What to do with my 5,1?

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by smirk, Apr 9, 2018.

  1. smirk macrumors 6502a


    Jul 18, 2002
    Orange County, CA
    I have a Mac Pro 5,1 (2.8 quad core) that somebody gave me, and I'm not really sure what to do with it. Just for kicks and to play with it, I removed the RAID card (cause it wasn't needed and wouldn't recognize large drives) and installed an SSD and a fresh install of macOS. It runs fine, but certainly not faster than my late-2015 iMac.

    I know the Mac Pro has a loyal following, but I'm not a graphic designer or anything like that. Is there any real point in keeping it, or would this maybe be a good time to sell it, before the new 2019 Mac Pro comes out and the prices of the old ones drop?

    The only use I could see for it would be to give my wife her own Mac, and so moving our Photos library from the shared iMac to this Mac Pro. That would mean buying a new hard drive (our photo library is almost 1TB) and a 4K display. It does have the original video card in it; maybe upgrading that would make it "snappier", too. If I did all this, I guess my concern is that in a year or two it wouldn't be able to run the then-current macOS, which we'd want since she mostly uses the Mac for working with photos so we'd want the latest Photos.app features.

    What do you guys think? At what point do you stop pumping more money into an old computer and just buy something new? I don't really need a second Mac desktop, but if it were a few years newer I'd probably totally put it to use in our household without a second thought. I think the fear of it becoming obsolete (from the POV of macOS) makes me not want to use it, even though it's a great machine.

    Thanks for any advice!
  2. ActionableMango macrumors G3


    Sep 21, 2010
    If you don't need it, I'd normally say "sell it". However, that's a little bit weird/rude since its a gift.

    You could repurpose it as a file server with lots of large drives. It could store your photos and other media, have backup drives, and be a destination for Time Machine backups of your main computers. Since it wouldn't be a main computer itself, if OS support fell behind it wouldn't matter that much because it will still work as a file server just fine.

    Added bonus if a main computer goes down, you have a decent working, very capable backup computer.
  3. singhs.apps, Apr 9, 2018
    Last edited: Apr 9, 2018

    singhs.apps macrumors 6502

    Oct 27, 2016
    If, as you say, someone gave it to you, it’s essentially free, yes ?

    There are two (ok three ) concerns apparently :
    1: it might become obsolete once the nMP comes ( whenever that maybe but for now the official word is 2019)
    - this you have already mentioned.
    2 : cost incurred to make the unit functional ( graphic card, external monitor, hard disk)
    3 : potentially loss of profit from reselling such a system later down the road if concern no.1 comes to pass.
    - this likely is your real concern.

    Even if the nMP comes along, the cMP will at most be frozen at the then macOS version (before it is retired from support by Apple ) That version will still be a functional system.

    The graphic card is the only investment that may be an issue if you are worried if upgrading this system is worth it. The monitor and the hard disk can be easily repurposed for other systems. Even the GPU can be repurposed thanks to eGPUs ( you can plug that in the newer system for extra compute power ( if that is your thing )

    In the intervening time, you will have gotten a good usage of this system before any of your concerns come to pass. And it will still be a functional system if and when the nMP is revealed.
  4. smirk thread starter macrumors 6502a


    Jul 18, 2002
    Orange County, CA
    Hey, thanks for the ideas!

    @ActionableMango, I already have a file server that does everything we need and probably sips electricity compared to this Mac Pro, but that was a good thought.

    @singhs.apps, good points. I think my aversion to using the system is a combination of concerns #1 and #3. There is something off-putting to me about the thought of spending the time and effort to set up a system, then after a year not being able to upgrade to the latest macOS. And then either replacing it with an iMac or going back to sharing my existing iMac, both of which obviate the purchased display and hard drive. But you have a point, until then we'll have gotten use of the system and won't be fighting over who gets to use the iMac. :)

    Since the Mac Pro is so upgradeable, do you suppose it will be hacked to run versions of macOS that wouldn't otherwise support it? This has been done with other systems, but usually the experience is less than great. But the Mac Pro might be different in that regard.

    Looks like I have some thinking to do.
  5. Darmok N Jalad macrumors 65816

    Darmok N Jalad

    Sep 26, 2017
    If you dropped in a 6-core Xeon like the W3690 or X5690, you'd see a pretty substantial jump in CPU power. You're looking at 2 extra cores and a 600MHz+ performance advantage per core over the 2.8GHz Xeon you have. I have a base iMac 2017 27" with the i5-7500, and it's about on-par with the old W3690 cMP that I had before it. It's roughly $100 for the CPU. With a modern GPU, the cMP is still a very competent machine. The SATA II interface is a limitation, but you can get PCIe cards to work around that, though it's not really necessary as long as you upgrade to an SSD.

    If nothing else, the cMPs are still pretty desirable on eBay. You could probably get $350-400 for it, more if it's still in really good cosmetic shape.
  6. singhs.apps macrumors 6502

    Oct 27, 2016
    Have you considered getting an rMBP if you decide to replace the cMP later down the road ? All three investments ( monitor, HDD, GPU )can be easily repurposed for usage with that system..and it would mobile to boot.... that you or wifey can use while traveling without sacrificing much power (rMBPs are surprisingly nifty )

    For your other question, I cannot satisfactorily answer that, but rest assured a LOT of people would be in the same boat. Someone might find a way.

Share This Page