Taking the Mac Pro plunge?

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by seveej, Jan 25, 2013.

  1. seveej macrumors 6502a

    seveej

    Joined:
    Dec 14, 2009
    Location:
    Helsinki, Finland
    #1
    Background info: I've had two different G5's (a 1,8DP and a 2,3DP), two iMac's (a quad 27" and a G4 17"), two MBP's, one MacBook(Alu), one Air, two G4 PM's and a whole load of G3 and G4 powerbooks. But I've never had a Mac Pro (which makes me an odd bird). Which is also why I'd like to ask for some advice:

    I've been on a three year-crusade to lessen the amount of hardware I'm using, letting go of dedicated Wintel hardware in favor of virtualization/bootcamp and finally getting myself a beast of a laptop (to rid myself of the need for a desktop).

    I now regret the last step. The MBP 15" (see sig) I'm now carrying (along with an array of FW disks and TB display at home) is not (for me) the solution.
    Sure, it's portable, but after a day at school my shoulders ache and I wish my notebook were smaller/lighter.
    Sure, it's powerful, but once the fans start making 6000 rpm I cringe and feel sorry for my machine.

    In short, I feel it time to go back to a separate notebook and desktop. Optimally, a 13" MBA and a MP.

    What would I use the desktop for?
    - moderate gfx work (Photoshop, Aperture, Illustrator)
    - occasional video compression (handbrake)
    - minor programming and web design
    - general office apps
    - some light gaming (no FPS stuff)

    I have no current interest in the cloud, and would happily work with 10.6, but am suspicious of whether Apple would allow me to continue indefinitely without updating past 10.7.

    I'm also not that power hungry - I'd rather have a slower computer which stays silent than a faster which makes me feel like I'm torturing it.

    I'm also on a budget. Ideally the proceeds from selling the MBP and TB display (both on applecare =>12/2014) should cover the cost of a used MP+23" ACD and a used 13" Air.

    I'd like to hear your recommendations regarding what MP to set my sights on, and your personal experiences of how MP's behave under stress (heating, sound).

    TIA,
     
  2. ekwipt macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Jan 14, 2008
    #2
    Personally I'd either wait and see what comes out or buy an iMac and an iPad or MacBook Air (I'd prefer an iPad)
     
  3. monkeybagel macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Jul 24, 2011
    Location:
    United States
    #3
    I just purchased a 2012 Mac Pro and haven't looked back. Their best machine by far IMO. I don't care about what they are rumored to release- I need to work at the present and my job cannot play the waiting game to continue waiting for the newer machines, which will never stop.

    I feel you will love the Mac Pro. If not, Apple has a generous 14-day return window.
     
  4. eawmp1 macrumors 601

    eawmp1

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    #4
    LOL, a Mac Pro under load is not a quiet machine either.
     
  5. monkeybagel macrumors 65816

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    #5
    I have never managed to hear mine unless a alternative OS is loaded.
     
  6. GoCubsGo macrumors Nehalem

    GoCubsGo

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    Feb 19, 2005
    #6
    There's a 2012 Mac Pro?
     
  7. seveej thread starter macrumors 6502a

    seveej

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    Dec 14, 2009
    Location:
    Helsinki, Finland
    #7
    Thanks, but I've been down that road (late 2009 quad i7), and although it had "oomph", it also was obviously pained by any real workload. Also (personal opinion warning), I'd rather have a separate box and a separate display - I have some 1 TB hard drives which could find a home, I could add an SSD without using suction cups and if a component broke, I could replace it. (my iMac is honestly the only machine I've had, without doing surgery on it - it was just too daunting...)

    This is just what I'm looking for, because I assume there could be differences in the different Mac Pro's noise profiles. Could you both please tell, which MP's your experiences are based on?

    Monkeybagel, I assume you are referring to running a non-apple operating system?

