UPS for Mac Pro? Apple tech suggests not

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by appledog, Apr 14, 2010.

  1. appledog macrumors newbie

    Jun 19, 2006
    I have been using an APC Back-UPS 750 with my Mac Pro quad core since I bought it in 1/08. (I called APC to find a model powerful enough before purchasing). Turns out they told me wrong and the 750 is not powerful enough (during times when the electricity is not steady, the Mac Pro and 26" monitor just loses power immediately and the UPS signals)... they are trying to help me locate the correct model, so I called Apple to get power consumption data. I spoke to a senior tech yesterday and he surprised me by saying that they actually recommend just plugging the Mac Pro directly into the wall rather than a UPS unit (second choice being a good surge-protected power strip).

    Now instead of ordering a new 1300VA or 1500VA UPS, I'm questioning the whole decision.

    Do most people use a UPS unit with the Mac Pro or not? (I'm a graphic designer, just the one monitor and external HD, will add internal HD soon as well.)
  2. Major Reeves macrumors regular

    Jun 24, 2009
    Ofc that 750 VA would be anemic.
    I would suggest getting at least a 1200 VA's sine wave ups.
    Go look for the MGE ellipse premium 1200 or the APC SUA1500.
  3. gotzero macrumors 68040

    Jan 6, 2007
    Mid-Atlantic, US
    I use two APC Smart-UPS SUA-1500s for my personal Mac Pro (one for the machine only, one for all of the peripherals). This is way overkill for most, but I need that system available at all times. One of them would be more than enough in most cases.

    People usually look them up and balk at the price, but if you check around on ebay, you can find corporate pulls for shockingly low prices. I would go for a Smart-UPS series with at least a sine wave approximation if they are in your price range. The SUA ones give you sine wave voltage regulation, a lot of user control, and great peace of mind. I guess the Back-UPS software has improved a lot though, so they would probably be fine.
  4. Transporteur macrumors 68030

    Nov 30, 2008
    I use a Back-UPS 1500 for my octad Mac Pro including 3 displays (30" and two 20") and I never had a single problem with that device. Interaction with OS X works flawlessly and it gives reasonable time to save all your work and shut down the machine properly.

    For my servers I use two older Back-UPS devices and they saved me a lot of trouble. No problems whatsoever.
    Not really garbage if you ask me.
  5. gotzero macrumors 68040

    Jan 6, 2007
    Mid-Atlantic, US
    They must have improved them a lot then. The last time I tried them, the software would not work with a Mac, and once and awhile when I would test it the system would die before the battery kicked in. If it works it works. :)
  6. bearcatrp macrumors 68000

    Sep 24, 2008
    Boon Docks USA
    You don't need the software. I talked to APC about 2 years ago and was told this. Its built in to the OS. As for what size to use, I have the 1300 and the 1500 and both are great units to use. For apple to tell you to NOT use one is irresponsible. Go with the largest you can afford as it will keep you going longer when the power dips.
  7. appledog thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jun 19, 2006
    thanks for the input. THe APS rep was trying to decide if the 1300 would be sufficient for my needs (I found it for $171 w/free 3-day shipping from PC nation)... maybe I should step up to the 1500 to be safe.

    I have not used the software in the past.
  8. fhall1 macrumors 68040


    Dec 18, 2007
    (Central) NY State of mind
    Oh....and since no one else said anything....that "Apple Sr. Tech" is an idiot if he recommends against using a (properly sized) UPS and tells you to just plug into the wall.
  9. iVoid macrumors 65816

    Jan 9, 2007

    Basically, every Mac laptop has a UPS built in (the battery), so there's no reason that Mac Pro can't use a UPS of the right size.
  10. hamlinspahn macrumors regular

    Apr 9, 2010
    Oklahoma City
    UPS size

    The MacPro has a maximum power usage of 1.44KW so the 1300 and 1500 simply don't provide enough power at maximum load on a MacPro, but saying that I use a 1500 and it works fine. Unless your MacPro is fully loaded and I mean fully loaded you aren't getting anywhere close to 1.44KW.
  11. gotzero macrumors 68040

    Jan 6, 2007
    Mid-Atlantic, US
    I have six drives (although two are SSDs), two 2600s, and one 4870 and I pull about 275w at idle and about 500 when really working the system.

