Refurbished vs configuring new, & subsequent owner modifications

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by bigsnowdog, Oct 17, 2010.

  1. bigsnowdog macrumors member

    Joined:
    Dec 7, 2009
    #1
    Background

    I use Macs in a publishing business and have done so since 1986. I have read entries here where one user wants to buy/configure equipment that will last five years or be able to last longer than considered typical. I have read the replies indicating that is not possible, too much change and evolution, buy every 2-3 years, and all that.

    Since 1986 I have had these models: Mac Plus, IIci, 8600, and most recently a G4 1.25 Ghz MDD. I am writing this post on the G4. It is about eight years old. Look at the number of models I list and do the math. Those are the only machines I have had since 1986. I don't believe I could get this kind of service from an iMac or laptop. Note: The 8600 is still my scanning station, run as required.

    What I learn is the computer does what it could do initially as well as it ever could. The problems eventually emerging are multiple. Increasing potential for hardware failure, inability to run newer software as operating systems fall behind, and today, an inability to run the most current browsers due to OS falling behind.

    I want capability to run newer versions of Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign, Acrobat, and some CAD or solid modeling software. The G4 is doing what it did initially just as well as it ever did. It just can't move forward.

    I recall a photo of a raccoon standing on a boat dock with feet on one side on the dock and feet on the other side in the boat. The boat is drifting away; the raccoon's stance is widening. A decision has to be made before he falls in the water. Bad analogy, perhaps, but vivid.

    It's time to get in the boat. Worse, I am unemployed from my real job and have been so since February. Given the economy, the side business has taken on new importance and needs to grow and prosper more than ever. You are probably all kids. I am 60, and although age discrimination is illegal, it is alive and well I suspect. The most grim possibility is this business may become my sole support.

    My decision to spend a lot of savings has to be good. I have been down the path of the suggestions for laptops and iMacs. I learn from my G4, a standard desktop unit, that the flexibility, repairability, expandability, of a desktop is part of what allows me the long hardware lifespans I have enjoyed.

    For a while I had fumbled around trying to decide between laptop and iMac. Then, continuing to read, I read a long thread on Gearslutz about Pros and their virtues. I felt I could have written some of the posts myself. Then I spent two days here. It all jarred me back to reality. I want a Pro.

    In addition to the applications I mention, I want to be able to work with video. I have not yet, but will learn, as I see it as a great business tool and item to market, and market with.

    A side note. I read all these comments about 1T drives as I sit here with my 125GB internal drive and my 250GB external drive. My internal drive shows a capacity of 115 and an available of 46. This in eight years. Increased generation and receipt of digital images will increase storage, but even so.

    My questions:
    Dumb question disclaimer — apologizing ahead of time for what may seem [to this really technical group] to be very dumb questions.

    • I read where 2010 Mac Pro units are now available refurbished, implying previously they were 2009's. How do I tell the 2010 listings from the 2009 listings?

    • If I buy a refurbished [or new] unit, does it affect my warranty if I then buy additional drives and RAM and install such items myself? I have the idea I could save quite a bit that way.

    • I believe I learn, to continue my maximum hardware life pattern, I want a 2010. I have felt a 4-core, base unit is my best value. Reading more tells me perhaps a 6-core refurb would be even better with respect to long term performance and the refurb would make that affordable. Do you agree, or stay with the 4-core?

    • How is it possible for resellers to offer Apple Care for so much less than Apple? Given that it is Apple's service, I don't understand why/how they discount it that much.

    • I had thought I would buy from Apple, but seeing mention of B&H and several other sellers with lower prices, I wonder. Thoughts on that?
     
  2. Hellhammer Moderator

    Hellhammer

    Staff Member

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    Location:
    Finland
    #2
    1. 2010 Mac Pros have ATI 5770, I think that's the easiest way to find out.

    2009 Mac Pro: 2.66GHz, 2.93GHz and 3.33GHz quad core; 2.26GHz, 2.66GHz and 2.93GHz 8-core
    2010 Mac Pro: 2.8GHz and 3.2GHz quad core; 3,33GHz 6-core; 2.4GHz 8-core; 2.66GHz and 2.93GHz 12-core

    2. Installing RAM, hard drives or PCIe cards do not void your warranty. Most people buy them from aftermarket since Apple's prices are so high.

    3. As you're unemployed and money seems to be a bit tight, I would go with quad core, if you have the $, go with 3.2GHz quad. You can upgrade the CPU to 6-core later on if needed (cheaper than from Apple).

    4. Resellers or eBay? Some eBay AppleCares are fake as they do not come with a box. I don't know how some of them are cheaper but e.g. L.A. Computers sells discounted, legit AppleCare.
     
  3. cgnorwood macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jul 22, 2002
    #3
    Refurb v. new

    Bigsnowdog:

    1. Easy way to tell if 2009 vs 2010 is that the 2010's have built in airport. Also, all Westmere processors are 2010.

    2. No difference in warranty for refurb.

    3.. I just got a refurb 3.33 6-core and am very happy. However, these come up only rarely; keep checking the apple store.

    4. Don't know, but Apple is pretty strict on what kinds of discounts can be advertised for the basic machine. Perhaps they can discount the service contract more easily to compete. Don't worry about the service, it is the same however you acquire applecare.

    5. If you're looking for refurb, you have to buy from apple. For new, Apple charges sales/use tax in all states (I think). Other on-line sellers don't. Shipping can also be a big item (this machine ships at about 60 lbs.)

    (Don't under-appreciate the 1TB drives. If you're going to get into video, you'll never have enough storage.)