    RGDS,
     
  8. eawmp1 macrumors 601

    eawmp1

    Joined:
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    FL
    #8
    I will admit, the noisiest parts of the Mac Pro are the optical and magnetic hard drives. With an SSD only "running", the fans are but a gentle whir.

    If you search "Mac Pro noise" there are many posts to o further research.
     
  9. dan1eln1el5en macrumors 6502

    dan1eln1el5en

    Joined:
    Jan 3, 2012
    Location:
    Copenhagen, Denmark
    #9
    Not Mac Pro, follow the buyer's guide no this page, updated recently but still under-performing.

    also, really no need for such a powerhouse of a PC for what you mention.

    get a a different mac, iMac perhaps ? pretty good allrounders and no need for the screen.

    the Mac Pro can be a beast (also noise levels, when under load, but what you mention will not make it break a sweat)
     
  10. KaraH macrumors 6502

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    Nov 12, 2012
    Location:
    DC
    #10
    Well, technically, more like the 2010 though.

    I have an iMac right now but that is only for convenience. I like the traditional computer where you did not have have to take it to the store just because a battery died. It is way beyond the useful life (it is a late 2007) and I have program combinations that cause occasional lockups. Being a mac it can hang on until something better comes out the door though. The 2012 iMac is not that something better and I do not expect the following ones will so that means waiting for a decent pro. Which hopefully is sometime this year.
     
  11. seveej thread starter macrumors 6502a

    seveej

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    Dec 14, 2009
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    #11
    i guess it is too hidden in the original post, but I am looking for advice on USED Mac pro's.

    Rgds,
     
  12. GoCubsGo macrumors Nehalem

    GoCubsGo

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    #12
    Okay, I honestly thought I missed some rather big news!
     
  13. GermanyChris macrumors 601

    GermanyChris

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    #13
    news in the Mac Pro section LOL..
     
  14. 666sheep macrumors 68040

    666sheep

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    #14
    OP, any 2009 and newer single CPU MP will serve your needs very well. You can always upgrade CPU if your power demands will grow up.
     
  15. designs216, Jan 25, 2013
    Last edited: Jan 25, 2013

    designs216 macrumors 65816

    designs216

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    #15
    I maxxed-out a beast of a MP a couple years ago and it's been great: hex w/ SSD boot/apps drive, 32GB RAM, 3TB RAID0, 3TB Time Machine. Inside the case the layout is the cleanest I've ever seen -- expressly designed so the user can easily and quickly perform upgrades. There are at least 2 fans that I almost never hear. For most of what I do, this thing never strains or beach balls. About once or twice a year, I have to manipulate multi-gig Photoshop files and I only see the pinwheel for a few seconds.

    For me the 6core is the sweet spot among the possible MP configs because Adobe CS software, which is what I use most of the time, is just beginning to be core-efficient. I've got a machine that is good today, and will likely serve me well for the next four years as well. No need to swing for the fence and mortgage the house to get the 12 core.

    Although the upcoming refresh will likely bring SATA3, faster/more efficient processors, better video and USB3, consider your use and take a look at the outgoing model. The quad is probably going to be more than enough and will be reduced in price in the refurb bin when the new model is released.

    As for the notebook, the 13" Air is a great choice - just remember that it's not user upgradeable. For me, I wouldn't consider less than 8GB RAM and 256GB storage. It's also going to be very quiet and more power efficient since there is no spinning platter.

    Compare prices at B&H, Apple refurb, Amazon, New Egg, etc. Good luck.
     
  16. deconstruct60 macrumors 604

    Joined:
    Mar 10, 2009
    #16
    Is the desire to stick with 10.6 pushing "used" more (or about equal) than the budget? (i.e., want older mac so can run older OS X. )

    When 10.9 shows up Apple will likely cut 10.6 loose. That would have happened on the 'old' 18-20 month upgrade cycle. [ If it hasn't happened already. There haven't been any 10.6 security upgrades in a while. ]

    There is also likely a mismatch between wanting newer Sandy Bridge MBA 13" (and hence needed newer OS ) and the Mac Pro. You'll be going from one system on one OS to two systems on likely diverging OS instances. If go back to original MBA 13" you'll be sliding back to Core2 . If your mobile compute workload is minimal and highly segregated set of apps then diverging may work well.

