New Mac Pro owner: Have some questions about upgrades

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by kaputsport, Apr 24, 2012.

  1. kaputsport macrumors member

    Joined:
    Jun 9, 2010
    Location:
    Carlisle, PA
    #1
    I am a long time Mac owner. I have a 2006 model 24" iMac 2.16Ghz Core 2 Duo, maxed out at 3GB of ram. The machine is tired, and needed replaced, so I decided that I could get more out of a Mac Pro than getting another iMac.

    So, I bought one yesterday on eBay.

    Specs:
    MA970LL/A
    Mac Pro 3,1
    Processor: 2.8 Ghz Quad Core Xeon (1)
    Ram: 2GB
    Video: 2660 256MB

    I am fully aware that I can upgrade pretty much everything in here. Up to 32GB of ram, new video card, etc, etc.

    I was reading an older post on here regarding getting a new processor, but I have not found any concrete evidence as to what to use. I'll explain. The post I found had stated that the 2009 and up MP that were a quad core had one socket, while the older ones had two. Now, my machine is an early 2008, and I can only assume that I have one open processor socket, and could in fact buy another 2.8 W35xx processor and heat sink and I would then have an 8 core... Correct?

    Further to the point, I could theoretically get a pair of W3500 Series chips with a faster clock speed and really upgrade the machine. So if this is true, what are the acceptable limitations on processors I can use?

    As for the video card, I am reading all sorts of posts regarding the upgrade to better cards, but they require a flash to make them Mac compatible. To not have to go through that hassle, and still get a 1 GB Dual Link DVI capable card, what should I look for?

    Ram is pretty easy, and I understand the "matched pair" installation. I'll probably go through Crucial, unless there is something out there that is as good, but cheaper.

    Anyway, I plan on a quick 4GB ram kit and then reassess where I want to go, as I am working on buying a 30" Cinema Display to go with it. I have always wanted one, and now is the time.

    I'll be using the machine to do video production/editing and possibly multicam recording, as well as all the other functions you can do. I would really like to play Battlefield 3 on a windows partition, but it is not required.

    I can't wait for this thing to get here, but I am kinda glad it will take a few days. I need to clean out the iMac, as I have it sold and I want to have time to get the 30" display.

    I'll update as time goes on with what I find. The odd part about this, and it might be my ignorance, but every time I search the model number provided (MA970LL/A) I come up with an octo-core mac, not a quad. I just wonder if it was a misprint in the auction. I am not going to bank on an 8 core. I expect a 4 core to show up, but I want to be able to add the other 4 if possible, and upgrade the video card.

    What do you think? What should I do to make this a powerhouse, yet still be butter smooth and reliable?
     
  2. kaputsport thread starter macrumors member

    Joined:
    Jun 9, 2010
    Location:
    Carlisle, PA
    #2
    Update:

    Well, the auction was a scam, and now I am in a battle to get my money back. I will be on the lookout for another machine in the future, but my hands are tied right now. So I figured I would give those out there a little update on some information, so no one else gets scammed by this guy.

    Username: hooperink1984
    Real Name: Michael Hooper
    Address: 1322 20th St, Oceano CA, 93420
    Telephone: 805-709-2982
    Email: hooperink@yahoo.com
     
  3. jpine macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Jun 15, 2007
    #3
    I got a really good deal on a 3,1 8-core at macofalltrades dot com. I upgraded the RAM (a bit expensive) and got a really good deal on an ATI 5770 on eBay. I also, just today added a Blackmagic Intensity Pro paired with two fast 1TB drives as a RAID. All in all, I have less than $1700 USD in the whole system. With time and effort, you can put together a great system and not break the bank in the process.
     
  4. wonderspark macrumors 68030

    wonderspark

    Joined:
    Feb 4, 2010
    Location:
    Oregon
    #4
    That really bites, mang. But on the bright side, you wanted a 4,1 or 5,1 anyway. Cheaper and farther mod possibilities.
     
  5. Morriss macrumors member

    Joined:
    Jul 24, 2008
    #5
    How did you discover that this was a scam? Maybe we can all learn from your experience.

