System upgrade or component upgrade?

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by starvingartist8, Sep 5, 2011.

  1. starvingartist8, Sep 5, 2011
    Last edited: Sep 5, 2011

    starvingartist8 macrumors regular

    Sep 5, 2011
    Hi, I am a new user to these forums though I have been reading them for a while. I am an artist, digital painter and use modo a bit to make some basic scenes to paint over sometimes also. I use zbrush for sculpting work.

    My question is. I have a 2008 Mac Pro (3,1) 6gb 800mhz ram (two slots free), 2.8ghz quad core (x2), 8800gtx 512mb, 500gb 7200rpm, 1TB 7200RPM. I am wondering if it would be worth putting more ram and a 5870 card in this old machine or would it be wiser to purchase a new up to date system. Also if it is a wise choice to upgrade to a new system? Maybe an SSD too but I know this machine only support SATA2

    Would the mac book pro be ok for sculpting in zbrush or large document work in photoshop and modo performance and heat wise? I don't travel often and can get along ok without my computer while away but it would be nice to have it there also.

    The iMac or the Mac Pro would be the other choice. Once again, any heat issues with the iMac that I should know about for 'professional' apps? The Mac Pro is a great cost and it seems a bit overkill for what I need but I do love that there is no heat constraints and also the fact that I can easily clean the dust out and perhaps update parts. Any advice would be greatly appreciated! Thanks!
  2. ataboc macrumors 6502

    Nov 27, 2007
    Slap an SSD in there first.

    My 2007 Macbook was exponentially improved. I want a new imac but I'll wait it out.

    As a starving artist, I'm sure you can wait it out too.
  3. wordoflife macrumors 604


    Jul 6, 2009
    The Mac Pro is meant to be upgraded (hence why it is so easy), so you should take advantage of it. You have a ton of life left in that machine, so I don't see the point to get a new machine, especially since it sounds like you do not even use it to it's full potential.

    I want to say that your current computer is much more powerful than a MacBook Pro ... so what's the point in downgrading?

    Let me ask you, but why do you want to upgrade your Mac Pro? Is it too slow? Or just because you feel like? (I'm serious ... knowing why you want to upgrade can help you better decide what parts you should upgrade).

    If you need more video power, then go with a new GPU.
    If you need more RAM, then go with more RAM.
    If you need more snappiness, then go with an SSD.
    If you need more storage, then go with another HDD.

    Basically, my point is, don't just upgrade your machine because its from 2008. Only upgrade it if you need to.

    If you haven't reinstalled OS X, I'd recommend doing so. I think you would notice performance boosts that would probably eliminate your needs of upgrading. The specs you have are pretty good as is.

    Anyways, I hope this was relatively helpful. Sorry if it sounds like I'm ranting (I'm really not). :(
  4. starvingartist8 thread starter macrumors regular

    Sep 5, 2011

    I am not sure about the graphics card. Would I see an improvement in photoshop, modo or zbrush with the 5870 > 8800gtx? I feel I need more ram for zBrush and also sometimes I like to take my images to After Effects but very rarely and I know AE hogs ram for breakfast lunch and dinner. Obviously an SSD is not required for me but I know it is the best upgrade speed wise you can do to a machine these days and I am thinking well why not if I want to take full advantage of the machine I bought years ago.


    Haha, I am not too bad off. The name is just a humour thing :) I prefer to wait it out now that I have read the replies but I will continue to read what others have to say
  5. wordoflife macrumors 604


    Jul 6, 2009
    If you use the graphics card to render, then a new video card would help. You can check your RAM usage in Activity Monitor.

    If you have the cash for all those upgrades, then I'd go for it. They're all very beneficial depending on what you do.

    Definitely upgrade it though, it has a lot of life left in it.
  6. starvingartist8 thread starter macrumors regular

    Sep 5, 2011
    Thanks for your feedback. I will go ahead and upgrade! I wanted to do that from the beginning but just wanted to check that I wasn't gonna upgrade something that will be useless in a year or two
  7. wordoflife macrumors 604


    Jul 6, 2009
    It's only useless if you won't benefit from it .. but you've been 50/50 with that so I guess you'll mostly benefit from it.

    I'd honestly reinstall OS X. You will feel like you have a brand new computer.
  8. starvingartist8 thread starter macrumors regular

    Sep 5, 2011
    I did a clean install of Lion about 4 days ago. I don't notice any difference because I keep my system maintained
  9. toxic macrumors 68000

    Nov 9, 2008
    you need to run Activity Monitor or other tools like atMonitor to figure out exactly how much and which resources your software is using. you should also look into what special computing technologies, if any, Modo and zBrush take advantage of or are optimized for. benchmarks are useful if you can find them. if they can't use all eight cores, you might be better off upgrading to a newer four or six-core system. they might use CUDA, which points to a GTX285 or Quadro 4000, or might be optimized for workstation drivers, which points to a Quadro. or even if a Quadro can give performance boosts, the 5870 might still have enough raw power to yield similar performance. you need to do some monitoring and go to other users and the developers to figure these things out.

    Photoshop doesn't depend on the GPU for much of anything.

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