Self-built Mac Pros - Okay to buy?

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by Jardins de Vin, Jul 13, 2014.

  1. Jardins de Vin macrumors 6502a

    Jardins de Vin

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    Europe
    #1
    On eBay there's several sellers or "companies" if you want, that sell "modified" Mac Pros. In fact, none of all of the Mac Pros seem to be original.

    I'm talking about the old Mac Pro by the way. 5,1.

    You can configure your Mac Pro in the way you want it, they allow you to choose the hard drive you want, the RAM you want, etc.

    But they also change the processors on many of them. For example I'm looking for a 12-core 5,1 from mid 2010 with 2,93 GHz. All of those I found were actually 2,4 GHz ones, some even 4,1 Mac Pros, upgraded with the newer Processors. All of these companies, wether they're based in the UK or Germany, told me it's impossible to find some original ones.

    I'm in Europe by the way.

    They also offer one year warranty, some even up to three for an addtional sum.

    Is it okay to buy from them? Even if there's a warranty… I feel like I don't have a real Mac Pro, you know. But performance is what counts for me obviously. I'm also wondering what the Mac Pro will be intentified as … if I register it at Apple, will it say it's a 2,4 GHz for example, even if it's a 2,93? And does that matter anyway?

    Thanks a lot lads.
     
  2. flowrider macrumors 601

    flowrider

    Joined:
    Nov 23, 2012
    #2
    That's the beauty of the oMP, it's so customizable and expandable. I have a 2010 5,1 and I've changed the processors, video card, Added USB 3.0, RAM, and an SSD mounted on a PCIe card.

    When the machine was shipping from Apple, Apple had a BTO (Build To Order) option to customize it also.

    The oMP is becoming harder to find in the Europe, due to it being made an outlaw by the EU.

    If the machine is clean and well taken care of and the modifications have been done by folks who know what they are doing, I see no issues. However, you must check out the seller's history to get some idea of his integrity.

    As far as registration, I think that ship has sailed. You will be buying a used, maybe reconditioned, not a new machine.

    Lou
     
  3. CASLondon macrumors 6502a

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    Apr 18, 2011
    #3
    Are you talking about Scrumpymacs/create.pro in the UK?

    They definitely know what they are doing, but you will pay for your machine (i.e. pay more than it would cost for you to source the parts and do the upgrades yourself). I sourced a 4,1 myself in the US and brought it over, doing the upgrades myself.

    They move alot of 4.1/5.1 units, with flashed firmware and upgraded cpus.

    I think they generally have good reputations.
     
  4. Jardins de Vin thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Jardins de Vin

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    #4
    Yeah I'm talking about Create pro and also another one called mac factory from Berlin. Actually I've been thinking of what you said just earlier, to basically build it myself. Is it hard? I never built a computer. But I've searched for the two 6-cores 2,93 GHz for example and found them new for 1500€ or something. With warranty and all. Maybe it was something else, I should look again.
    But I wouldn't know where to find the casing of the Mac anyway, and then there's other things like motherboards, etc. and all that stuff? It surely sounds complicated but I have the feeling I'd pay something like 1000€ less. I don't really need a good graphics card either, it's for music production.
    Adding USB 3 certainly sounds good however!

    Also, this won't be a Hackintosh then, right? I will still be able to run OSX legally I hope? I don't want a Hackintosh haha.
     
  5. GraniteTheWolf macrumors 6502

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    Mar 31, 2013
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    Wisconsin
    #5
    You can find a few originals on eBay. Your going to pay a bit more for an unmodified one, at least that's what I noticed when I looked around.
    I personally was happy paying more, especially since what I got was practically a brand new 2012 machine. I feel much better doing any modifications myself instead of trusting the work of someone else.

    I got my 2012 6-core (advertised as a 2010, they said they had a few '12's in the lot though) completely unmolested for $2199 on eBay. I even asked, and they shipped it in an original mac pro box with a brand new keyboard and mouse to me.
     
  6. Jardins de Vin thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Jardins de Vin

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    #6
    That definitely sounds good. I'm not too scared of giving someone else the work, especially with the warranty etc., so I'm sure it will be well done, but I'm scared that they might take advantage of people like me who never owned a Mac Pro yet and who don't know everything about it (yet), and you know, I might realise something like the motherboard in there isn't the same model as the one it originally came with (doesn't have to be the same but at least the same model I guess) or it comes in the housing of the 4,1, etc. I mean that's dumb things I'm listing here (except the last one, I've seen this for real, 5,1 in a 4,1 housing) but it's just some examples of what I'm scared of. I guess there's lots of questions to ask before buying it.
    The guys from Berlin are very arrogant but they have the best prices. Hopefully also the best work.
     
