Need advise regarding the Mac Pro

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by Apple-Guy, Jun 3, 2012.

  1. Apple-Guy macrumors member

    Nov 2, 2010
    Hi all,

    first things first, please do not use this thread to start speculating wether or not there will be a new mac pro or not

    So, yes, everybody's wondering wether there will be a new one, we don't know. Period.

    so my question is;

    is it a good idea to buy one of the current models? KNOWING that i want this computer to last AT LEAST 4-5 years but preferably 8 (those are high demands i know)

    now you're probably saying, depends what you're going to do with it

    wel i'm going to study digital arts & entertainment

    so i'll be doing 3DS Max/Zbrush/photoshop/video editing/UDK/Unity/cryengine/level design in general/gaming/programming/rendering/VFX

    the gaming and development engines is where i'm most worried, since those evolve quite fast and who knows how many polly's will be considered a normal amount in 5 years, but that's what i'm wondering

    will it still be able to run the latest software in aprox 5 years?

    the build i'm thinking of is;

    Apple Mac Pro Hexa (6) core Westmere 3.33GHz, 32GB SDRAM, ATI Radeon 5870 1GB

    the rest is less important (probable an SSD as well)

    so in short; is it still worth buying? price of that baby is aprox 4300€ (add 1000 for the SSD)


  2. wallysb01 macrumors 65816

    Jun 30, 2011
    It will likely run all the latest software in 5 years. It might not run everything super fast, but if that's not so important to you.... Just remember in 5 years the technology will actually be 7 years old.

    I would greatly recommend not paying full price for a 2010 Mac Pro in 2012 if you can avoid it, however. A little bit of DYI will save you a lot of money. If you're willing to buy the RAM and SSD from a 3rd party and install it yourself, you'll save $1000 USD on the RAM and a good $500 on the SSD. If you are willing to do the quad 2009 to hex 2010 upgrade yourself, you can save even more (maybe another $1000). All told a 2009 4 core could be $1800 + $600 for W3680 + $350 for 32 GB RAM + $400 for the video card. So, $3150 USD in total, or about 2100€ with today's exchange rate. You might find different prices in the UK, however, I'm still guessing you could save nearly 40% if willing to do so.

    Wether you want to acknowledge it or not, the likelihood of a refresh in nearly month should enter into consideration when spending this much money. And with a good chance of a refresh, plus the simple fact that the current system is fairly old and easily built for substantially less money, I would say its not worth buying at the cost from the apple store. At the very least, don't do the RAM and SSD from Apple.
  3. G51989 macrumors 68030


    Feb 25, 2012
    NYC NY/Pittsburgh PA
    I would wait, to see if there is a new Mac Pro before you buy,

    If you buy, try to buy good condition used or refurbished.

    Right now, the new Mac Pro is theft at best.
  4. Velin, Jun 3, 2012
    Last edited: Jun 3, 2012

    Velin macrumors 65816


    Jul 23, 2008
    Hearst Castle
    Given your needs, together with a time frame of 5 years, and possibly 8, there is no way I would purchase a Mac Pro. Nor can you simply X out the consideration of whether the Mac Pro line will continue. That must be a consideration.

    Mac Pro hardware is great, it really is, most reliable desktop I've ever owned, solid components, great construction, nice case, reliable. OS X beats Windows hands down as well. OS and hardware integration is tight on Mac Pro. A lot of plusses.

    But the minuses are starting to grow. Mac Pro support is really thin now. PC hardware and aftermarket upgrades are really starting to kick Mac Pro in the ass -- and it's most noticeable in precisely the things you laid out you want to do with the machine.

