Used Mac Pro 2.8- newbie question

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by expat42451, Apr 26, 2014.

  1. expat42451 macrumors regular

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    #1
    I have been doing pretty extensive reading here over the last week or so.The level of expertise is great and for that I thank the forum.

    For the last 2 years I have been backpacking in South America with a late 2011 13"MacBookPro. I have gone to ground in Quito Ecuador and will be here for a while.

    Since I am in one place I want to learn to improve my coding skills by trying to build a few apps for OSX. I also want off the laptop as well due to screen and keyboard size. Computers here are 30-50% more expensive than in the US- this is the reason I have been looking at used equipment.

    A graphics shop has a used 2008 MacPro 2.8 with 5 GB of RAM. I know that new hardware would be better but considering costs, used seems to be the way to go. I also think the 2.8 would be more than powerful enough to do what I want- but what might be the major drawbacks of using this machine to write and debug code and applications ?

    As a final note, I ve done a bit of systems administration, hardware repair and have built quite a few systems from scratch over the years. I remember when I bought the MacBookPro-my first Mac-I bought more memory for it- and the first time I opened it up how impressed I was with the build quality. The Mac hardware I have seen is a thing of beauty compared to what else is available- I ve got to admit this is another consideration as well.

    Thanks for the read.

    Expat
     
  2. Macsonic macrumors 65816

    Macsonic

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    #2
    Hi Expat42451. Glad to know you've been reading thru the forum. The 2008 Mac Pro can be adequate for your coding dev tasks, it's a good computer. Though if you can shop for a 2009 Mac Pro, that would be better. I know budget is a factor, a 4.1 2009 2.93ghz quad or 8 core 2.26ghz would be fine. If you decide to go for the 2008 machine, it's recommended you add more ram and if the Mac Pro comes with the default Radeon 2600XT, better to upgrade the video card too.
     
  3. expat42451 thread starter macrumors regular

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    #3
    Hi Macsonic

    So far have not been able to find anything else here except for a couple of newer machines for quite a bit more money. Equipment here- new or used is expensive to the point where its breathtaking.

    Thanks for the recommendations on the RAM and video card. Am going to look at the machine Monday. Will post how things turn out and any other questions.

    Regards from Quito and thanks for the reply-

    Expat
     
  4. prestonkd macrumors member

    prestonkd

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    #4
    I have the 8-core 3.0Ghz version of that Mac Pro. It is indeed a very powerful computer and still holds its own. I use mine for video editing and web design. I have the upgraded video card and 18GB of RAM. You will definitely want more RAM. One other thing about the RAM. The RAM for this version of the Mac Pro is still more expensive than the ones that came after it for some reason. You might want to factor that into your budget depending on how much you would want to add. Also, it is meant to be installed in even numbers of matched sticks. There are two RAM trays. There is a specific way that it is recommended to match the RAM on the upper and lower trays. I can't think of what it is off hand or why it is best but that can easily be found. You shouldn't really have an odd number of RAM as it is not possible to match them and end up with an odd number.
     
  5. NOTNlCE macrumors 6502a

    NOTNlCE

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    #5
    When we say that "the RAM is more expensive," it is often more expensive for higher density modules. For example, I purchased 16GB of DDR2 FB-DIMMs (the ram that the 06-08 Mac Pros use) for just over $40 on eBay. That being said, they were all 2GB DIMMs and occupy every RAM slot in my computer. If you were to ever want MORE than 16GB, that's when it becomes expensive. 4GB sticks cost HUGELY more than 2GB sticks, though if you really only need 16GB, getting 8 2GB sticks is actually relatively inexpensive.
     
  6. expat42451, Apr 26, 2014
    Last edited: Apr 26, 2014

    expat42451 thread starter macrumors regular

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    #6
    Hi Prestonkd and Notnice

    thanks for the additional information very much. I read earlier that RAM cost was an issue. The machine currently has 2 ea 2 GB sticks and 2 ea 512's in it (I think) for the 5 GB. I have no idea which video card is installed.