    Have you looked on Apple.com for refurbished Mac Pro's? The discount is only marginal, but the warranty is solid and quality is as good as new.
     
  6. kaputsport thread starter macrumors member

    Joined:
    Jun 9, 2010
    Location:
    Carlisle, PA
    #6
    Well, like an idiot, I forgot to look into his feedback history. Turns out, after looking up some of the specs, and height, I discovered he has 6 negative feedbacks in the last 18 days. 1 was for a Mac Pro, 2 were for 23" Cinema Displays, and 3 others were for cameras. All stated item never delivered.

    I called ebay, and they stated that they looked at his account, and I have nothing to worry about, so that is good.

    As for looking on Apple.com, I have, that is where I bought my first mac from, but my budget is a little tight. I figure, I can get a 3.1 mac pro and do some upgrades slowly, and I'll be ok for a year or two, until I can put some money into a real machine.

    I'll find another 3.1 soon on ebay, once I get my money back. My problem is I am a video editor (non-professional) and my iMac will not even allow FCSX to open at this point, let alone render anything. I have been halted in my hobby for 6 months, and my documentary has been at a stand still. I have a few projects I was working to start up, and not having the ability to work on them is a pain. I was gonna get this, the 30" and a ram upgrade, and start editing, but I have to find another now.

    Hope I can find another great deal that isn't a scam.
     
  7. CaptainChunk macrumors 68020

    CaptainChunk

    Joined:
    Apr 16, 2008
    Location:
    Phoenix, AZ
    #7
    Sorry to hear about your experience with the auction. PayPal has pretty good buyer protection these days, so you should get your money back.

    I don't know what your budget is, but as a 2008 owner myself, I have to say RAM is a pretty expensive to upgrade on these models. It costs about 3 times as much as it does on the 2009-10 machines. You're also at a bit of dead end CPU wise on the 2008 models because there's not a very significant performance difference between the 2.8/3.0/3.2 Harpertowns. And if you were to add a second CPU to a quad-core 2.8 model, you'd have to buy a $200 heatsink for it.


    Just a thought: There are a lot of base-ish 2009 quads floating around on eBay for around $1400. A lot of guys will start with one of these, flash it to the 5,1 (2010) firmware and swap out to a W3680 (3.33GHz hex) CPU for about $600. A W3680 outperforms even the 2008 3.2GHz 8-core by a pretty wide margin in Geekbench 64-bit:

    Dual X5482 3.2GHz (2x quad-core): 11994
    W3680 3.33GHz (hex core): 15566

    It's something to consider, especially with cheaper RAM upgrades. You can toss 16GB of RAM in 2009-10 for a little over $100.
     
  8. 24Frames macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Mar 23, 2012
    #8
    I'm very sorry to hear that you had this experience. But even if you had checked his feedback history you might have been stung, because at the time you made the purchase the seller had 100% positive feedback. You would have needed to look closely to see that all the feedback related to purchases, not sales.

    For anyone who is interested here is a link to the eBay feedback page of the seller in question: http://feedback.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewFeedback2&userid=hooperink1984&ftab=AllFeedback
     
  9. kaputsport thread starter macrumors member

    Joined:
    Jun 9, 2010
    Location:
    Carlisle, PA
    #9
    Update:

    Well, my case is now under review in Paypal. They stated they would be in touch by the 23rd with more questions, or with a verdict.

    Kinda sucks having to wait so long... Oh well.

    I contacted a bunch of winning buyers of his products, and told them he was a scammer before they could pay. He leaves feedback, good feedback for everyone, even the non-paying buyers. I think it'll help my case, but I can't add any details, or information.

    He listed the auction as shipped, but never provided a tracking number to me, or to eBay. The paypal listing showed shipped as well, but no tracking information listed either.

    I am going to send him another email today, since the case with in the resolution center is under review, and he can no longer influence the outcome. He also failed to respond to it... SO I think I am in the clear.