    Take us for example. We have a slew of 2008 Mac Pros that need upgrading, most critically GPUs, but would like a CPU boost and USB 3.0 if we could do it. But we really can't -- not economically, anyway. Look at the price of Apple's video cards -- $475 for cards that are like three years old, and frankly are garbage, absurdly outdated. And look at what really matters, Mac Pro logic boards -- ancient, frankly. The cheapest PC motherboards come with USB 3.0 standard, yet the i/o of current Mac Pros right now is just terrible. And no, I don't feel like taking our valuable time and money to buy scores of PCIe cards merely for USB 3, heck I don't even think we have the space on some of our machines. No bluetooth either -- great, now I need yet another USB dongle for that too.

    Wait until PCI Express 3.0 starts moving -- and developers start taking advantage of what it has to offer. I can see a time when our Mac Pros are discarded as doorholders if this continues. Bottom line, Mac Pro tech is starting -- starting -- to get left in the dust. Period.

    So it's the best of times, and it's the worst of times. Really fond of Apple, all our Macs, love OSX, and the integration is the best in the business, much more solid and tight than any Windoze PC.

    But damn if PC hardware and advances are really kicking Mac Pro's teeth in. I recently built a screaming fast PC for half the cost of a Mac Pro, and this PC, performancewise across any number of benchmarks, would just destroy my stable of 2008 Mac Pros, which we paid top dollar for. Can't ignore the price issue any longer, because faster PC tech is now far, far cheaper than anything Apple is offering the professionals. And because Apple has abandoned us, there's not much I can do about it. That's a problem. A big problem.
  5. thekev macrumors 604


    Aug 5, 2010
    You're going about this in a very bad way. First Apple doesn't guarantee support beyond 5 years. They probably adjust for long sales cycles, but this design originated in 2009. Look at the mac pro 1,1 and 2,1. They were sold for a long time until roughly March 2008. Now they are being dropped from Mountain Lion due to 32 bit efi and gpu support. Apple does not support things forever. The other thing is that you should be able to justify the cost of a computer much faster than 5-8 years. While you may use it much longer, you should be able to justify its cost within two years. If you can't do that, rethink your budget. The third thing is that you're running Windows software. 3ds max can run through Parallels, but you're better off running in bootcamp, especially if you're dealing with any heavy scenes prior to baking them down. If you want tens of millions of polygons, I would not try that through Parallels. I realize you're probably going to bake maps out of something like that in the end, but it's good to have the option there.

    Mac Pros are great. They run cool. You can put extra drives in them. You can often swap to a better gpu down the line. They do not make sense though if you're primarily using Windows. Get a quality Windows PC or build one. The Dell T3600s don't look bad, and you can get into a quad Sandy Bridge E option cheap. You can get a hex core Sandy Bridge E model which is newer than the Mac Pro's westmere as cheap as $1800. Personally I'd go for one of the less expensive gpus and wait for reviews on the Keplers running 3ds max later. Zbrush still runs most of its drawing calculations through the cpu rather than OpenGL, so you don't have to worry about gpus as much there.

    If budget really is a huge concern, you should try to be efficient with how you spend it. Last thing is that even though the raw hardware of the 6 core mac pro is quite powerful, the scaling isn't always as great as it should be. I think if budget is that big of a concern, you should either look for an exceptional deal on a 2009 ($1200 ish in good condition), then wait for the newest gpus on the 2012 model before upgrading that, and go to a hex for $550ish these days. You'd be out the door around $2k after upgrades. The other reasonable option if you want a mac pro is wait for the newest one, pick up a refurb or check third parties for better prices than Apple.

    If you're going to school for this, it's unlikely that they expect you to bring your own workstation. I do think you're making a mistake in the way you're looking at this. As for the mac pro is dead garbage, nothing we've seen has been anything beyond speculation on Apple's long term goals. It's always write story, cite unnamed source, write followup later. Then the other sites essentially retweet the story.
  6. Apple-Guy thread starter macrumors member

