Some Woodcrest advice

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by jouster, Sep 16, 2011.

  1. jouster macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Jan 21, 2002
    Location:
    Connecticut
    #1
    Apologies if this duplicates the thread about the $650 ma356 that just got posted. I'm not very knowledgeable regarding Pros.

    I have the option of picking up a Mac Pro from 2006, which uses the Woodcrest processors, I believe. My employers are selling it, and it would be cheap though I do not have a final price yet.

    I have never owned a Mac Pro, but am thinking I might pick this one up. I was always a laptop guy, but got a Mini three years ago and the world didn't end. So I have a decent monitor already. I'm not a power user, but this would give me the chance to upgrade my Aperture/PS speeds, do some light gaming and other stuff that chokes the Mini.

    Is this still a competitive computer? I believe I can add up to 32 GB RAM, right? Also, what is the highest level of nVidia/ATI/other GPU I can put in there? Finally, are the CPUs upgradeable?

    Thanks for any help you can give me!
     
  2. JBunkers, Sep 16, 2011
    Last edited: Sep 16, 2011

    JBunkers macrumors member

    JBunkers

    Joined:
    Sep 20, 2008
    Location:
    In the middle
    #2
    Good machine

    Yes, the 2006 Mac Pro is still a very good and capable machine. From your description, it would seem to be a very good fit for what you want to do, and even though it is older than your Mac Mini, it would still be a very nice upgrade.

    According to Apple's tech spec page for that Mac, it supports up to 16GB of RAM, but only because the largest memory at the time it was made was 2GB (the 2006 Mac Pro has 8 memory slots), so if you got 4GB chips it should handle 32GB fine. However, if you were going to put in all new memory so it's all matched, 32GB is going to currently run about $1000. Other World Computing has some good options and nice charts to help you figure out what your system supports.

    Regarding memory, more is always better, BUT... you mentioned you're not a power user, so unless you're going to do animation rendering for Disney or working with huge, HUGE Photoshop images, you likely won't need 32GB. You didn't say how much memory this system is coming with, but personally, I would start with 8GB (4x 2GB chips) and move up to 12 or 16GB down the road if you find yourself doing a lot more in Aperture/PS. Others may have reasons for recommending more than 8GB to start out with, but you hinted at the fact that you could pick this Mac Pro up for cheap, so costs seem to be a determining factor, at least at the start. You can always add more later.

    According to OWC and BareFeats.com, the ATI Radeon HD 5770 with 1GB of memory is compatible with the 2006 Mac Pro (the same video card available in the current 2010 model). But only if you are running OS X 10.6.4 or later. Here is a good article on OWC's site regarding this card and it's compatibility matrix. That article also includes information on the ATI Radeon 5870, which does NOT appear to be compatible with the 2006 Mac Pro. The 5770 currently costs about $250+/-, and there are probably other options available, but the 5770 seems to be the best card out there at the moment that doesn't cost more than $500 for the Mac.

    Keep in mind that if you go with the 5770 card now or down the road, that you will want a Snow Leopard disk with 10.6.4 ON IT. If you try to install 10.6 or 10.6.2 with the idea of using Software Update to upgrade to 10.6.4 once the primary install is done you most likely will end up with a dark screen if you've already put in the Radeon 5770 card. Alternatively, you can try installing 10.6 with a different video card (factory installed card) in the machine and Software Updating to 10.6.4 and THEN put in the Radeon 5770, but if you ever need to do a fresh install of the OS later you'll have to swap cards again. I would recommend going on Amazon or eBay or something and picking up an OS X disk that specifically has 10.6.4 on it. It should say on the box, as well as the installation disk itself what version it is.

    Lastly, the CPU processors may or may not be upgradeable, depending on what you have in there now. I'll refer you to this article on AnandTech's site from Sept. 12, 2006 regarding this subject. This is just my opinion, but I would not recommend attempting to upgrade the processor, as doing it wrong could instantly destroy your machine (at least the motherboard and processors) and you would have a very expensive experiment/paperweight sitting on your desk.

    Hope all that is useful. Enjoy your Mac Pro, they are awesome machines!
     
  3. jouster, Sep 16, 2011
    Last edited: Sep 16, 2011

    jouster thread starter macrumors 65816

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    Jan 21, 2002
    Location:
    Connecticut
    #3
    Thanks for your awesome reply, JBunkers! I think it is coming with 4GB, so I'll take your recommendation of 8. I will *not* be rendering for Disney, but my Mini chokes somewhat on RAW files from my 7D, so this will be a nice change.

    Good info on the 10.6.4, which could be an issue, as my SL disk was bought on release day, so has, I presume 10.6.0 on it. But it's exciting to even contemplate using a 5770 class card after my Mini's less than awesome integrated "GPU".

    I'm hoping the current GPU (7300 I think) will make a decent fist of Half-Life 2. I've always wanted to give that game a try.

    I'm pretty psyched.
     
  4. Neodym macrumors 68000

    Neodym

    Joined:
    Jul 5, 2002
    #4
    The original 7300 is far from being anywhere close to a gaming card, so don't set your hopes too high! On the other hand - you can keep it in and just add a 5770. That way you would have a powerful graphic card for most situations requiring more 3D performance (including gaming) and could still use your 10.6.0 by having the 7300 driving an attached monitor while installing. I have integrated the 7300 into my multi-monitor setup with an older 4870 complementing it for occasional games - both cards run perfectly fine together.
     
  5. jouster thread starter macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Jan 21, 2002
    Location:
    Connecticut
    #5
    Interesting. What about the X1900? It's reasonable, right?
     
  6. derbothaus macrumors 601

    derbothaus

    Joined:
    Jul 17, 2010
    #6
    For 2007 that card was OK. Faster than the 7300. Could probably do all Half-Life but it is NOT a modern card and will fail on recent games. 3DMark06 nets it 4,951. A 5770 gets 17,630. That is a BIG difference. A 5870 will get you 24,000. This is for DirectX 9. When you get into DX10 there is even more of a difference. Fear 2 for example, a single 5770 nets you 99fps and a Crossfired x2 X1900 only gets you 51fps.
    Also if you are planning on playing in OS X get more than you think you need as OpenGL on OS X is a performance black hole. I can't even play Half-Life 2 on my 9600GT in OS X while playing on Windows smokes with same hardware.
     

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