Mac Pro, or not quite . . . (The question is: to buy or not to buy!)

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by Mohummad.ali, Oct 27, 2008.

  1. Mohummad.ali macrumors newbie


    Oct 16, 2008
    Halo everyone,

    So, here goes: i wanted to buy a mac pro and a display of about 40 (<) inches, but then i found out the mac pro was unfairly over priced. I, then, set out to find out which set of hardware would be best suited to Mac OS 10 Leopard (and eventually Snow Leopard and so on!)
    I have a budget of about 2200 Euros (as of now 2735.7 USD (according to Google)! ) but if i have to spend this much of money then obviously i am going to buy a Mac Pro and save me all the trouble, but if it is somewhere around 400 euros (500 dollars) cheaper than the original Mac Proi then i am going to go for it!
    The following are the things i would be looking for in my Machine!

    * I want to have 16GB ram (extendable would be great but not required),
    * 2 TB of Harddisk (no externels please! i want them to be inside the trunk! )
    * A powerful enough graphics card that can drive upto 40 inches of display! (i am planning ot buy a samsung TV or LG TV, and use it as my monitor, some comments on this would also be more than welcome! )
    * I want to have 8 cores of processor (i got the idea from the original Mac Pro)
    * WIFI
    * Gigabite LAN
    * bluetooth (but i can use dongle also, so . . .)
    * i am going to use it as my personal pc so i dont need any RAID support!
    * I want to install a true copy of Mac OS 10 Leopard on this dream machine because i want to give some credit (money) to apple too! so that means, i dont want to have to install iatkos or Kalyway or leo4all . . . on this machine!
    * I just need to find out if it is worth to go out and buy every single piece of hardware to make a might machine or is it better to trust Jobs on this one, and buy a ready-to-rumble Mac Pro ? Please reply in detail! and sorry once again for my inablity to use the search form of this forum!
    Ali Syed

    P.S. i am a student and as all students am short on cash, it would be great if i could save some bucks on my new mac pro!
  2. grue macrumors 65816

    Nov 14, 2003
    In what particular form of reality is the Mac Pro "unfairly overpriced"? It's been shown plenty of times that you can't get a significantly cheaper machine with the same specs.
  3. Umbongo macrumors 601


    Sep 14, 2006
    You are going to be looking at over €1750 just for two 2.83GHz 1333MHz FSB quad core processors and a motherboard. You can maybe do it for a fair bit cheaper than a Mac Pro if you go with used components from eBay or older hardware, but if you want OSX on an 8 core system then I'd go with the Mac Pro. If you don't mind sourcing components and researching what will work together and trying to get OSX to work on it then you can save some money and end up with similar hardware performance.

    You haven't said what country you are in so I can't advise you specifically on where you mgiht be able to save money, but student discounts and refurb or used Mac Pros are an option in the US and the UK.
  4. Mohummad.ali thread starter macrumors newbie


    Oct 16, 2008
    i am from germany, by the way,

    It means going for a mac would be a nice idea!
    well i am still considering and weighing my options!

    But you did not mention the monitor!
    I wanted to use a Big (37+ inches) TV as a monitor with my mac pro!
    what are the pros and cons there!
  5. grue macrumors 65816

    Nov 14, 2003
    Pro: Big display.

    Con: Even a 24" will have higher res.
  6. NRose8989 macrumors 6502a

    Feb 6, 2008
    Are you really excited or something?

    Anywho, your not going to find ANYTHING that will have specs like that & run OS X without hacking it. Sorry, just bite the bullet and get the Mac Pro.

    BTW yes connecting a 40" TV as a primary monitor would be pretty stupid in my opinion because regardless of your TV size (anywhere between 32" to 72") will only have a MAXIMUM resolution of 1920 x 1080 assuming the TV you get is 1080p (which BTW even a older plastic macbook could power).