  7. CASLondon macrumors 6502a

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    Apr 18, 2011
    #7
    Well, one step you can take is to look at the reviews on the ebay store.

    Create.pro and Scrumpymacs have been doing it for a long time, they have relationships with people like barefeats.com who benchmark high end mac pro stuff.

    I'm pretty confident they will not rip you off in terms of the fly-by-night things you are mentioning. They will make a profit on you, however. As far as I can tell, they buy in bulk ex-lease Mac Pros from the US (which have been hardware tested by in-house Apple techs), flash the firmware, upgrade the CPUs, etc. They move a lot of machines to heavy users.

    And yes, by flashing the firmware, I am talking about turning a 4,1 machine into a 5,1 machine. That involves flashing the firmware to think its a 5,1. The advantage is that you can use faster ram, and the machine accepts a wider range of CPU. I am doing this myself to a 4,1 machine I just bought, so that alone is not something to be scared of. There is very little difference between a 4,1 and a 5,1 from 2009 up to 2012 anyway.

    They participate in high end mac pro user forums, like video editing/shooting/grading ones, so they have public identities.

    When I say do it yourself, I'm talking about upgrading a Mac Pro, not a hackintosh. You need to feel comfortable with the jobs involved first before you decide to do this. Most of them are easy enough if you know how to research, feel comfortable rolling up your sleeves, and troubleshooting if something isn't working right. The hardest job is probably upgrading CPUs on a dual processor 2009 mac pro, which is a trickier/riskier one potentially.

    Other than that, its hard drives, ram, and GPUs. Most of the work is about researching the right kit and the right way to install it.

    But, the actual 2.93 cpus are probably 500 dollars or less for a pair, maybe even less. So if you are willing, its possible to get the same machine cheaper. But not easier.
     
  8. Jardins de Vin thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Jardins de Vin

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    #8
    Thanks for the great reply. How much in percentage do you believe it could be cheaper if I would build it myself?
    Is there some tutorials online on how to do this, step by step? I couldn't did any it seems.

    Also, isn't there other, important differences between a 5,1 and a 4,1? Doesn't the 4,1 have a different housing with different fans, or am I mixing this with the very old PowerMac?

    It does sound like a lot of work anyway, but if the pice difference is big enough, and there's no risk, it would be worth the work I guess.

    What's the best base to use for modifying? The closest you want to get I believe?

    The best would probay be to find something without hard drives, CPU, RAM, etc. so I don't have to bother with selling the stuff my "base" Mac Pro already came with.
     
  9. CASLondon macrumors 6502a

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    Apr 18, 2011
    #9
    There is no visible difference btw 2009 and 2012 Mac Pro.

    You need to spend some time on these forums, and reading things like

    http://pindelski.org/Photography/technical/mac-pro/

    This used to have a step by step guide, which he took down, but is still here in this forum somewhere. You can find it. You could also buy everything, but pay someone to do the CPU upgrade for you. Above does it, so might Scrumpy/Create. For a fee.

    http://macperformanceguide.com/topics/topic-MacPro.html

    The actual difference is in the lidless/lidded cpu issue, relevant in the dual processor 2009

    First question, do you need a 12 core machine? If not, its easy. Get the cheapest, nice single processor 2009/2012 Mac Pro and upgrade to a fast hex core cpu. Not a hard upgrade.

    If you work with rendering/transcoding video, etc, and want a dual, then you do the same with a 8 core. Trickier job on the 2009, but then, 2009 should be cheaper than the 2010/12.

    How much can you save? You'll have to research how much each part will cost you buying the machine and parts on your own, where you are.

    For me, I'm saving a boatload because I'm bringing a 2009 over from the US, where the base cost was less and supply is higher, plus the GPU was a bit less. CPUs are pretty much priced globally, so that doesn't change.
     
  10. brentsg macrumors 68040

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    Oct 15, 2008
    #10
    I don't see any particular benefit to a unit that's not modified. That's the point of the oMP and by this point, I'd expect some tweaks.

    Mine has seen replacement RAM, CPU, GPU, optical drive, plus the addition of hard drives and a USB3 card.
     
