My Mac Pro 2008 is getting a little long in the tooth -- what should I upgrade to?

sparkie7

macrumors 68020
Original poster
Oct 17, 2008
2,037
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...the new darth vader trash can or one of the last aluminium cased Westmere's?

pros / cons

which would you choose?
 

mikeboss

macrumors 65816
Aug 13, 2009
1,295
478
switzerland
for me, it boils down to three things: nMP has highest possible single-thread performance, lowest possible noise emissions and Thunderbolt built-in. at anything else the cMP is as good if not better. the advantages of the cMP are well known: lots of space for storage, PCIe slots etc. also I like tray-loading DVD-R drives better (yes, i still use them for burning CDs). oh, and money is also a factor. IMHO nMP is way too expensive. at least over here in switzerland.
 

fuchsdh

macrumors 68000
Jun 19, 2014
1,606
970
Impossible to really say without knowing your budget, and what you're planning on using it for.

I crunched numbers and realized that while I'd love to get the next nMP rev, it probably made more economic sense for me to get a 5,1 and upgrade it, and sell the 3,1 while it's going to be worth $500 or more to recoup that much of the upgrade cost. I might look at upgrading again in two years.

The advantage of the classic MP was that I could simply migrate my graphics card, SSD boot drive and hard drives to the new sleds and within an hour I was back up to speed. Moving to a nMP depending on what accessories you have, storage to migrate might take more time.

My use case is AE renders, some light 3D, and a few select games (Starcraft, DotA, the like).
 

rueyloon

macrumors regular
Sep 24, 2013
182
11
The entire migration will cost around 20% more then you budgeted because you'll need to buy additional storage solutions.

From the 2008, are are looking at a improvement in performance for the upgrade.

I had the 2008 octo 2.8 to 2009 octo 3.33 to nMP hex 3.5

I would say the performance is about 25% for the first leap and 20% for the second leap.
 

sparkie7

macrumors 68020
Original poster
Oct 17, 2008
2,037
106
The black trash can is coming in quite expensive. Add to this I would have to find an external enclosure to house all the drives in my current MP. or I just buy an external drive enclosure with TB with say hotswapable drives.

It would make more sense to turn my 2008 MP into a server/keep it to access all the older applications like Freehand etc.. basically a legacy machine. As nothing in it can transfer into the trash can.
 

SDAVE

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Jun 16, 2007
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Nowhere
I "upgraded" from a 2008 8 Core to a 2010 8 Core (and an upgrade to GTX780) and can already feel the difference. I plan to go 12 core next year once the paired CPU's drop in price on ebay (they are around $600 right now for a pair of x5680).
 

Sharky II

macrumors 6502a
Jan 6, 2004
615
29
United Kingdom
I went from 2008 8-core 2.8ghz/12GB Ram to a 4,1 Quad 2.66 with 3GB Ram. I moved my SSDs, HDs and PCIe cards across to the machine and kept working same day.

Then I flashed it to 5,1, and threw in 24GB of 1333 Ram. It was already faster than the the 2008! Tomorrow my 3.46GHz 6-core Xeon arrives. I use Logic X all day and single thread performance is really important - slow ram and FSB on the 2008 was the limiting factor. The 2009 4,1 quad is so much better for Logic, and that's before the CPU upgrade. It can run the same TOTAL number of plugins as the 8-core 2008, but each core is so much faster for single threaded stuff. I didn't need a dual core machine.

I saved so much money doing this - if i'd bought a 6-core nMP, i'd have had to buy not only the machine, but extra Ram, a pricey PCIe box for my SSL audio card rig (or switch to an entirely different system which is even more expensive), multiple caddy's for the HDs, the adaptor to work with my 30" cinema display, etc. I costed it all at about £4k. Plus Applecare.

On top of that, while the nMP is silent - the HD and PCIe boxes would have been noisier than the overall sound of a cMP.

I really wanted a nMP but i couldn't afford it - nor could i justify it. Plus the noise issue was a real one.

The 4,1 machine cost me £520, 24GB RAM £200 (new), the CPU was £200 (used). So that's £920, and i can sell my old machine for around £500.

Add in another £130 for an AMD 7950 on eBay when i feel like I need it and call it £1050, so all in all it's cost me £550 once i've sold my old machine.

That's instead of costing me £3500 for the nMP once i've sold my 2008...

My 6-core 3.46GHz will be slower than the 6-core nMP but not £3k+ slower...

Cheers!

Ed

P.S. Oh, i can also add in a PCIe SSD solution when i feel like it, upgrading slowly in increments/instalments instead of having to throw down all the money in one go.
 

