MacPro Buying Advice Wanted

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by AMSMac01, Apr 19, 2009.

  1. AMSMac01 macrumors newbie

    Apr 19, 2009
    Would appreciate any feedback you care to share on my multiple questions below.

    Background - I have a small consulting company with iMac's in the office, and finally converted to a new MacBook Pro a year ago for my travel laptop. All of these also have either VMWare Fusion or Parallels Desktop running WinXp VM's due to software needs not supported by Mac.

    I've been pondering a Server purchase for some time, and just want to stay Mac thought the server will predominantly be used to host VM's running Windows Server or Windows Xp. Have looked at the MacPro and Xserve, leaning towards the new MP.

    So in no particular order:

    1) 8-core vs. 4-core? Was leaning on the 8-core route, but then read the recent MacWorld benchmarking article that said because most software can't utilize the benefit of 8-cores, the 4-core model performed better. So now I'm pondering saving the $800 and going with the 4-core, but upgrading to the 2.93 GHz processor.

    2) RAM? I was planning on maxing out the ram, then saw a recent post to MacRumors that said that it has been unofficially determined the new MP 4-core can actually take 16Gb ram instead of Apples published 8Gb. So a) has anyone ever exceeded the ram specs and to what result and b) Apple ram is expensive, so I was looking at OWC and others to buy the ram upgrade, what is your experience with Non-OEM ram?

    3) Mac-RAID or not? I will install 3 extra drives, and will probably have 2 in a Raid-1 Mirroring, and 2 as Striped Pair. I also have a slew of other Ethernet drives including a Raid-1 pair, a TimeCapsule, and several 1 Tb drives used for Offsite Backup. My approach to date has basically been a JBOD mess, but I am trying to get some method to a Data Redundancy and Off-site Backup strategy. So Would the Raid card be worth the extra $700?

    4) Virtual Machines. I currently run VMWare Fusion and Parallels Desktop on various machines, but am pondering the Parallels Server version but hesitating on the $1000+ pricetag. I will primarily use the MP to run Windows Server based applications, and will need the Windows Server VM's to have between 1-3 VMs running at any given time. Can I get buy using Fusion or Parallels Desktop for Win Server apps, or should I pony up for the Server version of Parallels?

    Thanks for any thoughts you can share.
  2. milk242 macrumors 6502a

    Jun 28, 2007
    I thought VM software could use all the cores available. You would most likely have several VM's running at a time, it would be nice to give each VM 2 cores.
  3. Pika macrumors 68000


    Oct 5, 2008
    The crippled 4-core model has only 4 slots—going beyond 8GB therefore requires 4GB modules at 8X the cost per GB of 2GB modules.

    You can get an 8-core model with 8X2GB for about $3600 or a 4-core model with 4X4GB for about $5000 (and that’s assuming the 4-core model even works with 4GB modules). Sometimes decisions are easy: if you need more than 8GB of memory, the 8-core model is far less expensive than the 4-core model! So shun the 4-core model. It’s a lousy investment if your needs ever change.
  4. Abidubi macrumors 6502

    Feb 13, 2009
    Holy crap you are so far off it's not even funny. 4 core 2.66 with 16GB would run about $3500. 8 core 2.26 with 16GB is about $3800.
  5. cmaier macrumors G4

    Jul 25, 2007
    If you are running VM's, the VM's can have their own cores, leaving a couple cores for the mac processes. You have one of the rare sets of software needs that actually benefit right now from more cores.

    The 8Gb "limit" isn't a "limit" nor a "spec." It's merely the maximum apple will sell you right now. People have had mixed results with OWC ram, based on discussions on here.

    Since you are contemplating raid 0 and/or 1 (and not 5), there is little added benefit to using the card unless you are planning to use sas drives.
  6. kellen macrumors 68020


    Aug 11, 2006
    Seattle, WA
  7. sigmadog macrumors 6502a


    Feb 11, 2009
    near Spokane, WA
    And an 8-core 2.8 (2008) with 16GB RAM can be had for about $2900. I suspect they are going fast, however.

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