    Good luck.
     
  4. bigsnowdog thread starter macrumors member

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    Dec 7, 2009
    #4
    Are there good tutorials on the web regarding how to install the RAM and internal drives?
     
  5. Hellhammer Moderator

    Hellhammer

    Staff Member

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    #5
  6. philipma1957, Oct 17, 2010
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 11, 2010

    philipma1957 macrumors 603

    philipma1957

    Joined:
    Apr 13, 2010
    Location:
    Howell, New Jersey
    #6
    The stock apple drive is a western digital caviar black the only difference is the label. truly the same as the one I listed at newegg or I may have listed the newer model at newegg.
     
  7. bigsnowdog, Oct 17, 2010
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 11, 2010

    bigsnowdog thread starter macrumors member

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    Dec 7, 2009
    #7
    The choices is quite clear, isn't it?
     
  8. bigsnowdog thread starter macrumors member

    Joined:
    Dec 7, 2009
    #8
    Would you offer a bit more explanation to this, please? Reading other threads, I think I learn that jump to 3.2 is not that good of a value, if RAM is maxed, or at least truly adequate. What subsequent cost would there be to upgrading to 6-core later? And, with that, could I have upgraded to 6-core from the base configuration processor?
     
  9. C. Alan macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Jan 23, 2009
    #9
    Mac Pros are designed to be the easiest Macs to upgrade. It is best to buy your Mac from apple with the minimum memory they offer, and buy your memory from a third party vender (like Other World Computing). The memory will be cheaper, and they have online manuals for installing it. Take a look at this page.

    Hard drives are also very easy to install. The mac pro has trays that just slide out, and you can put new hard drives in.
     
  10. philipma1957 macrumors 603

    philipma1957

    Joined:
    Apr 13, 2010
    Location:
    Howell, New Jersey
    #10
    you can go from the 2.8 quad to the 3.33 hex.

    if you purchased a 3 year apple care you can wait until month 30 with 6 months to go on the apple care. you can price the upgrade vs selling the machine on ebay and buying what the new mac pro is in 2013 or so.

    the 2.8 will be much easier to sell in 2013 with 6 months applecare on it. In any case that decision can be postponed for 30 months or even 32 months. the 2.8 quad to a 1.25 g4

    is like a corvette to a moped. you most likely won't need any upgrades for years to come.
     
  11. Hellhammer Moderator

    Hellhammer

    Staff Member

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    Finland
    #11
    3.2GHz is a decent upgrade if you can't afford 6-core. Theoretically, it's 14.3% faster than 2.8GHz and costs 16.0% more, but that's not terrible value, it's quite decent.

    W3680 goes for as low as 899$ on eBay, then sell W3530 for ~350$ or W3565 for ~550$. So, upgrade price from 2.8GHz quad would be about 550$ and from 3.2GHz quad it would be around 350$. It will be even cheaper when Intel releases more 6-cores so in 6 months for example, the upgrade may cost only couple hundreds.
     
  12. johnnymg macrumors 65816

    johnnymg

    Joined:
    Nov 16, 2008
    #12
    I'd recommend the 2.8 base model from the Apple refurb store. This is the least expensive way to go and still get a full one year warranty from Apple. Going second party vendor can complicate repairs.

    Also, you can delay purchasing applecare until 12 months after the purchase.

    If your biz takes off you can always upgrade the processor down the road. No need right now as most SW can't take advantage of muli-core anyway.

    good luck
    JohnG
     
  13. silby101 macrumors member

    Joined:
    Jun 20, 2003
    #13
    You can get the 6-core from the refurb store for $3149 US ($3299 CAD). I got mine last week when it came in stock using an applescript I came up with. If you are interested in getting anything from the refurb store, this will tell you the minute it comes in stock.

    http://forums.macrumors.com/showthread.php?t=1029903

    The base config is around $2100 US or so, and right now to upgrade to the 6-core, it costs about $1000-1200 for the CPU depending where you get it (Search for Xeon W3680). Any of the 2010 Mac pro's can be upgraded to this just by swapping out the chip, and 2009 can be if you swap out the backpane board and CPU board and CPU. I did a lot of research figuring out how much it would cost to do the 2009 to 6-core upgrade, and it made more sense for me to order it directly now. The chip cost will drop in the next few years, but IMO will still remain probably in the $600-800 range. You could sell the CPU you replace, but will only get a few hundred for it if you are lucky. The quad 2.8 only costs a few hundred new.
     
  14. bigsnowdog thread starter macrumors member

    Joined:
    Dec 7, 2009
    #14
    Bringing this thread up again. Does the same thinking apply to buying a second internal optical drive [super drive]? Do these vendors offer a lower cost alternative to the Apple super drive?
     
  15. milbournosphere macrumors 6502a

    milbournosphere

    Joined:
    Mar 3, 2009
    Location:
    San Diego, CA
    #15
    Pretty much any SATA optical drive should do the job. Troll newegg, you can find one that fits your budget and needs. Just take the front plate off of the disk tray and you should be golden.

    I would suggest this one. It's loud, but over long run has been reliable, and it's fast to boot.
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16827135204

    Replacement Instructions from Apple:
    http://manuals.info.apple.com/en/MacPro_OpticalDrive_DIY.pdf

    If you're feeling particularly adventurous, you could go with a blu-ray drive. I've heard reports of people getting them to work despite a lack of native OS X support. Hope this helps.
     
  16. bigsnowdog thread starter macrumors member

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    Dec 7, 2009
    #16
    Thank you!
     

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