Purchasing used Mac Pro 2009 or Mac Mini 2012?

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by Ebenezum, Nov 26, 2015.

  1. Ebenezum macrumors 6502a

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    Mar 31, 2015
    #1
    I'm not certain if this is the correct forum but according to search results this question hasn't been asked before.

    Problem: I need faster Mac because my current Mac Mini 2014 with i5 2.6 processor is choking when under load, I need faster processor with more cores, preferable 4-6 because anything more will be wasted and too expensive. Software uses constantly both cores and Mini is very slow. Only reason I originally purchased this model was because 2012 was sold out everywhere. GPU is irrelevant for the software I use.

    Solution: Mac Mini 2012 with i7 processor or Mac Pro 2009 4 core. I have ruled out iMac and all Macbook models because 1. I don't need portability 2. I have to keep budget reasonable and 3. I am not impressed with Apples decision to solder and glue everything making upgrades almost impossible.

    Originally I planned to purchase Mac Mini 2012 i7 but after looking through used Mac sellers, Amazon, eBay, etc. it seems Mac Mini 2012 i7 prices are ridiculous and I could get a base model Mac Pro 2009 cheaper. I already have SSD so I would only have to upgrade RAM which is quite cheap.

    Questions:

    1. Which one is better value? I would prefer to keep it for about 5 years to minimise my spending. Based on my research Mac Pro has definitely room to grow as my needs will likely change to more demanding in the next 1-2 years. Mac Mini would be enough for now but I am not certain for how long because of limited RAM and processor compared to Mac Pro.

    2. Assuming I would purchase Mac Pro I would like to eventually upgrade processor to W3680 or W3690 model. However I haven't done any processor upgrades before and after reading Apple service Manual for 2009 model I am not certain if I can do it without damaging the components. I would like opinion from someone who has actually done such as an upgrade as to its feasibility?

    3. What would be best way to purchase Mac Mini or Mac Pro in EU? I have looked most major used Mac sellers but I'm certain I have likely missed some. Purchasing outside of EU isn't practical because of shipping and taxes. Its very hard to find either model locally because they are in great demand.

    Thanks for any insight.
     
  2. BillyBobBongo macrumors 68020

    BillyBobBongo

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    #2
    Yeah the price of the 2012 Mini is bonkers, but that's 'supply & demand' for ya. Where exactly are you in Europe? It would help greatly to know where you are located.

    Wherever you are, check out the price of the 2010 Mac Pro as they tend to be more or less the same price. The processors are easier to upgrade than the 2009 model as that particular model requires de-lidded processors. In reality you can put in standard processors into the 2009, it just takes a bit more care. The 2010 model is an absolute walk in the park to upgrade.

    Some one will no doubt disagree and say that the 2009 is easy to upgrade. So for bonus points I'll throw in that the 2009 doesn't always have a WiFi card, whereas the 2010 does.
     
  3. scotttnz macrumors 6502

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    #3
    Only the dual processor 2009 version has de-lidded processors, the 4 Core single CPU version the OP mentions has a standard lidded Xeon. It will require the unsupported firmware upgrade to support 6 core processors though.

    If you can get a 2010 version for a price that is acceptable to you, that would of be preferable of course.
     
  4. mcnallym macrumors 6502a

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    Oct 28, 2008
    #4
    Believe me it is is easy doing the CPU upgrade. Just make sure you have the correct tools available.
    There are certainly enough video's on doing this on youtube.

    Single CPU's are normal lidded CPU's so no need to worry about that. Yes the 2009 didn't come with wifi as standard however how important is that too you to have the wifi.
     
  5. scott.n macrumors 6502

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    #5
    Wifi can easily be added to the 2009 Mac Pro for negligible ($10-$15) cost. That should be the least of your concerns.

    To the OP, I think the Mac Pro is the better value. The processor upgrade on the single core model is simple.
     
  6. h9826790 macrumors 604

    h9826790

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    #6
    1) If you really need a fast Mac, and you will fully load all 4 cores (8 threads). It's better to do that on a Mac Pro because of much better cooling. The i7 in the mini will be throttled.

    2) I also never do any modern CPU upgrade apart from my 4,1 (W3690), no problem at all, don't worry about that. The single CPU 4,1 is very easy to upgrade.
     