    Just get a 30" ACD
  7. sneezymarble macrumors 6502

    Oct 1, 2008
    Not from a manufacturer but can get a significantly cheaper machine with higher specs if you build it yourself. Of course, the term "significantly cheaper" is undefined here and I think it's right that whether "cheaper" is "significantly cheaper" such that it would warrant a build over a buy is up to the individual. In other words, I don't think there's a hard and fast rule here. Also, it's important to recognize that if you build a Hack, then you are the support for your system. So, if you don't think cheaper is cheap enough and you want Apple support, then buying a system from Apple is a good choice.

    So, the trick with Hacks is that with a properly configured Hack you have the option of overclocking so you don't have to buy the same chips that authentic Pros have in them. For example, the e5410 costs around $275 and will overclock from 2.33GHz to 2.8GHz with no additional cooling. I can't be certain but with some extra cooling and the right motherboard you might be able to get an e5410 to match the performance of the highest end Mac Pro. However, it's been my experience that server chips tend to not have the same ridiculous overclocking spreads that their desktop counterparts have. As an example, my Q6600 went from 2.4GHz to 3.6GHz stable on air cooling. That's quite insane if you ask me. Some people have been able to go even higher.

    As evidence that you can build a system that would have the same performance for less, here's an 8 core, 8GB system I just put together on Newegg which will cost less than the bare bones 8 core from Apple.


    Remember that you'll be overclocking the CPUs to 2.8GHz so that they'll be performing the same as the authentic Pros CPUs. Now, by comparison a bare bones 8 core Mac Pro will cost $2800 from Apple. Notice that the authentic Mac Pro will have a less powerful video card, 6GBs less ram, and 650GBs less hard drive space.

    For a more direct comparison, here's an authentic Mac Pro and a Hack on Newegg configured to have nearly identical specs (after the overclock on the Hack). The only significant difference is the Hack will have a better video card simply because the 8800GTs are out of production and costs as much or more than the 9800s. Keep in mind that both systems are bare bones with respect to RAM and hard drive space.



    That's just about $1000 less than the authentic Mac Pro for the same performance. For $1000 you could add quite a bit of RAM and some extra hard drives. Also, keep in mind that with the Skulltrail motherboard and some additional cooling you might be able to get those cheap e5410s running faster than 3.2GHz. If that's the case, the value of the Newegg system would be quite high compared to an authentic Mac Pro. By comparison, just upping the Pros CPUs to two 3.2GHz chips and keeping everything else the same as it is above puts the total cost at $4550. The Newegg system, running at 3.2GHz wouldn't cost much more than $2000, assuming you had to buy better cooling.

    I've actually been toying with the idea of moving to an 8 core system. It would cost me about $1000 after I sell off my CPU, RAM, and motherboard and buy 2 e5410s, 8GBs of DDR2 800 FB-DIMMs, and a Skulltrail motherboard. I'd still be coming out ahead even if I didn't overclock past 2.8GHz since the total cost of my current system was $1300 1 year ago. So, $1300+$1000 puts me at roughly $2300 for 8 cores at 2.8GHz, 8GBs RAM, 1TB HD space, 8800GTX 768MB, Dual Display, OSX 10.5.5. Not bad if you ask me.
  8. Darth.Titan macrumors 68030


    Oct 31, 2007
    Austin, TX
    Not quite. You only have one quad core processor on that list. How's it to be an 8 core system with just a single quad core cpu?

    Better add another $275 to that build price.
  9. sneezymarble macrumors 6502

    Oct 1, 2008
    Ooops. You're right. Check the second list then. I copied and pasted that first Newegg list from a quad core discussion. I just forgot. The second Newegg list does have 2 quads listed.

    Still, adding $275 to the first list keeps you well ahead of the game. Especially since that first Newegg list has a Bluray player, 8GBs of RAM, and a TB hard drive. So, that fact that you have to add an additional $275 to the first Newegg list doesn't undermine anything I said as far as I can tell.

    EDIT: I fixed my first post. Thanks for pointing that out.

