When to upgrade: Business owner question

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by AppleDroid, May 9, 2013.

  1. AppleDroid macrumors 6502a

    Apr 10, 2011
    When I opened my business in 2009 I had a very tight budget. I picked up the cheapest 2.66 MP, 8GB of OEM RAM and put two WD 1TB Black drives in RAID 0 and it's worked well enough. Picked up a used GTX285 a year later and it's still being used today. (That GT120 was a PoS)

    Now in 2013 my business has grown, my needs have drastically changed (Print/web design to more 5DMIII editing in Lightroom and After Effects animations), Applecare has expired and now my system costing me money at this point. Today my Page Ins are 20,500,000 Page Outs 35,000,000.

    So my question is to other business owners: Is it worth it to just add more RAM/SSD/GFX Cards on a machine you can no longer depreciate and is OoW? I could spend $1k on upgrades and pray that a 2013 Mac Pro comes out that I can just move drives over to but right now there's no news.

    Just like many it's a very frustrating time to want/need to upgrade a Mac Pro. Any thoughts welcome.
  2. Bwa macrumors 6502

    Jun 20, 2007
    Boston & San Jose
    I use my Mac Pro to make money. I upgraded from a 2008 to a "2012" last October because the 2008 was holding me back / slowing me down. It was a worthwhile upgrade; CPU heavy tasks are much faster on the 12 core for what I do. Also I was running out of ram with only 32 gb in the old machine.

    When new machines come out, my old 2012 won't suddenly become slower. Mi will probably upgrade--so I bought the 2.4 ghz, since I view it as a throwaway machine that I will sell quickly....assuming something reasonable comes out.

    That's how I looked at it.
  3. overanalyzer macrumors 6502a

    Sep 7, 2007
    Boston, MA USA
    After eking out an extra 2 years or so out of an old computer before upgrading, I've since realized that the performance difference of a newer computer easily pays for the new hardware, at least for my usage. If, like with my business, your computers are directly affecting how much client work you can take on, it's not hard to offset the cost of upgrading regularly. If you're doing it as more of a side thing that doesn't make much revenue, you might be in a different boat, though.

    So in the case of waiting for the Mac Pro, you might do something like Bwa suggested, and just buy twice.
  4. CaptainChunk macrumors 68020


    Apr 16, 2008
    Phoenix, AZ
    Page-outs of that magnitude are indicative of not having enough RAM. 8GB is really the bare minimum these days for running professional applications.

    For example, After Effects loves RAM; it loves RAM a lot (I can't emphasize that enough). On the newer 64-bit versions (CS5 and above), this is the general rule of thumb:

    1. 2GB needs to be reserved to the system. On an 8GB machine, that leaves you with 6GB for AE (and every other associated Adobe CS application running alongside it).

    2. AE treats each thread as a "core", meaning that it will see 8 "cores" on a quad-core Nehalem processor (due to Hyper Threading). For optimal performance, you want at least 2GB of RAM assigned to each "core". IIRC, the minimum is 0.75GB per "core". Obviously, with 6GB available to AE, you won't be able to use all those cores without starving them of memory. Based on my experience, you'll get much faster renders from AE by using less cores with more RAM assigned to each one.

    And of course, none of the above really accounts for multitasking; those other apps need RAM, too. Fortunately, RAM for 2009 and newer machines is pretty cheap. In your situation, I'd start with the RAM and perhaps upgrade the boot drive to an SSD (for faster OS and app load time). You can bump up to 32GB of RAM and a 256GB Samsung 840 Pro SSD for $600 or less and you'd notice a dramatic difference in performance.

    Beyond that, 2009/4,1 machines can be upgraded to hex-core (W3580) chips with a simple firmware flash. The chip is about $500-600 new, though.
  5. TheEasterBunny macrumors 6502

    Jan 22, 2013
    I love what Captain Chunk has to say about the RAM on a per core basis, makes things simple.
    To the OP, you do realize that the logic board you have in your 09, is the same as the MP 2012, right?
    The only difference is the firmware updates, the processors, and RAM.
    Buying a newer MP, would be the same as updating the one you have. Technically speaking, however if you can buy a 2012, with all the bells and whistles for less than all the upgrades to make yours the same specs, then that would make more sense, if not, then the upgrades do. If you see what I mean.
  6. Tesselator macrumors 601


    Jan 9, 2008
    Yes, it's absolutely worth it! I recommend 24GB to 32GB for $250 to $350 and either a used GTX570 for $100 to $150 or ML10.8.3 and a GTX670 for $300 to $400.

    You can maximize the effectiveness of the RAM you have now and that you might upgrade to by turning off some of the OS X mechanisms which steals that effectiveness and slows down your system in order to do senseless and needless conditioning and "housekeeping". One of the safest and easiest to switch off is the dynamic paging system. This is accomplished via a simple console command and it can be reversed just as simply:

    Turn it off be entering:

    • sudo launchctl unload -w /System/Library/LaunchDaemons/com.apple.dynamic_pager.plist
    followed by a reboot. And you can turn it on again with:

    • sudo launchctl load -wF /System/Library/LaunchDaemons/com.apple.dynamic_pager.plist
    again followed by a reboot. I've been running in 10.7.5 with it off for the pass some months with sever different amounts of RAM (from 12GB to 32GB) and the whole system is much more responsive with it off.

