Upgrade Old Mac Pro or Buy New Mac Pro?

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by MacPro2014, Dec 15, 2013.

  1. MacPro2014 macrumors member

    Dec 15, 2013
    Well, I currently have a 2010 Mac Pro.
    Dual Quad Core 2.4GHz (8 Core)
    6 GB RAM (Multi tasking is somewhat slow)
    3-4TB's Hard Drive (No space available)
    ATI Radeon 5870 1024 MB (showing its age with applications/frames)
    2 Superdrives
    Mountain Lion

    My current system seems to be somewhat slow.
    I have 2 options since the new Mac Pro will be out soon.

    Option A: Do a complete overhaul of my current system. (The cost of this would total about $1,800-$2,000 with the new specs below)

    Dual Quad Core 2.4 GHz (8 Core) - Keep the same
    16-24 GBs of RAM (Upgrade from 6)
    1 Boot SSD Drive (256 or 512 GB) - Upgrade OS to Mavericks
    Upgrade to 3x 2TB Hard Drives
    Graphics card Radeon 7950 (upgrade from 5870)
    Upgrade 1 Superdrive with a Blu-Ray Drive for Windows Partition
    Add a USB 3.0 Card

    Option B: Would be to get a new Mac Pro Cylinder ($3,700 + $700 for External Storage Array)
    3.5GHZ 6 Core
    16GB RAM
    256 GB Flash Storage
    Dual AMD FirePro D500

    I'm not thrilled about my current Mac Pro not having Thunderbolt/Thunderbolt 2 Ports, HDMI, USB 3.0, or AC Wireless. However, the upgrades I would perform would give me all but Thunderbolt ports and the cost would be less. However, the better question is ...for the price of the upgrades would it be better to get the new system if the performance would be far better.
    So would you recommend I upgrade my unit to at least increase performance or just get a new system? Any thoughts?
  2. cinealta, Dec 15, 2013
    Last edited: Dec 15, 2013

    cinealta macrumors 6502

    Dec 9, 2012
    What exactly are you using it for (specific apps etc)? Do they take advantage of all 8 cores? Do you need 2 D500 GPUs? What would you use the TB2 ports for, besides an external storage enclosure, since you have 4 SATA2 bays in your current MP?

    You would also have to add a $50 PCIe-SSD card to your oMP to match the speed of the nMP's SSD. You could add an 802.11AC-USB card to your oMP. Also, you've got to compare apples-to-apples. Eliminate the items that you would also have to get for the nMP (eg 3x 2TB drives etc) & Blu-Ray drive.

    The 6-core, D500s nMP starts at $4K without even buying additional RAM so your pricing is off.
  3. MacPro2014, Dec 15, 2013
    Last edited: Dec 15, 2013

    MacPro2014 thread starter macrumors member

    Dec 15, 2013
    I use Final Cut, Photoshop, Xcode, Parallels (probably change to VM) to run Windows, Security Software for Security Cameras, Occasional Gaming, Excel, Powerpoint, I usually have dozens of Safari/Chrome Windows + Tabs open, iTunes, etc.

    I currently run my Cinema Display and sometimes use the DVI with an HDMI adapter (not the best) to connect to my TV. Since I have quite a bit of footage it fills up my Hard Drives pretty quickly. (I've had to change out my original drives and just pop them in when I need the info. Eventually I would probably need external storage anyways so Thunderbolt speed would be beneficial. I would also like to add a dedicated second display instead of connecting it to my TV.

    Forgot to mention that I also use the Pro has a hub for my MacBook Air, Apple TV, iPhones, and iPad. So it stores all of that Media as well.

    In regards to price, I would stick with the 16 GB RAM in the new Mac Pro and I can get the Education Discount so it starts at 3.7K (I would end up selling my current unit to recover some of the expense) The 2 x 3 TB Hard Drives would go into the Diskless Pegasus 2/Thunderbolt 2 Drives. Also the Blu-Ray Writer would still be purchased either way (just with the nMP it would be external since I still need a Disc Drive and Blu-ray offers better sizes)
  4. cinealta macrumors 6502

    Dec 9, 2012
    For anything visual I (eg FCPX, PS etc) I would get the nMP. The 6-core nMP should be > 30% faster than your current 2.4 8-core (based on initial benchmarks). Also, if you would eventually need external storage, the nMP's TB will be essential.
  5. seveej macrumors 6502a


    Dec 14, 2009
    Helsinki, Finland
    My first thought: Man, that's just too little RAM. No wonder the machine's slow.

    My honest-to-deity recommendation is: get (at least) 16 gigs of RAM. With your machine, that should not be more than 150$ (most of which you can recoup when you sell the rig some day).

    Believe me, with that machine, and the kinds of programs you use, that will make more of a difference than any other similarly priced investment.

