getting slammed. This will give you an idea of which area needs to be upgraded.

    Alternately, run the iStat Pro application to see a continuous, real-time update of all those parameters. I run that application on all my Macs.
     
  11. gugy thread starter macrumors 68030

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    #11
    Thanks I will try this out.
     
  12. cutterman macrumors regular

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    Apr 27, 2010
    #12
    You still have a decent machine. I wouldnt dump it just because Applecare ran out. If the innards of your box are clean and everything is running cool it should last a good bit longer.

    You would notice a significant improvement in system "speed" with an SSD upgrade. Check as above to see if you are limited as far as RAM use before you upgrade there.

    On the other hand if you have 3-4k$ lying around then go for it ;) Whenever you decide to upgrade you can still use the SSD.
     
  13. gugy thread starter macrumors 68030

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    #13
    That's what I think. If I put two SSDs, one for apps/system folder and another small one just for Photoshop scratch disk that should make things faster.
    My question is, can I add 2 different capacity sticks of RAM on the two slots I have left? I am wondering if I buy two 4gig RAM and mixed if the ones I currently have would be OK. That would jump my ram to 18 gigs from the 10gig I have now.

    I would like to avoid the expense of laying down $3k to $4k on a new system, even though I might still get some fair amount for my current system. This has been a tough year for my business. :(
     
  14. bearcatrp macrumors 68000

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    #14
    If time is money doing your work, then I would say go for it. Not worth going into debt as the new Mac pro's are expensive. Not like the 2008's were. You could upgrade to processors to 3.2 to see a good speed bump along with a few ssd drives. But, if you want to get any money from resale, do it now. I sold my 2008 w/24gb ram for $2200.00. Lost some but I like to stay close to current computers. Since I'm not making any money with my computers, I couldn't afford a new Mac pro so built my own for half what apple wanted for a comparable system. Only you can really figure it out if it's worth the bottom line. If it will help you make more money, do it. One thought though. Sandy bridge should be out late next year on the Mac pro. Might be worth the wait if you can wait that long. Good luck.
     
  15. peskaa macrumors 68020

    peskaa

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    London, UK
    #15
    Your CPU is fine, even being a Harpertown Quad (which is fairly rare, as most machines there were the Octo 2.8s), and won't be your bottleneck. As others have suggested, check out how much RAM you're actually using - 10GB is quite a lot to be honest (I'm running 8GB and have no RAM issues). SSDs however may give you quite a speed boost, as mechanical HDs really are the slowest thing in your computer by far.

    My recommendations?
    - Use your system for a typical day. At the end, open Activity Monitor and check your Page Outs stat - I bet you'll have none, or hardly any, which means you have enough RAM.
    - Get the two SSDs as you've planned. First one being a decent size for the OS and apps, and then a small one for scratch.

    I personally highly doubt you'll need a new Mac Pro, or even more RAM. Two SSDs will make your Mac fly.
     
  16. gugy thread starter macrumors 68030

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    #16
    Thanks for the tips.
    It's a difficult decision because in the end I can probably can get close to $2k for my computer on ebay and maybe add another $1500 to $2k to get a new machine. Or spend around $700 to upgrade my current one. So maybe it's worth to upgrade to a new set up. Oh boy, decisions, decisions.
     
  17. ZenAmateur macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    May 21, 2008
    #17
    Asked the same question myself...

    Except I have the quad 2.66 (2 CPU) from 2006. I ended up keeping the machine and upgrading to a SSD for my boot drive and upgrading the video card. Of the two the SSD made my MacPro seem like it was a new machine, and unless you are editing really huge files a faster CPU won't change much in your experience.

    Make sure you set the SSD as your scratch disk, as it really helps PS speed.

    At this stage of the game the slowest link in the workflow is between the keyboard and the monitor, so faster computers don't do much unless you are rendering video or some other processor intensive task.
     
  18. gugy thread starter macrumors 68030

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    #18
    interesting, I hear a lot of people buy a small 40gig SSD just to be use as scratch disk and that works wonders in Photoshop and another for system folder and Apps.
     
  19. nanofrog macrumors G4

    Joined:
    May 6, 2008
    #19
    Keep in mind, the base systems all have the same issues; insufficient RAM and disk I/O, which means a new system would require upgrades.

    Without addressing these issues, you CPUs will sit there waiting for I/O rather than running at or nearer their max potential.

    As your system is a 2008 (EFI64), and it seems you've already enough RAM, I'd improve the disk I/O (cheaper, and the system will last you a while yet). Smartest way to go right now. A few years down the road, you may be better suited to a new system, but not right now (if it were a 2006, maybe, but would depend on your exact usage - they're still useful for 2D work).
     
  20. gugy thread starter macrumors 68030

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    #20
    Thanks, Yes I am back and forth on this issue. Since Photoshop is basically the major need I have, I think if I get couple SSDs drives I should be OK. 10 gig of RAM seems pretty fair so maybe adding another 8 gig (two 4gig sticks) might not be so necessary after all. That would put my upgrades under $400. That is a good deal.
     
  21. snberk103 macrumors 603

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    An Island in the Salish Sea
    #21
    I have the 2008 MP too, though the octocore. It's a nice machine. Do you use a 2nd HD for a scratch disk? If not you should do so. By far the best upgrade is to just get a 2nd HD to use as a scratch disk. Even a cheap and slow HD will do, though supposedly going to a faster mechanical and then finally an SSD will each improve on the speed. It doesn't need to a be big disk - so a fast small one is better than a big and slow.

    Also, as mentioned above, check your memory usage at the end of the day. If you are maxing out your RAM, adding more will make a big improvement. Keep in mind that even a small increase RAM may have a large impact on the speed. If you account for the RAM used by OS X, any non-CS programs and services you are running, and then finally the CS app - the amount of RAM available for images is much less than the 10GB you have in now. So even adding just 4 GB could be a significant addition for mashing about the image.

    I've never understood the need to put the OS and apps on an SSD. I boot my machine once every week or 3, so the boot time saved is negligible. I start a program and then leave it open until I know I'm done with that project, so the program may stay open for several days or even weeks. So there isn't much time saved there.

    If SSDs were not to expensive, it might make sense.... but I'd rather put that money into other things. New lenses, better printers, more RAM, more external storage, etc etc
     

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