NEED To buy 1st generation Mac Pro or new Mac Mini this week.

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by jpine, Oct 30, 2011.

  1. jpine macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Jun 15, 2007
    #1
    It's well past time to retire my quad G5 and my Intel MBP just died. I'm on a VERY tight budget. I have just enough for the below V1,1 MP or any new Mac Mini. Of the available Mini, I lean toward the i5 with dedicated GPU, but I'm open to the quad i7 server. While it is still vaporware, I could possibly upgrade the i7 GPU via an external Thunderbolt PCIe enclosure. http://www.sonnettech.com/product/thunderbolt/index.html

    MP specs:
    2.66 processor
    250 GB HD
    6 GB RAM
    AT Radeon 5770 with 1GB memory
    No Bluetooth or Airport (Not needed anyway)
    Snow Leopard

    Primary use: iOS app development, PS CS5.0 with often as may as 50+ images open at the same time. VO audio recording with GarageBand.

    Secondary use (but still important when used): Video editing with FCS3 and capture with BlackMagic intensity. If I go with the Mac Mini I would have to go with FCPX and a dedicated Matrox Thunderbolt capture device and dedicated cature software since FCPX can't capture video in this manner.

    Tertiary use: Motion 5 and AE CS5.0

    Any input would be deeply appreciated. I need to move on the purchase this week.

    TIA

    Jerry
     
  2. wallysb01 macrumors 65816

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    Jun 30, 2011
    #2
    My thought, if you think you're going to need this computer for a while, I wouldn't buy a computer that is about 6 years old. I'd get the mini. You might have some limitations now, interns of graphics or HD space, but over time you can pick up some TB options to fill needs. That old Mac Pro, while still a decent machine, is getting pretty dated. So you're likely going to be stuck using older versions of programs/operating systems more and more going forward. Plus, the mini will be faster.
     
  3. jpine thread starter macrumors 6502

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    Jun 15, 2007
    #3
    Am I correct in assuming you're talking about the i5 Mini or the Server?
     
  4. wallysb01 macrumors 65816

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    Jun 30, 2011
    #4
    Well, if you're going to do much video editing the graphics card will certainly help, but if that's not much of a priority the quad i7 would sure be nice.
     
  5. philipma1957 macrumors 603

    philipma1957

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    Howell, New Jersey
  6. nanofrog macrumors G4

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    May 6, 2008
    #6
    OP, what's your budget, and is it just for the system, or does it also need to cover upgrades?
     
  7. nambuccaheadsau macrumors 6502a

    nambuccaheadsau

    Joined:
    Oct 19, 2007
    Location:
    Nambucca Heads Australia
    #7
    Give the little toy mini a miss. Slot loading optical drives, very limited memory and graphics. Go for the Mac Pro with four drive bays and upgrade it yourself from there.,
     
  8. jpine thread starter macrumors 6502

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    Jun 15, 2007
    #8
    I have a separate hardware and software budget. I max out at $1000.00 USD. for the computer. That's the cost of the Mini server and the MP in question.
     
  9. thekev, Oct 30, 2011
    Last edited: Oct 30, 2011

    thekev macrumors 604

    thekev

    Joined:
    Aug 5, 2010
    #9
    Blek my post was too long and clunky. The short answer is that either of those choices is going to cost you more money than the simple list price up front. Sonnet isn't cheap and they can be very buggy on firmware with first generation products (in my experience). If you went with the server which is not OpenCL compatible thus locking you out of FCPX upgrades, it might very well be a $500 fix for that external box + a gpu to put in it which still isn't guaranteed to work perfectly and is likely to be throttled. Then if you do want to get past 8GB of ram which could be useful depending on capture resolution of your video footage and the resolution of those images being opened in photoshop, you'd be looking at a lot of money for higher density ram.

