MacPro 4,1; A Good Idea to buy?

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by Game64, Jun 21, 2013.

  1. Game64 macrumors member

    Joined:
    Jan 21, 2011
    Location:
    Las Vegas, NV
    #1
    With the recent announcement of the Mac Pro 6,1. It seems Mac Pro prices have dropped on eBay. Several Quad Core 09 Mac Pro's are showing up on eBay for anywhere from 700$+.

    But is the Mac Pro 2009 still a viable machine to buy? Will it be future proof for the next few years? It seems one can buy a 09 Mac Pro, Two Monitors, Ram and a New video card for the price of a used Macbook Retina.

    Compared to the Macbook Retina i7 2.3ghz it appears as if the 09 Mac Pro doesn't lag too far behind. But will it be futureproof?
     
  2. Neodym macrumors 65816

    Neodym

    Joined:
    Jul 5, 2002
    #2
    The 2009 is basically identical to the 2010 which is basically identical to the 2012. So in terms of OSX support it should be as futureproof as it can get.

    It uses standard Ram (deviating from the expensive FB-DIMM in former revisions) and has 64bit EFI. According to this post you can even speed up Ram by flashing the EFI to 5,1 and putting in a W36x0 hex-core CPU (which can btw. also give a significant speed boost on its own).

    PCIe is only rev.2, which may lead to performance limitations with PCIe SSD cards or very fast graphic cards. Chances are, however, that you won't notice that in normal use.

    What it lacks completely are Thunderbolt and USB3. While you may be able to get a USB3 PCIe card running, i'm not aware of retrofitting Thunderbolt into older devices.

    Though looking at the currently available Thunderbolt hardware and its pricing, i'd consider it improbable that you would be really missing Thunderbolt in the next few years (unless you absolutely need a very specific hardware for e.g. video or audio editing).

    TL;DR:
    All in all it's still a very capable machine, especially after flashing the EFI to 5,1 and swapping the CPU for a hex-core. Biggest drawbacks should be power consumption and it being a pretty big, immobile box (especially in comparison to the Retina MBP).

    The latter is countermeasured by the internal HD slots, saving you from external cable clutter if you need/want lots of harddisk space.
     
  3. Pjotr28 macrumors member

    Joined:
    Mar 3, 2013
    Location:
    Netherlands
    #3
    You'll never know. But the Mac Pro 4.1 can be modified to a 5.1 similar as the latest 2012 model. I don't think this machine will be abandoned by Apple in the upcoming years.
    And it's possible to upgrade CPU and graphic card of this machine.
     
  4. applegeek897 macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Aug 23, 2011
    #4
    Don't forget you could chuck a six core into it and that is what will make it super future proof
     
  5. Game64 thread starter macrumors member

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    Jan 21, 2011
    Location:
    Las Vegas, NV
    #5
    I'm not too set on Thunderbolt, USB 3.0 would be nice, but its not necessary. I'm sure a PCI card could handle it. It seems like right now Thunderbolt is a little bit expensive for anything i'd need.

    I am however concerned with performance. Typically i'll be running boot-camp for light gaming, otherwise i'll be running OSX w/ Ubuntu in Parallels. I'll be doing Graphic Design, Programming, Network Administration and Database Administration.

    I'm really drawn to the Macbook Retina due to the native screen resolution and the ability to use it as such. I'm mobile partly but I have an HP Laptop that mostly does the job. However priced out I could get an 09 MacPro, 3 monitors, ram and a new GPU for the same price as a Macbook Retina. So it the 09 can be stretched out as far as you both say. It might be a no brainer.

    The only catch is I do 40% of my development while mobile.
     
  6. DPUser macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Jan 17, 2012
    #6
    I love my 4,1 (which thinks it is a 5,1 hex 3.33.) Shhhh... don't tell it!
     
  7. Neodym macrumors 65816

    Neodym

    Joined:
    Jul 5, 2002
    #7
    Unless you upgrade the 2009's CPU (which can be a little pricey), its performance should be more or less on par with the rMBP.

    For your usage profile you would probably want the rMBP with 16GB Ram and a bigger SSD than the standard 256GB, which would increase the price for the rMBP.

    If that would not break your budget, then i'd say that this:

    is the deciding factor. Once you've used the rMBP that percentage may even (significantly) increase and you'll never want to go back to your HP. It's blazingly fast for a mobile device, the trackpad is a joy to use and the flexibility to run the marvellous display in various resolutions (depending on your current requirements) is simply outstanding.

    Using the rMBP as only machine - as it's sufficiently powerful to act as desktop replacement - you could also save yourself the time/hassle involved with synchronizing your data between desktop and mobile machine.
     
  8. comatory macrumors 6502a

    comatory

    Joined:
    Apr 10, 2012
    #8
    Hmm. Everything you say you do can be handled by 2012 quad core Mini with lots of RAM with no problem. 2009 Mac Pro might be overkill for you (to me it looks like you dont need that much GPU power or lots of storage - simple SSD and lots of RAM for Photoshop/design tools is sufficient).

    Maybe you could get a mini instead and save a lot of money. But if I were doing so much work mobile I would probably get a laptop (to me that would be classic 15" Macbook Pro with my own SSD and RAM). You could get one of those Belkin Thunderbolt replicators for use at home with large display.

