Worth it to buy a Mac Pro 1,1?

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by bsamcash, Mar 15, 2016.

  1. bsamcash macrumors regular

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    #1
    So while shopping around for a cheap Apple workstation my friend suggested I check out our campus surplus store. There I found a 2006 Mac Pro quad core with 4 GB RAM and no hard drive. The guy running the shop asked me how much I would be willing to offer for it. I quickly checked my phone and told that they're being sold on eBay for around $300 still. He offered to give it to me for $100.

    Now I know these models need a bit of work to get 10.11 running and finding a decent video card. Plus the special heat-sinked RAM is expensive and I would have to supply my own hard drive. But is it still worth it for $100?

    Thanks.
     
  2. Dustman macrumors 65816

    Dustman

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    #2
    For 100 dollars, yes it is worth it.
     
  3. theluggage macrumors 68030

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    #3
    You'll have to scour eBay etc. for RAM and graphics cards, and use the available hacks to install 10.11 and, of course, there's no guarantee that 10.12 or later will still work, especially if the guy maintaining the "how to" leaves college and gets a job.

    As long as you understand that its a fixer-upper and you are the sort of person who will get satisfaction from the process, then $100 sounds like a good price.

    If, however, you want a quick & safe solution to your need for a Mac workstation, I'd pay more for a later model that can run 10.11 without work-arounds.

    NB - re "quad core" - MP 1.1s always had two processors - so you've either got 2 dual-core Xeons (total 4 cores - most likely) or 2 quad-core Xeons (total 8 cores - which would make it even better value)
     
  4. Silencio macrumors 68020

    Silencio

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    #4
    I assume you were shopping at the UC Santa Cruz surplus store? Last time I was there, they were selling barrels full of 300 baud acoustic coupler modems. :D

    I'd say $100 is fine for a bare bones 2006 Mac Pro. If you have $400-500 to spend, you'd be much better off with an early 2009 Mac Pro which wouldn't need any software hacks to run OS X 10.11, takes much cheaper and more readily available memory, the CPU is easily upgradable, etc. etc.
     
  5. vailr macrumors member

    vailr

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    #5
    Re-purpose the MacPro chassis as a Skylake mATX Hackintosh machine; would result with something more practically useful.
     
  6. bsamcash thread starter macrumors regular

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    #6
    Thanks for the reply.

    It's two duals. I'm hoping to upgrade it to two quads. Looking at Geekbench, two quad Xeons get over 10000, which is still a lot today. Do you know if there would be any issues with that?

    Yep, UCSC! My alma matar. I was looking on eBay for the 3,1 and up Mac Pros, and they are really are awesome deals. And I would suggest buying those to anyone looking to get a new Mac mini. Unfortunately, I'm saving up to move (even sold my MacBook Air since I have an iPad Air 2) and I just need something cheap and servicable for graphical work.

    Is that possible? Could you link me some how-tos maybe? Thanks.
     
  7. theluggage macrumors 68030

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    #7
    Unfortunately, the internal layout of the MP 1.1 is about as un-ATX-like as you can get. Obviously, converting it would not be rocket science (cue posts from people who've done it) but you'd need a certain amount of metalworking & wiring skill.

    Pity - because, yes, that would be an awesome PC/Hackintosh case for $100.
     
  8. monokakata macrumors 68000

    monokakata

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    #8
    There are several threads here on upgrading 1,1 to 8 cores. I did it with mine -- it's not difficult. It probably has a very lame video card, so you'd want to upgrade that. It's not hard to find RAM on eBay but it's not cheap.

    Mine ended up with 8 cores, a 5770, and 14 GB RAM. It was a useful machine. In the end I gave it to a high school student who got a couple more years out of it.

    I agree that $100 is a good price, but if you want to upgrade it you're going to drop several hundred dollars more. So as Silencio says, you might take a look at your budget and think about a later machine.
     
  9. bsamcash thread starter macrumors regular

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    #9
    I imagine that wasn't cheap (especially the RAM), but how was it as a gaming machine after that? My main purpose is Photoshop, but it would be cool if I can play some Heroes of the Storm or something.
     
  10. monokakata macrumors 68000

    monokakata

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    #10
    I didn't do any gaming on it, but it did well enough in PS and FCP-X.