SDAVE

macrumors 68040
Jun 16, 2007
3,381
443
Nowhere
I went from 2008 8-core 2.8ghz/12GB Ram to a 4,1 Quad 2.66 with 3GB Ram. I moved my SSDs, HDs and PCIe cards across to the machine and kept working same day.

Then I flashed it to 5,1, and threw in 24GB of 1333 Ram. It was already faster than the the 2008! Tomorrow my 3.46GHz 6-core Xeon arrives. I use Logic X all day and single thread performance is really important - slow ram and FSB on the 2008 was the limiting factor. The 2009 4,1 quad is so much better for Logic, and that's before the CPU upgrade. It can run the same TOTAL number of plugins as the 8-core 2008, but each core is so much faster for single threaded stuff. I didn't need a dual core machine.

I saved so much money doing this - if i'd bought a 6-core nMP, i'd have had to buy not only the machine, but extra Ram, a pricey PCIe box for my SSL audio card rig (or switch to an entirely different system which is even more expensive), multiple caddy's for the HDs, the adaptor to work with my 30" cinema display, etc. I costed it all at about £4k. Plus Applecare.

On top of that, while the nMP is silent - the HD and PCIe boxes would have been noisier than the overall sound of a cMP.

I really wanted a nMP but i couldn't afford it - nor could i justify it. Plus the noise issue was a real one.

The 4,1 machine cost me £520, 24GB RAM £200 (new), the CPU was £200 (used). So that's £920, and i can sell my old machine for around £500.

Add in another £130 for an AMD 7950 on eBay when i feel like I need it and call it £1050, so all in all it's cost me £550 once i've sold my old machine.

That's instead of costing me £3500 for the nMP once i've sold my 2008...

My 6-core 3.46GHz will be slower than the 6-core nMP but not £3k+ slower...

Cheers!

Ed

P.S. Oh, i can also add in a PCIe SSD solution when i feel like it, upgrading slowly in increments/instalments instead of having to throw down all the money in one go.
Yeah its awesome that we can still get good life out of these machines.

I also needed CUDA so I had to go with the GTX780 and a cMP.
 

Macsonic

macrumors 68000
Sep 6, 2009
1,601
60
The black trash can is coming in quite expensive. Add to this I would have to find an external enclosure to house all the drives in my current MP. or I just buy an external drive enclosure with TB with say hotswapable drives.

It would make more sense to turn my 2008 MP into a server/keep it to access all the older applications like Freehand etc.. basically a legacy machine. As nothing in it can transfer into the trash can.
Take note that aside from the external enclosure, you still would need to spend on a second external enclosure to back up your files on the first enclosure.

Probably your consideration on what Mac Pro to get would relate to the cost, speed gain and the type of tasks you will be doing as both the classic Mac Pro or New cylinder Mac Pro can help you in completing your daily tasks. One of my clients, a motion graphics firm, that I do business with has the new Darth Vader Mac Pro 8 core 3.0ghz. The client was kind enough to let me try out his new Mac Pro. It runs fast and snappy. More or less I have an idea of the speed of the new Mac Pro though I will continue using the classic Mac Pro which suits my workflow and costs. I wasn't looking which was the faster machine between the classic Mac Pro or the new Mac Pro.

The feedback I got from the owner of the new Mac Pro is during video exports using DaVinci Resolve he gets freezes and hangs that he would need to do a hard reboot. Probably there would be a solution in the next update of a 7.1 Mac Pro or maybe an OSX update to fix the issue. It helps to research which apps runs well and being able to test out both machines.
 

Cubemmal

macrumors 6502a
Jun 13, 2013
824
1
for me, it boils down to three things: nMP has highest possible single-thread performance, lowest possible noise emissions and Thunderbolt built-in.
And don't forget the fastest Flash (getting faster no doubt when OWC releases their Flash with the new Sandforce chipset), fastest RAM and USB3 built in.

The only real advantage the old Mac Pro had was you could upgrade the GPU. Upgrading other PCIe cards was largely an illusion. I tried many different cards and just ended up wasting time, money and energy. The drivers, when they explicitly exist are usually buggy.

But, if you still want to go that route you can get PCIe TB expansion chassis. I tried that and guess what? Kernel panics in the drivers which are supposed to support TB.

If you want PCIe expansion stick with a PC IMO. Again the only advantage the oMP had was an upgradable GPU, but then you're stuck with PCIe 2.0 so that's now a moot point.
 

VirtualRain

macrumors 603
Aug 1, 2008
6,304
115
Vancouver, BC
...the new darth vader trash can or one of the last aluminium cased Westmere's?

pros / cons

which would you choose?
What are you doing with it? How much external storage do you need?

In general...

