Thoughts on buying a MacPro

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by MALDI, Dec 26, 2011.

  1. MALDI macrumors newbie

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    #1
    Looking to get some people's thoughts on this plan:

    I have been wanting a Mac Pro and finally after lots of saving I have the money to afford one. I am wanting it primarily for aperture, photoshop, some basic video (nothing major here...mostly short clips of me and my friends making music), and perhaps transferring some DVDs of mine into a hard drive. The iMac is not really an option as 1) I hate the glossy screens, 2) I already have two 24inch dell monitors 3) expandability is important as I need the hard drive space.

    The current mac pro is pretty old as far as computers go, but i think it is fast enough for what I need. It was when it first came out and none of the software I will be using has increased its system demands since. As far as games go, I play some games, but I am thinking of getting a PC next year primarily for a gaming machine. My current PC is hanging in there for the stuff I play.

    Right now I am stuck with using a MacBook Pro with a 2.4 Core2Duo processor. It is getting near the end of its lifetime. The battery is certainly starting to go (drains within an hour).

    So...buy a Mac Pro now, or perhaps wait until the new ones come out (should they come out). Of the things that could be upgraded on the new mac pro the only things of any interest is CPU, and video card...don't really care about thunderbolt. How many years do all of you think one can get out of the current model?

    Thanks in advance for your thoughts!
     
  2. The-Pro macrumors 65816

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    #2
    you should be more than happy with a current six core model, that would be more than enough. You can buy a quad 2.8 and upgrade yourself to save lots of cash. Add in some beefy amount of RAM, like at least 10-12GB to make sure and it will awesome for your needs.
    Some video cards that will come out in the next years should be compatible with the current Mac Pro, new GPU's work in the first Mac Pro aswell :D This is a guess, no one knows, and we cant look into the future either :(
    These Mac Pros should work for a very long time and although they might get outdated quickly in terms of other hardware on the market it wont really matter because most software currently cannot take advantage of several cores anyway. Its slowly being implemented more and more and I guess within in the next 2 years all professional programs should be able to use 4+ cores.
    The Mac Pro itself will most likely work for 6+ years at least, unless your unlucky and it has issues. They are extremely reliable machines, an investment like that is definitely worth it down the line. In my studio we still use G3's and G4's constantly and they have yet to need a repair. Those are all over six years old!!!!!
     
  3. snberk103 macrumors 603

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    #3
    Generally, I believe that one should buy a computer when you need it - and not worry about waiting for the "next big thing." That said, if my current MacPro was feeling long in the tooth, but still usable - I would wait a few months to see if a) there is a new MP, and b) what it brings to the table.

    Unlike you, my sole interest in a potentially new MP is in fact the Thunderbolt connector. This is just my personal belief, but I think in time the TB port will be a critical connector. But.... who knows, and there is no point debating because at this point no one really knows for sure.

    Important things to think about when deciding on what you need in a MP.

    Memory. Even if you don't need it now you will need it. You get more RAM slots in a dual CPU machine (generally) than a single CPU one.

    Software, generally, is not yet taking advantage of multiple cores. However, Apple is making it easier to for developers to use multiple cores. Perhaps in a couple of years having a slow 8 or 12 core will be hugely faster than a 4 or 6 with faster clock speeds. But from what I read, there isn't too much difference yet in the real world. But I keep hoping, as I have an 8 core machine.

    Unless you are doing video in a big way, the basic stock GPU is plenty for Photoshop work, which is just 2D.

    Don't forget to shop the refurb store. Keep an eye on it religiously. Very well priced MacPros will occasionally appear, and get snapped up in a day or two.

    My 2008 octo-core MP needed one repair. The video card blew, and took the logic board with it. Luckily I had AppleCare, so it was all sorted... and I had a good backup strategy... which I got to test out. Mostly I use my system for Photoshop and Lightroom, and I rarely stress it. Though I do like the hear the fans start spinning up (normally I can't hear them at even though "Big Mac' is right next to the desk).... hearing the fans simply tell me that I've actually gotten the system to shift up a gear or two.

    However, I can run multiple applications simultaneously without any lagging, due to the multiple cores and adequate RAM.