  7. SamPotts macrumors regular

    SamPotts

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    #7
    I was actually in a similar situation to yourself. I had an i5 Mac Mini and needed more juice (to run VMs etc), originally went to an i7 Mac Mini (2012) and maxed out the RAM, fitted an SSD but it still didn't quite cut it. It would often get hot and the fan would go crazy. I'd had an 8 core 2009 cMP before but sold it as I thought I didn't need the power. It turned out I did! I went on the search and found a well priced mint 2009 quad core cMP and upgraded it to 32GB ram, fitted a 3.33 6 core CPU, 1TB apple SSD blade and recently GTX970s. It goes very well. The sale of the Mac Mini i7 actually covered quite a lot of the cost of the cMP (inc RAM and CPU upgrade), that's the best part. I'd recommend the cMP.
     
  8. Luca de Sensi macrumors newbie

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    #8
    One more vote for a 4,1.
    Just found one second hand, added a R9 280x and a W3690.... It actually took me longer to source the parts on ebay than putting everything together!!!
     
  9. rw3 macrumors 6502a

    rw3

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    #9
    One more thing about the Mac Pro (Early 2009) - It will got to Vintage status on December 8th, 2015.

    I vote for the Mac Pro as the cost is much lower than the Mac Mini and you also get much more upgradability.
     
  10. Ebenezum thread starter macrumors 6502a

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    #10
    Thanks for comments.

    I live in average sized EU country. I would prefer purchasing locally but finding either i7 Mac Mini or Mac Pro in good condition (not to mention reasonable priced) is very hard, thats why I started looking through largest used Mac sellers in EU.

    WIFI isn't important, I prefer using Ethernet.

    My budget only allows either Mac Mini or Mac Pro, thats why I'm having a hard time to decide between them. I could manage with my current Mini for a some time but I will certainly need faster processor soon. 4 core is probably sufficient for now and I am not certain I could fully use 6 cores. Since both used Mini and Pro are so similarly priced I'm leaning towards Mac Pro unless I can find reasonable priced i7 Mac Mini (very unlikely).
     
  11. Synchro3, Nov 27, 2015
    Last edited: Nov 27, 2015

    Synchro3 macrumors 65816

    Synchro3

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    Jan 12, 2014
    #11
    I have both machines, a Mac Mini 2012 i7 quad 2.3 GHz (effectively a 3.1 GHz processor with all cores under load) and a Mac Pro 4,1 hexacore W3690 3.4 GHz.

    Single Core speed is more or less the same, but the two additional cores of the Xeon W3690 make the difference regarding multi core speed.

    However, note the Mac Mini can get very hot under load, and you should control the fan rpm yourself: http://forums.macrumors.com/threads/how-to-keep-a-mac-mini-from-overheating.1884378/

    And the iGPU of the Mac Mini is very weak, that's why I have an eGPU connected.
    .
    Geekbench Mac Pro 2.png Geekbench Mac Mini.png
     
  12. PowerMac G4 MDD macrumors 68000

    PowerMac G4 MDD

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    #12
    The 2009 Mac Pro is cheaper and better in every other way, except for the fact that it's large and uses more electricity. Apparently, it beats out a lot of recent Macs in terms of benchmarks. It's definitely more powerful than the Mac Mini - that's for sure.

    Note, though, that these 2009 models have been known (not all, of course) to suffer an issue where the rivets holding in the Northbridge heatsink break and cause the Northbridge chip to overheat. I'm in the process of ordering stuff to fix mine. If everything goes fine, I'll share my process with others in need. This shouldn't keep you from the 2009 Mac Pro, though; it's a great machine nonetheless.
     
  13. tripmusic macrumors 6502

    tripmusic

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    #13
    Another vote for the 2009 MP quad as I just recently got one and upgraded the cpu to a hex. The only thing you have to be mindful of is if you flash it to a 5,1 to upgrade to a hex cpu, if the Mac happens to be an Apple refurbished one, you can't downgrade back to the 4,1. That's my case, but I can't think of a reason to downgrade anyways. I would never waste my time going from 6 cores to 4. And after you flash it you can run 1333MHz ram instead of the 1066 that the 4,1 runs. MP 4,1 FTW
     
  14. 996085 macrumors 6502

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    #14
    Can you clarify what you mean by this? The opposite should be the case...single thread performance will see the higher clock speed while multiple core performance will see the lower speed.
     
  15. 996085 macrumors 6502

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    #15
    This is a tough call. The cMP excels over the Mac Mini when you're utilizing a lot of cores. For single thread performance the MP (new and classic) lose to the consumer / prosumer offerings. Given your application can only utilize up to four cores the benefits of the cMP are lost. The only question, in processing terms, is will the Mac Mini throttle down due to the heat generated by utilizing all cores. IME a rMBP will throttle but I don't know about the Mini. If the Mini can sustain full speed under load then it should easily best the cMP (and possibly the nMP too). Any chance you can find one of both to test your application on?