Advantages of nMP:
- Dual high-end GPUs, USB 3, and PCIe SSD (not physically possible in oMP)
- Fastest SSD available
- Best single-core performance
- Tiny foot print
- No noise

Advantages of oMP:
- Upgradable GPU (for now)
- Internal storage (although limited to SATA2)
 

CASLondon

macrumors 6502a
Apr 18, 2011
536
0
London
And don't forget the fastest Flash (getting faster no doubt when OWC releases their Flash with the new Sandforce chipset), fastest RAM and USB3 built in.

The only real advantage the old Mac Pro had was you could upgrade the GPU. Upgrading other PCIe cards was largely an illusion. I tried many different cards and just ended up wasting time, money and energy. The drivers, when they explicitly exist are usually buggy.
And you can use this new, fastest flash, in the old Mac Pro. With a 40 USD (at most) PCI-e adapter. I just put 1tb in my 2009 Mac Pro, read/writes over 1000 mb/s. The forthcoming OWC option will fit there too

You can upgrade the GPU - and the CPUs, and the ram, and raid cards, and SATAII drive slots, and the Wi-fi ac/BT4, and the internal raid configuration
 

sparkie7

macrumors 68020
Original poster
Oct 17, 2008
2,037
106
And you can use this new, fastest flash, in the old Mac Pro. With a 40 USD (at most) PCI-e adapter. I just put 1tb in my 2009 Mac Pro, read/writes over 1000 mb/s. The forthcoming OWC option will fit there too

You can upgrade the GPU - and the CPUs, and the ram, and raid cards, and SATAII drive slots, and the Wi-fi ac/BT4, and the internal raid configuration
Do you have links? thanks

PS thanks guys for all the info and replies
 
Last edited:

TheStork

macrumors 6502
Dec 28, 2008
281
163
...the new darth vader trash can or one of the last aluminium cased Westmere's?

pros / cons

which would you choose?
There is some very good information in this thread for upgrading your 3,1 or just buying a newer MP (4,1+, 5,1 or even a 6,1). My 3,1 has the SSD/PCIe card and a PC Gigabyte 5770 graphics card all of which work great for my needs.

However, if you are going to turn your 3,1 into a server, consider a hackintosh. I have several, and all exceed my expectations when using GarageBand for my simple recording requirements.

Good luck and have fun with your final solution.
 

VirtualRain

macrumors 603
Aug 1, 2008
6,304
115
Vancouver, BC
You can upgrade the GPU - and the CPUs, and the ram, and raid cards, and SATAII drive slots, and the Wi-fi ac/BT4, and the internal raid configuration
While this is certainly true, upgrading a oMP is not that seamless... There are gotcha's, issues, compromises, etc. I've been there and done that, and I'm happy not to have to deal with the headaches any more.
 

Cubemmal

macrumors 6502a
Jun 13, 2013
824
1
While this is certainly true, upgrading a oMP is not that seamless... There are gotcha's, issues, compromises, etc. I've been there and done that, and I'm happy not to have to deal with the headaches any more.
Agreed. I rarely had a seamless or successful cMP upgrade.

Regardless its a dead platform, I can understand wishing Apple had kept the form factor, it's over.

----------

And you can use this new, fastest flash, in the old Mac Pro.
Sure, at PCIe 2.0. In the not too distance future we'll go to PCIe 4.0.

Not sure what you're arguing, as I say above I can understand wishing Apple hadn't gone to the trash can, but it's done - the cMP is a dead platform. They still have legs for a few more years maybe, but not much longer than that.
 

ToroidalZeus

macrumors 68020
Dec 8, 2009
2,300
871
I just bought a Power Mac G5 to build up. Personally I'd recommend gutting the inside sides and turning it into a hackintosh.
 
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mikeboss

macrumors 65816
Aug 13, 2009
1,295
478
switzerland
Agreed. I rarely had a seamless or successful cMP upgrade.
I do seamless and successful cMP upgrades all the time. either you purchased the wrong upgrades, your cMP was defective or something else went terribly wrong...
 
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gugy

macrumors 68040
Jan 31, 2005
3,352
4,079
La Jolla, CA
I am upgrading my 2011 and hope to keep for another 2 years before moving into the nMP.
It is just too expensive now and like some said here, you still need to buy external enclosures to accommodate all the drives.
Still on my case the speed bump on the nMP is not that great since my machine still fairly not that old.
I would not consider keep a MP beyond 6 years as your main work machine. I just had bad experience in the past and the lack of warranty can make costs high if a problem happens. Well at least for me.
 

CASLondon

macrumors 6502a
Apr 18, 2011
536
0
London
Agreed. I rarely had a seamless or successful cMP upgrade.

Regardless its a dead platform, I can understand wishing Apple had kept the form factor, it's over.

----------



Sure, at PCIe 2.0. In the not too distance future we'll go to PCIe 4.0.