    On a Mac Pro personally I wouldn't go back further than the 2009 models. 2006-7 is likely going officially soon go on the "Vintage and Obsolete list" and the 2008 is doesn't have much runway room left either. I suspect there is going to struggle is budget is tight to "go old one side" so can squeeze in both systems.

    The workload sounds like it would be fine a mid-range Mac mini 2012 once added 3rd party RAM and an SSD. The fan would blow hard on some workloads but not likely it would be 'hurting' itself. A 2011 mini you could possibly keep the TB display.

    Buying almost minimally 5 year display is suspect (ACD 23"). [discontinued in 2008] Again prime candidate for "Vintage Obsolete" especially since effectively completely discontinued by not being directly replaced. The 24" partial docking station isn't a direct replacement.
     
  17. GoCubsGo macrumors Nehalem

    GoCubsGo

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    #17
    Hana cute!
     
  18. seveej thread starter macrumors 6502a

    seveej

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    Dec 14, 2009
    Location:
    Helsinki, Finland
    #18
    Thanks for the thoughtful and insightful comments.

    I admit I have been less than impressed with every Mac OS since snow leopard. Partially the whole cloud-centric operating paradigm is not my cup of tea, partially I could never trust my data to a cloud. I do not use iTunes for buying any media. Never have and likely never will. I'd like functioning synchronization of calendars, but keeping in mind the skeuomorphism iCal is burdened with, I'm more and more convinced, that next year my calendar will be a separate affair (made of paper).

    Working and supporting "unsupported" operating systems is something I wish was not needed, but is nevertheless something I do every day. I'm running a version of leopard on my home network server and the three other machines I support (mother's rev.A MBP, dad's 17" PBG4 and my mother-in-law's 12" PBG4) all run tiger. I really do not mind that the 1,1 Mac pro does not support ML, as I will honestly not go beyond SL, but compared to the 3,1 Mac pro's (which currently are the second-hand market sweet spot) they are a lot slower and offer no PCIe 2.0

    About the second machine, my mobile work profile is definitely different from the workstation centric work. On the road I work with the unholy triad (mail, www and office) and very little else. My previous notebook was a 2008 MacBook(Alu) and it (with a GB score of about 2400 - if memory serves) was totally sufficient (after adding an SSD). Thus I'd envision that any MBA with SSD (must) 4 gigs (must) and 1440x900 resolution (preference) would fit the bill. I'm well trained in the usage of the aftermarket (which considering the keyboard layout over here is a local affair). If the two machines run different systems, it's not a problem.

    The mini would surely handle the processing workload, but the mini has its limits. Some people love them, some hate them. I have not had one, but would instinctively fall into the latter category. Also I have a lot of disks I would like to fit into my workstation, so again, the mini is limited.

    About the ACD, I know, but am pretty sure I can find a good one (and if not, I can make do with a bulk 16:9 display if I don't). Anyway, I have a problem with the 27" TB (and am trying to trade it anyway), simply because it is too big - at least at my viewing distance. I'd honestly gladly trade it for a 23-24" display (assuming I get some cash as well).

    OT: I'm also in contact with people buying macs for big companies as well as people selling macs for businesses, and both parties are annoyed at apple not offering anything smaller than 27".

    And please, indulge another question: while trying to find info on Mac pro "upgrade paths" I ran into a lot of disparate accounts ,but no comprehensive site. Is there one?

    RGDS,
     
  19. deconstruct60 macrumors 604

    Joined:
    Mar 10, 2009
    #19
    There is no requirement to use iCloud if you don't want it. The two major champions of skeuomorphism ( Jobs and Forstall ) are gone. Ive isn't a zealot fan of it and now is point person on UI.