    I saved a bit more up, and when I get my refund, I'll have over $1350 to play with. I might go for a 4,1 or a 5,1... Though not sure.
     
  10. kaputsport thread starter macrumors member

    Joined:
    Jun 9, 2010
    Location:
    Carlisle, PA
    #10
    Well, I got my refund, and spent it almost immediately!!!

    I got a Mac Pro 3,1, Quad Core 2.8. 2.4 TB hard drive space, 8800GT and 6GB of ram.

    Looking to get my monitor first, then start toying around with upgrades.

    I plan on the following:
    -Second 2.8Ghz Quad for a total of 8 cores
    -32GB ram
    -SSD in the 256GB range
    -Additional 2 TB drives (2 more 2TB drives)
    -Faster Video card (1GB or more)

    Then the fun begins. I am also adding an audio interface (MOTU) and more goodies to the mix. I just hope I can harness all this power.

    We will see!!! :apple:
     
  11. thekev macrumors 604

    thekev

    Joined:
    Aug 5, 2010
    #11
    That would've been a much better option. I really wish I found this thread earlier. Considering how much ram the OP wants, he really should have done his research. I mean if you're looking to save money, research should be your primary concern.

    You must do your research dude. Do you have any idea how expensive ram is pre- mac pro 4,1? If I saw this thread earlier I would have warned you. There are only a few video cards that are fully compatible with that one. Ram costs a fortune. By the time you're done, it's going to be extremely expensive. By the way, I don't know if you can make a quad into an 8 core. Others may have more info on that, but I'd research it before you attempt it.

    Here's an example from OWC on ram. 2009 quad core (meaning 8GB dimms since it's only got 4 slots) $363. For the 2008 (mac pro 3,1) 32 GB would be $1077 from the same vendor.

    Last thing I need to tell you is right when you get that machine, you should stress test it before changing a single piece of hardware to ensure that it is in good working order. I really do think you should limit yourself on how much you spend on upgrades. I mean from what you listed, you could set yourself back a couple grand just outfitting a machine that came out four years ago prior to nehalem.
     
  12. kaputsport thread starter macrumors member

    Joined:
    Jun 9, 2010
    Location:
    Carlisle, PA
    #12
    It is not the only point to save money, but I needed a good base, for the cheapest amount at this point. I understand ram is expensive, hell everything is. Some people have the ability to throw more money into the purchase of the machine, some can spend more over the long run. I fall into the latter. While I was only able to get away with a little over $1100 for the machine, that does not mean I will be unable to spend more in the future.


    I am fully aware. My last mac lasted over 6 years. This one will last a while as well. Maybe not 6 years, but it will be around for a while. Early 3,1 Mac Pros have 2 processor bays, A & B. EVERYONE who has tried to add another processor has bought the processor, heatsink and a 3mm tool from Amazon and had no issues. I don't see why this one Mac Pro, with a version date of January 2008 would be any different. 4,1 and up, if they come as a single, have only one processor spot on the mobo, and cannot be upgraded.

    And while I'll take this under advisement, I don't think limiting myself in what I am going to do in the future is going to happen. I mean, seriously, what does it matter if I spend another $1500 on upgrades? Add the cost of a 30" cinema display, and I am spending tons... Big deal. By your standards, I should not upgrade my car either, since it came from 2002, even if it is a BMW ///M3.
     
  13. softwareguy256 macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Jun 5, 2010
    #13
    you should've waited, I checked the apple store today, the link speed on the SATA is only 3 GB/sec. that is old nehalem technology too + no thunderbolt. New processor likely require new motherboard.
     
  14. thekev macrumors 604

    thekev

    Joined:
    Aug 5, 2010
    #14
    Your analogy is quite far off. My point was that upgrades for that specific model are quite expensive for what you really get. I also see people on here all the time considering the 8 core of that same year for roughly $1200. Regarding the 09, it's a single socket, but even using 8GB dimms ram isn't that expensive. The 6 core that used to retail for over $1k now goes for under $600. Say you found a good deal at $1200-1300 on an '09, you could put a 6 core under the hood and 32GB of ram for a little over $2k out the door in the longer term. It would also come with a newer gpu and most likely have better gpu compatibility going forward. As it is investing this way, you'd end up with considerably less power at higher cost if you wanted to max it out as you initially suggested.