  6. digitalhen macrumors regular

    Jan 10, 2006
    I would add an SSD to that memory upgrade. It will change your whole experience.
  7. ybz90 macrumors 6502a


    Jul 10, 2009
    Upgrade your existing one. It should cost nowhere near $2000.

    Your biggest problem by far is the startlingly low amount of RAM; 24GB ECC 1333 can be had for around $100.

    Solid state drives are now relatively cheap. There's a crucial 480GB right now on sale for under $250. I'd argue against a 7950 right now if only because AMDs cards are so overpriced due to the mining craze bit whatever you get need not top $300 for a 280X or GTX 670/760/680.

    You could even get yourself a pair of hexacores for under $400 if you really wanted to do that. No question about upgrading being the way to go at all.
  8. seveej macrumors 6502a


    Dec 14, 2009
    Helsinki, Finland

    I will agree to that, but with one caveat:
    - if I read the OP right, that his HDD sleds are full, and considering the SATA II limitation of the oMP's, I'd consider biting the bullet and going for a PCI -based solution like the OWC Mercury Accelsior.

  9. ybz90 macrumors 6502a


    Jul 10, 2009
    Show me these benchmarks. Depending on tasks this is likely to be false. I have a few current gen Xeons at work and while they have higher clock speeds, they're not that much of an improvement. Definitely doesn't make any sense from a financial perspective when the oMP CPUs can be upgraded to 12-cores so cheaply.
  10. seveej macrumors 6502a


    Dec 14, 2009
    Helsinki, Finland
  11. MacPro2014 thread starter macrumors member

    Dec 15, 2013
    Thanks for the recommendations guys!

    I do have all 4 sleds occupied. I have 2 sleds with 2TB Drives, 1 Sled with a backup drive and the 4th sled I believe has my Windows files/programs (I have a total of 10.7 GBS available.) This is all after I changed 4 TBs of Hard Drives about 15 months ago. So storage is definitely important.

    16-24 GBs of RAM (Upgrade from 6) I calculated that this would cost about $200.
    1 Boot SSD Drive (256 or 512 GB) - I calculated that this would range anywhere between $400-700
    Upgrade to 3x 2TB Hard Drives
    Graphics card Radeon 7950 (upgrade from 5870) (I calculated this price at about $450)
    Upgrade 1 Superdrive with a Blu-Ray Drive (I'm looking at a Blu-Ray writer for about $150)
    Add a USB 3.0 Card (About $30)
    AC Wireless would be nice but I use ethernet.

    With taxes I figured add another $100-200 in total. That is how I got to that $1800-$2000 price range.

    I figured if I got rid of my current system I could probably get about $1,300-1,600 for it (close enough to what I would spend in upgrades) + pay the difference and walk away with a new system with future upgrades. I currently have the Cinema Display and I might end up having to get a new monitor as it shows a gray cloud/ghosting. Apple Care said it was burn in and a replacement would be needed. This leads me to the issue about dual monitors. Apple said their thunderbolt displays will not work with the Mini Display port (Why would they dump support for Mini Display Ports on a Mac Pro only a few years old is hard to deal with-can someone confirm this info) In any event, finding 2 new cinema displays will probably get more difficult as time goes on.

    So as you can see...it seems like a dilemma of taking a plunge now or risk spending a good deal of money on even just a few upgrades and risk issues in a few years for connectivity.
  12. lurkingbf macrumors regular

    Mar 13, 2010
    I agree with previous posters: most importantly, more RAM; also, an SSD for boot will make a world of difference. I wouldn't even bother upgrading the video card--yours should do fine.

    Hard to imagine that machine being "slow". I'm still using the 1,1 model (with upgrades to SSD, new processors, and GPU), and it sure isn't slow.
  13. Bear macrumors G3

    Jul 23, 2002
    Sol III - Terra
    Between what you can get for the current system and the upgrades you need, it does sound like it might be better for you to get a new Mac Pro.

    The benefit of going with a new system if you get your storage attached via Thunderbolt which is easier to move between systems.

    The real question you have to answer is are you ready to move to Mavericks. If not, fix up your current system.
  14. Jnesbitt82 macrumors 6502


    Oct 21, 2013
    Agreed. RAM is your biggest issue right now. Although by upgrading to Mavericks you will cut down on RAM usage, it just won't be enough to make a difference. How about another option. Upgrade your RAM and sell your old system to offset the cost of a new one. You obviously have a need for such a machine. I'd say buy it. :)
  15. lurkingbf macrumors regular

    Mar 13, 2010
    That's not even a question any longer. Mavericks is running perfectly now on my Mac Pro 1,1. The process was maybe a 3 out of 10 on the level of difficulty scale. I think most Mac Pro users can handle it.
  16. RVijay007 macrumors member

    Jul 20, 2010
    Pimped out Mac Pro 3,1

    I was kind of debating the same thing, but went with pimping out my old Mac Pro 3,1. I recently bought:

    -- a 256GB Samsung SSD ($200) and set up a Fusion Drive with a 2TB hard drive (works beautifully, boot times are extremely fast)

    -- bought an additional 16GB RAM for it for $150

    I had an old Mac Pro 1,1 that I was able to install Mavericks on, and took it's video card out to put into my main Mac Pro 3,1. Now I run the MP1,1 headless and screen share into it.