    10.8 is better than 10.7. It is highly likely that 10.9 will be better still. The iCloud integration will probably go up. Notifications , messages, storage, applications, etc. are all things Apple wants to sell long term, but it is unlikely to be mandatory.

    Apple didn't retreat back into OS 9 from OS X. Skipping 10.7 is understandable. Cutting oneself off from 10.9 , 10.10, and 10.11 is not.


    The hardware and spare parts support for the 1,1 are going to be discontinued. That is far more what "Vintage and Obsolete" means. If secondary (or more ) parts sources are OK then fine. 3,1 Mac Pro's have the old style "front side bus" architecture and vintage memory ( prices are going up ; not down ). So again if going to buy with limited upgrades and limited service then fine.

    There is a reason why the 3,1 is in the sweet spot. The end is approaching. If this is a buy for an extended period of time ( 2-4 years ) then there are issues.

    This is the core disconnect of trying to consolidate down to just one machine. For people whose workload is largely the same in both locations it has much better traction. If the workloads are distinct in both location and load ("horsepower") then there is no real benefit.


    There are several vendors who sell quality monitors. Apple doesn't sell any printers anymore and folks get by just fine with that too. Apple really doesn't sell monitors anymore either. They docking stations with integrated LCD panels.

    Big companies are always playing with the dubious notion of "one throat to choke" and just buy everything from one vendor. Frankly, big tech companies are the ones who most benefit from that. Who is choking whom typically reverses after backed yourself into a corner.

    Most big companies are also buying from HP, Dell, etc and there are decent small monitors there.

    At best you might be able to get Apple to offer a 21.5" and 27" ; basically decoupled iMacs but I doubt they'd really be happy with the detached 21.5" price as a docking station.

    Outside of official support a 2009 Mac Pro can be updated/upgraded to a 2010 or 2012 Pro configuration.

    The pre-2009 models are pragmatically dead enders (with respect to long term return on investment)
     
  20. seveej thread starter macrumors 6502a

    seveej

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    Helsinki, Finland
    #20
    Well, people.

    Thank you all for your views and insights.
    I thought I'd post a follow up - just in case anyone's interested.

    Since yesterday, there's a 2008 eight-core sitting under my desk.

    I had the option of choosing between this and a 5,1 quad core. I admit, the 5,1 was more appealing on all aspects but one: price.
    In the end, my expected needs and the price difference were the deciding factor.
    Let's just hope this thing does not break :D

    Being a first time Mac Pro user, I'm seriously impressed by the silent performance of this beauty - my external FW800 disk sitting on the tabletop totally masks the MP's noise. The fans keep the same (audible) volume even after hitting the machine with half an hour's worth of handbrake.

    Somewhat surprisingly the MP beat my quad core MBP (Early2011) hands down at the handbrake job. The speed difference was around 40% - far in excess of what the GB-scores would let you to believe, and as a bonus (referring to the original post) the MBP was screaming like crazy for the entire time, while the MP was (seemingly) not taxed :)

    RGDS,
     
  21. lucasfer899 macrumors 6502

    lucasfer899

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    #21

    You're only reaping the rewards of the beauty of having such a high quality desktop workstation.
     
  22. Doc69 macrumors 6502

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    Dec 21, 2005
    #22
    I feel the same way. For me, a 23" 16:10 display is the best size for regular use. It's large enough to have two full Letter or A4 pages side by side, but small enough to comfortably mouse around without needing to lift the mouse.

    It's also tragic that most manufacturers have moved to 16:9 displays. When you're using your computer for work, and you're sitting close to your display, and the extra height is very welcome. But I guess it's cheaper to produce 16:9 displays rather than 16:10 since they can double a HDTVs.

    My ideal monitor would be a 23" 16:10 retina display.
     

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