    EDIT2: Here a quick comparison of what the OP is after. First, with a Mac Pro the smart thing would be to start with a bare bones 8 core and add hard drive space and RAM. The RAM part is a bit tricky since the bare bones Pro comes with 2GB in a 2x1GB configuration. The OP wants 16GB. We definately do not want to use 14 more 1GB FB-DIMMS (that's not even possible is it?). The most economic method to get to 16GB would be to go with 4x4GB. The problem is that there's no way to do that if you already have 2x1GB. You could buy 4x4GBs of RAM and throw the other stuff out. Or, you could keep it for a total of 18GBs. Now, I don't know how the server motherboards handle this but on desktops when you mismatch like that you can hurt performance. Maintaining solid performance would be the reason for just tossing the old RAM out. Since I'm unsure on this let's just assume that you keep the old RAM for a total of 18GB. So, at least one nice thing about your own build is that you get exactly what you want without paying for stuff you might not use. Setting that aside, I'll just add 2x1GBs to the Newegg list to be overly fair.

    Newegg System = $3492.88

    Apple + Upgrades from Newegg = $4408.99
  10. tribe3 macrumors 6502

    Nov 1, 2005
    Vienna, VA - USA
    If you count in the one year warranty and resale value of a real Mac than the numbers might not add up. Anyway it might be a fun project if you have the time and will to do it.
  11. sneezymarble macrumors 6502

    Oct 1, 2008
    I pointed that out in my first post. For some people, those things hold little value. Since I feel perfectly capable of supporting my own machine with respect to both hardware and software, I don't see much value in warranties and such. For some people, building a system is clearly not the way to go and buying a Mac Pro from Apple holds a lot of value.
  12. kellen macrumors 68020


    Aug 11, 2006
    Seattle, WA
    Are you going to be using any apple apps? If so just get the mac pro. Its not overpriced for what you get.

    Sounds like you want alot with not that much of a budget. 2700? Just your display you want will run you ~ a third, then 16gb ram, 2tb?

    You going to be using that as a student? Go with the base 8 core mac pro, up the ram to 4 or 6GB and buy a 24" monitor. I don 't even think you have enough for that.

    Cut your list or get some money.
  13. sneezymarble macrumors 6502

    Oct 1, 2008
    Yeah, there's just no way to get 8 cores at at least 2.8GHz, with 16GBs of RAM, 2TBs of hard drive space and a 40" 1080p HDTV. My argument is that you can get closer to what you want on your budget by building than by buying an authentic Mac. But still, even building your own will put you over $2700. And, ultimately, you've got to decide if building it is something that you can do and do comfortably at the exclusion of warranties and so on.

    Also, I don't quite understand the 40" HDTV part. You're looking at at least $1000 for a 40" 1080p LCD. By comparison a 24" LCD that can do 1920x1200 will cost somewhere around $400.
  14. CaptainChunk macrumors 68020


    Apr 16, 2008
    Phoenix, AZ

    What are your specific needs with this machine? First, I highly doubt you actually need 16GB of RAM unless you're doing some fairly serious multitasking with several memory-hungry professional applications.

    Secondly, using an LCD TV as your primary display is unwise. None of them are truly optimized for computer graphics. For example, a lot of them overscan the incoming image to make things broadcast-safe because after all, they are TVs. Very few models let you adjust overscan, let alone disable it completely. And like stated before, 1920x1080 resolution will be the best you'll ever be able to get in an LCD TV (assuming a 1080p native panel), regardless of size.
  15. phrehdd macrumors 68040


    Oct 25, 2008
    Just a reiteration of what others have said...

    1) - bigger screen does not mean needing a power video card. The resolution of your screen and what you plan to do might determine the kind of video card you would need.

    2) - TV screens don't make the best monitor. Get your TV and invest also in a regular monitor. Your vid card should be able to handle connections to both on the Mac Pro.