    I've got 12GB of RAM, and I'd like to bump that up this year.

    One other thing to consider.... if you buy now, and you decide you have to have the next generation MP when it's released, then you can sell the older MP. It should retain most of its value, especially if you have bought from the refurb store.

    Consider getting the extended AppleCare. Repairing one of these beasts is pricey.
     
  4. MALDI thread starter macrumors newbie

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    #4
    Certainly good arguments for buying now rather than wait. I suppose as well, that it is likely that a processor upgrade will not result in any major breakthroughs and much of the software these days tend not to use all the cores at their disposal.

    I have been leaning towards the 6-core, adding some RAM (not from Apple since they are expensive), throwing in an SSD and fortunately I can simply transfer my existing hard drives in there, so no need to buy new drives at the now astronomical prices they are at now.

    I'll have to give it a few days though. Despite being able to afford one it's still a big purchase; good thing I can use my education discount :)
     
  5. oban14 macrumors 6502a

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    #5
    You should wait. The MP is ancient and expensive by current standards.
     
  6. simsaladimbamba

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    #6
    You mean compared to all the other HP and Dell workstations using the same Xeons?
     
  7. oban14 macrumors 6502a

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    #7
    Yes, and I wouldn't buy any of those either. You're buying at the tail end of the product cycle without waiting for the price drops that come with the next generation getting released.

    It's like buying a 2011 car the month before the 2012 models come out, but without any of the discounting.

    But it's your money, not mine.
     
  8. thekev, Dec 26, 2011
    Last edited: Dec 26, 2011

    thekev macrumors 604

    thekev

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    #8
    You know, the mac pro is a nice computer, but the six core should be the base model. Apple has tightened their manufacturing budgets on them considerably over the past couple years, so you're buying an inflated machine late in its life cycle. Given the adjusted release pricing, we may see a cheaper 6 core with the refresh. The cpu cost for the Sandy Bridge E is around $600 similar to the one in there right now. The current one (W3680) started at $1100 or $1200. Putting a $600 cpu in a $3700 computer with 3GB of ram is pretty asinine, but that's what you'd be buying currently. Other features you may see with an update include PCIe 3.0, usb3, thunderbolt, etc. It depends what chipset is used and how soon they intend to update them.

    If you've been saving, I'd personally suggest going for maximum longevity rather than something that is a minor dropin update over a 2009 design. That's just me though.


    While that's true, you could buy a T3500 (which is one of their single socket only workstations, much like the single socket mac pro, but without some of the cool ergonomics and daughterboard configuration) for down to roughly $1700. They only ship with workstation gpus. The equivalent of the one includes with a mac pro is an $80 upgrade (5770 vs Firepro 4800). Basically with the workstation cards, sometimes they're made in different factories, but the main difference is the different drivers optimized for 3d applications rather than video game on the fly rendering. The dell also comes with a three year warranty standard. It's not hating on Apple. It's just that they could do better, and they have on previous generations. There's nothing wrong with choosing price points, but they could do better for almost $4k. Dell doesn't use the W3680, just the 3670 and 3690. The difference isn't that great, and the 3680 is about $100 more retail than the 70.
     
  9. Ayemerica macrumors demi-god

    Ayemerica

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    #9
    I would wait the Mac pro is do for an upgrade
     
  10. MALDI thread starter macrumors newbie

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    #10
    While that is true you are forgetting that we know for a fact that each year there is a new model car as well as knowing pretty much when it will be out. When it comes to new product lines, Apple is about the worst company for predicting new models. Apple seems to like to shroud itself in secrecy.

    But this is not about when the new Mac Pro will come, but rather the longevity of the current model. If we are going to use a car analogy, I see myself as using a bus; my MacBook Pro eventually gets the job done but it is a pain just as (at least in my case) taking a bus to work could work but is a pain and so I pay the cost of a car to relieve the stress and save time.

    So, a decent computer now that perhaps will last for a number of years (opinions on this is what I seek), or endure a slow computer for an undetermined number of months to get a faster one than is currently available albeit not necessarily significantly faster.
     
  11. TwoBytes macrumors 68020

    TwoBytes

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    #11
    I'm going to say something different.

