Which refurbished Mac Pro is equivalent or better than the i7 iMac?

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by HXGuy, Jan 27, 2011.

  1. HXGuy macrumors 68000

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    Mar 25, 2010
    #1
    Need to upgrade a G5 PowerMac in the office with a refurbished Mac Pro and would like it to be at least as fast/powerful as the 27" iMac w/ 2.93 Quad Core i7 processor and ATI 5750 1GB video card that we also have.

    Price is an issue so the ones we're considering are...

    1. Refurbished Mac Pro 2.66GHz Quad-Core Intel Xeon GT120 512MB Video $2039

    2. Refurbished Mac Pro 2.8GHz Quad-Core Intel Xeon HD5770 1GB Video $2119

    3. Refurbished Mac Pro 2.26GHz 8-Core Intel Xeon GT120 512MB Video $2699 (The price is getting up there on this one but it does have 6GB of RAM whereas the other two only have 3GB and would need to be upgraded)


    Ideally #2 sounds good to me but I don't know how the 2.8GHz Xeon processor compares to the 2.93 i7 processor. I would assume the video card is better since it looks like a higher model (5770 vs 5750).
     
  2. alust2013 macrumors 601

    alust2013

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    #2
    It all depends on what you're going to do with it. The 2.8 quad looks like it should be the closest, and it may have a higher turbo boost frequency than the i7. Either way, a 133 MHz difference won't be noticeable, and the 5770 will be considerably better than the GPU in the iMac.
     
  3. gustavopi macrumors member

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    Brazil
    #3
    It's hard to answare because it's different machines with different purposes. I beleive these pros will be faster than iMac but will require a lot more of energy, space and will warm up your place.

    Can you ask seller for a performance test? It's like a car, nothing as put it in the road to see what it capable to do.
     
  4. HXGuy thread starter macrumors 68000

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    #4
    Lots and lots of graphic design and nothing else really. Primary programs used are Photoshop, QuarkXpress and Illustrator.
     
  5. ActionableMango macrumors 604

    ActionableMango

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    #5
  6. snberk103 macrumors 603

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    #6
    I've yet to be convinced that any 'merely' decent video card can't do anything that a high-end card can do - when you are working on graphics and photos (not videos). There are colour spaces that are well defined and accepted.

    While a high-end monitor can show way more colours than a low-end monitor, afaik, any 'decent' video card can produce the colours that the high-end monitor can produce. Most 'decent' monitors can show more colours than any printed page can. So, if your final work is going to the printed page then - you are constrained there in any case.

    If your work is going to the internet, most advice I've read is to use sRGB, which is very constrained colour space - but is considered the closest match for the average monitor. Any video card, even less than 'decent', should be able to work in the sRGB colour space.

    I guess what I'm saying is.... don't fuss the quality of the video card so much. Its about the actual monitor, and then the RAM. More RAM and a fast scratch disk (for Photoshop) will do more to speed up your work flow than CPU cycles.

    If you want to run several programs at once, then go for more cores. You can always start a process and then move to another program while the first one works away.

    I welcome any corrections, of course. All of this IMHO, of course.
     
  7. giffut macrumors 6502

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    #7
    All ...

    ... the mentionned applications aren´t suited for multiprocessor machines - they aren´t really multithreaded. So the machine with the highest CPU frequency would be the winner here.

    But: The Nr. 3 machine actually is the most future proof one. If you are somebody who keeps his machine for some time - longer than three years - I would opt for the one with the most cores. If you want to upgrade again in less than three years, go for the one which is the cheapest for you - because, frankly, if you´re still running Quark then, it wouldn´t even matter if you buy a used 1. generation Mac Pro. Now, this is all considering that you use not the latest versions of the suites you listed. If you do so, I would choose nothing but the 8 core Mac Pro.
     
  8. giffut, Jan 27, 2011
    Last edited: Jan 27, 2011

    giffut macrumors 6502

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    #8
    Considering ...

    ... scratch disc in Photoshop - the way Photoshop organizes its caches, you are better off putting the most RAM you can afford into your machine, as OSX takes any application´s caching which runs out of RAM - or can´t adress over a certain limit - and uses its free system RAM for those. Always keep OSX with enough RAM so it doesn´t start paging out, and anything is going to be fast, especially software with RAM limits like Photoshop.