    So all in all, I have a system that boots extremely fast, hasn't even used paging / swap for memory, and I can use four monitors instead of 2. Breathed new life into this system and I love it, and don't see any reason personally for my productivity to get the new MP.
  17. cinealta, Dec 16, 2013
    Last edited: Dec 16, 2013

    cinealta macrumors 6502

    Dec 9, 2012
    I never post without factual data backing up my statements. Seveej, and numerous other forum members, have done precisely the same calculation I did. It's common knowledge for several months.

    The 2.4 8-core cMP benches at 13,995. The 3.5 6-core nMP benches at 18,309. That's precisely a 30.83% increase in speed. Those figures are only for a preliminary, 32-bit, bench. The nMP will undoubtedly be even faster when the benchmark is optimized for 64-bit.

  18. rk25123 macrumors regular

    Aug 17, 2010
    More like $300! Where do you find RAM at that price?! I'm looking for 3x16GB 1333 ECC and I couldn't find anything at less than $668...
  19. wildmac macrumors 65816

    Jun 13, 2003
    A 2010 is really new enough that unless you really want the TB and cutting edge components, it might be worth upgrading what you have.
  20. lurkingbf macrumors regular

    Mar 13, 2010
    Yes, $100 for 24 GB of semi-decent certified RAM is certainly wishful thinking.

    I've been pondering adding 16 GB (4x4GB) to my existing 9 GB setup (dropping the two 512's that are in there now). Here in Canada, the best price I've found is $270 for those 4x4GB sticks (at CanadaRAM.com).

    Mind you, after using the newly-installed Mavericks for a while, and watching the new memory-compression feature in action, I may just hold off on that plan.
  21. cinealta macrumors 6502

    Dec 9, 2012
    Here's my estimate for your upgrades:

    16 GBs of RAM: $150 (same as nMP)
    Boot SSD Drive (256 GB): $200 (same as nMP)
    PCIe-SSD card: $50
    Upgrade to 3x 2TB Hard Drives: n/a (will need to buy for nMP also)
    Radeon 7950: $450
    Blu-Ray Drive: n/a (will need to buy for nMP also)
    USB 3.0 Card: $15
    AC Wireless: $90

    TOTAL: $955
  22. flowrider macrumors 603


    Nov 23, 2012
    IMHO, no question - UPGRADE - Recommendations given above. I have a 5,1 (2010) Mac Pro that is only a few months old. I've upgraded it with:

    CPU - dual X5590
    SSD - Apricorn Velocity x2 with a Samsung 840 SSD 500 GB drive
    RAM - 24GB Data Memory Systems RAM
    Video - Gigagbyte GTX 780, flashed by MVC
    Optical - 2nd DVD Burner
    USB - PCI USB expansion card

    All drive sleds are being used and there are two external drives. One firewire and one USB.

    This machine will last me for awhile. FWIW, I upgraded from my previous machine, a 3,1 Mac Pro shortly after the nMP was announced. I thought then, and still believe the nMP is and never will be right for me.

  23. ybz90 macrumors 6502a


    Jul 10, 2009
    I like that you didn't bold the part where I say "depending on tasks." It seems like the OP may need more cores and it's unlikely this 30% will hold true across all tasks. From my own experience, it certainly does not. Nitpicking aside, I'm just trying to say the OP shouldn't bother getting the nMP for the CPUs, since a his CPUs are not the bottleneck and a very cheap upgrade can net him superior performance to the nMP 6-core.


    eBay. I got 6x4GB brand new sticks pulled straight from a server for under $100 shipped. They are ECC as well.


    See above post. I'm not throwing out arbitrary numbers. I actually bought some less than two weeks ago for my Mac Pro.
  24. undesign macrumors regular

    Nov 4, 2013
    I'd do the same. An SSD in any computer coming from HDD feels like its a brand new computer. I'm never going back to HDD.
  25. Gav Mack, Dec 16, 2013
    Last edited: Dec 16, 2013

    Gav Mack macrumors 68020

    Gav Mack

    Jun 15, 2008
    Sagittarius A*
    Only 6gb of ram running that lot? Gosh! At least 16gb but I would go higher if you can.

    So lots more ram, 840 evo or pro SSD, a velocity solo x2 PCIe card, an Orico/ Inateck Fresco chipset usb 3 card and a new GPU. Long power extension cable and doublers from the optical bay to power the SSD and usb 3.0 card.

    Think you might notice the difference after doing all that somewhat :D

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