  11. Jardins de Vin thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Jardins de Vin

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    #11
    Yeah I need a 12 core. Finally I decided I'd either go with an already modified one (by someone else, like those we mentioned) or I would buy one without RAM, HD, GPU. But with the CPU and all that stuff included because that's more complicated I believe.

    Anyway … I noticed one I was interested in said the two 2,4 GHz processors will be changed by 2,93 processors. According to Mactracker (or All Macs, I don't remember what they're called) it would mean it was a 5,1 2010 8-core, because that's the one that got 2,4 GHz.
    Weirdly enough it has an AMD Radeon HD 4870, which was not meant for those 2010 models, but for the 2009 model:
    http://support.apple.com/kb/ht2848

    Could it be an upgraded 2009, or would that card work in the 2010 as well? I don't want to be tricked, that's all, and all those sellers are trying to hide things I have the feeling. I just want to know the truth about the product's past, sigh. :( Didn't think it would be that hard to buy a Mac Pro, I thought I'd find an original one, pay, get it delivered, and that's it. But apparently there isn't a single non-modified one.
     
  12. 666sheep macrumors 68040

    666sheep

    Joined:
    Dec 7, 2009
    Location:
    Poland
    #12
    2.4 suggests 2010, but stock card should be 5770. Ask seller for serial number if you want to be sure.
    There's a few websites (powerbookmedic is one of them) with serial number decoder.
     
  13. flowrider macrumors 601

    flowrider

    Joined:
    Nov 23, 2012
    #13
    You are correct, something's suspect with the video card. It could be a flashed 2009 4,1 Mac Pro flashed to a 5,1. If you can, try to get the serial number before you buy, and have the seller hold that particular unit for you. Then do a search of the SN here:

    http://www.powerbookmedic.com/identify-mac-serial.php?source=pjn&subid=43737

    or

    http://www.appleserialnumberinfo.com/Desktop/index.php

    Lou
     
  14. 666sheep macrumors 68040

    666sheep

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    #14
    There is a few on european eBay (-> kAppware), but prices aren't attractive, at least IMO.
     
  15. Jardins de Vin thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Jardins de Vin

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    Europe
    #15
    Thanks didn't know of that site! It's a good idea! Even though I have the feeling the seller will not tell me.
    In one of the screenshots of "About this Mac" you can see that it doesn't say anything for the serial number field, it's all white. Either the computer is modified and reset in a way that it doesn't know its own serial number, or the seller photoshopped it with white colour to avoid people stealing the number for criminal purposes… :p
    The seller always answered quickly, yesterday I asked another 5 questions or so and today I also messaged him, he doesn't respond anymore. It's "Mac factory", I'm sure the guys are pros but it's all fishy. It's as if they were ashamed to say that it was an upgraded 4,1 or upgraded 8 core to 12 core haha.
    I noticed the same with other sellers, it's all secret. The business with Mac Pros is not what I thought it to be!

    Edit: oh you guys are quick at replying can't keep up on my iPhone haha. Thanks again :) and yes there's a very little number of real ones and the prices are in fact not attractive. Although another seller wanted to sell me a real one for 2000£ but without HDD, GPU and RAM. But that sounded fishy as well, so I will ask him for a serial too. He says he has hundreds of them…
     
  16. 666sheep, Jul 14, 2014
    Last edited: Jul 14, 2014

    666sheep macrumors 68040

    666sheep

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    #16
    I wouldn't buy from such seller. As a customer you have right to check whether item you're buying isn't stolen (for example). Would you buy a used car from the seller who refuses to tell you VIN number? ;)
     
  17. Jardins de Vin thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Jardins de Vin

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    #17
    Haha those two things you mentioned are exactly what I thought of as well, it's just like a VIN, and for a second I joked in my head and told myself they might be stolen, or at least parts. The thought came because I'm on a music forum (Gearslutz) where users often report about stolen studio gear. And these listings from sellers such as "Mac-factory" or "create.pro" look like its 5 Mac Pros in one making it impossible to trace anything back…
     
  18. brentsg macrumors 68040

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    Oct 15, 2008
    #18
    Sometimes as a seller though, your spidey sense goes off after a game of 50 questions and you realize it's just not likely to end well. No offense to the OP and I don't know that's what is happening here, but I've been on the selling end of that. It can just get to a point where it's not worth it.
     
