Mac Pro upgrade - keep 4.1 or 5.1?

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by Gøran, Jan 11, 2014.

  1. Gøran macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jan 11, 2014
    #1
    Hi all!

    Been reading the forum for a couple of months, but first post. I have been looking for a replacement for my 2010 Mac Mini and based on this forum and the blog at http://pindelski.org/Photography/mac-pro/ I have decided that and “old” Mac Pro could be a good solution for me.

    Most of what I do is Lightroom and Photoshop, and some simple video editing. In addition to this it will be used for regular text editor, spreadsheets, surfing and e-mail. The marked for used Mac Pro machines here in Norway is kind of slow, but after looking the last month I find my self with two machines.

    I first got a deal for a single CPU Mac Pro 4.1 that I was thinking would be a nice starting point for a computer for my photographic use. While it was in the mail I also got a good offer for a 5.1 machine that just picked up.

    From struggling to find a Mc Pro, I now find my self with having two and I´m wondering what to do.

    The two machines are configured like this:

    Mac Pro 5.1
    2 x 2.4 Ghz
    20GB
    ATI Radeon HD 5879 1024MB
    1 TB SATA HD

    Mac Pro 4.1
    1 x 2.66 GHz
    10GB
    Nvidia GeForce GT120 512MB
    640GB SATA HD

    I don´t have use for two, so I figured I would upgrade one and sell the other - the question is which one do I upgrade?

    I think I have a pretty good understanding of what the possibilities are for CPU upgrades, flashing of the 4.1 to a 5.1 to be able to use faster RAM and a 6 core CPU, the possibilities for a PCIe card for adding a SSD for better speed, USB3 and so forth. One thing I haven’t been reading up on is graphic cards and what I would need and what is possible.

    With what I have in the two machines and my primary use being Lightroom and Photoshop which machine should I upgrade? I was hoping to do the upgrade in stages to spread the cost over the next few months, but where do I start?

    Both of the machines will need one or more SSD drives, but do I “need” a PCIe card for speed or will adding a SSD drive to the regular SATA II interface in the Mac Pro be a nice start? Keep in mind I´m coming from an 2010 Mac Mini with 8GB.

    I was thinking getting a 256GB SSD drive connected to the SATA II interface in the Mac Pro combined with two regular 1TB 7200 SATA drives in Raid 0, and a 4 TB SATA drive for Time Machine back up would be a low cost start. Will this work for Lightroom and Photoshop as a starting point?

    Will the graphic cards I have be OK or would I need to upgrade?

    I would eventually like to upgrade to 3.33GHz CPU on the machine I keep, but would the dual CPU version be the best or will a single CPU for my use be just as good? The cost of a dual CPU upgrade for the 5.1 is from what i can find not twice the cost of upgrading the single CPU 4.1, so cost wise upgrading the dual CPU machine isn´t that big a deal compared to the single CPU machine.

    Figured that for the single CPU machine I would add RAM to get it to 24GB (3x8GB) in total, but for the dual CPU machine I was thinking that 32GB (4x8GB) would be OK. All the memory in the machines are 1066MHz so when upgrading I was planning to swap out the old RAM to get faster RAM.

    I know that for benchmark the dual CPU will be faster that the single CPU, and for heavy use it will be a better machine. But for my use, will I really see that difference?

    I know this turned out to be a really long post, and I´m sorry for that. I´m kind of struggling with what the best solution would be here and any input would be greatly appreciated.

    Thanks for reading!
    Gøran
     
  2. rk25123 macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Aug 17, 2010
    #2
    For Lightroom and Photoshop a single six core processor is more than enough, in some cases it's actually better (don't ask me why):
    http://macperformanceguide.com/OptimizingPhotoshopCS6-cpu.html

    If you want to upgrade the 4.1 (which is practically identical to a 5.1 after flashing and upgrading), I'd suggest:

    -Samsung 840 PRO for boot drive (you can buy an adaptor so you can put it in one of the Mac Pro's bays, it's not SATA III, but if you don't work with enormous files you won't notice the difference)
    -Intel Xeon W3680
    -48 GB DDR3 1333Mhz ECC RAM (3 x 16 GB, so that you get triple channel)
    -GTX 680 Mac Edition (that's the most powerful officially supported video card, but you can get many other cards to work if you flash them)
    -USB 3.0 PCI Express card with Fresco chip (http://www.inateck.com/ktu3fr-4p-pci-express-erweiterungskarte-mit-vier-usb3-0-schnittstellen/)

    These aren't cheap upgrades, but the final result is a very powerful computer (even by today's standards) which will serve you for years.
     
