Question About Useful Lifetime of the Current Mac Pros

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by astrostu, Jul 25, 2007.

  1. astrostu macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Feb 15, 2007
    #1
    I bought my desktop way back in 2001, 2 weeks before the "Quicksilver" model was released (which is why I now read rumor sites). I felt that it was relatively out of date within a year, and I definitely started to tax it processor-wise within about 2 or 3 years. I taxed it RAM-wise within a year, upgraded, taxed it again within a year, upgraded, and I just gave in and bought some cheap RAM to get it to the max 1.5 GB (from 896 MB I had it).

    My question comes from reading several threads recently where people have said something to the effect of, "I just bought my Mac Pro and even though it's effectively a year-old machine, I don't think I'll need to upgrade for a long time."

    So the question I'm posing is, are the current Mac Pros really so far ahead of the game that they won't seem obsolete in a few years, like the G4 desktop did for me? Or is it that people just don't see their needs increasing so much from what they are today over the next few years that they won't need the extra oomph? Or is it some combination, or something completely different?

    Perhaps I should note that I consider myself a power user, generally having a large Java app running 24/7 (Azureus), the normal web and e-mail stuff, heavy PhotoShop/Dreamweaver use, will be using Aperture or LightRoom, will be playing SimCity and Civilization, watch lots of movies, and I run my own command-line Java stuff that I'm working on multi-threading for multiple cores for my research (astronomy stuff).
     
  2. ricgnzlzcr macrumors 6502a

    ricgnzlzcr

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    Jun 7, 2005
    #2
    I'm not sure whether you'll feel that the mac pro is not up to your uses in a few years, but the ram is currently expandable to 32gb which seems incredible to me. There are also plenty of hard drive bays. For me, a mac pro could last me at the least 5 years, but I definitely am no power user.

    Also, why didn't you upgrade the processor on your G4 powermac if it was getting long in the tooth?
     
  3. killerrobot macrumors 68020

    killerrobot

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    #3
    I personally think that ever since Apple teamed up with Intel, the mac's are going to get outdated even faster because Intel out does itself every six months.

    All you can do is buy the best you can afford at the moment and pray it lasts as long as possible.:)
     
  4. Umbongo macrumors 601

    Umbongo

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    Location:
    England
    #4
    It's hard to say and I would think it'll depend on a case by case basis. In regards to technical specification hardware looks like it'll seem obsolete year by year as Intel expand cores per machine and shrink and make faster new processors. As for whether someone will actually see hugely improved usage from such things it depends on what they are doing and how developers have chosen to harness that power, or even if they have.
     
  5. astrostu thread starter macrumors 6502

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    Feb 15, 2007
    #5
    Forgot to mention that I did that last August. But I didn't want to spend much money since I'm going to be buying a Mac Pro when they do their next updates, so I only upgraded to a 1.6 GHz processor ... from a 733 MHz.
     
  6. nbs2 macrumors 68030

    nbs2

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    #6
    So you've gotten about 6 years of use out of your machine, as you bought around June '01. Your PM was introduced Jan '01, so you missed about 6months of use. I think that 6.5 years is pretty good for a machine, even if you did have to upgrade.

    With the MPs, I think you'll probably be able to stretch it further. It sounds like you'll be taxing your machine, but with the potential 32GB RAM, I think you should be good for a while. Not that it means much, but you can look at it this way - you started with 256 and ended up with 6x as much RAM at 1.5. This time, you'll start with 2 and end up with 16x as much at 32...

    All about thinking positive.:p
     
  7. irishgrizzly macrumors 65816

    irishgrizzly

    Joined:
    May 15, 2006
    #7
    I think people get too hung up on thinking about a Mac that will last until their old age. I used to worry about how long a life I could squeeze out of it.

    Now my philosophy is; if I where to get 10 years out of my shiny new mac I'm sure that before the end of those 10 years I'd be lusting after the newer 64 core machine with 32 Terabyte flash HD and 500Gigs of RAM. (With people s******ing at cores in the single digits).

    Basically if you're reading this it's a safe bet to say you love macs and new technology. So why not indulge your yourself and get a new machine every 4 years or so. Life is too short to ration your macs!

    (p.s. I know not they're not cheap)
     
  8. ricgnzlzcr macrumors 6502a

    ricgnzlzcr

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    Jun 7, 2005
    #8
    Exactly. I see the current mac pro's as highly more expandable than the powermac g4's with the exception of the processors. I really liked how you could upgrade that old 400mhz G4 to something a lot faster if you needed it. The G5 doesn't look to ever have that expandability but maybe that's a consequence of the switch to intel. If I knew that 5 years from now some company like OWC would have a processor upgrade for the current mac pro's I'd be a lot more tempted to buy one.

    That being said. Six years is a lot of life to get out of a machine and it seems that the mac pro could give you the same life span.
     
  9. irishgrizzly macrumors 65816

    irishgrizzly

    Joined:
    May 15, 2006
    #9
    While I'm on about this, why don't more people consider selling your Mac before your run it into the ground. They are great for keeping a decent resell value. Some act like they're married to them and it's til death do us part.
     
