Worth buying Mac Pro?

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by PortableLover, Jul 29, 2012.

  1. PortableLover macrumors 6502a

    Apr 14, 2012
    Need a new computer for 3d modelling, rendering, photoshop work and animation as well as game design uses.. Entering my second year of computer animation at uni. My question is.. are the current ivy bridge i7s faster in respects to the older xeons on the mac pros?
  2. Gomff macrumors 6502a

    Sep 17, 2009
    The very top spec Mac Pro's are still very decent machines, particularly for what you're wanting to do. But personally, I think they're way too expensive for what they are. Plus OS X OpenGL drivers are lousy, and Apple is moving more and more into the casual consumer pro-sumer market, leaving the professionals out in the cold.

    I also do 3D graphics and animation work and I would personally buy or build a PC workstation for that purpose and either pocket the difference, or spend it on a Mac Laptop / mini / imac if you prefer to spend your non work based computer time in OS X.

    Just a personal opinion, but plenty of people in our profession are coming round to the same point of view.
  3. Umbongo macrumors 601


    Sep 14, 2006
    The Ivy Bridge 3770 3.5Ghz 4-core is comparable to the W3680 3.33GHz 6-core in terms of performance. The older Xeon edges ahead slightly in multi-threaded environments. http://www.anandtech.com/bench/Product/142?vs=551 The 980X is the Core i7 version of the W3680 so you can see how close they are here.

    So it depends what you want. If you just want a clean simple box from a vendor that will give good performance then sure the Mac Pro is decent, but there are plenty of PC vendors that offer nice systems. Dell, HP, BOXX, AVADirect, Maingear and GamePC, to name but a few, all produce solid workstations using the latest processors and giving you more hardware performance for the money.

    If you want to run OS X then you are looking between iMacs, which will limit your graphics performance, or a hackintosh which still have iffy Ivy Bridge support afaik. So the Mac Pro is still totally viable. The Ivy Bridge processors are going to limit you to 32GB of memory also which may be a concern for you.
  4. kevink2 macrumors 65816

    Nov 2, 2008
    It is sad. When I bought the 2008 model, I compared prices for equivalent systems (with Windows instead) from other companies like Dell or building one myself from parts. There essentially wasn't a price premium for the Mac Pro. The Apple would have still been more if I had stocked up on RAM and display from Apple.

    Later models became more expensive from Apple.
  5. TacticalDesire macrumors 68020


    Mar 19, 2012
    Get a Dell precision workstation. It will be miles better than the now, antiquated and locked down Mac Pros. Not to mention faster.
  6. minifridge1138 macrumors 6502a

    Jun 26, 2010
    I don't think there is anything wrong with the Mac Pro for what you're wanting to do.

    The biggest issue you'll have is the lack of cuda support.

    Rendering with the graphics card is going to make a much bigger difference than Nehalem vs Sandy Bridge vs Ivy Bridge.

    You mentioned you're still in college, but what software are you using? What systems do your university use?

    Also, have you considered asking one of your professors what he/she would recommend you buy?
  7. derbothaus macrumors 601


    Jul 17, 2010
    Current Ivy is faster clock for clock and especially the 6-core variants. Xeon is 2.5+ years old. 4-core Ivy now mostly matches 6-core Westmere. As stated GPU acceleration choices on Apple HW is atrocious. Only 1 officially supported 2 year old card that sells for 750.00. Quadro 4000. The rest are PC hacks and eBay options for old power.
  8. TacticalDesire, Jul 29, 2012
    Last edited: Jul 29, 2012

    TacticalDesire macrumors 68020


    Mar 19, 2012
    What's your budget? With the precision, you can go from a Core i3 all the way up to dual Sandy Bridge Xeon E5 8 core CPU's for a total of..........16 cores and 32 threads!! Although, for what you said you'd be doing, that sounds like a lot of overkill. A 6 core E5 is most likely plenty. The graphics card and ram is going to be the most important.
  9. PortableLover thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Apr 14, 2012
    Currently I'm having summer holidays.. At our university, we have a mixture of xeons and core i7s. Through my uni work, I was using a i5 laptop(not an amazing graphics card)

    Software we used:
    Adobe Premiere
    Adobe flash
    Autodesk 3DS Max
    Unity Game Engine.

    I will drop an email to my tutor soon to ask him which type of computer I should get... Within the first year we designed several games.. One of those games was a 3d group project game. In total we did two 3D projects as well a lot of photoshop and flash work. I believe the university uses dell precision workstations.
  10. nanofrog macrumors G4

    May 6, 2008
    But running under what OS? Windows or OSX?

    Though versions may exist for both OS's, you have to be careful, as they're still not identical (slightly different feature sets between the OS variants).

    Why this could be important, are for features that Windows might have that OSX doesn't (Windows is a larger market, so it gets development funds first), such as CUDA support.