    It's a shame you can't deal with the gorgeous iMac screen as it sounds like that will fit your needs as the pro is overkill. You'll save money and can spend that on ram, thunderbolt devices, etc...

    Go and have a real good play with an iMac in store to see if you can get on with it. I'd rather upgrade my computer every several years than have an overly powerful one now and have it longer to justify the price.
     
  12. iBookG4user macrumors 604

    iBookG4user

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    #12
    If you like matte screens, which the OP does, then the iMac screen is not a gorgeous screen, it is the antithesis of what the OP would want. The Mac Pros you'll easily be able to get half a decade out of, you could still use a 2006 Mac Pro with ease and run anything today. You can't say the same about a 2006 iMac, sure it might be bearable but definitely not good as far as computers go. (I actually have a 2006 iMac, so I am speaking from experience.)
     
  13. MALDI thread starter macrumors newbie

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    #13
    The thunderbolt enclosures seem few and far between. The ones I have found all come with hard drives (and while most will need it, I don't need new hard drives) and that is $1100 at least where I am. That would bring the price up to mac pro levels. If anyone knows where empty enclosures can be found let me know.

    There is also the question of desk space; I already have two 24 inch monitors :D

    There is one other option: switch to Lightroom and do everything on a PC :eek:
     
  14. oban14 macrumors 6502a

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    #14
    My early 2008 MP is still doing everything I want and more. I'd like some better virtual analog performance but even the best processors out right now are having issues.
     
  15. barkmonster macrumors 68020

    barkmonster

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    #15
    I wouldn't in a million years suggest the Mac Mini as an alternative for your needs but it really puts the aging Mac Pro spec in perpective:

    SATA Speeds

    Mac Pro 2.8: Sata 3Gb/s - VS - Mac Mini 2.3: Sata 6Gb/s

    RAM Expansion & Cost

    Mac Pro 2.8: 3 *usable* RAM slots/must be installed in 3s - VS - Mac Mini 2.3: 2 RAM slots/must be installed in pairs

    Mac Pro 2.8: £110.39 for 3 x 4Gb PC3-8500 - VS - Mac Mini 2.3: £34.79 for 2 x 4Gb PC3-10600
    (I used Crucial for the cost estmates)

    Geekbench Scores

    Mac Pro 2.8: 8839 - VS - Mac Mini 2.3: 5839

    Obviously non of these comparisons take into account number of internal drive bays, PCI-e - VS - Thunderbolt etc... but when Intel have new Xeons and new motherboards with USB 3.0 and Thunderbolt early next year and the Mac Pro motherboard design is very dated I'd wait myself.
     
  16. scarred macrumors 6502a

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    #16
    I'm probably going to get modded down for this... but I really believe the MacPro is the only computer Apple sells that doesn't make any sense for consumers to own (I can see _some_ professionals using one). Their entire lineup from mobile through iMac are truly great. Then there is the MacPro...

    All the other offerings from Apple come as complete systems. You really can't substitute anything for a Macbook Pro or Air, for example. But you can easily build a system that murders the MacPro on performance (honestly put it to shame), and you can do it for half the price (if not more). All the components of a MacPro are available for you to purchase separately. You can make that system look just as good as the MacPro (there are some really cool looking tower cases out there). You can do this because you choose the exact parts you want, and you put the care into putting it together yourself. You can make that system be just as solid as the MacPro. I know you leave the OSX eco system when you do that, which is the only sad part.

    You'd be better off building your own tower, and also buying an iMac for the side. Cost would be about the same as buying a single MacPro.
     
  17. barkmonster macrumors 68020

    barkmonster

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    #17
    I agree. They could offer a system simply called The Mac for the same price point as the old G3 and G4 desktop and mini-tower systems based around an i7 and standard intel parts.

    Apple's BTO prices are criminal on all their systems and even the Macbook Air etc... need to have certain components changed that would speed them up no end (Sandforce based SSDs instead of the over-priced underperforming garbage they current use, options of dual HDs/SSDs in the Macbook Pro line instead of an internal optical drive for example)
     
  18. snberk103 macrumors 603

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    #18
    This is why I would suggest at least considering waiting for the next version of the Mac Pro - Link. Essentially, Intel is rolling out TB big time starting next April for non-Macs. Expect to see many many more TB peripherals, at affordable prices, as companies start to go after the non-Mac PC crowd.