    Nov 2, 2010
    Thanks all for feedback/suggestions

    i know i could save a lot by getting components from 3d parties, but also read that apple's memory is "special" regarding it's ECC (error correcting) whereas other memory doesn't have this(and if they do, you end up in the same price range as apple's), meaning chances of failure are more likely, now i only read this, so don't know if it's true
    i'd prefer memory that's reliable and lasts a long time, unless of course you don't think it matters

    the SSD i was indeed thinking of buying from 3d parties, because 1100 euros more for an SSD is quite a lot, it is a 500GB though, but i don't need that much for applications/OS, think a 200 would be enough for that (2 OS's)

    you also said building a quad 2009 into a hexa, i have no experience on this area and it's not that i do not want to do this, but i'd like a reliable/stable system, preferably with warranty since i have that kind of luck where everything tends to break (my MBP from in my sig had the Nvidia card issue (production fault) but no longer chimed so they couldn't confirm the production fault and had to pay for a new mobo...)

    as for the software, i guess that's fine, as long as apps don't freeze/crash because of lack of CPU it's good :)

    i've been waiting for good over a year now and am getting quite impatient :p, i'll need this comp for my studies so i can't really wait much longer

    and i've already been looking in used ones (haven't found refurbished ones), but the hexacores are very rare to find in the used market

    i totally agree with you, the hardware's getting old and you can't just keep adding PCI cards to update your comp, eventualy you'll have used them all

    i also don't like the fact that the mac pro's don't have thunderbolt, wether or not this will be a new standard, i'd like to have this insanely fast I/O interface, even if it's just for daisy chaining more hardware same for the PCI 3.0

    and yes, i currently run windows and mac OSX and if the software i need wouldn't be windows only, i would've unleashed my rage on the windows 7 disc (way too many problems i had with that ****** OS)

    so on the hardware side, it's a real bummer

    i even thought about building a hackintosh, but after all the research i did, i can't rely on that, sure it runs fast and stable at a certain time, but as soon as an update hits, you're system is K.O. until you fix it, which i don't feel like doing every time there's an update

    My deadline for a new comp is end july/early august, so you guys suggest i wait till then?

    i've also thought about buying a cheap windows computer (as much as i hate saying that) that should keep me going until a new Mac Pro arrives but don't really like the thought of buying 2 computers just to pass time...

    so thanks again all for the advise, much appreciated

    and please do make more suggestions, my MBP Penryn can't keep up anymore with the stuff i'm doing.


  7. FrankHahn macrumors 6502a

    May 17, 2011
    Yes, wait till then.
  8. thekev macrumors 604


    Aug 5, 2010
    ECC ram started on servers. Windows based workstations got it second. Macs received it with the mac pro. If you don't know whether or not you need it, you shouldn't worry too much about it. In terms of memory, all ram can fail. It's just that in the unlikely even that you do encounter bit flipping, assuming it's a single bit error, you can track it. This is independent of the long term reliability of the ram.
  9. Apple-Guy thread starter macrumors member

    Nov 2, 2010

    well i know what it does and that it fixes the error by using a parity bit which checks if the number of zeros or ones was an even or an uneven amount

    however, i do not know what would cause such an error in the memory

    specific tasks?

    regardless, would you suggest buying a PC or wait for the new Mac pro?

    i think i decided not to go with the current ones since they are quite pricy for the outdated hardware you get =/


  10. thekev macrumors 604


    Aug 5, 2010
    You're correct. Errors are highly random. You'll probably never see one, and ECC ram doesn't mean your machine will never kernel panic, although kernel panics seem pretty rare on workstation grade hardware. If I was buying ram for a board that supported ECC or non - ECC, I'd buy the ECC. It's slightly slower, but I'd buy it anyway. I just wouldn't stress out too much if it's not an option. It's used quite a lot in CAD workstations and things that require heavy floating point calculations.