    I didn't say it's impractical to upgrade anything. I'm saying it's impractical to buy an older computer generation with the intention of maxing it out. The only reason I suggested the '09 is that it's the same thing as the current model (which is due for replacement) in terms of logic board and overall guts. Anything that runs in the current model runs in that one, and sometimes you can find them cheap.

    Anyway the really important thing now is that I do think you should thoroughly test the machine once you receive it before you change any piece of hardware. I'd run Memtest for five cycles one night and Prime95 the next personally. If you experience any problems, you know right there. I often suggest this when someone buys a used mac with 90 day warranty terms or something like that. If it fails or kernel panics during stress testing, something was already wrong, and that just revealed it.
     
  15. kaputsport thread starter macrumors member

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    Jun 9, 2010
    Location:
    Carlisle, PA
    #15
    Not really. If you know cars, and have owned or know about the S52 engine, there is far little that you can do to create horsepower without dropping serious money at it. The typical user will add headers, intake, chip, exhaust, and pulleys... Netting them MAYBE 30 HP... All for the cost of around $3000 depending on the tune and parts you buy. That is the same or less than $100 a hp, which is really bad.

    The analogy is perfect. I got my M3 for deal, and plan to invest in it to make it what I want it to be. Is it brand new? Nope. Will is ever perform like a new one? Probably not, but it'll do what I want it to. The same goes for the Mac Pro. Is it brand new? Nope, not even close. Will it ever perform like a brand new one? Maybe close, or at least it'll live up to my expectations.

    I do plan on testing the machine out and was going to ask what I should use as a benchmark. I know about Geek Bench, and planned on doing that as well, but now I have a few things to look up. Thanks.
     
  16. kaputsport thread starter macrumors member

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    Carlisle, PA
    #16
  17. minifridge1138 macrumors 6502a

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    Jun 26, 2010
    #17
    Actually kaputsport, you're analogy is a little off.

    But first, congratulations on the MP. It should be a nice performance jump from a 2006 iMac. I think that as long as you understand what you bought, then you should be happy.

    Back to the analogy.

    Consider 2 cars.
    1) a 2008 Model XYZ for $1,000. It has 300 hp stock.
    2) a 2009 Model XYZ for $1,500. It has 305 hp stock.

    At first glance, it seems that (1) is the better choice. It's cheaper and has almost the same horsepower.

    Let's also say that you can buy a super-charger for $800 for (1) and get an extra 200 horse power. Now it really looks like a good deal. For the same money, you can buy (1), spend some money on upgrades, and now you'll blow the doors off of (2).

    But it turns out that the engine in (1) was only used for that year. And only by that car company in that model. The parts in (2) were used for several model years. And several other cars used the same engine.

    That means that performance parts for (2) are a lot cheaper simply because more cars used them. The super-charger for (2) only costs $200 and generates 230 horsepower.

    The end result: it costs less to buy (1) than (2). But it costs more to buy and max out (1) than it does to buy and max out (2).
     
  18. thekev macrumors 604

    thekev

    Joined:
    Aug 5, 2010
    #18
    Computers are not cars. While some people do like to geek around with them, the point is still performance. We're talking about workstation grade computers here. It's not so much about liking the styling of a given year. Anyway I hope the OP is really happy with his machine, but the car analogy just isn't the same thing.

    Geek Bench doesn't tell everything. I wasn't just using benchmarks there, but if you're referring to the 6 core vs older 8 core thing, the 6 core is significantly stronger core for core and overall. Even things that cap out at X number of addressable cores especially those from older code should see a benefit there assuming the cpu is your predominant bottleneck.
     
  19. kaputsport thread starter macrumors member

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    Jun 9, 2010
    Location:
    Carlisle, PA
    #19
    Machine arrived today. Still waiting on a monitor, so it is hooked up to my Pioneer Kuro right now.

