Shopping for next Mac Desktop (upgrading from Mac Pro 3,1)

nunosfr4

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Mar 16, 2017
5
1
Chicago
Hey everyone,



I am seeking an upgrade for my next Mac desktop. My current desktop is as follows:



Mac Pro Early 2008 (3,1)



OS: Yosemite 10.10.5

CPU: 2 X 2.8GHz Quad-Core Intel Xeon

RAM: 18gb DDR2 @ 800mhz

GPU: Ati Radeon HD 5770

Storage: 3 TB 7200rpm HDD

1TB 7200rpm HDD

1TB Internal Time Machine drive

320 GB 7200rpm HDD



This machine is on the fritz and becoming more buggy & unreliable every day, but that's a topic for a different post. Anyways, I am considering either an iMac or Mac Pro, but am thinking the Mac Pro is overkill for what I'd use it for.



What I'll use it for:



-Final Cut Pro X, 1080p (w/enough juice to edit 4k video in a couple years), 2-camera videos of classical guitar performance videos. I certainly won't be creating 3D videos or anything like that.


-Logic Pro X, recording classical guitar music. Certainly not too taxing. I won't be running lots of plugins, but I suppose it'd be nice to have the option to create up to 24-track sessions w/virtual instruments, since I am becoming interested in orchestration & composing.



That's about it as far as content creation. Everything else is basic every-day computing.

Other questions/details:

-For sessions in Logic, would a Fusion drive be fast enough to where I wouldn't get those "system overload" messages?

-For sessions in Logic, would a Quad-core i5 suffice, or would I be better served to go for an i7?

-Budget: Hopefully under $2,500.

-I would consider buying used.



I am leaning towards an iMac (possibly used, unless any of you would highly recommend against it), but would love to see/hear some input before deciding. Thanks so much in advance & am happy to provide more info if necessary!
 

kwikdeth

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Feb 25, 2003
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only recommendation I have would be to avoid fusion drive. I'd never do audio or video work on a fusion drive, ever.

if you're savvy with upgrading your old hardware, a 2009 (w 5,1 firmware update) or 2010 Mac Pro are getting to be a better value all the time. processors are cheap, RAM is cheap, and its crazily, easily expandable.
 

Rustus Maximus

macrumors 6502
Jan 15, 2003
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Well, though at this stage I wouldn't necessarily recommend it, nunosfr, I'd try to find a nice Mac Pro 5,1 with the max stock processors, the 3.06 GHz 12 cores. There are many on here who will no doubt be able to give you more fleshed out ideas on available processor upgrades for the 5.1, such as the X5690 3.46's. It's all in how much money you feel comfortable dropping on a 5 year old system.

I'm still nursing a few 5,1s. Solid machines and when decked out with max RAM (128GB) and a good PCIe SSD solution like the Sonnet Tempo Pro Plus with a couple of SSDs in Raid 0 for data storage/scratch disks, you can still hang with the bigger rigs, for a little while. Put the OS on an SSD in one of the internal bays. Just keep in mind the 5,1 is forever locked at PCIe 2.0 and SATA 3G for the internal HDDs. Deck it out with an NVIDIA 980 or so and it's quite a good machine.

As a matter of fact, for what it's worth, in the multicore charts on Geekbench, four out of the top ten machines are the old Mac Pro 2010-2012 systems. Not bad for the old girls.

Tons of good threads here in the Mac Pro forum about just these things, search it out, good advice from some great people here on MacRumors. If you feel comfortable with the technical challenge you could also try the Hackintosh route. Lots of good advice about that here as well as at tonymacx86.com.

Good luck and hope against hope with some of us other Mac Pro devotees that Apple moves soon and makes this question moot for you with a delightfully well outfitted new piece of Mac Pro kit.

Best of luck to you!
 
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nunosfr4

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Mar 16, 2017
5
1
Chicago
kwikdeth - Interesting...had no idea the fusion drives were an albatross for content creation. Very good to know! I appreciate the info on the 2009-2010 Mac Pros as well.

Rustus Maximus - That's fantastic info & wow, had no idea you could stick a 980 into a 5,1 Pro. I'm *relatively* comfortable with upgrades, but still have far to go. Updated my mid-2012 Macbook Pro (pre-Retina) with 16gb RAM and a 1TB SSD and it performs like a new machine...love it. I did build a gaming PC in early 2015 (i5 4690k & GTX 970), but somehow never figured out overclocking (I know it's not rocket science). Anyways, swapping/adding hardware is something I'm definitely comfortable with.