    For overal speed increases it much more helps to put your boot environment on a SSD drive.

    A separate fast caching would only be ideal for heavy HD video based applications.
     
  9. gustavopi macrumors member

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    #9
    In this case, I think the iMac will be faster because Core i7 can overbost (overclocking) for a time to process that kind of processing demands. I'm also use Illustrator and Photoshop and they not require for hard processing all the time as Final Cut, or a web server. Make sure if you really will not have much backgroung processing during your work, so Xeon will be faster because can handle better such things.
     
  10. HXGuy thread starter macrumors 68000

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    #10
    Good info, thanks guys.

    To comment on some of the stuff...we do tend to keep machines for quite some time, hence the G5 PowerMac thats still in use and probably would continue to be if the software wouldn't be phasing it out (Leopard, Photoshop CS5). We've had the G5 for about 5 years now...it's running on 6GB of RAM and using a 30" Apple display).

    ...and what's wrong with still using Quark? :p Is there something better out there that's come along? We mainly do graphic design for print material.
     
  11. HXGuy thread starter macrumors 68000

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    #11
    Wow thanks for the heads up on the BHPhoto link...that's quite a substantial savings when you also take sales tax into consideration. You're looking at $2228 (inc. tax from Apple) vs $1799 (no sales tax from BH)...a difference of $429.

    Comparing #1 to #2 at the new prices, is the $517 difference worth it?
     
  12. scottsjack macrumors 68000

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    #12
    Easy question to answer. All Mac Pros are more useful than an iMac. Get the real thing, a Mac Pro.

    BTW, pass on the B&H Early 2009. B&H is a great place to buy from but a 2009 MP is just a bad deal. For a few bucks more the 2010 has a bigger (and maybe better) hard drive, a way better video card, the Airport card, boots in 64-bit mode and has more available do-it-your-self future processor upgrades
    if you're in to that thing.

    The B&H 2.66GHz plus a 5770 video card from Apple is about $2050. Why not spend the $2119 that Apple charges for a 2010 2.8GHz refurb?
     
  13. highdefw macrumors 6502

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    #13
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    I say the 8core. Definitely more future proof and plenty of room for expansion. Add a ssd and load up on the ram and you should be good to go. Even if the apps you use aren't multithreaded, the fact that you can work in multiple programs with cores distributed across evenly will allow you to work more efficiently.
     
  14. giffut macrumors 6502

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    #14
    Nothing ...

    ... wrong with Quark, but it´s not really a multithreaded application, including future releases.

    But don´t underestimate the value of many cores - you gain tremendous agility of the machine and you can have - if you need to - many applications running at the same time, each with their specific maximum load.


    ---
    I have a 4 core system, with CPU clock at 2,4Ghz and 8GB RAM - but it´s yet to be killed by anything performance wise (My workload mainly consist of Logic Pro, Photoshop, Final Cut Express, Handbrake in the background most of the time encoding DV/MPEG2 to H.264).
     
  15. chrismacguy macrumors 68000

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    #15
    The Mac Pros have this feature as well. In the SP models the Xeon is basically an i7 on Steroids...
     
  16. ActionableMango macrumors 604

    ActionableMango

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    #16
    We've listed the differences, only you know if the $517 is worth it to you.

    But, since you have 5% sales tax, this changes the equation and puts the refurbs out of favor. The 2010 refurb with tax is $2228, but a brand new 2010 from B&H is only $2340. That's only about $100 saving for getting refurb instead of new. And B&H throws in Parallels Desktop, if you're into that sort of thing.
    http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/726476-REG/Apple_MC560LL_A_Mac_Pro_Quad_Core_Desktop.html

    If you don't care about Parallels, you can get a new 2010 for even less from Cost Central.
    http://www.costcentral.com/proddetail/Apple_Mac_Pro/MC560LLA/11197078/
     
  17. HXGuy, Jan 27, 2011
    Last edited: Jan 27, 2011

    HXGuy thread starter macrumors 68000

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    #17
    If many cores are useful to many application running then that may be the most important thing to consider. This machine is for my partner who NEVER CLOSES APPS! :D She literally has all the apps she uses always open it seems...so it'll be Mail, Calendar, Photoshop, Quark, Dreamweaver, Illustrator, Acrobat Reader, Distiller, maybe InDesign too...all open at once, even if she isn't actively using all of them at the same time.