    I'm really not putting the mac pro down here. New cpus were only released recently. The two things I noted are that you've included windows specific software, and you desired a long service life due to the potential cost. I'd wait and see what you really need for college. They probably have hefty computers there for the heavy lifting.
  11. Apple-Guy thread starter macrumors member

    Nov 2, 2010
    i do indeed need quite a lot of windows only software, however, for video editing i prefer final cut, same for recording/photoshop/VFX/rendering and much more so i need the dual boot either way

    guess i'll wait just a little longer, as for the memory, i'll probably go for the ECC memory, we'll see how the prices change IF they bring a new mac pro

    thanks all for the advice, i'll be back in august :p


  12. TableSyrup macrumors 6502

    May 29, 2012
    Just as a reference from my point of view, and I'm not sure what your specific needs are, but if you're lookin for a cheap machine for 'now' - consider this:

    I just set up a 1,1 with dual X5355's (So it's 8 x 2.66 Cores) and 16GB RAM

    Going to swap the 7300GT for a Apple Radeon 5770

    Gonna be running Lion - Final Cut Pro X - Upgrade my Adobe Web Premium to CS6 - Pro Tools 10 HD|Native with Card

    This will be plenty sufficient for me for at least 4 years if I do not want to perform any upgrades at whatever point things move beyond this machine's capabilities.

    I'm going to patch the ML installer and test everything out with is.

    From what I'm seeing, people aren't really having much issue with the 1,1's on ML
  13. comatory macrumors 6502a


    Apr 10, 2012
    Don't wait for new Mac Pro. Or if you have 6 more months I'd recommend following this Facebook Page: We want new Mac Pro.

    Try to get refurbished model and max out the ram or try to get 32 gigs in there. Definitely SSD disk (128-256GB) for startup disk and applications. 2x1TB in Raid for storage, or even more. Get these additions at 3rd party store and install them yourself - that will save you a bucket load of money. Look for good video card that will be compatible with your software.
  14. TPadden, Jun 4, 2012
    Last edited: Jun 4, 2012

    TPadden macrumors 6502a

    Oct 28, 2010
    My 2010 Mac Pro is at the Bar with hardware problems only 4 months out of warranty. I've built Windows machines from the motherboard up for years and never really had a hardware problem I couldn't cheaply solve - usually changed parts as upgrades before anything broke :).

    This Mac Pro machine is beautiful and worked fine for almost a year and a half; but currently posts and shuts down so quick that there is no log or panic. I've swapped all memory (26GB down to 4GB) and done memory checks, switched between 5 drives and reloaded both SL and Lion. It now shuts down as soon as even the CD drive boots. I'd narrowed it down to PSU or Video but could still be one of the CPU's or main board. Geniuses are currently swapping parts (it isn't the video, memory, drive, or software) and I've gone back to my dependable windows machine.

    The only reason I bought the Mac Pro was the hardware sure is beautiful ....:eek:
  15. derbothaus macrumors 601


    Jul 17, 2010
    Bummer. Your experience in the complete minority. You bought it cause it was pretty and now it is in the shop but your trusty Win PC is amazing? Sounds trolly to me.
  16. TPadden, Jun 4, 2012
    Last edited: Jun 4, 2012

    TPadden macrumors 6502a

    Oct 28, 2010
    Uh ...... how trolly is this?????

    Thank you for visiting the Apple Store. Below is a copy of your service record.
    Apple Store International Plaza
    Genius Bar Work Authorization

    Repair No: R6********
    Customer Information
    Product Information
    THOMAS PATTON Warranty Status: Out of Warranty(OW)
    USA Model: MAC PRO (EARLY 2009)
    Date of Purchase: 10-Jan-11
    Serial No: YM9440CC20G
    Problem Description/Diagnosis
    Issue: Unit intermittently hard freezes or just shuts offs.
    Steps to reproduce: Observe.
    Proposed Resolution: Run ASD, triage further.
    Cosmetic Condition: minor scratching
    Known Liquid Damage: No
    Check-in Required: Yes
    Username: thomas
    Password: none
    Would the customer prefer to create a temporary password while their computer is being serviced?: No
    Estimated Turn Around Time: We'll call you within 48 hours
    Mac OS Version: 10.6.8
    Hard Drive Size: na
    Memory Size: na
    iLife Version: 11

    Employee 225*******
  17. derbothaus macrumors 601


    Jul 17, 2010
    I didn't doubt your truthfulness. Just that by and large a Mac Pro 's life expectancy is possibly 2x that of a plastic PC box. You just got a rawer deal than the majority. It happens. Intel makes the Mobo and the procs. Anything is possible. Trumping up a PC as "stable" is usually troll bait on "Macrumors Forums".
  18. TPadden macrumors 6502a

    Oct 28, 2010
    I guess at least now I'm a truthful troll :apple:.