Those Geekbench scores are crazy...had no idea! This is really helpful, thank you very much. I'll keep an eye on eBay/Craigslist for a 5,1 Pro & consider them more closely. Will also start researching pricing for SSDs as well. Thanks again!
 

pastrychef

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Sep 15, 2006
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At this point, it only makes sense to wait and see what transpires by WWDC. Tim Cook's recent statements about Apple's commitment to the pro market give a glimmer of hope. However, if nothing materializes by WWDC, it would serve as good confirmation that Apple has exited from the pro market and will never produce another desktop system that will satisfy the pro market again.

While the Mac Pro 4,1/5,1s were fantastic machines, they are getting pretty old and I question the wisdom in investing in them now. They may produce impressive multicore Geekbench scores, but if your apps don't use all the cores, it's pretty meaningless. Their single core scores are far more pedestrian. A current iMac's single core performance is much better.
 

Rustus Maximus

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Jan 15, 2003
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pastrychef makes some very fair points and I would tend to agree with him on the 'wait for WWDC' approach. Whether Tim is making his comments driven by true dedication to a market they've realized they've mistreated or he looked in the mirror and caught the ghost of Sculley staring over his shoulder, who can say.

I would add, at this point, a fair question to ask ourselves would be, 'Even if they do release a Mac Pro better suited to our needs, finally, do we trust them to continue to grow it and update it with regularity?' Do we really want to worry about this all over again in 3-4 years?
 

nunosfr4

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Mar 16, 2017
5
1
Chicago
Great points. Waiting for WWDC seems to be the best approach. Fingers crossed.

Never thought about the single-core performance for content creation, btw. Only thought along those lines while choosing Intel i5 over AMD 8350 for my gaming pc a couple years back due to the IPC advantage. But anyways, will see what's on the horizon (if anything) after June 5th and take it from there. Thanks again!!
 

nunosfr4

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Mar 16, 2017
5
1
Chicago
I remember that video! Can't believe I forgot about it. I think I'm still subscribed to Badseed Tech's channel, but he doesn't upload much anymore. Yes, really interesting & very telling.

I'm doing some editing this morning and seem to be getting by with my paltry 10gb of RAM, as activity monitor only shows around 5-6gb being chewed up between Logic X & Final Cut Pro X. However, it's just a single clip in Final Cut & two audio tracks in Logic, so it's not like I'm pushing it. I'll just taylor my workflow accordingly then see what's on the landscape (if anything) for Mac desktops after June 5th.

kwikdeth had mentioned Fusion drives were not ideal for video & audio work. I'm assuming that after the 128gb of flash storage is used up, the remaining hard disk space is very slow (around 5400rpm). So, that makes sense. If I end up going used 2015 27" iMac, thinking it'd make more sense to do a 256gb flash storage version & bump the processor up to the 4ghz i7.
 
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ssgbryan

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Jul 18, 2002
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While the Mac Pro 4,1/5,1s were fantastic machines, they are getting pretty old and I question the wisdom in investing in them now. They may produce impressive multicore Geekbench scores, but if your apps don't use all the cores, it's pretty meaningless. Their single core scores are far more pedestrian. A current iMac's single core performance is much better.
How many products are still single core in 2017? In the 3d world, it's none of them.
 

kwikdeth

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kwikdeth had mentioned Fusion drives were not ideal for video & audio work. I'm assuming that after the 128gb of flash storage is used up, the remaining hard disk space is very slow (around 5400rpm). So, that makes sense. If I end up going used 2015 27" iMac, thinking it'd make more sense to do a 256gb flash storage version & bump the processor up to the 4ghz i7.
Yes that is correct the fusion drive hard drive component is 5400. You could in theory get a 7200 drive and set it up after the fact as a fusion drive. I imagine the performance would be much nicer. but myself personally, I always get overly worried about one of the drives going out and losing all my data on the other one.

