The case of a new 'old' Mac Pro

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by facemeat, Feb 8, 2017.

  1. facemeat macrumors member

    Mar 19, 2016
    Hello everybody!

    For a few weeks I’ve been debating whether or not I should sell my Windows 10 desktop and replace it with an Apple desktop as to create a more seamless software integration experience.

    Heres the thing though..

    My desktop has a 1TB SSD and a 1TB HDD. I have also recently copied over pictures from my fathers computer from the 80s to the 21st century, roughly 121,000 photos. All of this is on an external HDD. I’ve also got ripped dvds and blue-rays (around 1k movies) on a NAS.

    In order to fit most of the pictures on my desktop I’ve considered purchasing 2 6TB HDDs to replace my single HDD and a second 1TB SSD which would host my lightroom project that I’d currently be working on.
    My computer (a mATX build) would therefore have:
    • x1 2.5 1TB SSD
    • x2 3.5 6TB HDD
    • x1 m2 1TB SSD
    All backed up on a NAS at home and one at my fathers. Apart from that I can easily upgrade my CPU, PSU, RAM, Mobo, GPU whenever they need to be updated.

    My only gripe is that I prefer Mac OS over Windows a lot. Like, a lot!
    The current Mac desktop line-up is just not good enough imo. I mean, I can attach a few HDDs and SSDs externally, but how seamless is that?

    Is there something stopping Apple from building a new Mac Pro with easily upgradable parts? I’d love to have Mac OS run natively on my desk without having to resort to a hackintosh or purchase a Mac Mini or iMac and attach 2-4 external HDDs.
    The added problem with the iMac is that I can’t replace the computer or display without replacing one of the other.

    Is anyone in a similar position and just not happy with the current ‘truck’ offered by Apple? I know that buying one of the older models is an option, but wouldn't a newer model be appreciated?

    Curious how others feel about the current Mac Pro line up!
  2. kennyisalive macrumors regular

    Feb 29, 2016
    Jony Ive's stubbornness and his obsession with form over function.
  3. winston1236 macrumors 68000

    Dec 13, 2010
    I use the 'new' MacPro at work, it's a decent computer but I wouldn't buy one for home use. There's not really a way around cables all over the place and it's annoying to try and hide them over and over.

    That said I have an iMac at home and love it.
  4. typonaut macrumors member

    May 7, 2014
    Isn't part of the whole new Mac pro story that expansion comes via external chassis via thunderbolt, etc? Whether that is technically or financially feasible is another matter.
  5. ActionableMango, Feb 8, 2017
    Last edited: Feb 8, 2017

    ActionableMango macrumors G3


    Sep 21, 2010
    A long time ago we had a poll here in the MP forum about whether the nMP was a failure or not. It was about 50/50.

    Since then, things have gone even worse:
    • No update in over three years, not even a spec bump or a price drop
    • Problematic GPUs subject to a recall
    • The GPU upgrades that some around here promised were coming never came
    • Thunderbolt accessories remain expensive and relatively rare
    • Apple stopped selling monitors that worked with nMP
    • eGPUs haven't saved the day
    • There are always threads on the first page about people switching away from Mac Pro
    For those who like the nMP, a refreshed nMP would go a long way toward fixing many of those problems.

    Personally I'm a cMP fan, so my days here are numbered even if the nMP gets updated regularly.
  6. Draeconis, Feb 8, 2017
    Last edited: Feb 8, 2017

    Draeconis macrumors 6502a

    May 6, 2008
    Sounds like you have a pretty good setup as-is. Unless you fancy going the hackintosh route, or buying an old 4,1/5,1, I'm afraid your options are limited.

    To answer your question specifically, i.e. what's stopping them, I'd say the answer is Thunderbolt, and Apple's implementation thereof.

    Thunderbolt, from its first iteration, was conceived as a port that did A/V and data. Apple, and presumably most of the industry, were keen to have a single cable/port be capable of anything. Where this mentality doesn't stack up is in workstations, which have regular GPUs. Apple did flash their own firmware onto these, but that's as far as they went, up until the 2010/2012 model.

    Since re-working a regular desktop GPU to have Thunderbolt ports on would be somewhat of an over-engineered solution on its own, Apple took the opportunity to completely redefine the 'Pro Workstation' design paradigm, and come up with the compact form-factor we see today. Until the Late 2013 Mac Pro model, the Mac Pro line hadn't shipped with Thunderbolt. Thunderbolt equipped Macs had officially been premiered by Apple in 2011, although ironically the original Thunderbolt 'Light Peak' demo unit was a prototype Mac Pro board, highlighted here back in 2009. Here's a video I found from back then. You can clearly see the unnamed computer running Snow Leopard.