  19. 666sheep macrumors 68040

    666sheep

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    Poland
    #19
    Everything has its price, if you to be a trustworthy seller, you sometimes must try to walk in your customer's shoes. I know something about this as well.
    Some questions are really stupid, but other are really crucial for buyers.
     
  20. Jardins de Vin thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Jardins de Vin

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    #20
    This was my thought why the seller doesn't answer probably (I didn't ask him the serial yet). But sorry, when you're selling such a machine, for several thousand Euros, you should at least be able to answer a few questions. That's normal I believe, the buyer wants to know what he's buying, and that's part of the seller's job! Lots of the Macs keep getting relisted. The dude at Mac-factory was super-rude to begin with, wtf?
    It's as if they thought they were superior because they have a bunch of tinkered Mac Pros standing on the floor next to them. I absolutely despise this sort of behaviour, these Macs weren't even made for people like that in the first place…
     
  21. ActionableMango macrumors 604

    ActionableMango

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    Sep 21, 2010
    #21
    "Self-built Mac Pros - Okay to buy?"

    Ebay is a gathering place with a million sellers. Every seller is different, so there can't be a blanket yes or no answer to that.

    If you buy from a trustworthy seller, then it's fine to get a modified Mac, or anything else really.

    On the other hand, I wouldn't buy anything from an untrustworthy seller, either modified or brand new in box... they're not trustworthy.
     
  22. brentsg macrumors 68040

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    Oct 15, 2008
    #22
    It's all dependent on circumstance. Are they a vendor that's just trying to sell volume? Do they just have a couple devices to sell off b/c they're done with them?

    I once sold an old computer setup that I was done with to a church. In the end it was ok, but for a bit it seemed like I'd signed up to supply lifetime free tech support. That was one that I'd probably have passed on as a seller today.
     
  23. Jardins de Vin thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Jardins de Vin

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    #23
    I agree, the problem is when it comes to Mac Pros - or at least to the model I'm after - there's not much choice sadly. I always keep landing on the 2-3 same sellers somehow…

    Yeah but you can't really compare, it's not like I asked for that. I for example asked once if the Mac is new or not, or which parts are new, because the listing was confusing. I had to ask that 3 times because he always avoided the question. Finally the 3rd time he answered my question, not with a simple yes or no but with a "You won't find any new ones out there, good luck" or something along those lines hahaha. He could just simply have said no in the first place, I didn't even mind I was just wondering. These sellers are full of complexes it seems. But who knows how many other people ask them for new ones and then turn their back, that might be the cause for this dilemma haha.

    What's weird is that I also saw some that still had Apple Care but half the Mac was modified… I asked how's that possible if it's modified… they told me "that doesn't count for high end products". Not sure if that's true, it just sounded weird to me. So Apple Care will cover third party parts that you built into the Mac? I just sounded unusual to me, but who knows…

    And I also saw "BRAND NEW" ones that were modified as well… when I asked how could it be brand new when it was modified, they explained me that modifying it doesn't make it used. Alright that's true, but when you say brand new I think of brand new as in: it just came out of the Apple factory… not as in: you bought new parts and mixed them all together and call it "BRAND NEW EXCLUSIVE NEVER USED", come on…
     
  24. flowrider macrumors 601

    flowrider

    Joined:
    Nov 23, 2012
    #24
    Paragraph one - See Attachment

    Paragraph two - I doubt very seriously if you can find a new oMP anywhere in the Europe, or really anywhere in the world. Their outlaw status in the EU instantly made them valuable and in the US they sold out after the issuance of the nMP.

    Lou
     

    Attached Files:

  25. Jardins de Vin, Jul 14, 2014
    Last edited: Jul 14, 2014

    Jardins de Vin thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Jardins de Vin

    Joined:
    Nov 6, 2012
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    Europe
    #25
    Thanks for the apple care paragraph, I should send them this ;) (Edit: "...or acts of god" haha!)

    As for finding an oMP in Europe: They were banned only in 2013 so older ones than that shouldn't even be that hard to find hm… I also considered importing one from the US but the 20% import taxes I have to pay on top of that make them more expensive than the ones you find here. But just to make it clear, it doesn't have to be new. Some listings are just confusing because the state certain parts are new etc. and then I'm just curious and ask.

    BTW: Here is one of the sellers. Weirdly enough, all of his 5,1 2010+ mac pros seem to have the 4870 graphics card. Does anyone perhaps notice something weird? After all these things I'm too paranoid to have an objective view on this I think.
     

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