pastrychef makes good points, ultimately it comes down to what apps youre using and your workflow. its pretty known Adobe stuff does not scale nicely to MP systems (which really is surprising) but Logic and FCP are much better in this regard. you'd want to really look at the cost, your workflow, and balance the two out. there's no doubt in my mind that upgrading a legacy mac pro would run cheaper than a new nicely loaded imac, and depending on your workflow you might get more mileage out of the imac, or a 5,1 mac pro. there's a lot of factors to consider here. also consider expandability - the mac pro for example, you can add a RAID card to it and set up hardware raid arrays - very very fast. I have a two-drive RAID0 in mine using sandisk extreme pros and i get about 900MB/sec read/write speeds with it. you could do the same with thunderbolt but there would be a much larger cost outlay there thanks to the TB premium. again, so many factors.
 

pastrychef

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Sep 15, 2006
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Pretty much any rendering engine
Adobe Premiere Pro CC Multi Core Performance

From this article, I see diminishing returns after 6 or 8 cores depending on test.

Screen Shot 2017-03-17 at 9.54.57 PM.png



Keep in mind that the above tests were done with the same CPUs running at the same GHz. A 4 or 6 core i7 at higher clocks would surely narrow whatever gaps may exist from the extra cores that the Xeon cores will give you.

Here's the video I liked to above:

Here, I made it easy for you...
Screen Shot 2017-03-17 at 10.16.15 PM.png Screen Shot 2017-03-17 at 10.16.44 PM.png Screen Shot 2017-03-17 at 10.17.24 PM.png Screen Shot 2017-03-17 at 10.17.58 PM.png Screen Shot 2017-03-17 at 10.18.34 PM.png
 
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joebclash

macrumors regular
Jun 14, 2016
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How many apps use all 12 cores?
Pro tools takes advantage of all the cores. When I went from single cpu to dual cpu, it was an amazing experience. It's a niche app so it's probably not a good example. I agree that going with a mac pro 5,1 is not a safe choice right now. I wouldn't be surprise if apple stop support for mac pro 5,1 for the next macos release.
 

deconstruct60

macrumors G3
Mar 10, 2009
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... I agree that going with a mac pro 5,1 is not a safe choice right now. I wouldn't be surprise if apple stop support for mac pro 5,1 for the next macos release.
The Mac Pro 2009 ( 4,1) went on the vintage list this year. https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT201624

The Mac Pro 2010-2012 ( 5,1) technically should get another 1-2 years. Depends upon when they marked when the stopped making them. ( probably somewhere mid-2013. ). So 5 years post 2013 is 2018. The version of Mac OS due in 2017 should be relatively safe. Pretty good chance 2018 also ( even though the OS likely to appear Q4 2018 and past the midpoint, I think Apple will work off the Mac Pro 2013 intro date as opposed to when they turned the factory line off. ). Highly doubtful Apple is going use the slack in the 5-7 range as the 2010 model get stretched in time for more than 3 years ( Intel has dropped the CPUs , pragmatically all the standard equipment there is de-supported by that point. )
 

MacStu09

macrumors regular
Aug 27, 2009
194
116
Adobe Premiere Pro CC Multi Core Performance

From this article, I see diminishing returns after 6 or 8 cores depending on test.

View attachment 692674


Keep in mind that the above tests were done with the same CPUs running at the same GHz. A 4 or 6 core i7 at higher clocks would surely narrow whatever gaps may exist from the extra cores that the Xeon cores will give you.

Here's the video I liked to above:

Here, I made it easy for you...
View attachment 692675 View attachment 692676 View attachment 692677 View attachment 692678 View attachment 692679
For the sake of the OP's needs, that comparison is pretty relevant. It doesn't really seem like you need a workstation. Final Cut, Logic, or even Premiere aren't really demanding. Processors like the 6700k are fine. But get into heavier programs, those that use more cores efficiently, and heavier rendering engines - the 6700k gets blown out of the water by the Xeons, obviously.

As opposed to CPU comparison, (which in your case almost any modern processor will be perfectly fine), I'd place more focus on ram limitations of the i7's and iMac, as well as graphics limitations. If you go iMac, you're stuck with a 395x at best. Then again, even the current Mac Pro is stuck with outdated graphics cards...but nonetheless, for your needs, the iMac - or really any decent modern computer - will be just fine.
 

deconstruct60

macrumors G3
Mar 10, 2009
8,960
1,791
...
This machine is on the fritz and becoming more buggy & unreliable every day, but that's a topic for a different post. Anyways, I am considering either an iMac or Mac Pro, but am thinking the Mac Pro is overkill for what I'd use it for.
....
if Budget is tight a Used/Refurb iMac should work for the most part.