    I have a 2009 Mac Pro but sometimes I think I would be better off with newest Mac Mini. I think the main reason why I got Pro was that I could fit lots of storage in it (I like to do video editing) and lots of RAM. Now mini has USB3 and can be fitted with 16GB of RAM. I think in few years we'll start seeing 16GB SO-DIMM chips so I could get 32GB as well. I think 90 percent of time I'm fine with 16GB anyway. I could get external dual drive USB3 RAID box which would be enough for me.
    I game lightly - I think the most advance game I played in past few years was Fallout 3 and that should run OK on mini, otherwise I play indie platformers and such.

    Seeing that 15" Macbook Pro is basically a mini (and vice versa), I think you would be really happy with MBP. I don't fancy retina that much, I'd rather put SSD and HDD in optibay instead and get my own RAM. At home, I would use large 24-27 in hi-res display anyway.
     
  9. Game64 thread starter macrumors member

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    Jan 21, 2011
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    Las Vegas, NV
    #9
    @comatory; Funny thing I actually have one of the newer Mac Mini's with an i5 and Thunderbolt. I think it's a 2012 Model w/ 16gb. Originally I was looking at the Macbook Retina because like Neodym said it became a hassle to move data and such from mobile. Actually lost 2 weeks on a contract due to a dropbox error.

    So I was looking to condense down to just the Macbook Retina. The difference however is that with a Mac Pro I could use 3 Displays and still have GPU power (one thing lacking on the Mini).

    I suppose i'm the only person who will really know what works best for me. Maybe i'm just having price-tag shock at the though of spending 2200$ On a Laptop when I could have a Mac Pro w/ 3 Displays and a better GPU.
     
  10. comatory macrumors 6502a

    comatory

    Joined:
    Apr 10, 2012
    #10
    i5 mini is dual-core only, you'd be better of with i7 quad core model. but anyway back to your question - somehow missed that you need to drive 3 displays. If you have 2012 model you can drive three displays but two of them have to be Apple Thunderbolt displays. So unless you have those it really makes more sense to get a Mac Pro.
    But with retina MBP you'll be facing the same problem. You can drive one display via HDMI and another via Thunderbolt port (using adapter) but if you want to add third one you will need Thunderbolt displays (I'm not sure if you could do this using only one TB display - you could theoretically chain regular display from TB display using video adapter).
     
  11. Neodym macrumors 65816

    Neodym

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    Jul 5, 2002
    #11
    The Retina MBP can drive up to 4 displays (counting the internal one as well). Using adapters on both Thunderbolt ports should allow for such a setup without needing a Thunderbolt display.
     
  12. comatory macrumors 6502a

    comatory

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    Apr 10, 2012
    #12
    damn my bad! I totally forgot retina Macbook has two TBs!!!
     
  13. tjlazer macrumors member

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    Jul 27, 2005
    Location:
    Tacoma, WA USA
    #13
    I say get it and throw in a Hex Core W3670, W3680 in it for under $600. I just put in a W3670 3.2GHz Hex 6 core for $315 total.
     
  14. firedownunder macrumors regular

    Joined:
    May 5, 2011
    #14
    I love my 4.1. Bought it on ebay 2 years ago for $1200 (included a few hdd's and 8GB ram). Added some ram (which is cheap), retrofitted to my liking, couldn't be happier. Never had an issue. Knowing I can easily swap out the cpu and flash to a 5.1 (even though I don't need it) is just icing on the cake. I don't need mobility, just adding my two cents. Good luck :)
     
  15. Macsonic macrumors 65816

    Macsonic

    Joined:
    Sep 6, 2009
    Location:
    Earth
    #15
    Hi Game64. Go for the 4,1 2009 Mac Pro. In my opinion it's still viable for a few more years. Neodym's posting is actually accurate and hits the spot right on about the 2009 Mac Pro. I have been using both the 2009 and 5,1 2010 model and both are similar in terms of architecture. It's just the firmware that's different. Both are quiet, fast and gets the job done at the end of the day.

    For USB 3.0, I installed a CalDigit USB 3.0 card with 2 additional eSATA ports. Works fine on the 4,1. I have not tested the speed of USB 3.0 as I don't have yet any USB 3 devices. But the eSATA is noticeably faster than Firewire 800. I am not looking for the maximum speed but as long as the speed increase is substantial I am good with it. Happy shopping.
     
  16. rGiskard macrumors 68000

    rGiskard

    Joined:
    Aug 9, 2012
    #16
    Absolutely! The machine in my signature started out life as a 2009 quad core. It is now ready for many years of service. All three SSD boot drives (two are in RAID0, one bootcamp) are in the lower ODD bay leaving the four HDD bays for data.

    Once you get it, just update the firmware to macpro5,1 and drop in a hexa-core Xeon, either W3680 or W3690. The W3690 is only worth it if you can get one on ebay for the price of a W3680. I got a rare deal on my W3690 but seriously you're not going to notice the difference between 3.33 GHz and 3.46 GHz.

    Load that sucker with RAM and slap in a b!tchin' video card and you're ready to rock. Of course an SSD or three is mandatory. At current used prices, you're in at well under $2K for a killer machine.

    If you get jealous of the trash can, you can install an extra PSU in one of the ODD bays and power a second video card with it. Then it can double as a space heater!
     

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