    Passed Memtest with flying colors. I started working on installing a bunck of applications (FCSX, Logic, etc) and transferring some data around. I now have 4 drives in here: 1 400GB, 1 2TB, and 2 500GB drives. The 2TB will be video data and project data only.

    This machine is much faster than my iMac, which is what I was hoping for. My budget for the upgrade is pretty much maxed out right now, but that will change, once the iMac sells and a few other things too.

    I am quite happy with the purchase right now.

    One more question though. Ram in matched pairs as I under stand. Board A gets matched in slots 1 and 2 and then board B gets matched in slots 1 and 2, then A for slots 3 and 4, and then B for 3 and 4... I get that. My question is with non-matched pairs (2 sticks) one on each board. Safe to run this way?
     
  20. kaputsport thread starter macrumors member

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    Jun 9, 2010
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    Carlisle, PA
    #20
    So I just got the first round of upgrades ordered...

    Apparently, some people wanted some things I was selling, and I had a little budget to play with. So, I ordered the following:

    -8 GB Ram (4x2GB to resolve the unmatched pair that is working right now.
    -A second 2.8GHz Quad Core Processor ($40 FTMFW)
    -Second Heatsink for the second processor.

    So all in all, I have spent $1400 and got a OctoCore 2.8GHz machine with 8GB of ram, 3.4 TB of drive space and 4 times the graphics processing power than my last mac...

    Things are looking up in the world. :apple:
     
  21. CaptainChunk macrumors 68020

    CaptainChunk

    Joined:
    Apr 16, 2008
    Location:
    Phoenix, AZ
    #21
    Two things:

    1. 2008 (3,1) Mac Pros (though not "officially" supported) are actually compatible with every graphics card that will works in the later models. They were the first machines with EFI-64 ROMs. So in a sense, the 2008 models are right on cusp of what would be considered reasonably future proof with GPUs (at least for the time being).

    2. All 2008 logic boards have two CPU sockets -- even the 2.8GHz quad model that sold for $2,299. That model simply leaves the second CPU socket vacant. In contrast, this wouldn't be the case with 2009-10 machines, which use different CPU daughtercards for single- and dual-CPU configurations.

    Safe? Yes. Ideal? No. The 2006-08 Mac Pros have quad-channel memory capability that is enabled when 4 or 8 modules are installed as matched pairs. But the trade-off with using a higher number of modules is higher latency (this is a limitation of how FB-DIMMs work).

    However, I wouldn't get too caught up on that. It's better to have more RAM in 99% of situations.
     
  22. softwareguy256 macrumors regular

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    Jun 5, 2010
    #22
    Yes same gen processor works. But if you have a westmere you won't be able to swap an ivy bridge in.
     
  23. kaputsport thread starter macrumors member

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    Jun 9, 2010
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    Carlisle, PA
    #23
    We are all keenly aware of this. I stated that I wanted to add a second 2.8 Quad, and you stated that I "might need another motherboard". I was pointing out that you don't and that the 3.1 has the extra slot.

    As of today, the second processor, heat sink and ram kit showed up. I am still waiting on the thermal paste, but it will become an octo-core very soon.

    The 8GB of ram in matched pairs really spruced it up.
     
  24. kaputsport thread starter macrumors member

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    Jun 9, 2010
    Location:
    Carlisle, PA
    #24
    Well, the new processor has been added, and the ram is installed. Specs are now:

    -2 x 2.8GHz Quad Core (Total of 8 cores)
    -8GB 800MHz Ram
    -3.4 TB of drive space (1x400, 1x2TB, 2x500)
    -Nvidia 8800GT 512MB video card

    Geekbench scores:

    Before any mods: 5002
    After ram: 5232
    After ram and processor: 11282

    I am very happy with this machine right now. Added all my software from the previous mac and our studio. I have Logic, Final Cut Pro X, Shake, Motion, Compressor, Soundtrack Pro and a few other tools and programs.

    This thing just went full Beast Mode!
     

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