    With the mac pro I imagine that's the hard drive it came with initially. Those 250GB drives kind of sucked. With 6GB of ram and what you're doing, you're going to experience disk paging to some degree and photoshop will hit scratch disks, so if they're set to use the boot drive, you will notice this performance hit.

    Anyway neither is perfect, but I'd suggest a mini with a usable gpu over one that requires a thunderbolt rig. It just inflates your costs too much for too little. If you really want a quad, a refurb imac seems like a better bet as it's cheaper to upgrade the ram, the cpu would be faster, and they'd be close in price after factoring the cost of that external gpu + housing.

    ----------

    If he found a 2009 model for a good price I'd agree. The problem with a 2006 is if something breaks, it's hardly worth fixing, and ram for those is still really expensive due to the design.
     
  10. goMac macrumors 603

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    Apr 15, 2004
    #10
    This option is not going to be good enough for the sort of work you are doing. Thunderbolt graphics is not fast enough for Pro use. Especially if you are putting other devices on that Thunderbolt port.

    I'd go with a high end non server Mini for the far better GPU. Sacrificing the GPU for the Quad i7 is a horrible idea with how much FCPX loves GPU. But honestly.... Neither of these solutions sounds like a good idea, and they're both going to disappoint you. You need a mid end newer Mac Pro. If you could nab a 2008 Mac Pro or later that would be better.
     
  11. jpine thread starter macrumors 6502

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    Jun 15, 2007
    #11
    A refurb Mac Pro was my ideal choice, but it is simply out of my budget right now. The two options I've mentioned (Mac Mini and old MP) are pretty much it for me. However, the plan is to upgrade in a year or before if the work justifies it. I think I could recoup half of the cost of the i5 with the dedicated GPU a year from now. That's more than I can say for the 1.1 Mac Pro. Based on the opinions here, I'll trot over the the Apple Store tomorrow and test drive it since it should have FCP and Motion installed on the store computers.
     
  12. nanofrog macrumors G4

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    May 6, 2008
    #12
    IF it's only for a year, the older MP may be the better choice, as it has more memory (additional 2GB) vs. the standard 2.5GHz Mini + dedicated ATI GPU model, better GPU (5770 installed), and an additional pair of cores (only the Mini Server is Quad core @ 2.0GHz).

    You'd want to get a couple of extra HDD's though, as you'd want one for scratch, and another as a backup disk (continuing to use the OEM disk as OS/applications). But scratch doesn't need to be big (can use a cheap SSD too), and a Green drive would suffice for backup duty (best cost/GB out there). So it would be a good idea to find an additional ~$200. But I think it will serve you better than any of the Mini's currently available, particularly for a short duration.

    Just a thought, given how restrictive your budget is. ;)
     
  13. thekev macrumors 604

    thekev

    Joined:
    Aug 5, 2010
    #13
    I agree with you (small scratch disk helps). I'd still be concerned buying a machine of that age though simply due to the potential cost of repairs. The problem is that within his budget/task list, there isn't a perfect option. I really do hate the lack of love the mac pro has seen over the past couple cycles. The entry level to that line really needs to be better than it is today.
     
  14. toxic macrumors 68000

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    Nov 9, 2008
    #14
    I don't see what the OP does that requires much graphics power.

    the 2006 MP is a waste of money. power-hungry, limited support, and lower Geekbench scores than a base 2011 Mini.

    just get a Mini. ideally dual i7 or quad. I would go with quad, but the dual i7 is still a good option - cores aren't everything when you're comparing CPUs two generations apart. RAM is expandable to 16 GB with 8GB DIMMS, and/or you can use SSDs and deal with the swapping since it'll still be a lot faster than 2.5" HDDs.
     
  15. thekev macrumors 604

    thekev

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    Aug 5, 2010
    #15
    The most recent or upcoming update on FCPX (I can't remember which as I never use that program) requires an OpenCL capable gpu. This means the quad mini won't be supported as it has intel integrated graphics.
     
  16. goMac macrumors 603

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    Apr 15, 2004
    #16
    Video editing.