    I was trumping the windows box as EASY to CHEAPLY repair and swap parts, the MAc Pro is easy to a point but in no case cheaply done. :eek:
  19. wallysb01 macrumors 65816

    Jun 30, 2011
    Its cheap enough now that you should just get ECC, in my opinion. And that's not true that ECC is the same price as apple from other vendors. What I was looking at specifically was this from OWC: World Computing/85MP3S8M32GK/

    Its 32 GB 1066 ECC for $350 USD, and you could probably still find better deals. There is nothing special about the Apple RAM other than its completely absurd price. But hey, its your money if you want to burn it.

    Same as RAM above, definitely worth it to buy from a 3rd party and a perfectly easy install.

    And that's a perfectly good reason not to do it. I think its worth understanding that it can be done, and just how much you save by doing this however. If nothing else, it illustrates what a cr*ptastic deal a "new" mac pro is at the moment. You can build the same computer you would buy from apple for about 1/2 the cost, while no warranty is worth that, I can understand the reluctance.
  20. derbothaus macrumors 601


    Jul 17, 2010
    I hope it all works out in the end for you. And cheaply. Hurts worse when it is just outside warranty.
  21. TPadden macrumors 6502a

    Oct 28, 2010
    Thanks, at the risk of being trolly ...... at this point if it's anything other than the PSU it will become a piece of closet art. :cool:
  22. Derpage Suspended

    Mar 7, 2012
    Dude, you don't want a Mac Pro if you are going to be studying 3d, especially 3d having to do with games. You will spend far more time on the Peecee partition with a lackluster video card due to workflow. A lot of the fine tuning to files associated with your scenes will need tweaking, and you won't have the time to be flipping between OS's. It's a pain in the ass. You are also going to be coming across a lot of small programs that do very specific things...they are all written for PeeCee and not OSX. It's just easier to develop games on a PeeCee and it's not really going to change as more studios are moving to *nix boxes.
  23. goMac macrumors 603

    Apr 15, 2004
    Despite your clear professionalism communicated by your use of the term "peecee" I'm going to try to tackle this one...

    The above is half true.

    Macs are becoming more common in the game industry. Which is to say they've gone from non-existant to existing.

    Game engine tools are where you might have trouble. iOS has helped with this and increased Mac usage in games, along with tool availability in since you can't do iOS work on Windows. However, I'm not sure most of the tools you listed even have Mac versions, or Mac versions of their engines. You'll have to use Boot Camp for that.

    Despite the above rant, Macs are a lot more common for content creation. Your character models have to be rendered on consumer machines anyway, so your work shouldn't require a Quadro anyway. If your game is going to be running on consumer cards, a high end card from Apple should do you just fine. So I'm not sure what the above rant about lackluster video cards is about, unless you plan on having everyone running your game run it on Quadros.

    If you're looking more at 2D or pre-rendered content, a Mac Pro is an excellent choice, and honestly probably more common than PC's for that use.

    I can't really recommend any computer for more than 4 years of use though. You could probably get 5 out of it, but no promises, and definitely no promises about software. Common industry refresh time is 3 years.
  24. Derpage Suspended

    Mar 7, 2012
    Don't get your panties in a bunch, I'm not ranting, just going off experience.
  25. Dr. Stealth macrumors 6502a

    Dr. Stealth

    Sep 14, 2004

    Hello..... The Mac IS a *nix box. :rolleyes:

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