    3) - 16 gigs of RAM. This will surprise you but many apps wont run "faster" with 16 gigs as opposed to 8 gigs. You need to research what apps you want to run then decide if you want to go beyond 8 gigs.

    4) - If you are going to get all this "power" in a system then do consider
    potentially using internal OS based raid for part of your system. (all in the trunk <grin>). With the prices of hard drives you could easily raid 3x500 drives then the 4th drive would be a 1.5 for back up and raid failure if it should happen. Just make sure the 500gig drives are the same model/make.

    5) - Mac Pro is a fair priced item if you get 1 drive, min RAM and the appropriate graphics card. You should consider adding your own drives and RAM which will be cheaper than thru Apple. Neither negates your warrantee.

    6) - If you plan to do gaming that requires Windows, go to boot camp rather than a virtual of windows (VMware Fusion or Parallels). If you just need Windows for some typical apps (Word or Excel etc.) then virtual is the way to go.

    I have an older Mac Pro quad 2.66 with 9 gigs RAM, ATI 1900 card and use internal raid. My applications for work are photoshop CS3 and Lightroom along with similar art/graphics progs. I use Fusion with XP for my fun stuff such as backing up my blu ray movies (AnyDVD HD and TSMuxer). My system is FAST. Only thing slowing it down are the applications themselves and the way they are written.

    Hope this helps and you enjoy whatever you end up getting.
  16. wheezy macrumors 65816


    Apr 7, 2005
    Alpine, UT
    I know you plan on doing overclocking, but if you're going to compare specs across the board, then use the same processors if you want to call the MacPro 'unfairly' overpriced.

    On Newegg, a 2.83Ghz Harpertown Quad Core CPU is $720 EACH (Link. That puts you at over $1400 just for the processors.

    I know you mentioned overclocking, but it bugs me to hear you say that the MacPro is overpriced when you don't show the correct retail price for the MP component.

    PS - You're much better just buying the MP as opposed to building you're own monster. The MP tower is amazing as far as the internal cable-less layout, cooling, it's so quiet and it looks an awful lot better. Plus, it's supported by Apple 100% so any issues you may have will be covered by AppleCare.
  17. Mohummad.ali thread starter macrumors newbie


    Oct 16, 2008
    Sorry friend, i guess i wasn't clear enough
    the 2700 USD or 2200 Euros was the budget JUST for the tower.
    The Monitor (or the TV) would be extra!
    I haven't seen my bank statement for a while, but i still think i might be able to pull that off :)
    but thanks for worrying for my finances!
  18. Mohummad.ali thread starter macrumors newbie


    Oct 16, 2008
    thanks for the helpful response! (i have taken a leaf from Obama's book! :) )
    well, i must acknowledge, with your first question you ruffled my feathers!
    i, actually, do not have a lot of computing to do with my pc.
    I am just a bit over ambitious i guess,
    it is like buying a Porsche (for non european friends: Ferrari), you don't really need the car, or the power, you are probably never going to be able to unleash the complete power of the engine (unless you happen to find yourself in Germany on a no-speed-limit Autobahn! with out the traffic i.e. )
    So, I hope I made my case :) but i still admit, i don't really need the power, but I want it :D

    If I am little dishonest, i could make a point by saying i am an Automation Engineering student, and i need to buy this computer because i often need to do stuff that requires a lot of computing (********! my laptop tablet is more than sufficient for all my computing needs :D )

    now come to the real business!
    I have a question!
    the best possible resolution an ACD 30" can muster is: 2560 x 1600
    isn't there any way to get that sort of resolution without spending more than 1700 € ?

    Ok, ok, i would settle for a 30" display, but would be great not to spend that much of money on a display!
  19. Umbongo macrumors 601


    Sep 14, 2006
    You can try and find a used or refurbished 30" display otherwise you are going to probably going to be paying around €1,500. The following displays are ones you might want to search for.