Not sure what you're arguing, as I say above I can understand wishing Apple hadn't gone to the trash can, but it's done - the cMP is a dead platform. They still have legs for a few more years maybe, but not much longer than that.
Not sure why you think we are relaunching the "Omg the cMP is DEAD!/Omg the nMP SUCKS!" wars of '14 again.

Its just a factual answer. At the moment, there is no PCIe 4.0, so that's a nice story. But you can run the same fastest of the moment flash hard drive from a nMP in a cMP.

Not all of us have problems upgrading these things, some of this stuff is drop and go. The fact you are using an Apple drive means no problems whatsoever, no TRIM issues to sort out, etc.
 

MacVidCards

Suspended
Nov 17, 2008
6,096
1,052
Hollywood, CA
How soon we forget.

What are you doing with it? How much external storage do you need?

In general...

Advantages of nMP:
- Dual high-end GPUs, USB 3, and PCIe SSD (not physically possible in oMP)
Unless of course you used one of the 4 PCIE slots. Put a PCIE SSD in my cMP, same blistering speeds as nMP, bootable, etc.

- Fastest SSD available
Yes, if you forget that cMP had those slot thingies.

- Best single-core performance
- Tiny foot print
- No noise

Advantages of oMP:
- Upgradable GPU (for now)
- Internal storage (although limited to SATA2)
Unless of course you USED THE PCIE SLOTS.

Just booted off my XP941, at same speeds as nMP.

Used one of the x4 PCIE slots.
 

Cubemmal

macrumors 6502a
Jun 13, 2013
824
1
I do seamless and successful cMP upgrades all the time. either you purchased the wrong upgrades, your cMP was defective or something else went terribly wrong...
Hmm, CalDigit USB 3 card. Installed the driver, plugged it in, kernel panics. One or two other USB3 cards, more failures. An eSATA card (not going to bother looking it up) - kernel panics. Though to be fair Apple did fix the eSATA issue - about two years later. Apple determined my cMP isn't defective, and it does work fine with GPU upgrades and the one eSATA. Didn't say it wasn't possible. Did mean to say it's not like installing a card on Windows or Linux.

Not sure why you think we are relaunching the "Omg the cMP is DEAD!/Omg the nMP SUCKS!" wars of '14 again.
Just making conversation, not trying to take over the world with evil plans to reopen discussions.
 

RedTomato

macrumors 601
Mar 4, 2005
4,038
329
.. London ..
The 4,1 machine cost me £520, 24GB RAM £200 (new), the CPU was £200 (used). So that's £920, and i can sell my old machine for around £500.

Add in another £130 for an AMD 7950 on eBay when i feel like I need it and call it £1050, so all in all it's cost me £550 once i've sold my old machine.

That's instead of costing me £3500 for the nMP once i've sold my 2008...

My 6-core 3.46GHz will be slower than the 6-core nMP but not £3k+ slower...

P.S. Oh, i can also add in a PCIe SSD solution when i feel like it, upgrading slowly in increments/instalments instead of having to throw down all the money in one go.
That's an awesome upgrade path. Hats off to you sir!
 

VirtualRain

macrumors 603
Aug 1, 2008
6,304
115
Vancouver, BC
Unless of course you used one of the 4 PCIE slots. Put a PCIE SSD in my cMP, same blistering speeds as nMP, bootable, etc.



Yes, if you forget that cMP had those slot thingies.



Unless of course you USED THE PCIE SLOTS.

Just booted off my XP941, at same speeds as nMP.

Used one of the x4 PCIE slots.
I tried to do all this in my 2009 Mac Pro... If you want dual Nvidia GPUs (which you need if you run two displays with MDP connectors), a PCIe SSD, and USB 3, your SOL. One of your GPUs covers one of your x4 slots.

And for the GPUs you need to install an additional power supply.

On top of all this, you never know if the latest OS X release will support your aftermarket video cards.

And only recently has PCIe SSDs become bootable, but despite that, I found that the top x4 slots were limited to less than 1GB/s (I had 3xSATA3 SSDs on a Highpoint card that would hit 1300MB/s in the x16 slots but only around 950MB/s in the x4 slots).

And then USB3 was a bag of hurt. Again, only recently has that become less painful, but you still need supplemental power to the card and I found support flaky... some devices would run at super speeds and some wouldn't. It was a very disappointing upgrade. In the end, to support my GPUs and PCIe storage, I had to forego USB3.

Don't even get me started on Bluetooth performance in the cMP.

So yeah, you can definitely upgrade a cMP, and I'm sure many have done so without the frustration I experienced, but people need to be aware that upgrading a cMP is not always headache free. It's nothing like upgrading a PC.

As I said, I'm only too happy to be done with this mess.
 
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