    A question-in this vintage of the Mac Pro is there anything to watch out for i.e. any common component failure points? I read somewhere here that there were problems with Bluetooth but a quick, and from a performance standpoint-superior- fix was to plug in a Bluetooth dongle and continue on. Aside from opening the case to see if everything appears in order- and to get a look at the graphics card- is there anything else to be aware of? Presumably I will be able to sit down and play with the machine for a bit- any site to go to or diagnostic to run?

    Thanks

    Expat

    edit- the owner indicated this had a pair of the 2.8 quad core Xeons in it so a total of 8 cores...definitely more RAM!
     
  7. pertusis1 macrumors 6502

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    #7
    I would think that under the circumstances, this is a decent computer. Just get a total of 8 * 2 GB, which should be plenty of RAM for what you're doing. I am not aware of any regular component failures in this particular machine.
     
  8. prestonkd macrumors member

    prestonkd

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    #8
    Mine has never given me a moments trouble. I use it every day. Only thing I can think of as far as a visual inspection is to just see how much dust and whatever else is in there. It would just give you a general idea of how well it was treated unless of course the shop cleaned it up! If it only has one hard drive installed, you should make sure you've got the drive sleds for the other slots or else you'll have to buy them.
     
  9. expat42451 thread starter macrumors regular

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    #9
    pertusis1 &prestonkd

    Many thanks for the information- this is what I was looking for.

    Hopefully some time next week I will be off the laptop.


    Expat
     
  10. Macsonic macrumors 65816

    Macsonic

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    #10
    Go for this 2008 Mac Pro given your current budget. I used to have a 2008 Mac Pro too and ran perfect. Never had a problem except my DVD drive conk out. Otherwise it was working well. My nephew nagged me repeatedly to sell the 2008 Mac Pro to him even though I was hesistant to let go of this. For maintenance, just keep the interior, the ram riser cards as clean as possible.
     
  11. m4v3r1ck macrumors 68020

    m4v3r1ck

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    #11
    Well said! Still using my MP 3.1 since 2008 and it's still my best 'investment' in computer hardware. As mentioned, do your maintenance on a regular basis and it will prove being a great buy, even after 6 years... :cool:
     
  12. expat42451 thread starter macrumors regular

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    #12
    Thanks for the excellent information. I m looking forward to seeing the machine Monday and getting some hands on with it.


    Expat
     
  13. m4v3r1ck macrumors 68020

    m4v3r1ck

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    #13
    Exciting indeed. Keep us posted on your updates and -grades! Always glad to help ;)

    Cheers
     
  14. Macsonic macrumors 65816

    Macsonic

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    #14
    Thanks and hope you're having a good weekend. When the 2008 Mac Pro was launched years ago I made an all out effort in saving up for months. It was a joy using that machine. I think this was one of the most popular model as most of the users I met or have worked are using 2008 Mac Pro :)
     
  15. expat42451 thread starter macrumors regular

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    #15
    Looked at the machine today. Perfect- interior is completely clean, no dust, no scratches anywhere on the case, Apple 20"DVI cinema display is also perfect. They are asking $1500 for the machine, the Apple keyboard and the monitor. Bearing in mind that computer equipment is high as hell here I think this is way out of line. The owner did say they would consider a reasonable offer but I don't have a good feel for what that is given this is Ecuador and given the age of the machine. I had the opportunity to play on it a bit- it is in use in their office- and it certainly is quick, monitor is beautiful as well but I didn't do any benchmarking. It is running Mavericks 10.9.2. and does have the original graphics card-the HD 2600XT. The only non standard part was the optical drive has been replaced. The current owner is the original owner and they replaced the optical drive when the original drive kacked.

    Any comments on the price would be appreciated. Damn it is pretty.....need to fight this pretty hardware desire......

    Regards

    Expat
     
  16. RoastingPig macrumors 68000

    RoastingPig

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    #16
    woah thats a 2008 3.1 model...cut the cord on that deal immediately..thats a 6 year old computer thats very slow compared to whats out now. that monitor is worth id say 150-200 and the computer is worth id say 500-600
     
  17. m4v3r1ck macrumors 68020

    m4v3r1ck

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  18. adam9c1 macrumors 65816

    adam9c1

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    #18
    The thing is he is in South America. Pricing may be different there than in US.

    I sat if machine looks clean and he is able to test, and pricing is within what is comparable go for it.
     
