Upgrading to used Mac Pro, advice on which one?

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by nickmeister01, Nov 15, 2015.

  1. nickmeister01 macrumors newbie

    Nov 15, 2015
    Hi, I'm currently using a powermac G5 dual 2ghz PowerPC desktop powerMac with 5gb ram running Leopard 10.5.8 and Logic 8 and plenty of plug ins. I'm finding that maybe it's time to upgrade with more processing power. I paid nearly 3 grand for this machine when it can out and won't be paying anywhere near that again.

    Most software available now will only run on Intel snow leopard updwards, I've seen dozens of Intel based Mac Pro's available second hand so was wondering what a decent spec machine would be ie processor/ram that would be a decent upgrade and Intel based?
    Which of these would be the better option?

    Mac pro 2007/2008 4gb ram, 250gb hdd. intel xeon Quad Core processor.

    MAC PRO 2ghz QUAD CORE+ 4GB RAM + 250GB Hard Drive

    Mac Pro 1.1 2006 2 x 3GHZ Xeons , 10GB Ram , 120GB SSD

  2. mcnallym macrumors 6502a

    Oct 28, 2008
    If starting to look at buying a Mac Pro now then would look at the Mac Pro 4,1/5,1 which are the 2009/2010 models.

    Unless going for a Dual CPU setup then would suggest that look at the 4,1/2009 model as can be firmware flashed to a 5,1 and so use the later CPU's.

    Dual CPU 4,1 use delidded CPU's so upgrades are slightly trickier.

    The 4,1/5,1 can have current OS installed straight off without having to do anything other then install the OS off the USB Bootable OSX image.

    Just look for the cheapest working 4,1 system that can find then firmware flash to a 5,1 and upgrade to 3680/5680 which gives 6 core 3.33Ghz . These seem to be sweet spot with the 3690/5690 at 3.46Ghz still commanding a premium. 5680 supports more RAM then then 3680 in the Mac Pro. For 3 x 8Gb Sticks giving 24Gb ( decent enough upgrade from 5Gb ) then either CPU will do.

    If looking at Dual CPU then look for a 5,1 so can use normal CPU and then look at 5680's to give dual Hex Core 3.33Ghz so would give a real bump in available CPU. 3680 is single CPU machine only.

    5770's should be fine for a primarily Logic machine as the GPU, and should be able to find one cheap enough if machine doesn't come with one already.

    You can then load up on SSD etc for Boot, Apps and Storage.
  3. Ebenezum macrumors 6502a

    Mar 31, 2015
    I agree with mcnallym that Mac Pro 4.1/ 5.1 would be best choice.

    Even a basic single CPU 4.1 will be a much faster than your current Mac without any upgrades. Unless your software utilises multiple cores very efficiently dual CPU is likely expensive overkill.

    If you want spend as little as possible then 3.1 model that already has 12-16 GB of RAM might be an option. Compared to 4.1 and 5.1 it has some downsides: 1. Expensive RAM 2. Slow processors that can't be upgraded economically and 3. Slower PCI slots.
  4. pastrychef macrumors 601


    Sep 15, 2006
    New York City, NY
  5. kevink2 macrumors 65816

    Nov 2, 2008
    I think the main slowness of the 08 is the relatively slow RAM compared to modern RAMs. Single thread performance is much lower than what is currently available on newer CPUs.

    I actually use my MBP for normal web usage, etc, more than my Mac Pro since I can use it in the recliner.

    I would LIKE a faster desktop now, but still hard to warrant spending the money for a decently powered one.
  6. cw48494 macrumors regular


    Jun 17, 2015
    Get at least a 3,1. Iirc, you can drop in a pair of Xeon X5492's (3.4ghz). The difference in ram speed doesn't mean a lot in most situations, just ensure the timings aren't outrageously high; Pcie 2.0 is another reason why I would prefer a 3,1 over a 1,1.

    Don't get me wrong, the 1,1 is still a beast but if you can get a 3,1 or newer within your budget, don't hesitate.
  7. DPUser macrumors 6502a

    Jan 17, 2012
    I moved from the G5 Quad space heater (which was the first computer that, IMHO, delivered on the promise of a native audio DAW) to a 4,1 quad which I immediately upgraded to 5,1 hex Mac Pro and have been rocking the MP ever since. An order of magnitude improvement, especially loaded with SSDs. I can run VIs galore at buffer of 128 in Digital Performer and only occasionally jones for a 12 core. I'm gonna' pick up VE Pro to ease that pain, or maybe I'll upgrade a 4,1 octo to 12 core in the future.