  7. AppleDroid thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Apr 10, 2011
    Thanks for the detail that helps. My first option was to pick up 16-24GB of memory and an OWC SSD for the boot drive. I just wasn't sure if the cpu was going to be the new bottleneck. I as for a processor upgrade that's not something I feel comfortable doing as I have read some horror stories about the 09 models.

    Never heard of that trick but good to know. And the gfx cards you mentioned are they windows cards flashed?
  8. Tesselator macrumors 601


    Jan 9, 2008
    No flashing needed if you don't want. Just insert the card and it works. :)

    The only caveat is that you don't get a boot screen if you're in the habit of holding down the Option key while booting. Instead you have to use a free utility to recapture that functionality.

    If that's not acceptable to you for some reason then you have the option of flashing the card with an EFI based bios.

    At least this is how I understand it. I'm about to try it for myself in the next few days when my 570 card arrives. :)
  9. phrehdd macrumors 68040


    Oct 25, 2008
    If upgrades to your present system will handle your workload then talk to your accountant about the additions and what is considered a tax deduction on those added parts. If/when you get a new system later, this system can be used as a back up or a second station etc. It could also serve as a dedicated machine for specific tasks (FTP for clients etc.).

    Depreciation and deductions is something to consider.
  10. johnnnw macrumors 65816


    Feb 7, 2013
    You need a lot a lot more RAM.

    That will drastically increase performance considering your page outs.

    I'd wait until a refresh, it's got to be coming soon.
  11. AppleDroid, May 11, 2013
    Last edited: May 11, 2013

    AppleDroid thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Apr 10, 2011
    Thanks and that is my thinking. I always wanted to start ripping all of my DVD/BR discs for a home server :D

    I am strongly leaning towards 24GB memory + 256 SSD for the boot drive. I figure it's a $600 hold me over until, or if, they release new models. At least the SSD can move with it. (Ram would be wash)
  12. AppleDroid thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Apr 10, 2011
    Round Up

    Looking at:

    24GB Memory upgrade OWC
    256GB Samsung 840 Pro (boot)
    128GB Samsung 840 Pro (Scratch)
    Keep 2x 1TB WD Black RAID 0 (data)

    I figure the 840Pro are overkill for my Sata II system but hopefully when a 2013 model is released I can just migrate them over without issue.
  13. brand macrumors 601


    Oct 3, 2006
    Since you said data I fixed it for you.
  14. applegeek897 macrumors regular

    Aug 23, 2011
    Doing things like after effects upgrading to a 6 core would be a huge help, also putting something like a GTX670 well help dure to the cuda cores. Put at least 16GB of ram in for me thats the sweet spot for what I do (ALOT of Lightroom)

    When i had the standard 3GB's of ram and using Lightroom it was hopeless but after putting 16GB in it is just flawless.

    I think do it if you can, you are running a business and waiting for the new thing is costing you, you'll save in the long run by spending more now and then also getting the new machine later.

    Things the get: Intel W5680, Min 16GB Ram, Min 2 Raid 0 SSD, GTX 670
  15. xDeLiRiOuSx macrumors newbie

    Dec 19, 2010
    24GB Ram upgrade will help you a lot.

    By the way, I sent you a Private Message.
  16. echoout macrumors 6502a

    Aug 15, 2007
    Austin, Texas
    I've stated it on here before, but I was in a crunch last Fall (on some Premiere/AE/AME/C4D work) and ran to the Apple Store to get a 12-core which I loaded up with SSDs, RAM, PCIe SSD RAID, GTX 570 and some other stuff. I was sorely disappointed by the lack of performance gains over my past 2008 MP and my current MBP. I'm sure the lower clock speeds of the instock model weren't helping but it only felt like a difference when rendering out of C4D and when dealing with particle systems in AE.

    So I sold it as soon as that job was over and have two Windows workstations in queue. I will wait out WWDC and then I'm buying something. I have some jobs coming up and just can't wait anymore.
  17. ApfelKuchen macrumors 68030

    Aug 28, 2012
    Between the coasts
    For all intents and purposes, there is no depreciation for an item of this cost (in the sense that depreciation spreads the deduction on capital investments over several years) . You/your accountant can write a computer off in the first year (Section 179 of the US tax code). So, whether you add RAM and an SSD (parts that can be deducted as ordinary expenses), or buy a new Mac, it can all be deducted in the first year. So, do you need a bigger deduction or a smaller deduction?

    Bottom line for any deduction is that it only matters if you have a profit that needs to be reduced by that deduction, and since the tax on that money will always be lower than than the total sum (let's say 30% for argument's sake) - there's no point to spending $1 just to save $0.30 in taxes (except, perhaps, to spite the government). A wise deduction is something that moves the business forward at the same time that it reduces your tax bill.

    . If spending more on a faster/more capable computer is going to be more profitable (increased efficiency, new capabilities and services, ability to take on additional work, etc.), the sooner you get it, the more you'll profit. If the new equipment would have little material impact on the bottom line, then spending less (buying parts) to get a similar performance boost will leave you with more cash in the bank.