  10. Sean Dempsey macrumors 68000

    Sean Dempsey

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    Aug 7, 2006
    #10
    I have no idea how to answer your questions. Computer don't get "slower", new software gets harder for them to run. As for why yours kept feeling slower, I have no idea.

    That being said... I just bought a Mac Pro, a "2006********" model. I installed my software, the main thing being the Adobe CS3 suite. Firefox, Adium, Itunes, all the rest. But the programs that actually require power are all in CS3 (and I guess VMWare for windows).

    that CS3 suite, and all the software I own, will run the exact same in 5 years as it does today. Photoshop CS3 will run exactly the same for as long as it's on this computer, provided i reinstall OSX Tiger every year or so.

    Maybe Leopard will run slower on my 2006******** Mac Pro than a 2008 Mac Pro, but I doubt it. So really, the question I had to ask myself was:

    In a few years, will this machine be able to handle Adobe CS4? And I think yes, with all the ram and hard drive options I will have by then. Will all the smaller programs get more intense? Probably not.

    6 months from now, I'll probably get the latest video card for it, but other than that, I see NO reason why this machine would be any slower than it is now (which is fast as hell), unless CS4 is such a massive piece of software it requires the Borg Cube to run it.
     
  11. ricgnzlzcr macrumors 6502a

    ricgnzlzcr

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    Jun 7, 2005
    #11
    Yea, I sell my macs when I think it's time for an upgrade and it gives me a good chunk of change to invest, but I could definitely see some people who can't really upgrade as frequently even if they sold their current system. College students who get a computer at the beginning of their 4 years a lot of the time can't afford to upgrade as often as people who hold down decent jobs. I have a couple friends who bought their 500mhz ibook at the beginning of their freshman year and haven't been able to upgrade yet because money is tight during and the few years after college. After that amount of time, the $200 they might get for their G3 ibook won't be able to pay for most of that $1200 invested in the macbook. Also, a lot of people don't really know much about selling on craigslist and ebay.
     
  12. Sean Dempsey macrumors 68000

    Sean Dempsey

    Joined:
    Aug 7, 2006
    #12
    Mac PRO

    Why would you drop probably 5000 (what I spent at least) bucks on a home computer? If your mac pro isn't producing billable hours, you probably don't "need" it, and shouldn't be worrying about how long it will last or it's resale value.
     
  13. astrostu thread starter macrumors 6502

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    Feb 15, 2007
    #13

    I think you have a great point. The reason why it seems slow is because of all the new software I run vs. what I ran when I first got it. I just don't know if I'm going to be running even more later.

    I think it was three years ago that I had the issue of a game coming out and my computer not being fast enough to run it. That was when I really started to think about a new computer. And the OS keeps getting more optimized for current machines (like passing stuff off to the graphics card), and software continues to grow under the assumption that people with the latest machines will be able to run it.

    So perhaps a second question I could ask would be: Do you forsee any software/OS advances/trends that would require the "latest" specs to really run well?
     
  14. irishgrizzly macrumors 65816

    irishgrizzly

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    #14
    You'd be crasy getting the 1st Borg Cube, I'm waiting until version 2 at least :p
     
  15. netdog macrumors 603

    netdog

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    London
    #15
    Honestly, if it can handle HD video editing and high res photography, what more can the developers throw at it anytime soon?
     
  16. Umbongo macrumors 601

    Umbongo

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    #16
    Based on the things you've said you do, no.
     
  17. ricgnzlzcr macrumors 6502a

    ricgnzlzcr

    Joined:
    Jun 7, 2005
    #17
    I agree that for the most part Mac Pro's should be used by people who make a living with them. That doesn't mean that others can't find a way to use them. There are those that like to have more than one screen to use, to be able to have bigger and more hard drives, and who want to be able to make easier upgrades. Currently there isn't that midrange desktop that can do that from Apple and hence some are moving up to the Mac Pro even though they definitely don't need the raw power.

    I only need the expandability for a bigger hard drive and to power my monitor so for right now my cube is just fine. If I were to buy a mac pro though I definitely won't throw down $5000 because I don't need that. I just need the stock mac pro and I could add my hard drives to fit my needs.

    So I do agree with you that if you're a high end user who makes money off of the Mac Pro, I really wouldn't worry about how long it would last me and resale value because speed means time and money. For others though, it does make a difference.
     
  18. mkrishnan Moderator emeritus

    mkrishnan

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    Jan 9, 2004
    Location:
    Grand Rapids, MI, USA
    #18
    Well, people do stupider things...

    I'd say your $5000 is better spent riding the buy/sell wave (i.e. get one now, particularly, if you can find the one you want refurb), and sell/replace with another used/refurb unit every ~12 months. Based on the kinds of needs you have, that is. I don't do that, but you're quite clear that your last PM felt slow quite soon. I don't think there's anything special about the MP, even with 8 cores, that makes it any different today than that computer then. In fact, maybe even less, since this is so early in Intel's Core Architecture development path.
     