    If you are putting a bunch of panels and peripherals on it you could get up there, but the machine itself would be fine on a 1500VA system. How big of a UPS you need kind of depends on whether you want it to shut down nicely or stay up running...
  12. gglockner macrumors 6502


    Nov 25, 2007
    Bellevue, WA
    A UPS is very important. As others have said, it's redundant for a laptop, but essential for a desktop.

    I have a Tripp Lite that I bought at Costco. Works great. I only need it to power the Mac Pro for about 30 seconds until the automatic transfer switch powers up our backup generator. If you don't have a generator, then you should have enough capacity in your UPS to shut down gracefully.

    And as others have said, you don't need software to monitor the UPS - OS X includes this capability. Just connect the UPS to the Mac via USB, configure the settings in the Energy Saver pane of System Preferences, and you're good to go.
  13. wonderspark macrumors 68040


    Feb 4, 2010
    I use an APS 1500 BackUPS on my '09 Mac Pro Quad with four internal HDD RAID, 4870, 22" LCD and 30" ACD, and even with all cores pumping at 100% it has plenty of room to stretch. I'll never use a desktop without a UPS. That Apple tech must have been stoned.
  14. shinji macrumors 65816


    Mar 18, 2007
    Don't know why Apple said that. That's pretty bad advice.

    I'm using an APC UPS.
  15. diazj3 macrumors 6502a

    Jan 19, 2008
    On the issue of a UPS not being recommended, I guess that depends on the electric power quality you get and the level of risk you can take. I agree that's bad advice from Apple in general, specially when their warranty or applecare will not cover damages derived from electric power service incidents.

    If your computer, the function it performs and the data it holds are too important to risk it with the quality of power you get, then by all means get a UPS. The type of UPS will depend - again, on the power quality - your power requirements and your budget.

    First off, decide whether you need a true or a stepped sine wave UPS. SmartUPSs with true sine wave cost about twice as their stepped or simulated sine wave BackUPS counterparts, as they provide better protection and cleaner power to your computer. Also, some Mac Pro users found that stepped sine wave BackUPS couldn't handle the power surge the mac pro uses when starting up or waking from the battery, thus forcing them to switch to the more expensive SmartUPS, or to place a surge protector between the BackUPS and the computer - but this solution was not recommended by APC .

    About the capacity or size of the UPS, I personally wouldn't go for anything under 1300 or 1500 VA - depending on the mac pro you have - for two reasons: a) you also need to consider the display plus any other device you'd need in the future... and b) most important, you must have a good extra margin for the intensity of CPU/GPU use you wish to cover plus the natural decline in capacity the battery will show as time goes by.

    In my case, I got an APC Smart UPS 1500 for my 2009 2.66 Quad w/4 HD, 7GB RAM and the ATI 4870. It cost around $550 usd - a bit expensive, but it has been worth it: brownouts are common, and the power quality and service is not great here. The computer alone can run from battery for about 25 minutes under moderate use. By also plugging in 2x24" displays, the internet router, a powered USB hub, EyeTV250, desktop speakers, and 2 external hard drives, the whole setting will run off battery for about 3-5 minutes... enough time to give power a chance to come back, or to gracefully shut it down. Perhaps this SmartUPS 1500 was overkill, but as the battery naturally looses capacity with time, I will unplug non-critical devices and still have a nice margin with very low risk of harming my data due to bad power service.

    Hope this helped. Cheers!
  16. appledog thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jun 19, 2006
    that is my dilemma now... Back-UPS 1500 or Smart UPS 1500. The APC rep said I need to find out if the Mac Pro power supply is Power Factor Corrected (requiring pure SINE wave) or not... I called another Apple senior tech and he had no idea.

    Our power here is not real stable, and of course we get the occasional thunderstorm. I just want to be able to shut down gracefully and not lose power immediately when the power fluctuates, as is happening now with the 750. I really don't have $500 to spend. Hopefully the Back UPS 1500 will be adequate for that.
  17. jwt macrumors 6502

    Mar 28, 2007
    The 750 ought to work. I have a Cyberpower 685VA supplying power to a Mac Pro with 3 internal HDs, and two monitors (17 and 24 in). It's good for around 13 minutes.

    I will add that I started with a higher rated APC (because of the brand), but it failed on the first power outage (back when I was only running the 17 in display. That's how I ended up with the Cyberpower. It's been great.
  18. diazj3 macrumors 6502a

    Jan 19, 2008
    I went through the same thing, and also made quite an extensive research in different forums. No one seemed to know about the power supply issue, or the reason why some BackUPS were not able to handle the power surge some mac pros draw when waking.