  3. MacUser2525 macrumors 68000

    MacUser2525

    Joined:
    Mar 17, 2007
    Location:
    Canada
    #3
    It can be cheaper if you do not get caught up in the highest mhz option. You can get matched pair of x5650s to put in that 2010 for under $300, the w3680 for the single you will be doing good to get one for under $600 now a days. The dual core machine upgraded will have almost twice the processing power of the single, 25K Geekbench for dual vs 15K for single. So doing the dual will leave you $300 to spend on another of the upgrade options you have listed.
     
  4. CrazyNurse macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Oct 23, 2012
    #4
    For 12-core options you're looking at the X5600 series (5650, 5660, 5670, 5680, or 5690).

    So, you have some good options and you can drop in more ram in the dual CPU machines.

    There's some heated discussion threads about SSDs placed in PCIe cards (to get SATA3) vs placed in the stock drive bays (using SATA2). It all depends on what you will use the SSD for.

    If you want the maximum speed of SSD then you'll need to place it in a PCIe card as a single drive or RAID 0. Otherwise, they work fine.
     
  5. Gøran thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jan 11, 2014
    #5
    Would I really need a 12 core computer for my use? I see that going with a 8 core computer I could get a pair of CPUs with a higher speed than with 12 core computer for the same amount of money.

    I understand that for multi-core tasks where all the cores will be used the 12 core solution will the fastest of them all, but from what I understand my primary use of Lightroom and Photoshop will not be able to use all 12 cores. Some even claim that for Photoshop getting a 12 core computer could be slower than a 4 or 6 core with the same clock speed.

    I was thinking that for the single chip computer the thing would be to get the fastest possible 6 core CPU, but as pointed out those are expensive. I read that for the 2009 single CPU Mac Pro it is possible to use an Intel i7-990/980 CPU. Has anyone tried this? Those are lower cost and has better availability, but can they really be used? That would give me a 6 core 3.33/3.46 CPU that might be a good option?

    For the dual CPU I was thinking that going with W5590 to get a 8 core 3.33 computer would be a nice solution. Will not be the fastest in benchmarks for multi-core, but could it be a nice balance for normal use and Lightroom and Photoshop?

    For cost going with the single 6 core CPU and dual 4 core CPU would be about the same (ordering from Norway), but I´m kind of torn as to what the best solution would be.

    I´ll do some more reading.......:confused:

    Thanks for helping out!

    Gøran
     
  6. VirtualRain macrumors 603

    VirtualRain

    Joined:
    Aug 1, 2008
    Location:
    Vancouver, BC
    #6
    I don't want to discourage you, I'm just curious... have you roughly costed everything out? What will it cost to buy a 2009 these days and get it upgraded with a better processor or two, graphics card, RAM, SSD, etc... is it worth it vs buying a new one?
     
  7. Gøran thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jan 11, 2014
    #7
    I actually did look at the new one a couple of weeks ago. I know I´m kind of comparing apples (no pun intended) and oranges here, but the 2009 4.1 I have sitting on the desk in front of me upgraded to 6 core 3.46GHz, 16GB/1333 RAM, 256SSD on a PCIe card would cost me aprox 40% of what the lowest cost new one is here in Norway. I would still need to upgrade the GPU of the 4.1, but i figure that for about half of the cost of the new Mac Pro I can get a computer that will do a nice job for the next years.

    Don´t get me wrong, I would really like to get the new Mac Pro. It is just to much money now. My old Mac Mini was struggling and I looked at four alternatives: a new Mini, an iMac, the new Mac Pro and upgrading a 4.1/5.1. With price and possibilities available I ended up thinking that the upgrade route was the right one for me this time, but I was a tough choice with a new Mac Pro vs the old

    Thanks for looking out for me. Being new to this I appreciate you having me recheck my decisions before its to late:)

    Gøran
     
  8. VirtualRain macrumors 603

    VirtualRain

    Joined:
    Aug 1, 2008
    Location:
    Vancouver, BC
    #8
    I didn't realize that you already had the 4,1 on hand. It sounded to me like you were thinking of starting with nothing, which is why I was curious. I'll bud out. ;)
     