  19. rezwits macrumors 6502a

    rezwits

    Joined:
    Jul 10, 2007
    Location:
    Las Vegas
    #19
    This could be something to think about. Lately processor speeds have leveled off. Now enter (2005) multiple cores. They are going up at steady pace, but I doubt they will go any further. The reason I say this is because if you look at a Quad Core XServe 2.66 gHz @ $4,000 in which people are supposed to buy 8 of them and an XServer RAID, that would cost you about $40,000. The Xserves make me think computing power is leveling off. Because if you want 32 cores with Xserves today you have spend $32,000. Do you think Apple will come out with a 32 core machine for $4,000? That would make buying Xserves ridiculous, and with Processor speeds leveling off in the past 2 years or 4 years, I mean we have had 2000 mHz (2 gHz) for the last 5 years. And they still sell 2 gHz models. HMM, leveled off. So here is an end of the road situation, basically there is no where to go... except back to gHz increasing, "doubt it". That machine today ( Mac Pro 4 core 2.66 gHz) should last easily 10 years. The only thing you have to look out for in my honest opinion is a while new EVERYTHING. Like NeXT was mac, Like mac was to Apples. Like an entirely new enivornment. That has different chips maybe and radically different video cards. But that machine is going to last me forever. I have thought about your topic quite often. One item that has come to mind is Like someone prior said Adobe CS4+ that will make things terrible cause the code gets fatter for some reason, to many features, give me a 840av with Photoshop 3. But hard drive wise 4 TBs? plenty, so essential is a G3/300 a really good word processor? Pretty much yes. But the more you demand from the machine the more it can't and can't and can't, but photoshop? On a Quad? of course. But you are into astrology so who knows... :p you probably need 128 XServes
     
  20. Umbongo macrumors 601

    Umbongo

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    Sep 14, 2006
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    England
    #20
    I understand where you are comming from, but you can't really compare Xserves to Mac Pros like you are. Also while processor MHz may have stalled somewhat, performance has not.

    Apple probably will come out with 32 core workstations in a few years if Intel make it possible, with the options for dual chipsets in workstations next year and 8 core processors presumably some time in the near future it seems likely. That doesn't invalidate or make it fruitless to buy 8 xserves now if they suite the task.
     
  21. jasonvp macrumors 6502a

    jasonvp

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    Jun 29, 2007
    Location:
    Northern VA
    #21
    Fortunately, we don't have to make our decisions only based on need. There's want, as well. In reality, we only need 3 things: water, food, shelter. Want, however, is another story entirely.

    I don't need a 500HP car. I wanted one, though, and was financially able to buy one. Has there been any financial ROI on that purchase? Not a bit. In fact, it's depreciating like a champ (chump)? But, that doesn't matter. I bought it because I wanted it. The value I'm getting from it is the *****-eating grin on my face every time I drop the hammer.

    The same thing applies to computers. If I want some mega-monster 64-core Mac Super-Pro with 128GB of RAM, and I can afford it, so what? Is it wrong to also want to glean some value from that purchase, in the form of long life and/or resale?

    jas
     
  22. rockinrocker macrumors 65816

    rockinrocker

    Joined:
    Aug 21, 2006
    #22
    I heard someone somewhere say that they felt computer tech was not becoming antiquated quite as quickly as it did a few years ago.

    I think there might be something to that, since the hardware progresses exponentially software would have to get crazy bloated to really bog down this years leading edge/next years middle of the road. Sure, there'll always be new hardware around the corner that'll smoke current stuff, but so what? That's not going to shorten the useful life span of a current system.

    I don't think we've gotten to this point yet, but I bet it's coming sooner rather that later. I mean, the more core's you have the more resources it takes to divy up the info, right? So how many processors can a machine have before they stop improving performance? There's got to be a limit somewhere, right?

    It seems like that's a pretty interesting question....
     
  23. FF_productions macrumors 68030

    FF_productions

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    Mt. Prospect, Illinois
    #23
    Well lets say in 3-5 years from now, you think the original Mac Pro is slow, just put in an Octo-Core processor and you'll be able to squeeze more life out of it, simple as that.
     
  24. Malfoy macrumors 6502a

    Malfoy

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    Nov 1, 2005
    #24
    Because they hate the beach ball?
     
  25. tribe3 macrumors 6502

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    Nov 1, 2005
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    Vienna, VA - USA
    #25
    I think that new software in the future will slow down and make actual MPs obsolete. Today a 2.66 0r 3ghz quad are running CS3 very fast and that will continue to be until Adobe comes out with CS4.

    I was running CS3 with very acceptable speed on a MacBook Pro 2.16, so I feel it flies on the quad 3. If I change my computer in the next 3 years it's going to be for lust rather than need.

    $50 bucks in a cookie jar every month is a good way to have new shiny Macs on your desktop evry couple of years without pain
     

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