    I also had a hex core 5,1 and that machine was dramatically faster than the 1,1, in PS and FCP-X. But the 1,1 did get the job done.

    I had a W7 license for it, and the student I gave it to was going to use it partly as a Windows gaming rig. Next time I see him, I'll ask how that went. It's been 2 years now.
     
  11. bsamcash thread starter macrumors regular

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    #11
    He also had a 2009 Mac mini (the final plastic one with the Mini DisplayPort). What if I could get him to part with this for $80 and upgrade the processor, RAM, and stick an SSD in it, would that be a good deal and Photoshop-ready?
     
  12. throAU macrumors 601

    throAU

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    #12
    $100, sure.

    But just be aware you're buying a 9-10 year old machine with the associated hardware reliability pitfalls.

    As a hobbyist machine you're willing to tinker with, scour eBay for parts, etc. Fine.

    If you're planning to use it for anything serious, steer clear.
     
  13. bsamcash thread starter macrumors regular

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    #13
    So I just did the math and if I buy the Mac Pro for $100, it would cost me $86 to upgrade it to two quad core CPUs (8 core), 16 GB RAM, and 128 SSD (I already have the drive, I just need the adapter). That's under $200 total. The only issue would be getting an ATI Radeon HD 5770, which are still pretty pricy. But I think with all this, and an upgrade to El Capitan, it could still serve well for year.
     
  14. monokakata macrumors 68000

    monokakata

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    #14
    Assuming it has a video card in it already, one possibility is to keep that card and then get a PC card of decently-high standard and install it as well. Then you get a boot screen when you need one (old card) and for the rest of your work, you get what the faster PC card can give you.

    I will say that with my 5,1 hex, the upgrade that made the most day-to-day difference in PS was a Radeon 7970. It was flashed and it blew out and for various reasons I abandoned the 5,1 and went to a 5K iMac. While it ran, I loved it. Applying filters in PS was almost real-time. The first time I grabbed the Gaussian blur slider and started sliding and and saw my image change as I slid, I was blown away. With the 5770 that came with the 5,1 it was slide, wait, look, slide, wait, look . . . .

    $86 for those components seems very low to me, although I haven't been out on eBay looking.
     
  15. bsamcash thread starter macrumors regular

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    #15
    I really like that idea, but will the Mac Pro support two video cards at once? I thought there were issues with that.
     
  16. ValiumEater macrumors regular

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  17. bsamcash thread starter macrumors regular

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    #17
    Can you explain?
     
  18. ValiumEater macrumors regular

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    #18
    I manage a production house and all its edit suites. We had 5 of those die in the last 2 months. I think the odds are against you for it last very long, but for a $100, who cares.
     
  19. bsamcash thread starter macrumors regular

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    #19
    Do you know what caused them to fail?
     
  20. ValiumEater macrumors regular

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    #20
    2 power supplies and 3 logic boards. Then again, we work them hard, so who knows what luck you'll have.
     
  21. monokakata macrumors 68000

    monokakata

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    #21
    So far as I know, you can do that with a 1,1. People do it with newer ones all the time. You only have one of them connected to your monitor. You don't use the old one unless you've got to see what's happening as the machine boots, or if you want to use the boot Option screen to choose which disk to boot from. In your case, while you're upgrading and messing around with it, you're likely to want to see what happens as it boots.
     
  22. R3k macrumors 6502a

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    #22
    I have an 8 core 3.0ghz unit with maxed ram and 2tb HDD space that has been sitting around for a couple of years. I'll be taking it to electronic waste disposal (recycling) when I go there next, it's not worth my time or money doing anything else with it.

    Honestly, I think you should forget about it and move on.
     
  23. raymanster macrumors 6502

    raymanster

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    #23
    What a waste, still a very usable Mac. You should donate it to a charity shop or give it away for free.
     
  24. bsamcash thread starter macrumors regular

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    #24
    That's too bad. I'd love to take it off your hands. Maybe I should just continue to borrow computers for photo work and save up for a 2009 Mac Pro.
     
  25. NReichman macrumors newbie

    NReichman

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    Sep 22, 2009
    #25
    save
    No. That's $100 lost that you could have spent towards a new Mac mini. Even old Mac mini's are better than a Mac Pro 1,1.
     

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