  19. goMac macrumors 603

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    #19
    It's still a pretty good machine for coding, although with the hard drives they can drag a bit. I run mine with a RAID and Xcode will still choke every so often. I don't know what SSD prices are like in your part of the world, but that might be a good secondary investment.

    The 2008 can still run the most recent version of OS X, but keep in mind Xcode usually has very high OS requirements. Xcode 5 (which is required for development of store apps now), requires 10.8, and some features are 10.9 only. The only thing I'd worry about is if Apple ever drops the 2008 from their supported list, you're going to be cut off from development tools.

    A second thing to consider is a new-newish Mac Mini might be a better option, especially if you can get an SSD in that. A 2008 Mac Pro has no real advantage over one of the newer minis with an SSD, and the Mini is likely to stay current longer.
     
  20. ashman70 macrumors 6502a

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    #20
    It's really about supply and demand isn't it? Sure back in the US or even here in Canada that machine would go for maybe $3-500 without the monitor and depending on the RAM and video card. Down in South America its a hot item, any apple computer would be regardless of its age, can you imagine what a Mac Pro 1,1 would go for? If this is all the OP can find that suits his needs, what choice does he have? Make an offer, but the seller surely knows that no one else has a machine like this, so why would he accept much less then what he's asking?
     
  21. NOTNlCE macrumors 6502a

    NOTNlCE

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    #21
    If I recall from reading above, I believe the system as 5 gigs of RAM in 2x2GB and 2x512MB arrangements. So, nothing special. Though I also am not familiar with the South American markets, so I would check and see what comparable machines are going for. I do like the Mini suggestion, that would be a great substitute if OP could find one at a cheaper price.
     
  22. expat42451 thread starter macrumors regular

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    #22
    Thanks to all of you for the interest- The machine has the dual 4 core 2.8G Xeons, 5 Gb of RAM, the HD 2600 graphics card, bluetooth (functional) and it also appears not to have the WiFi installed (not a problem for me).It has the a WD 1 TB drive. The $1500 is asking price for the machine, display and keyboard-- the owner has had the machine for sale for 4- 5 months with-other than questions, no offers.

    I am going to guess that a Mac Mini here is going to be the better part of $2500 new from the store maybe including some sort of monitor, depending on the options, but I do not know this. Have been to Mac shop here just to look- I bought this machine- a 13" MBP with the I5 and a 500 GB spinning drive and 4 GB of RAM (since upgraded to 8GB) in 2012 in the US for around $1100. A comparable MBP here a couple of months ago was as I recall a little over $2000 at the distributor. Same 13" screen, spinning drive, same processor, and 4 GB RAM. Enough to make you swallow your tongue.

    Being cut off from X Code would defeat part of the purpose for buying the machine unless there were hacks. I would have to go back to the laptop which well- wouldn't work well at all. There is a 12 core MP 5.1 with 12 GB of RAM, the 2.4 Xeons, a 1 TB drive on Mercado Libre-and they are asking $4100 without anything else. Other than that, thats it. The owner of the machine I looked at today has one of the Mac Pro 1.1's as well, but is asking $1200.

    So I am undecided at this point- whether to even make an offer or not. It is a beautiful machine- looks well maintained but it is 6 years old.Problems are with me being in Ecuador, getting a machine shipped here and what duties might be charged. I am going to go by Migracion tomorrow and ask them about this out of curiosity. To ship a letter from the US to here in Ecuador 3 day service costs $200 for the package service! I can not imagine what a computer and monitor might cost.

    Another consideration is the market here for computers, particularly used ones. Everyone lives very very close to the bone..... most Ecuadorians, even in Quito aren't going to spend $1500 for a computer, let alone used. I am thinking if I decide to do this take the guy $800 in cash and maybe consider as much as $1 K but I am not at all sure at this point. He has had the machine on the market for a while and they are using it in their office..... The pros- like the owner of this one who has a graphics business will pay whatever is necessary to get the equipment to get the job done- however I believe given the economics here that there is much less of a market for this stuff used. I also went by a computer shop I know today and priced memory. 4GB- $50. I read earlier here in the forum about buying it in 2GB sticks and it being a lot less expensive-the machine currently has 2 ea 2's, 2 ea 512's and 4 empties. If I decide to try to go ahead with this the first couple of things I will do is dump the 512's and populate the 6 slots with 2's depending on price plus install an SSD and use the 1TB for archival. Still have not decided. The biggest thing bothers me currently is loosing support for the 2008.