    Edit: I just had her check...she has TWENTY ONE apps currently open on her G5.
     
  18. HXGuy thread starter macrumors 68000

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    #18
    I've always been a big fan of refurbs, even for as little as a $100 savings. I see them as good as new because if they were returned to Apple for a problem and turned into a refurb, whatever problem it had has been fixed. What's the likely hood of a second problem?

    Not just that, but it has the same warranty as a new Mac.

    Thanks everyone for the ongoing comments, much appreciated.
     
  19. giffut macrumors 6502

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    #19
    Just ...

    ... load it with as much RAM you can afford - and forget about anyone pointing to triple chanel configurations - you gain no advantage for your workload - and would only on a theoretical level for very heavy CPU/RAM based tasks (rendering 3D etc.).

    The maximum RAM configuration you are able to buy, nothing less. You will have a killer machine for a long time, and it will be able to do many workloads, including tasks performed in the background and still be a fully potent workstation. If your software does allow distributed workloads, that´s the machine you are pinning it to.

    Anyway, if the G5 can handle her workload now somehow, a new Mac Pro will sneeze it - or her, depends, of course ;-) - oh, and do discuss setting an app limit with your partner, as a new machine probably will let her run applications in the triple numbers simultaneously. She might wish to have five additional displays, too!
     
  20. HXGuy thread starter macrumors 68000

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    #20
    Which machine are you referring to? Or are you saying in general...which ever we go with, load it up with RAM?
     
  21. giffut macrumors 6502

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    #21
    Any ...

    ... machine. RAM is always the first performance rise you can gain. Regarding upgrades, I always would stick to the following order:

    - more RAM
    - faster HD or SSD
    - CPU (if possible)
    - Graphics (if required/utilized by software)

    If those tasks come close to half the price of a new machine with adequate specifications, I would recommend purchasing that instead.
     
  22. snberk103 macrumors 603

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    #22
    One other point. You say you keep your machines for a while (current system ~ 5 years).

    In a few years more and more programs will be able to take advantage of multi-core machines. That might indicate that the 8 core MP is the best choice. Besides having 8 cores, it also has, afaik, 8 memory slots - I forget if the max RAM for that 8 core MP is 32 or 64 GB - but it's more than the iMacs. I am also a huge fan of adding more RAM as the best upgrade for the dollar.

    Good Luck.
     
  23. ActionableMango macrumors 604

    ActionableMango

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    #23
    I actually bought a refurb myself. My concerns with the refurb are cosmetic damage and the worry that the original owner may have returned it due to an intermittent problem that doesn't show up in the refurb test. ESD in particular can cause intermittent problems that increase over time.

    I bought a refurb CRT once. It had a large scratch on the front bezel. I would never buy a refurb LCD...too worried about people returning them for stuck/dead pixels. I bought a refurb mac mini, it was fine. I wouldn't buy a refurb hard drive.
     
  24. snberk103 macrumors 603

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    #24
    We've bought refurbs. Never ever any cosmetic damage. Ironically, the one system that gave us problems was one of the few we bought new - although I realize that this doesn't actually mean anything.

    Even in the case of an intermittent problem that wasn't diagnosed - there are same chances of having that on a new as a refurbed system. And the refurbs come with the same Apple Care, so the resolution is same.

    I don't know I keep trying to convince people to shop refurb ... just makes it harder for me when I shop there.... :)
     
  25. Mactrillionaire macrumors regular

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    Oct 16, 2010
    #25
    I'd be careful following this advice. From Apple's own site, it does not appear that B&H Photo Video is an authorized reseller. Furthermore, this link is to last year's Mac Pro model, not this year's. The issue with Amazon is that not all sellers are Apple authorized and there is no way to tell from the site itself whether or not the seller is Apple authorized. If you buy an Apple computer from someone who is not an Apple authorized reseller, you are going to find that Apple is unlikely to honor the warranty for that computer. It is a costly gamble that I wouldn't advise for you to take.
     

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