    Definitely go 4,1 or 5,1.
  8. fuchsdh macrumors 65816


    Jun 19, 2014
    I would agree that a 4,1 or better is your best bet. For under $1000 you could get a machine that's much faster than what you have, as well as more RAM or SSDs.

    You don't sound like you'd actually upgrade your processors, so I would just get what you can afford and not bother yourself.

    Of the models you listed, I believe you mean 2.26GHz quad core? That's a 4,1 and would be the best option of the three you listed.

    Either way, get an SSD. It's not optional for a computer in 2015.
  9. lexR, Nov 17, 2015
    Last edited: Nov 18, 2015

    lexR macrumors regular


    Dec 12, 2013
    My vote is 4.1 or 5.1, you can pick single cpu 4.1's up at very reasonable prices now, that can be upgraded with a w3690 6 core cpu, gtx titan x, 56gb ram, blade SSD's and USB 3.0... which would be a very capable machine ;)
  10. Nunyabinez macrumors 68000


    Apr 27, 2010
    Provo, UT
    4,1 or newer is optimal if you can afford it. I managed to find a 2,1 for about $350. Upgrading to El Cap required access to my iMac to "hack" the Mac Pro. Not complicated, but it appears that I will have to do that with each new update. With 4,1 you avoid that, but of course it will be more expensive.

    I also agree on the SSD. I have several machines that appeared to be too slow to be usable (I'm pretty impatient), but once I popped an SSD in them they were like new machines.
  11. h9826790 macrumors G4


    Apr 3, 2014
    Hong Kong
    W3690 can't run 128G RAM, only the dual CPU model that can support more than 64G (W3690 is limited to 56G) at this moment.
  12. nickmeister01 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Nov 15, 2015
    Wow a huge thanks to everyone on this forum for their advice. I'm really thankful that you have taken the time to post as it's been a long time since a bought my powermac G5. I seemed to have understood it all better years ago but these machines have really moved on! I will definitely digest the posts and work out what would be best for what I need.
  13. glenthompson macrumors 68000


    Apr 27, 2011
    I picked up a 3,1 on Caigslist last year for $500. It had plenty of memory and an upgraded GPU. Also included 23" monitor and keyboard. Can't find deals like that on 4,1 or 5,1 in my area.

    Whichever model you find, consider upgrading to a SSD for the boot drive for better performance.
  14. mattspace macrumors 6502a


    Jun 5, 2013
    is the only reason the 4,1 dual needs de-lidded CPUs the shape of the heatsink? Can the 5,1 heatsink be used in the 4,1 to allow normal CPUs to be an easier upgrade?
  15. ActionableMango macrumors G3


    Sep 21, 2010
    Some people have upgraded using normal processors and made up for the height difference by putting nylon washers on the heat sink screws as spacers. It sounds tricky though.

    I don't know the answer to your second question, but even if a 5,1 heat sink would work that way, the heat sink is so expensive that you might as well just pay extra for delidded processors in the first place.
  16. mattspace macrumors 6502a


    Jun 5, 2013
    I guess it's reasonably unlikely to do more than one CPU upgrade... Are Intel even making cMP pin-compatible xeons now, or for much longer?
  17. AidenShaw macrumors P6


    Feb 8, 2003
    The Peninsula
    The affordable "supply chain" for 5 to 6 year old Xeon processors is eBay - most of them come from servers that are being eWasted and the recyclers pull the CPUs and RAM to sell at a good price.

    We recently did a lab cleanup - and I sent about 80 dual processor Xeon servers of that vintage to eWaste. Maybe you'll find one of my Xeons on eBay.

    (and you said "cMP pin-compatible xeons" in your post - note that the cheesegraters used several incompatible pin configurations, and that BIOS version issues complicated the matrix - a system with a pin compatible motherboard might not have a BIOS that supports all of the CPUs compatible with that socket)
  18. 996085 macrumors 6502

    Oct 5, 2015
    It could be a 1,1 too. There are a lot of 1,1 2.66GHz systems for sale.
  19. lexR macrumors regular


    Dec 12, 2013
    Apologies you are correct. will edit.
  20. DPUser macrumors 6502a

    Jan 17, 2012
    Only the dual-CPU 4,1s use de-lidded CPUs. Singe CPU is a drop in operation with standard CPU. For duals, you can get de-lidded CPUs or have them de-lidded. Check ebay.
  21. englishman macrumors 6502a


    Nov 6, 2006
    2009 models dirt cheap in UK if you're lucky. Can add GPU or SSD cheaply if you want to boost its performance even more.

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