    If memory larger than 16GB is necessary and / or other expansion then the Mac Pro is the logical choice.
     
  16. h9826790 macrumors 604

    h9826790

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    #16
    The 3615QM has Turbo Boost 2.0, which can boost all cores at the same time.
     
  17. Ebenezum thread starter macrumors 6502a

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    Mar 31, 2015
    #17
    This sounds a little worrysome, do you have any further information?

    Excellent idea, I have to see if I can find examples of both for testing.

    Unless Apple provided the i7 2012 model with better thermal tolerance I suspect it would behave the same as my 2014 Mini which will throttle down in serious use.

    For the moment 16GB of RAM is sufficient but if database size grows larger (which is possible) I likely need more RAM.
     
  18. Synchro3, Nov 30, 2015
    Last edited: Nov 30, 2015

    Synchro3 macrumors 65816

    Synchro3

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    #18
    Yes, when idle'ing the CPU has about 1.2 GHz, under load the CPU has about 3.1 GHz. With all four cores used.

    I always wondered why this Mac Mini is referred as a 2.3 GHz machine.

    idle.png load.png

    Exactly.

    And to avoid throttling it is recommended to control the fan rpm yourself.
     
  19. PowerMac G4 MDD macrumors 68000

    PowerMac G4 MDD

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    #19
    I'm assuming that, if you get a fully-working 2009 Mac Pro that has been working these past 6+ years, it should be fine. However, there have been some that have had issues where the pins, which hold down this small heat sink underneath one of the CPU heat sinks, break and cause that little heat sink to become loose. I got one for free because the previous owner had no idea why his machine was overheating, and neither did I at first. I found some new pegs that apparently work, and I'm waiting to have the parts shipped in order to fix my heat sink. It should be fine afterwards.

    It wouldn't be stupid to buy a working one and not expect that issue to occur, but if you really don't want to take chances, maybe you could try a 2010 model Mac Pro; however, it's going to be a lot of money - unless you can find one for however much you would have spent on the Mini.

    All in all, though, you may not even WANT to deal with a gigantic tower in the first place. A previous-generation Mac Pro is not comparable to a Mac Mini whatsoever. Also, if you prefer a brand-new machine, getting a used machine in general would be a deal-breaker.
     
  20. PowerMac G4 MDD macrumors 68000

    PowerMac G4 MDD

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    #20
    I'm assuming that, if you get a fully-working 2009 Mac Pro that has been working these past 6+ years, it should be fine. However, there have been some that have had issues where the pins, which hold down this small heat sink underneath one of the CPU heat sinks, break and cause that little heat sink to become loose. I got one for free because the previous owner had no idea why his machine was overheating, and neither did I at first. I found some new pegs that apparently work, and I'm waiting to have the parts shipped in order to fix my heat sink. It should be fine afterwards.

    It wouldn't be stupid to buy a working one and not expect that issue to occur, but if you really don't want to take chances, maybe you could try a 2010 model Mac Pro; however, it's going to be a lot of money - unless you can find one for however much you would have spent on the Mini.

    All in all, though, you may not even WANT to deal with a gigantic tower in the first place. A previous-generation Mac Pro is not comparable to a Mac Mini whatsoever. Also, if you prefer a brand-new machine, getting a used machine in general would be a deal-breaker.
     
  21. Ebenezum thread starter macrumors 6502a

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    #21
    I made a quick comparison of Mac Pro 2009-2010 prices and it seems 2010 is about 300-400€ more which is quite a lot when there is little difference between them.

    Since this issue seems quite rare I'm not really concerned.

    I'm currently trying to find both models for testing my software but little luck so far because most of local Mac Pro models are company owned and fully used.

    Given how Apple has made annoying decisions in latest models which can't be upgraded easily idea of purchasing new model isn't neither practical or appealing for my needs. Furthermore I am finding Mac Pro more appealing for my needs because Mac Mini 2012 might be sufficient for few years but Mac Pro offers a lot more possibility for upgrades which is important if my needs grow (which is very possible).
     
  22. firedownunder macrumors regular

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  23. pat500000 macrumors 604

    pat500000

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    #23
    Would it help if you upgraded the processor on mp?
     
  24. Synchro3 macrumors 65816

    Synchro3

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    #24
    Upgrading the CPU to W3690 or X5690 is mandatory. Just my opinion.
     
  25. Ebenezum thread starter macrumors 6502a

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    #25
    Like I said in previous post #21 I'm searching for a Mac Pro for testing my software to see how well it handless 4 or 6 cores. I'm not sure until I have an opportunity to run some test...
     

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