  9. Macsonic macrumors 65816

    Macsonic

    Joined:
    Sep 6, 2009
    Location:
    Earth
    #9
    Hi Goran. The Xeon 3.33ghz/3.46ghz 6 core or the w5590 3.33ghz 8 core are your best choices. Photoshop or Lightroom is not too dependent on having more cores. And these softwares are not yet optimized to use dual Graphic cards in the new Mac Pro at the time being. The w5590 goes for around $400 or less in eBay as this option provides the minimal expenses in upgrading at the fastest possible speed. Given the global economy and business climate, best to keep costs as low as possible and factoring computer depreciation too. The performance of the 4.1 and 5.1 are similar in speed and stability from my experience. Another factor is how one optimizes Photoshop so it runs at the fastest speed. It's how the user manages his workflow and work habits in his setup. This ARTICLE may help. Good luck!
     
  10. Gøran thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jan 11, 2014
    #10
    No, you got it right. It´s just that I have already picked up a 4.1 and a 5.1. Two weeks a go I had neither. I got a good deal on both and can resell the one I don´t keep without a loss when I decide which one to keep.

    But the cost estimate I gave in my previous post was including the cost of the used 4.1 I bought. Reading my previous post once more I see that I could have said so for clarification. Sorry about that. This is what you get when us non-native speakers visit:D

    Please stay, I can use all the good input I can get!

    Regards
    Gøran
     
  11. Studio K macrumors 6502

    Studio K

    Joined:
    Feb 17, 2013
    Location:
    United States
    #11
    There are members of this forum who have confirmed that the i7-980/990 CPUs will work in the 2009 4,1 Mac Pro (after firmware upgrade).
     
  12. wildmac macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Jun 13, 2003
    #12
    Side question here... can you generally get better prices in Europe on components than you can paying the "Apple" and gov taxes on new systems? If so, I imagine that would greatly swing things towards upgrades when possible.
     
  13. Mac Gus macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Dec 31, 2013
    Location:
    New York City
    #13
    I'm in the process of upgrading my 4,1 but with the goal of making it optimal for FCP so I am going the dual 6-core route. I'm going to install two x5660s (2.8GHz).

    I also installed a SSD. I opted to put it in one of the SATA internal bay. I'm using a Crucial 480GB SSD. According to Blackmagic I'm getting approx. 255 Write and 265 Read. This is up from approx 100 write/read speeds on the stock HDD. So I'm pretty happy with this increase. As others said you can boot from SSD on a PCIe card and get faster speeds. I don't have any experience with that.

    You also might want to consider a USB3.0 PCIe card. It will make transferring photos to your computer much quicker. You can get a USB3 card for around $50.
     
  14. Swampus macrumors 6502

    Swampus

    Joined:
    Jun 20, 2013
    Location:
    Winterfell
    #14
    Good advice in this thread. It's probably obvious, but I'll mention anyway, that a legitimate 5,1 has a much higher resale value than the 4,1. Though it's perfectly true, as stated above, that a 4,1 to 5,1 flash is practically identical, folks pay way more for a legitimate 5,1. Be sure to factor that into your decision making here. There will be a difference in recovered expenses depending upon which one you decide to sell. In the United States, there seems to be about a $800 to $1000 difference in what people are willing to pay even for machines with the same CPUs? That alone would get you some very nice upgrades. Maybe even more in Europe? (You've got that weird line through the "o" in your name, so I assume that means you ain't from 'Murica?). ;)
     
  15. MacUser2525 macrumors 68000

    MacUser2525

    Joined:
    Mar 17, 2007
    Location:
    Canada
    #15
    If you discount the fact that the x5650s will be roughly 20% faster overall for a maxed out cpu task. I see them 6 core processors for less than $200 a piece all the time, buy it now on Ebay I looking at right now $139 plus shipping with a best offer option. Cheapest w5590 that has sold on there in the last month was $150+. With the w5590 you get 45nm processor x5650 32nm. The power savings alone is worth it. But all you people are caught up in the Mhz trap unlikely to get out. Oh well it is the OPs money he can waste it as he see fit to do so...

    http://www.ebay.ca/itm/380748397341?ssPageName=STRK:MEWAX:IT&_trksid=p3984.m1438.l2649
     
  16. Macsonic macrumors 65816

    Macsonic

    Joined:
    Sep 6, 2009
    Location:
    Earth
    #16
    Hi Macuser2525. Thanks for the tip. It's a good option to go with. There is also the x5660 2.8ghz 6 cores. There was a member here who chose the x5660 duals. The clock speed of 2.66ghz is quite popular since it's a good midrange pricing with adequate speed and temperature.
     

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