Replacing a 2011 iMac with a used 2009 Mac Pro

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by Angelus, Jan 18, 2014.

  1. Angelus, Jan 18, 2014
    Last edited: Jan 18, 2014

    Angelus macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Apr 19, 2002
    Location:
    New Zealand
    #1
    Hi there, I've been trawling the site for the last few weeks researching various options but would like the benefit of user experience.

    I currently have a base model 2011 Thunderbolt iMac with 12GB RAM. My main uses are browsing, work projects (Pages/Keynote), Aperture for hobby photography, Corel Painter (hobby as well) and the occasional stop motion animation/iMovie. I use it for gaming but am not interested in playing the latest and greatest in Windows.

    The iMac is starting to feel sluggish and while I've contemplated installing an SSD/externals etc I don't like the idea of putting money into an all in one machine. Similarly, I don't like the idea of buying a new screen every time I want a new computer so another iMac wouldn't solve the problem.

    Enter used Mac Pro 2009...
    My main aim would be to get a tower that will ultimately be faster than the iMac and give me longevity through upgrading CPU, graphics cards, adding internal SSD/HDD etc.

    I've read through the various tutorials so I'm confident in doing the upgrade and I understand that the 2009 SP configuration is easier to upgrade vs DP config with its lidded design.

    I've also been looking through various CPU options and am familiar with which family fits each. Currently with prices on eBay I'd probably look at a w3580 (3.33GHZ quad) for the SP and maybe an X5570 (2.93GHZ 8 core) for the DP.
    The jump up to hexacore seems too much for my uses.

    Since my main aim is for it to be responsive for a few years, my main question revolves around which would be the best choice of Mac Pro to buy used. Given that I do no professional work, would I see greater longevity from a faster clocked quad 3.33GHZ over an Octo 2.93GHZ?

    Obviously geekbench would be higher on the Octo but that doesn't necessarily translate to real life.

    Secondly, what would people recommend with regard to buying secondhand? Most of the samples here in NZ are ex leased machines but there are some privately owned ones as well. My gut tells me that lease machines get more of a flogging but I'm not sure if that's translated to a higher rate of failure/problems.

    I'd appreciate your thoughts on this. I'll also prob sell the iMac eventually to recoup some funds.
     
  2. Mac Gus macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Dec 31, 2013
    Location:
    New York City
    #2
    For what you're doing I'd just put the SSD in your iMac, unless you want the Mac Pro as a fun hobby to upgrade. Also if you buy the MP plus SSD, CPUs, GPU, RAM etc it's going to get expensive. It would be a sweet machine but for single core tasks, even with upgraded processors it might not be significantly faster than your current computer with a SSD.
     
  3. ZZ Bottom macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Apr 14, 2010
    #3
    One of the things I enjoy about having a Pro is the abundance of hard drive space inside. I effectively use it as my all purpose server. I have a miniSAS RAID external, but still prefer the internal bays for their simplicity.

    If you aren't planning on installing a specific PCIe card or using it as a server I wouldn't bother making the switch. If you're into tinkering you may want to look into building a Hackintosh to accompany your iMac. www.tonymacx86.com is the ultimate resource for Hackintoshes running unmodified OS X.
     
  4. zippster macrumors regular

    zippster

    Joined:
    Sep 5, 2007
    #4
    Interesting thread as this weekend I've literally just done the same..

    I'm hanging up my 2011 i7 3.4 for a 2009 8 core 2.66 16gb ecc & 27" Cinema Display

    I've stuck 2x ssd drives and another 2x 1tb (mirrored) with the intention of having the best of both worlds with windows 8.1 and OS

    I've also ordered a sapphire HD7950 mac edition gfx card so it should be capable of running any game at ultra detail settings ..

    Do it.. It's fun being back in the PC gaming world again and this thing is so much quicker than my iMac!
     
  5. Angelus thread starter macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Apr 19, 2002
    Location:
    New Zealand
    #5
    Thanks for your replies.
    I like the idea of being able to replace and upgrade individual components in huge future.
    The ability to have a significant amount of internal storage is a major bonus as well.

    Given that the imac is a quad core 2.5GHZ i5 I would have thought that a Quad core Xeon 3.33 would be a nice boost in power.
    Looking around it seems that used SP Mac Pro 4,1s in NZ can go for anywhere between $1,000 and $1,900 NZ. The hexa core CPUs are two expensive for me but a quad core 3.33GHZ goes for about $280 NZD. I've got some spare 3.5" drives here already so all that would be needed is maybe more RAM, monitor and new graphics card.
     
  6. alainking macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Aug 2, 2012
    Location:
    Cape Town, South Africa
    #6
    I have a 2011 iMac 27" base model and a 2008 Mac Pro so I can give some feedback on this.

    My iMac is stock except for having 20gb of Ram. The Mac Pro is a dual quad 3ghz with 16gb of ram. Both machines boot of 1gb 7200rpm seagate hard drive.

    The biggest time that I notice a difference is for rendering video. Using handbrake with default Apple TV 2 (720p) and Apple TV 3 (1080p) settings, I have rendered the same video and can give some numbers. For 720p, the iMac gets by at around 20-25 frames per second, Mac Pro does 40-45 frames per second. For 1080p, the iMac is down to below 10 frames per second whereas the Mac Pro is running at between 15-25 depending on the content.