Basic 4K editing isn't out of reach for a the Retina 5K models. Logic X should work for your baseline work. If dig deep into the VI won't, but if don't have extreme firm plans now to escalate there is decent chance will still be in same basic workload. If "every day use" has a heavy gaming component then the 5K iMac may not make much sense.


-For sessions in Logic, would a Fusion drive be fast enough to where I wouldn't get those "system overload" messages?
The fusion drive can be decoupled. If there is a used/refurb that works for you on price then don't have to "skip" it because it is a Fusion drive configuration for sale. Just going to have to split up OS/Apps and working set data.

If spread you disk load out over more disk you can also get around "overload" in more than a few contexts.

Will probably want to look at some sort of Thunderbolt external drive enclosure ( regardless of Mac Pro or iMac refurb).


-For sessions in Logic, would a Quad-core i5 suffice, or would I be better served to go for an i7?

-Budget: Hopefully under $2,500.
http://www.apple.com/shop/browse/home/specialdeals/mac/imac/27

At the moment there is an i7 , AMD Radeon R9 M395 , iMac for $2,195 Will need RAM and as mentioned above a disk enclosure and disks but

https://eshop.macsales.com/item/Other World Computing/TB2U3MED0GB/ Elite Pro TB $269

[ 4 bays a bit more https://eshop.macsales.com/item/OWC/TB2IVKIT0GB/ $379 ]

32GB RAM ~250 . (just add two 8GB DIMMs for 24GB for about half $134 )

$2,714 is a bit over. ( but if Apple releases a new iMac in next 2-4 months the used price could go down a bit also. )

I am leaning towards an iMac (possibly used, unless any of you would highly recommend against it), but would love to see/hear some input before deciding. Thanks so much in advance & am happy to provide more info if necessary!
To hit your budget and pick up some high bandwidth storage would kind of push toward the older Mac Pro. (already advocates above). That has a problem if this spends most of the time as 'day to day, interacting with Internet" computer because there probably not an extended window where going to get OS support and security updates.


The Mac Pro 2013 would be more but gives you more options on display ( maybe can just reuse current display) and should run cooler internally. Long term the latter may save some money over the total lifecycle.
 
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pastrychef

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Sep 15, 2006
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New York City, NY
For the sake of the OP's needs, that comparison is pretty relevant. It doesn't really seem like you need a workstation. Final Cut, Logic, or even Premiere aren't really demanding. Processors like the 6700k are fine. But get into heavier programs, those that use more cores efficiently, and heavier rendering engines - the 6700k gets blown out of the water by the Xeons, obviously.

As opposed to CPU comparison, (which in your case almost any modern processor will be perfectly fine), I'd place more focus on ram limitations of the i7's and iMac, as well as graphics limitations. If you go iMac, you're stuck with a 395x at best. Then again, even the current Mac Pro is stuck with outdated graphics cards...but nonetheless, for your needs, the iMac - or really any decent modern computer - will be just fine.
That's exactly my point. Unless you use specific software that takes advantage of the 12 cores from a 4,1/5,1, all those cores/threads are useless. For software that doesn't take advantage of lots of cores, single core performance is more important. Despite it being 2017, most apps don't take advantage of all those cores.

Obviously, on an iMac, GPU choices are limited and the only real solution would be to use an eGPU if you need to use more powerful graphics cards. However, with Nvidia's decision to not release macOS drivers for their latest GPUs, Mac users' options are greatly limited. Plus, FCPX is better optimized for AMD GPUs anyway. If, hypothetically, you use Octane, it makes much more sense to get a Linux or Windows box with tons of PCI-e slots and load them up with Nvidia video cards to use strictly as a rendering box.

As for RAM, the current iMac can be fitted with up to 64GB which should suffice for the apps mentioned by the OP.
 
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kwikdeth

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Even regular 64GB of desktop DDR4 costs $400+.
yes, that's DDR4. for any present imac you'd be buying DDR3. considering DDR3 is reaching the end of its era I'd be hard pressed to justify spending $600 on memory that will very soon be obsolete. 400+ on DDR4 is justifiable. 600 for that much DDR3, especially when a 32gb config would likely cost maybe 1/3rd of that, isnt really justifiable. if the new imacs use DDR4, then i'd say the cost would be worth it. but not for the current machines.
 
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