    Apple needed the next Mac Pro to have Thunderbolt to be in-line with other products in the Mac range; Thunderbolt required the GPUs to be redesigned and therefore made bespoke; the design was therefore overhauled to insert these GPU(s) within a different frame, where people couldn't expect to swap them out.

    The result of this was a product which was far ahead of its time. Sadly, due to a long gestation period, the GPU technology powering the system was already 2 years old when it went on sale (though being 1-2 years behind the curve with GPUs is par for the course with Apple). In addition, having a proprietary PCIe SSD connector made a once high customisation machine even less friendly.

    This is mainly conjecture on my part, but it seems reasonable.

    What is lamentable now is the state this product range is in 4 years later. Every conceivable aspect of this product is now out-dated, and Apple has never seemed less interested in catering for the Pro users who use and advocate their products day to day. Presumably, having a bespoke GPU solution creates much greater lead times on projects to update this line, but is frustrating nonetheless.
  7. Flint Ironstag macrumors 6502a

    Flint Ironstag

    Dec 1, 2013
    Houston, TX USA
    Hi, facemeat!

    You'll probably find this to be a fascinating read:
  8. flowrider macrumors 603


    Nov 23, 2012
    Many, Many threads on here that addresses the OPs question. And many more lamenting the fact that their has not been a Mac Pro released by Apple that would fit the OPs bill since 2012. And an additional amount of threads guessing what the future might hold.

    Right now. I'm holding my 5,1 close to my chest. IMO, a suitable Mac Pro is not forthcoming. Apple appears not to be interested in computers anymore, but interested in toys and phones. And, that's just too bad:oops:

  9. facemeat thread starter macrumors member

    Mar 19, 2016
    Forgive me for asking, but what does cMP and nMP stand for? I suspect that MP = Mac Pro, but c and n?

    Very extensive answer, thank you very much.
    And yes, I do have a pretty good setup, but I would prefer to use macOS over Windows since I generally prefer the OS and own more software for macOS than Windows.

    I get their vision, what you're describing, but for those that need 'trucks', wouldn't having a user upgradable computer better than the 2013 MB? It shouldn't be that hard for apple to reuse the old case, load it with new parts and macOS, right? Theres got to be an audience for users that would prefer a Mac Pro shell with a few parts that they can easily upgrade to their liking and fit their work flow.
    Thanks again for your reply, it was a good read, I'm mostly venting.
  10. ActionableMango macrumors G3


    Sep 21, 2010
    MP = Mac Pro
    cMP = Classic Mac Pro (or Cheesegrater Mac Pro)
    nMP = New Mac Pro (or Nano Mac Pro)
  11. monokakata macrumors 68000


    May 8, 2008
    Hilo, Hawai'i
  12. Plato65 macrumors member

    Jan 3, 2017
    Yes, there would be an audience, but it's relatively small compared to those for whom MacBook (Pro) or iMac or even iPad Pro are sufficient. Furthermore, this lack of updates has driven many of the potential audience already to Linux or Windows, shrinking the audience further.

    I'm not sure if a new Mac Pro model is ever coming, probably not. But the current Mac Pro will stop selling some time this year, that much I think is known. (Somewhere in these forums there was a comment that Intel took the last orders for some of the Mac Pro processor models last fall and will stop making them around the end of this year.
  13. Draeconis macrumors 6502a

    May 6, 2008
    You're welcome.

    If you look at Apple's business model over recent years, they've certainly shifted focus from traditional computers to mobile devices. All these have in common a fixed hardware platform, inaccessible internals, and proprietary components.

    You can see this trend work its way into their traditional computer lineup, by looking firstly at the MacBook Air launch, followed by the 2012 iMac's soldered on RAM, and various other designs since, like the 2015 reboot of the MacBook line, etc.

    Apple's business model around Macs today certainly seems to be lifted directly from the iOS device playbook; you buy a device as is, and you have it for 2-3 years, and replace it.

    Having a design where components can be replaced adds complications and/or compromises (Jony Ive talks about this when making the battery compartment harder to access for the 2009 MacBook Pro unibody design introduction; the decision is framed around saving space and weight.) which could otherwise be avoided.

    The Late 2016 MacBook Pro is almost the zenith of this design language; on some (though not all) models, even the PCIe SSD is soldered directly to the Logic Board, making aftermarket replacement impossible.

    Now, on a desktop, it's a little less understandable to have these constraints; size is less of an issue since portability isn't a primary concern. However, since we've already established the GPUs were almost required to be bespoke, and therefore the Mac Pro line would be completely redesigned with this in mind, it meant certain other aspects of its construction which otherwise could be left alone were altered. So from their perspective, the business case isn't there.