    For normal working, I don't notice much difference between the two but the iMac screen is amazing in comparison to the Mac Pro. I can't comment on playing games on the Mac Pro as it is still running an old graphics card, I mainly use it for rendering, storage and then also running big projects in Logic. I have recently found some cheap IPS screens that I want to get on for the Mac Pro but all of the upgrades do add up
     
  7. Gav Mack, Jan 20, 2014
    Last edited: Jan 20, 2014

    Gav Mack macrumors 68020

    Gav Mack

    Joined:
    Jun 15, 2008
    Location:
    Sagittarius A*
    #7
    Seconded. The OP didn't say which size iMac screen wise it is but if you are stripping it out to change the hard drive may as well clean tint and re-paste the GPU/CPU heatpipe and give the fans a good clean out with compressed air. I use a pair of big twin suckers used for carrying sheets of glass which lift the screen glass out perfectly.

    Though if like us you like the upgradeability aspect of the tower and you can get good money for your iMac then go for it. I would try and get a dual socket model which you can upgrade to twin hex at a later date though, like I will get replacing my 3,1 chassis and transplanting all the upgrade parts inside..
     
  8. Stephen Dowling macrumors regular

    Stephen Dowling

    Joined:
    Jul 29, 2009
    Location:
    New Mexico
    #8

    OP,

    You will not be disappointed if you choose to go this route. I did a similar switch a few months ago, and I do not regret it at all! I went from a late 2011 MBP w/ 2.2 GHz i7, 8GB RAM, 250GB SSD to a stock 2009 Mac Pro.

    I moved the SSD that was previously in my MBP to my Mac Pro, and added a 2TB SSHD for storage. I also immediately bought 12GB 1333Mhz DDR3 (Non-ECC) and a 3.33 GHz Xeon W3580 Quad to replace the stock 3GB RAM, 2.66 Quad Xeon.

    The 3.33 GHz Quad Xeon is excellent, and is actually a very large step up from the 2.66 it replaced. The 3.33 also takes advantage of DDR3 1333 RAM and uses a 6.4 GT/s QPI rather than the DDR3 1066 RAM and 4.8 GT/s QPI of the stock processor.

    Personally, I use my MP a lot for gaming in Bootcamp so I installed a GTX 680 for excellent gaming performance; However, I noticed that the 3.33 alone noticeably boosted performance in that area. On the OS X side of things, there is a very significant performance increase when it comes to Handbrake and iMovie. Aside from that, the 3.33 seems to make the system "snappier."

    If you haven't already heard; you can flash the firmware of these MP from 4,1 to 5,1. Doing so enables you to use hex-core processors and 1333 MHz RAM, if you decide to upgrade in the future. It's a very easy process.

    If you decide to go for the MP, I think you'll be very satisfied with your decision! Hope this helped a little. :cool:
     
  9. Angelus thread starter macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Apr 19, 2002
    Location:
    New Zealand
    #9
    Yeah the 5,1 firmware upgrade, 3.33GHZ W3580 (and maybe 1333MHZ RAM) plus boot SSD are first few items on my list.

    I'm about 90% there mentally now. It's just a case of finding the right specimen to start with.
    We've got a local trade site, equivalent to eBay, in NZ.
    For a 4,1 Quad 2.66 with 640GB HDD and 4870 my options are:

    $1,700-Ex lease machine, tested for 48 hours to ensure reliability and a 6 month warranty (though I'm thinking my work will void the warranty anyway)

    $1,200- same machine but being sold privately by an office. No warranty but assured to be in working order.

    I'm thinking that the price difference could go a long way in upgrades. Would prob get me my W3580 and the SSD.....
     
  10. echoout macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Aug 15, 2007
    Location:
    Austin, Texas
    #10
    This is precisely what I got a few months ago after finding a 8-core 2.26 on CraigsList for $800. So happy with it.
     
  11. Angelus thread starter macrumors 6502

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    Apr 19, 2002
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    New Zealand
    #11
    I thought the W3580 could only be used in single processor configuration?
     
  12. echoout macrumors 6502a

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    Aug 15, 2007
    Location:
    Austin, Texas
    #12
    Oh yeah, my brain read that as X5680! Still awesome though!
     
  13. Angelus thread starter macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Apr 19, 2002
    Location:
    New Zealand
    #13
    Thanks for your replies.
    Bought a 2009 SP 4,1 Mac Pro yesterday for $999 NZ.
    Pretty much stock and should be here in the next few days :)
     
  14. Mac Gus macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Dec 31, 2013
    Location:
    New York City
    #14
    Sweet. They are satisfying machines to upgrade!
     
  15. jakesaunders27 macrumors 6502a

    jakesaunders27

    Joined:
    Jan 23, 2012
    Location:
    United Kingdom
    #15
    Nice! Enjoy it! As much as people here hate them I still have my original Mac Pro, still going strong I just love upgrading it and for me its perfect speed.

    Enjoy your new one!

    Jake
     
  16. DPUser macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Jan 17, 2012
    #16
    I did the hex 3.33 upgrade plus SSDs in mid-2012 and have been loving it. You may want to do a GPU upgrade. I picked up a 5770 which is adequate for my music production needs, no gaming here, but as you probably know, options currently abound!

    If you had been thinking of a DP 4,1 and your applications are highly-threaded, the hex will insulate you from jonesing for a new machine for a little longer...
     
  17. Angelus thread starter macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Apr 19, 2002
    Location:
    New Zealand
    #17
    Yeah I'm excited to get started. All in all, cost will ramp up fairly quickly so I'm gonna take it slow and do it bit by bit.
    First things first will probably get a Samsung EVO SSD along with a Dell 2412M.
    Firmware hack followed by a fresh install of 10.9.
    After that it'll likely be CPU, RAM and new graphics card in that order.

    The thought of having potentially Terabytes of data internally( Time machine included) with no clutter is very exciting.

    As a slight aside, I've read the VERY long graphics thread but couldn't find my answer. Will the GTX 760 run on two 6 pin cables?
     

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