    In the end, I decided to get the SmartUPS to be on the safe side... it's around $4k worth of equipment, plus all my data - some of it very valuable to my work - so I figured spending $550 in power protection was more than worth it. IMO it's reasonable to dedicate 10-15% of the whole setup in power protection... but that's me.

    Perhaps, if you can get an exchange from your vendor, you can try the BackUPS 1500 and see if it works well with your machine. If you get the power surge issue (the UPS gets overpowered by the power surge the mac draws when waking from sleep while running on the battery, and shuts down), try using a surge protector strip between the computer and the BackUPS. Ask APC if that'd be OK if the surge protector strip is also from APC. If none of these solutions work, exchange the BackUPS for a SmartUPS and take the plunge.

  19. appledog thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jun 19, 2006
    the 750 actually worked fine for the first 1.5 years... gave me a few mins to shut down. Now the Mac and monitor go out instantly at the first fluctuation in power. But the tests run by the APC rep say the battery is fine, just overwhelmed/undersized. She said even an undersized unit will sometimes perform for a year until it gets overwhelmed.

    I've heard so many things from Apple and APC that its hard to tell what to believe.

    Great input-- thanks.
  20. nanofrog macrumors G4

    May 6, 2008
    Batteries "wear", which means lower time even though they're functional = passes the tests.
  21. wonderspark macrumors 68040


    Feb 4, 2010
    Well, if it helps, I've had my APS 1500 BackUPS in service during several brownouts over the course of an hour, whereby the lights flickered, and other devices like printers, etc. were going through power-down / power-up cycles due to the brownouts, and my Mac Pro, monitors, etc. showed no signs of struggle whatsoever. I had to ask my girlfriend if she noticed the lights going out, since I wasn't sure what I saw while staring into my monitors, and she said yes, the lights were flickering.

    One of the brown-outs caused the fan on the UPS to kick on for a few seconds, but still, no issue with the Mac, the external HDDs, or the monitors. I was happy about that.
  22. ncc1701d macrumors 6502

    Mar 30, 2008
    On advice from nanofrog, I got the Eaton Ellipse MAX 1500. The size was determined by the company rep I spoke to and she said that putting much more than the computer on to it was not really recommended (after I gave her the specks of my '09 Mac Pro). While it probably could the monitor, speakers etc, not much point in surge protection etc for them.

    BTW, it works perfectly as advertised with the built in Power Management of the Mac Pro, so I don't know what that techie was talking about. I don't expect to be running the machine for hours on it, just long enough to just down without loosing information or frying anything.

  23. Tom Sawyer macrumors 6502a

    Tom Sawyer

    Aug 29, 2007
    That is a very nice UPS... I have used Powerware units for many years (Powerware was bought by Eaton) and one of the things that is so strong about them is that they are "on line" UPS units which means that the inversion circuitry is always active and providing the power so there is no switching latency. This also ensures the power is always 100% clean and of course true sine wave. This is why there is such a big price differential between units like these, APC Smart UPS (true sine) and the stuff you see at Best Buy and Sams. If you unplug your UPS and let your computer/monitor run on the UPS for a bit, just listen to the sound coming out of the PSU on the computer and other items such as screen... if you have a true sine wave UPS you'll not hear a peep but if not you'll get a buzz at the least all the way up to a pretty scary howling noise.

    FWIW, I have two Powerware Precision series UPS's at the office that, no kidding are from 1997 and they still function perfectly. They have gone through a couple sets of batteries, but they are built like tanks and then some. Just opening them up is awe inspiring... HUGE coils, caps etc. I would suspect the Eaton gear is of the same caliber.
  24. RebootD macrumors 6502a


    Jan 27, 2009
    NW Indiana
  25. nanofrog macrumors G4

    May 6, 2008
    Due to cost reasons, these are more common than the models the generate true sine wave outputs.

    But some equipment doesn't like the stepped sine wave output, and you get a noise (power's out and the equipment is running off of the batteries) that will scare the crap out of you. :eek: And it can damage the equipment. :(

    The true online units such as the APC Smart UPS won't do this (in such an event). But you also pay for it. But when you look at the cost of the equipment (workstations and server class systems, which the MP is) and the service life of a true online unit, it's worth having if at all possible. But you won't usually be able to find them locally, and certainly not WalMart, Sam's,... locations. (There will be battery changes over the years, but they're not actually all that bad, especially when compared to the cost of the unit; say ~1/6th unit MSRP or so).

Share This Page