    Additionally, I guess if you think about it, although the pre-2013 Mac Pro models have internal expansion, how many Mac Pro owners ever effectively utilised this aspect anyway, and to what end? While the majority of users on this forum presumably own at least one machine, businesses and academic institutions likely bought thousands, never touched them, and then replaced them after a few years, despite their fantastic expansion options. Presumably when they did, all they really used them for were additional hard drives, when Apple would rather you connected though Thunderbolt anyway.

    So, what you say isn't incorrect; there is an audience for internal expansion. It's just Apple doesn't think it's enough to worth worrying about. Certainly not enough to hold back a re-design of that magnitude.

    I use one at work, and it's great for what I use it for. But I'd never buy one. Ever.
  14. Joe The Dragon macrumors 6502a

    Jul 26, 2006
    The pro market places needs slots / some workloads needs lot's of disk space. Some software is better with more cores then more GPU's.

    The mac mini server was used as an server and then they cut it down from quad core to dual core and took away HDD 2.
  15. Draeconis macrumors 6502a

    May 6, 2008
    I'm not personally debating that at all, I agree. Apple doesn't.

    I'd love a version of the Mac Pro that had 2 CPU daughter boards and a single GPU option, would make a lot more sense to a lot of people who never need or want 2 GPUs

    Yeah, lets just forget they ever did a Mac mini 'server', they were dreadful. Even calling the previous gen Mac Pro a server was a stretch, despite being powered by a Xeon. RIP Xserve.
  16. TonyK macrumors 65816


    May 24, 2009
    At this point I'd spring for a nMP except it is close to 4 years old technology wise. OWS has memory and flash drives that will work with it. Just don't want to pay the $$$ for old technology.
  17. jblagden macrumors 65816


    Aug 16, 2013
    Yeah. It also doesn’t end up looking any better than the classic Mac Pro when you’ve got a bunch of external drives and adapters plugged into it. For people who need multiple hard drives and extra connections, the classic Mac Pro was ideal because it had four hard drive bays and three PCIe slots. It was also great for gaming because you could swap out the AMD card for an Nvidia card. Sure, the Nvidia GPU was aftermarket-only, but it could be done. And all of the consumer-level Macs had Nvidia graphics back then. I guess this just proves the best solution for Mac gamers would be a Mac that’s somewhere between the Mac Mini and the Mac Pro - with a form factor that’s a little closer to the Mac Pro, but using consumer-level hardware, like an Intel i7 and a GTX 1070.
    --- Post Merged, Feb 13, 2017 ---
    Yeah. It also doesn’t end up looking any better than the classic Mac Pro when you’ve got a bunch of external drives and adapters plugged into it. For people who need multiple hard drives and extra connections, the classic Mac Pro was ideal because it had four hard drive bays and three PCIe slots. It was also great for gaming because you could swap out the AMD card for an Nvidia card. Sure, the Nvidia GPU was aftermarket-only, but it could be done. And all of the consumer-level Macs had Nvidia graphics back then. I guess this just proves the best solution for Mac gamers would be a Mac that’s somewhere between the Mac Mini and the Mac Pro - with a form factor that’s a little closer to the Mac Pro, but using consumer-level hardware, like an Intel i7 and a GTX 1070, while still having PCIe slots.
  18. davidmartindale macrumors regular


    Jan 28, 2011
    PNW, USA
    I think a hackintosh is going to be your best bet for a while. Tonymacx86 and YouTube have all sorts of great info and guides on them. As well as this site.

    I would love to see a new desktop style Mac Pro. But idk if that’s what the modular Mac Pro will be and I think for now hackintosh is the best way to go.
  19. h9826790 macrumors G5


    Apr 3, 2014
    Hong Kong
    If it's just for home use, and you don't mind to deal with the possible Hackintosh stability issue. I think go for Hackintosh make more sense in this case.

    Especially if you are not even start the project yet. IMO, the most critical factor for building a Hackintosh is to buy the correct hardware, which you can easily achieve now.

    A cMP is definitely a good machine. Despite it's quite old now, but with proper upgrade, the performance is actually still quite up to date.

    The CPU single core performance is the most limiting area. We stuck with the X5690 single core performance, no better CPU, no overclock allowed. Of course it can't compare to the most up to date top model CPU, but still not a poor performer for today's standard.

    However, I personally believe not that appropriate to recommend others to buy such an old computer now. For cMP owner, upgrade it make sense. But for new joiner, buy it now and then upgrade accordingly doesn't quite that cost effective.

    For the same cost, a Hackintosh should able to out perform an upgraded cMP in Lightroom.

    But it's just a very personal choice. If you believe the cMP is good enough for you, or you only want to run macOS on a real Mac, or even just love to own this beautiful machine, etc. And decide to go for the cMP's route. Lots of members here are more than happy to share our experience, and give you valuable suggestions for the purchase and upgrade process.

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18 February 8, 2017