    There's a lot more to it than just the CPU series, memory capacity, ... as to whether or not a particular machine and configuration of that machine, will do what you need. Don't forget the software and OS aspect, as it could be an expensive mistake.

    So it's worth investigating very carefully, and why the mention of speaking with your professors/dept. would be worthwhile IMHO. Just a thought anyway...
  11. Roller macrumors 68020

    Jun 25, 2003
    I think that the current Mac Pros are way overpriced for what you get, even if they can technically do the job you need them for.
  12. PortableLover thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Apr 14, 2012
    Windows and I can't exactly remember, but I believe the graphics card was Nvidia quadro 4000 on our university systems. But I will drop an email to my professor and see what he thinks. I was planning to put windows 7 onto the Mac Pro using boot camp to run any programmes which do not run on Mac OS X.
  13. nanofrog macrumors G4

    May 6, 2008
    Sounds like they're leveraging the CUDA support available under the Windows side, which you would not get under OSX. It certainly speeds things up.
  14. Melbourne Park macrumors 6502

    Mar 5, 2012
    People use price but don't quote any

    People say price is very different from Apple to the rest here but no one has quoted any price differentials.

    Xeon has error corrected memory which increases stability but costs performance.

    Apple's refurbs can offer value also. If one presumes 6 core dual processors from Intel will get cheaper over time, there is also an upgrade path.
  15. bocomo macrumors 6502

    Jun 29, 2007
    New York
    Same thing for my 2006? (maybe 2007)

    Want to update, but waiting to see the next mac pro update before deciding
  16. MCAsan macrumors 601


    Jul 9, 2012
    If you need more horsepower than a MBP can deliver, build yourself a Hack using an i73930K (6 core) and a X79 mobo. You can have native USB 3 and much more for much less cost than a Mac Pro that can deliver the same level of performance.
  17. G51989 macrumors 68030


    Feb 25, 2012
    NYC NY/Pittsburgh PA
    No. Its very overpriced for outdated hardware.

    If you need a machine now.

    1: Build a hackintosh

    2: Jump to a Windows/Nix machine.
  18. tony3d macrumors 6502

    Apr 6, 2006
    I bought a new Mac Pro 3.06 12 core with the ATI 5870 graphics card mainly to run Lightwave 3D. It replaced a 2008 Mac Pro Dual quad core, and I couldn't be happier. The 2008 was really showing it's age. My new machine is rendering scenes almost 3 times faster than the 2008. I have already made more that enough money to pay off the new machine in cash. I have had it for about three weeks. Everything from rendering to editing a model with over 1 million polys just flys on this new machine. The i7's can't approach this performace. If you make money with 3D buy a very Fast Mac Pro. The way I see it I can care less about Thunderbolt. I just wanted the raw horse power, and it's paying off. If next year the new Mac Pros really blow me away, I'll sell it. I had configured an Hp 820z workstation, and the Hp was actually $300.00 more after my Disney Discount. I'm happy so far.
  19. chrono1081 macrumors 604


    Jan 26, 2008
    Isla Nublar
    Mac Pro all the way. I do pretty much everything you stated.

    That being said with game design, depends on your engine. I use Unity which is cross platform but if you use UDK or something you'll need a Win partition.

    Here's the programs I use on the Mac Pro in my sig:

    After Effects
    Corel Painter
    Mudbox (sometimes, not often)
    Unity 3D
    Illustrator (sometimes)
    Match Mover

    and many more but those are my main ones.

    As for choosing between OS's, get a Mac. They're much more stable for large data sets. I used to do a lot of systems support for places that dealt with a lot of video and animation and generally you usually find Mac and Linux machines in those places for that very reason. Occasionally you'll have Windows machines but its not often. Then again if you are on a budget and don't require a super stable system a Win machine may be the way to go.
  20. nanofrog macrumors G4

    May 6, 2008
    SP systems:
    • Apple MP (base) $2499
    • Dell T3500 (same CPU, memory, entry level 3D GPU card <ATI FirePro 4800>, and HD capacity) $1809
    DP systems:
    • Apple MP (base DP) $3799
    • Dell T5500 (same CPU's, memory, and HD capacity) $3559
    The Dell has better support than the Apple, so for a fairer comparison, add Apple care to both MacPro configurations.

    By purchasing either Dell closer to the base model (just get the correct CPUID), and using 3rd party upgrades, it can be had even cheaper.

    Not entirely true.

    First off, you do not have to use ECC memory any longer. Second, there may not be a performance hit for using ECC, particularly that which runs a Register chip (RDIMM).

    To some extent, Yes.

    But upgradability depends on software support as well. So if Apple decides to cease OS support in say 3 years after buying the system, you're stuck with the existing OS installation, as the newer OS versions will no longer work.

    A hack of some sort might be possible, but it's not a good idea IMHO to depend on something like that if you're earning a living with it.