    Dell 3007WFP
    Dell 3007WFP-HC
    Dell 3008WFP
    30" Apple Cinema Display
    Samsung SM-305T
    HP LP3065
  20. sneezymarble macrumors 6502

    Oct 1, 2008
    The point of building your own Hack is to get the same performance. If the point were just to use the exact same parts then you would end up spending just about as much as a regular Mac Pro. However, I do agree that if you use the exact same parts and build that exact system yourself you're not going to come out better than if you just bought a Mac Pro. In that sense the Mac Pro isn't unfairly overpriced. It's actually priced pretty well I think. But the point isn't having the same stuff. It's getting better performance for less money. Which can be done quite easily.
  21. wheezy macrumors 65816


    Apr 7, 2005
    Alpine, UT
    I do agree with that, getting the same performance for less is totally ideal; I just had to 'defend' the cost of the MacPro.
  22. wheezy macrumors 65816


    Apr 7, 2005
    Alpine, UT
    The best resolution any monitor can muster is 2560x1600 and that's an awful lot of real estate. It sounds to me like you're really just going for bragging rights on your whole system; which is fine :) When you get your system set up and you have a 30" monitor right in your face you'll be plenty satisfied with how much screen you have.

    If anything I would wait on getting 4GB sticks of RAM as they are pricey; you can fill up a MP Tower with 2GB (x8) sticks to hit your magical 16GB barrier and I think you'll save a little bit going that route.
  23. Mohummad.ali thread starter macrumors newbie


    Oct 16, 2008
    thank you very much people! i am really really excited,
    You have obviously have made a very good case for Mac Pro :apple:
    and actually i myself dint need a lot of convincing, i am a die hard mac fan,
    I have bough 3 apple computers (for friends!!), actually people in my hostel have started believing that i get some commission every time i talk somebody into buying a mac!
  24. ThirteenXIII macrumors 6502a

    Mar 8, 2008
    8-cores would be terrific to have, but in actuality...what is the need for that much overkill?
    even 4-cores is plenty. i suppose its not as exciting as having 8 total cores.
    the only problem i find is that theyre not true quad core (just as far as im aware are 2 Dual Core chips on one-single processor).

    However its $500 saved for having a single cpu that can go towards memory, graphics cards, harddrives or your large display.

    i have a first gen 4 core that is plenty powerful with 8gb of memory and an updated graphics card that runs powerfully enough.

    either way youre going ot find an awesome deal with the macpro.
    i spec'd out a few custom built machines and you just dont get the same deals (i mean hardware is pretty cheap to come by, but then you deal with variety of warranties, possibly driver or hardware conflicts), so is it worth it when you can get it all in one fell swoop?
    I like the fact i can still use windows and slap in a graphics card for windows gaming when ever i want, i dont mind too much OSX doesnt support them, it beats having to maintain two physical systems. (and besides i ahte having to go under the hood of my computer every now and then).

    but good luck in your choice, post back with waht you end up putting together for yourself!
  25. NewSc2 macrumors 65816

    Jun 4, 2005
    New York, NY
    What do you need so much RAM for? If you're a student and money is limited, save your money. Unless you're using some very heavy apps, like in video production, 16GB of RAM is just a waste of money. You can (and should) wait till later when RAM prices fall. Start out with, like, 4-8GB.

    Also a big screen TV, i.e. 40" LCD+ is NOT a good choice for a monitor. The screen resolution is so small you would only be able to fit a couple web pages side by side. A 30" Apple or Dell display has around 4 times the resolution to display more windows.

    Honestly, it seems like you're kind of reaching for the stars (sorry to put it so bluntly). If you have the money to burn, go for it, but if you don't, you would probably do fine with an iMac or with a MBP driving an external monitor. If you have no real need for all that computing power, don't force yourself to get one.

    I'm currently looking to get a Mac Pro, but I actually write music and have been hitting my MBP's ceiling. I've used it for a couple years just fine, though, playing many games (not on high settings) and writing a lot of music. I hook my Macbook Pro to my 30" ACD and it works just great.

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