    Again thanks. Going to look around tomorrow to see what is available mini wise- I did just find a someone in Mercado Libre listing a used mini, he says "latest version", I7, 5400RPM 1TB drive, 4 GB RAM asking $1000 without anything else...... I also understand if working a mini hard, heat can be a big problem because of the size.

    Comments, criticisms, slap me around to help me with sanity.

    Expat
     
  23. NOTNlCE macrumors 6502a

    NOTNlCE

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    #23
    Hi Expat,

    If you can get the seller down to that 800 or 1K price mark, that is a hugely better deal. Even in the US, many 3,1s are still going for $800+, computer alone. As far as futureproofing goes, I would imagine that there will be hacks. Most recently, Tiamo's boot.efi allows 1,1s and 2,1s to run Mavericks (quite flawlessly, too.) I wouldn't be too concerned about that, at least not yet. I wouldn't go near that 1,1 - even with the hacks, the 3,1 is a better buy in your position, plus it needs an upgraded GPU to run Mavericks. It sounds like the 3,1 is going to be the MOST power for your $, I would see if you can bring down the price before looking around.

    Good luck with your search. Keep us posted.
    -N
     
  24. expat42451 thread starter macrumors regular

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    #24
    Hi Notnice

    Thanks for the reply. I read the entire thread on Tiamo's boot efi with a lot of interest. Understood about the future proofing- hopefully there will be a few hacks at whatever point Mac decides to drop the 2008 (10.10? hopefully not!).

    I also want something that I can run one of the Nux's on dual boot as well. I tried to dual boot both Deb and Ubuntu on this machine when I bought it but with efi its a lot more difficult- had no luck with it at all.

    One worry is always component age and failure but given how it looks like this machine has been cared for by the original owner plus reading pretty extensively here on the forum, it looks like there are going to be pieces and parts around for a while. Id much rather have the newer 12 core just from a longevity standpoint but I don't need that much power and am not going to spend $4K on a machine right now.

    Just a beautiful machine!! I went from a box I built 4 years ago and then sold before I left the US 2 years ago- an I7 EVGA/Nvidia mb with 12 GB of RAM, a pair of Nvidia cards on PCIe and 4 22" Samsung monitors...to this laptop...so the 20" Apple monitor sure looked great today after 13" for everything for a couple of years......think thats distorting my judgement?


    Regards :)

    Expat
     
  25. expat42451, May 2, 2014
    Last edited: May 2, 2014

    expat42451 thread starter macrumors regular

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    #25
    This may be thread creep but its an update on the saga in Ecuador. I still have not purchased the 2008. I have discovered another Pro, this one appears to be a mid 2012 w/ 8 GB of 1066 DDR3 ECC RAM, only a single quad core Xeon 3.2, the Radeon 5770 w/ 1 GB of RAM, a 1 TB spinning drive with Airport and Bluetooth. Asking price is $2500 I am g onna guess $2K may buy it. Apple Care until November 2014. No accessories, no monitor nothing else but the machine. Better buy than the dual quad 2008 for say 1K -$1200 with the monitor? More RAM, less expensive memory and a much newer machine.

    Another part of the saga-I have been to a dozen shops here in Quito, some of them large multi location business- and NONE of them have SSD's. Additionally I only have found one shop with the memory for the 2008. I am going to buy one of these machines next week, just have not decided which yet. Again asking the experts here to please recommend. I am prone to buy the newer of the two although it will be more expensive in the long run.

    Regards to all. Have a great weekend

    Expat

    Addition- using the Everymac.com comparison tool comparing the 2008 dual Xeon to the 2012 single Xeon I find that the benchmarks published show the 2012 machine about equal or very slightly better in all categories with the exception of the Geekbench3 MC64 . I found this surprising. However one thing to note is the 2012 machine was supposedly tested with 6 GB RAM while under the same test supposedly the 2008 dual machine only was only loaded with 2 GB of RAM.
     

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