    Keep in mind, that generally speaking, consumer systems are typically supported for 3 years, and enterprise gear for 5. Unfortunately, Apple is treating the MP closer to consumer gear, so users wouldn't be wise to presume that a 5 year or longer support term will occur.

    When was the last time you used a Windows machine, and what version of the OS was it?

    I ask, as the disparity between the two in terms of stability has come a long way. Most of what I see these days, comes down to a lack of knowledge (either the user made mistakes, or the system vendor didn't iron out the bugs before shipping <unstable hardware and drivers for example>).

    I'm not saying that one OS is better than another, but the old adage of Unix based OS's being far superior to Windows isn't the case any longer, particularly when configured properly.

    Just something to think about.
  21. minifridge1138 macrumors 6502a

    Jun 26, 2010
    I partially agree.

    At work I use Windows XP and 7. I also use Ubuntu and RHEL. We run a weird mixture of software and some of the client software is windows only.

    I still find windows to have stability problems. Some of it may be the vendor's software and not the OS, but the end result is the same. I'll have runaway processes that leak memory and CPU. I've had strange issues where my computer hangs at login after entering username and password (this is only in 7, not XP). In short, I still have to reboot fairly often just to clean up whatever CRUD is running.

    Our windows servers were a nightmare. Clustered software kept starting and stopping itself. Software updates kept restarting the server at midnight once a week (although that turned out to be a setting our admin missed, which ironically required a restart before the correct setting would hold).

    As for Ubuntu, I don't have any stability problems. It does some weird things with memory management that bug me (why swap to disk when there are 2 GB of free ram?), and the graphics drivers are less than impressive. But the OS itself has been very solid for me.

    We use RHEL for our servers and have no problems with it.

    I'm not completely disagreeing with you, I just think you and I have had different experiences with windows.

    As for the original poster, I stand with my earlier comment: ask your professor/tutor. They know what your academic career will look like and my have very good reasons for one platform or the other.
  22. minifridge1138 macrumors 6502a

    Jun 26, 2010
    I did a little of my own playing and came up with some numbers.

    Dell T5500: $6,468
    • Dual hex core 3.06GHZ X5675
    • 12GB DDR3 1333Mhz 6x2GB
    • 1TB 7200RPM hdd
    • 16X DVD+/-RW
    • 1GB ATI FirePro V4800
    • 3 year support on site

    Apple Mac Pro: $6,448
    • Dual hex core 3.06GHZ X5675
    • 12GB DDR3 1333Mhz 6x2GB
    • 1TB 7200RPM hdd
    • 18X DVD+/-RW
    • 1GB ATI 5770
    • 3 year apple care

    In this setup the Apple is cheaper (BUT JUST BARELY). But you're right about the dell support. Apple doesn't make house calls.

    Between the 2, I'd pick the Apple. The stats are the same, but for $100 I can run windows on the Mac.
  23. theSeb macrumors 604


    Aug 10, 2010
    Poole, England
    Are there 6 core Ivy bridge CPUs out? I didn't think there were.
  24. Melbourne Park, Jul 30, 2012
    Last edited: Jul 30, 2012

    Melbourne Park macrumors 6502

    Mar 5, 2012
    Actually with a refurb, you can get a twin CPU Xeon for $2,700. If that machine is fast enough for now (and its slow at single thread applications), it has a real upgrade path. Namely putting in two 6 core CPUs at higher clock rates, when they become cheaper, as historically they do. As far as warranty goes, the MacPro is a mature machine, its problems would likely be related to recent software and drivers.

    Base machine for a quad single Xeon refurb is still around $1900 in the USA. A 6 core Xeon upgrade is available too, and if one trades in the Quad core - hence probably throwing out warranty - a six core fast clock rate Xeon might cost around $2,300 or less.

    So ... there is a very solid upgrade path, when Xeon CPUs fall in price. And also, the future of software speed improvements lies in multi-threading. So as time moves forward, 12 cores will become more efficient than it is now.

    And the Mac Pro is a quality box.

    PS: I examined fully the Hackintosh ... and I have put together recently a games PC with twin GTX 570 GPUs. It was not cheap, and is not built like a mac Pro, and it was far from perfect. And besides its deeply depreciated GPUs, its worthless now if I tried to sell it. And Hackintosh requires constant maintenance. They are hobby machines IMO. Better to just go to Windows if you want to save money on hardware IMO.
  25. Umbongo macrumors 601


    Sep 14, 2006
    And you can get a Dell 8-core DP system with better CPU performance for $2,165 new.

    Refurbished Dell have many systems that are exceptional offers. You can score high-speed DP systems with only one processor very cheap and some with loads of memory, two processors and very high end Quadro cards for massive savings. Heck I see a system for $2,200 on Dell outlet with a $1,750 Quadro 5000. Single CPU there are 6-core systems for under $1,500. If you shop smart Dell are always going to be cheaper, their margins are lower and they want your business.

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