    OP has specifically mentioned FCPX which is GPU and OpenCL heavy.

    Pretty much rules out the quad mini.
     
  17. nanofrog macrumors G4

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    May 6, 2008
    #17
    Given the fact the OP will only run it for a year, it should hold up for that long without the need for repairs.

    He does need more than the IGP in the base and Server Mini given it will be used for video editing.

    As per cores, the base and mid-level Mini (2.5GHz, but embedded ATI GPU) are only Dual core systems, which actually would affect performance for some of the software the OP listed (not all, but some). The Mini Server is a Quad core, but uses an IGP, and is only clocked at 2.0GHz (if the Mini Server had an embedded GPU, it would change matters...).

    Neither is an ideal solution, but given the budget, I stand by the 2006 MP being the better choice (unless more funds can be allocated for a system purchase).
     
  18. jpine thread starter macrumors 6502

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    Jun 15, 2007
    #18
    In the future, can the motherboard and processors be replaced in the above MP with something different?
     
  19. goMac macrumors 603

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    Apr 15, 2004
    #19
    Not really in a Mac Pro that old. It wouldn't be worth it.
     
  20. toxic macrumors 68000

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    Nov 9, 2008
    #20
    I didn't see the FCPX part til now, but does FCS3 use any GPU?
    I still feel like a Mini with dual i7's would work just as well. modern microarchitecture, Turbo to 3.4, HT, and no more FSB.
     
  21. goMac macrumors 603

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    Apr 15, 2004
    #21
    In comparison to the quad, the dual is still the best option because of the GPU. But a dual Mac Mini is still hardly ideal. :-\

    I'm not sure the Quad Mac Mini technically even meets minimum requirements without an OpenCL GPU.
     
  22. toxic macrumors 68000

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    Nov 9, 2008
    #22
    it meets the minimum since it's OpenCL-compatible OR HD 3000: http://support.apple.com/kb/HT4664

    what's the GPU used for? would the pure grunt of the 2GHz quad make up for the lack of GPU power, the same way the 3.4GHz iMac is comparable to a 3.33 GHz Mac Pro with 5870?
     
  23. nanofrog macrumors G4

    Joined:
    May 6, 2008
    #23
    It's possible, but it's expensive. The case internals have changed with the different board revisions, so it's not just a matter of swapping boards.

    And Apple replacement parts tend to be more expensive than their PC counterparts. For example, we've seen MP logic boards selling for ~$800USD (i.e. 2008/3,1 model), when a PC counterpart can be had for $300 - 350 (and I'm talking about a DP board, not the current backplane board + CPU tray configuration). :eek:

    Now there have been people that have stuffed PC hardware into various MP cases (will likely require some case modifications), but it looks good, and if you really want OS X, it's possible to run that hardware as a hackintosh (so long as you're willing to provide your own software support). And by taking this route, you could opt for the latest technology available. But it's not as simple as just a drop-in replacement this way either in most cases.

    I'd say your best bet, if you want to stick with Apple, is gather sufficient funds to buy a newer system (doesn't have to be brand new, but the newer the better, as it will be able to be used for a longer period of time = better ROI).

    Couple of things to think about anyway... ;)
     
  24. goMac macrumors 603

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    Apr 15, 2004
    #24
    Ah, that's kind of a cop out though... The HD 3000 doesn't replace the functionality of the GPU.

    OpenGL and OpenCL, and no, the extra CPU doesn't make up for the lack of GPU power. The type of work the GPU is doing is different than what the CPU can do.

    Otherwise we'd all be playing games without GPUs and just throwing a few extra CPU cores at them instead. :p
     
  25. jpine thread starter macrumors 6502

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    Jun 15, 2007
    #25
    I just found a 2008 Mac Pro in my price range. Is this the one you were thinking of?:

    Two 2.8GHz Quad-Core Intel Xeon E5462 Processors (8 cores)
     

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