Thinking of upgrading to a Mac Pro - Need a little bit of guidance please

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by danielbriggs, Oct 15, 2008.

  1. danielbriggs macrumors 6502

    Jun 13, 2006
    Manchester, UK
    Hi All,

    Let me explain my current setup:
    I'm at uni, and naturally I'm strapped for cash, so money IS an object. But if something is of clear benefit to upgrade to, then I am willing to spend some extra.
    My 2 year old 17" MacBook Pro 2.33GHz (3 and a bit GB of RAM - 4GB of sticks) sits on my desk connected to a 24" LCD + external keyboard and mouse. I've also got a TC and a FireWire 800 drive connected. I use my MBP for the usual light tasks: internet+email+iWork. And for converting DVD's to H264 for my iPod. (Gets loud and toasty!) But I also reboot into Vista for a lot of CAD work (Parallels just isn't up to the demand)

    The ONLY thing I could criticise my MBP about is the HDD speed - it's SO SLOW, even after a recent format+fresh install

    So I thought it time to upgrade :rolleyes:

    At first, I thought I'll just get a new MBP, but due to the nature of my Mechanical Engineering course, I don't take my laptop to any lectures. It's just left on my desk in the flat. :( All my CAD design work is done in my room on most afternoons and weekends.
    So what about getting a Mac Pro!? :D

    My options:
    1.) Buy a new 7200RPM HDD for current MBP
    2.) Sell MBP 17" and buy a new MBP 15"
    3.) Sell MBP 17" and buy a super Mac Pro! and use the 24" LCD on my desk
    4.) Sell MBP 17" and build a Mac-Pro clone hackintosh - nice challenge, but not the whole Apple experience, but save a lot of cash!

    I reckon I can sell my MBP for £1000, and a base MacPro is £1400 + 3rd party HDD and RAM upgrades.

    But my main question is about the spec of the possible Mac Pro.
    Do I go for the Single Quad Processor and save £300 (which I can spend on upgrades), or do I really need the 8-core in my situation?
    Either way i'm going to upgrade to the Nvidia 8800 GT, and add an AirPort Card.

    Also, I'm hoping to chuck in 4GB(2x2GB) or 8GB?(4x2GB) of RAM from Crucial:

    Lastly, I'll be swapping out the Mac Pro HDD to a Samsung SpinPoint 1TB, as it's got much more storage, and is lightning fast (> 100MBs read and write)
    Stock Mac Pro HDD is 60-70MBs?

    So in summary, from what you think's best would you choose:
    Option 1, 2, or 3? (or consider 4?)
    If 3, would 4GB of 8GB be wise? And again, would a Quad or Dual-Quad be best in my case? Any other suggestions?

    Thanks in advance,

    Dan :)
  2. neiltc13 macrumors 68040


    May 27, 2006
  3. Umbongo macrumors 601


    Sep 14, 2006
    A Mac Pro will be a big step up for you, probably offering far more power than you need, but it looks like you require some of the features that only it offers and you may grow in to it.

    Get the single quad core option and add 4GB (2x2GB) though you'd probably be fine with an additional 2x1GB. I assume you will be using educational discount?
  4. keltorsori macrumors regular

    Jul 24, 2002
    Stake out the special deals section of the Apple Store online and snatch up the cheapest Mac Pro refurb you can. Stock changes all the time and I've seen several quads for less than $2k. You can do all/any upgrades aftermarket and save yourself some money.
  5. mcruzader macrumors regular

    Sep 10, 2008
    I would go with the Mac Pro and probably a MacBook, one of the new ones at least. And for the hard drive in the Mac Pro go for a raptor 10,000 rpm and a second drive for space, most likely a 7200 rpm/32 MB cache. As for ram, third party, there is no point in buying it from Apple.
  6. danielbriggs thread starter macrumors 6502

    Jun 13, 2006
    Manchester, UK
    Even with Educational Discount, they are within £150 from a Mac Pro, and as I already have a screen, the gap to jump for the extra power is minimal.

    Yep - I've just got off the phone with them actually.
    I've spec'd out a new Mac Pro System:
    One 2.8GHz Quad-Core Intel Xeon 065-7532
    2GB (2x1GB) 065-7175
    NVIDIA GeForce 8800 GT 512MB GDDR3 065-7537
    320GB 7200-rpm Serial ATA 3Gb/s 065-7189
    One 16x SuperDrive 065-7203
    Apple Mighty Mouse 065-7693
    Apple Keyboard & Mac OS 065-7707
    +AirPort Extreme

    £1086 + VAT

    I've had a quick look, but could only find MBP's which look very tempting!
    What's wrong with refurb's? And what's the typical path where a machine becomes a refurb - ex-demo?

    Does anyone know if you can add a further 4 cores at a later date? i.e. as an upgrade?

    Thanks for all your help,
  7. Umbongo macrumors 601


    Sep 14, 2006
    You can but it probably won't ever make economical sense to do so. If you find yourself needing more processing power in the future then just sell and buy new. With your HE discount on this purchase and how Macs hold their prices it will probably be around the same cost to you as buying another processor and finding a heatsink. You're looking at £650 at least currently and prices may not go down that much over time.
  8. danielbriggs thread starter macrumors 6502

    Jun 13, 2006
    Manchester, UK
    Hmm... that's a bit disconcerting.
    But I'll probably price up the Single core Mac Pro + all the upgrades (4GB of RAM and a 1TB Samsung Disk), sell my MBP on eBay, assess my finances, and either plough straight for the Single, or if I can afford it, go for all 8.

    On a technical side note: Can Mac (and Vista 64-bit) make use of 4/8 cores for 1 app? Or is it 1 core per app?

    Thanks again for your excellent help! Much clearer now.


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