    Agreed. A Mac Pro is not designed for the consumer market. That said, it's a free country - and I would never comment on someone's decision to buy one, even if I thought it was more computer than they needed.
    Here I disagree. No, I can not "easily" build a system that works as well or better than a Mac Pro. I can only do it after spending time researching what I want/need in the HW; Researching what HW will work with OS X; Ordering the parts - after researching to get the best prices; Assembling the parts; Dealing with individual manufacturers to diagnose any potential glitches; Dealing with individual manufacturers to return any potentially faulty parts.

    Then I get to use the system. Until an OS X update breaks something, and I have to research what I need to fiddle to make it work again.

    I *can* do all of this - I used to build my own OS/2 systems, and kept them running for years with incremental HW upgrades... and it was *fun* to do it.... but it was not *easy*. Now I am a professional, and I can make more money working those hours than I would ever save by building it myself.

    And we haven't even talked about warranty repairs. My Mac Pro needed some. I took it to the store and went home to work from my backup. A few days later they called and I picked up a working MP, that cost me just a ferry fare and parking to fix. And the cost of a sushi lunch.
    Another professional choice I make is to work in the OS X ecosystem ... so not an option for me. Well, it is an option technically - it is a choice I make.
    Yeah... if you had the time and inclination. And it is fun. It just may not make sense for a bunch of people.
     
  19. MacRazySwe macrumors 6502a

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    #19
    Honestly, it sounds like you would be best off buying an iMac 27". :)

    Why you would prefer the ancient Mac Pro rather than the iMac makes no sense. According to what you've listed as your needs - the iMac has more than enough power. It's also cheaper, and you get one of the best screens out there. Trust me, you will love the Glossy-screen as long as you are not a professional photographer - which I don't think you are according to your post.

    You also mention that you do not play any games, then there is no point at all getting the Mac Pro rather than iMac. The iMac is also a lot better looking, and takes less space. The only issue is of course upgradeability, but it sounds like you only need hard-drive space, in that case it's just better to buy external hard drives. Placing all of your recorded music and movies on external hard drives will not only keep your Mac cleaner and faster, but also give you the option of bringing the songs/videos to your friends.

    Best regards,

    Richard
     
  20. iBookG4user macrumors 604

    iBookG4user

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    #20
    Glossy versus matte is not decided only by if one is a professional photographer or not. Some people just can't stand glossy because of the reflections and glare and thus it makes glossy screens impossible to work on for them. If one who prefers matte got the iMac it would be the antithesis of a good computer for them. I personally find the iMac's screen to be dreadful because of all the glare and reflections and over-saturation. As for your argument of there being no point in getting the Mac Pro. Let's take a look at history for a few seconds; the 2006 iMac is a computer that is antiquated and cannot even run Lion. The 2006 Mac Pro on the other hand is still a very viable computer and could be upgraded to 32GB of RAM and used every day without a problem. Think about it.
     
  21. sweetbrat macrumors 65816

    sweetbrat

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    #21
    You have some valid points, for sure. But you make it sound like the glossy screen is no big deal. To some of us, it really is. I think the iMac screen is beautiful. But I've had a MacBook Pro with the glossy screen, and while it looked beautiful, I couldn't deal with the reflections, fingerprints, etc. Some people just prefer a matte screen, and nothing else will make them happy. If that group includes the OP, then no matter how great the iMac is, it's not going to work for him. It sounds like he would fit into the fabled xMac territory (something between a mini and a Pro), but I doubt that Apple will ever make such a machine.

    Even though a Pro would be more than what he needs, it might suit his preferences best.
     
  22. MALDI thread starter macrumors newbie

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    #22
    Reflections of the glossy screen is the main issue for me. In terms of colour and brightness I think the screen is great, but if I want a mirror I have a nice one in my bedroom:)

    A pitty they don't offer on the iMac a matte screen like they do for the 15 inch MacBook Pro. That would be a nice option.

    Oh well...there is the option of switching to Lightroom and going to a normal PC :eek:
     

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