    Just keep in mind that you're putting parts into an older machine, so you have to look at whether you'll recover that cost before you have to buy a new machine anyway.
  18. AppleDroid thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Apr 10, 2011
    Thanks for the replies. I opted for 24GB Ram + 256GB 840 Pro SSD, keeping my 2TB of RAID 0 and an extra 128GB SSD for lightroom/PSD. This should hopefully hold me over until the end of the year. I hear you about the 6c I just don't trust that i'm not going to ruin something in the process!

    Perfect sense and thanks. Right now I'm losing money by wasting time on waiting for my machine switching between apps like Lightroom, Photoshop and After Effects not to mention my Page Outs always 50% higher than Page Ins. I think for now the $675 I invested will be made up in two months easy.

    Now fingers crossed for a beefy Mac Pro update sometime this year right?
  19. mr1970 macrumors member

    Feb 15, 2008
    RAM will make a huge difference. I picked up a 2010 dual 2.4 with base factory spec (6gb, 1tb), added 8 x 4gb ECC REG sticks from eBay and a 256gb Kingston SSD. Total cost under 300 USD (the RAM was 10gbp / 15 usd a stick) and haven't seen a page out in 2 months.

    I was pleasantly surprised how cheap ex-server memory was on eBay to be honest, because its pretty expensive new.

    From here it all gets more expensive - my options are a pcie ssd, a new graphics card or faster processors (potentially 12 core) but I'd recommend ssd and ram as a quick fix
  20. phrehdd macrumors 68040


    Oct 25, 2008
    What you stated is right on the money. The 6 core seems to be the ideal as there are no diminished returns that are seen on the 12 core etc. 16-24 gigs for most purposes work well and more for certain apps has excellent returns.

    I think Digi-Lloyd discusses for Photoshop the ideal ratio of power/cost.
  21. AppleDroid thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Apr 10, 2011
    I did everything but the CPU upgrade (for now) and man what a difference. The stock Apple HDD capped at 70MB/s using the Black Magic app while my 840 Pro is at 256MB/S read and write. Amazing difference in booting/switching apps.

    Also for the first time I did a power session with Lightroom/Photoshop and had 0 page outs.
  22. snberk103 macrumors 603

    Oct 22, 2007
    An Island in the Salish Sea
    Lots of good advice above, and I note you chose a good upgrade. However, I am going to suggest you also buy a 'new' refurbed system. There is one currently on for $1880 (though it's not a great system, tbh).

    What is missing in a lot of the advice above is that you are in business, and that you rely on a single system it seems.

    Your AppleCare has expired. The next repair may cost you the price of most of a new system anyway. Plus, it sounds like your business is dependent on that single machine. My suggestion is to bite the bullet, and get a 'new' MacPro, and put the 3 year AppleCare on it (you have up to a year, so you can spend the AppleCare money later). At this point you know that you don't have to budget for a new machine or a major repair for 3 years.

    You have two options with the old MacPro. Sell it to help with the cost of the new MacPro, or keep it around as a backup. If your main system has to go in for repairs, you can simply move the HDDs from the one to the other and keep working. If the repair takes a week.... what do you care? You are working for the week.

    If you don't have a backup computer, and your system goes in for repairs for a week - how much money will you lose? I suspect it will be far more than the cost of having a backup system.

    Ask yourself, how long can you be without a computer in case it breaks?

    I retired my 2008 for a refurbed 2012 a year after the AppleCare expired. I use the 2008 still to tether my camera to - but only because I have it available. Almost anything would have fulfilled that task.

    That's the way I thought, and am thinking too.
  23. DPUser macrumors 6502a

    Jan 17, 2012
    Your machine will probably last for years. Just make sure you have a good backup strategy; with redundant cloned startup and Time Machine drives, if your Mac dies you can pick up a new one and be back in business within a couple of hours.

    By the way, the hex upgrade on the single-processor 2009 Mac Pros is a piece of cake... the dual processor upgrade is the one that has the pitfalls. And you need a W3680 or 3690 on the single processor machines, not the much more expensive 5xxx series
  24. phrehdd macrumors 68040


    Oct 25, 2008
    I had an older quad Mac Pro that pretty much had everything upgraded but the CPU. The upgrades made quite a huge difference. Some nice drives for older Mac Pros - SSD (Samsung Pro series or OWC), Western Digital Velociraptors (striped together) and a few select models of typical 7200 drives that are striped together.

    Given that 4 or more drives can fit in the MP, it isn't too hard to use striped drives and have one large drive internally as a clone/back up drive for the other 3 or 4 drives. Just remember, that the larger the drives (volumes) the more data can be lost upon a crash. Also backups and copying would be longer for restores etc.
  25. AppleDroid thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Apr 10, 2011
    You pretty much summed up my system. 246GB 840 Pro as boot, 2x 1TB WD Black in RAID 0, 128GB 840 PRO as my scratch disk. So far so good.

    As far as backup I have a bootable copy, a 2TB data external backup and a separate external for my photography.

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