Worth it to upgrade MP 3,1 for Photography?

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by Hamdizzle, Apr 14, 2016.

  1. Hamdizzle macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Apr 14, 2016
    #1
    Hello everyone.

    my employer and I recently split ways and I had to give back my Retina MacBook Pro that I've been using.

    I have many hundreds of gigs of photos that I need to re-organize in Lightroom, and I will need to be able to run Lightroom and Photoshop well, and possibly Vectorworks.

    I have an old Mac Pro 3,1 that I retired a few years ago. It currently has a failing hard drive and 5 gigs of RAM. If I were to upgrade to an SSD, 16gigs RAM and a USB3 card, do all you out there in Internet land think it'd be a passable machine? Money is tight, so my only other option would probably be a used Mac Mini or something...
     
  2. r6mile macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Feb 3, 2010
    Location:
    London, UK
    #2
    If you already have a 3,1 Mac Pro, I would say upgrade it. I recently bought, upgraded (to a GTX680, 32GB RAM, SSD on PCIe card), and sold a 3,1 Mac Pro to a friend of mine who works in photography and video (Lightroom and Premiere if I remember correctly) and wanted something more usable than his 2011 MBP and he is very happy with it. Also, all upgrades (except the RAM, which is very cheap anyway if you get old server ram, I got 8x4GB for £40) can be carried into 4,1 and 5,1s.
     
  3. nigelbb macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Dec 22, 2012
    #3
    +1 With these modest upgrades the 2008 Mac Pro 3,1 is still a very capable system particularly if it is a 8-core dual CPU model. If it's only a single CPU then it's well worth adding a second CPU. A final upgrade to complete the package would be a USB3 card.
     
  4. Hamdizzle thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Apr 14, 2016
    #4
    Thanks! I'm still dying to figure out why this models RAM is so expensive new! I was poking around last night on eBay and came across this. Mine is the quad 2.66, so this seems like it'd be one heck of an upgrade, for less than just the RAM from Crucial. Usually I wouldn't buy this type of thing from eBay, but the seller has almost 1000 reviews at 100%...

    http://m.ebay.com/itm/Apple-Mac-Pro...Upgrade-Kit-/222076892219?nav=WATCHING_ACTIVE
     
  5. JoSch macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Feb 22, 2013
    #5
    It's because the DDR2 800 memory is expensive. The expansion kit uses DDR2 667 memory, which is a lot cheaper and also works in the 3,1. Look for 667 memory, the performance hit is very low.
     
  6. r6mile macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Feb 3, 2010
    Location:
    London, UK
    #6
    Are you sure you have a quad 2.66? If so, then you have a 2009 Mac Pro, which is even better.
    But if it is a 2008, then get cheap 667Mhz RAM - 800Mhz RAM is very overpriced and gives you no noticeable boost.
     
  7. orph macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Dec 12, 2005
    Location:
    UK
    #7
    I have a 2008, which i use for both photography and video and works fine.

    Id get the SSD first then see how it feels then look in to ram upgrades if budget is a thing you may be ok if your not doing heavy work. The drive that the photos are on matters a lot so dont get a fancy SSD to boot then a cheep drive for storage (WD blue/black are good).

    I used 667mhz ram, it's cheep and works fine in theory you may see a 2% loss in potential speed but if you have to little ram you'll see a much bigger loss in speed so it's fine. i have both the 800mhz ram and 667mhz ram installed no problems all that happens is the faster ram works at the slower speed.
    lots of ppl use the server ram with the thin mettle heat sinks, do a search on the forum (that ram is SUPER cheep).
    (that link you posted is way over priced)

    it's not relay going to matter if you have a 4core or 8core with still's as most photo apps will only use about 2 cores most the time.
     
  8. nigelbb macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Dec 22, 2012
    #8

    It's because Apple were just about the only manufacturer (possibly were the only manufacturer) to use 800MHz FB-DIMMs. I've certainly never seen any used 800MHz FB-DIMMs other than Apple parts.
     
  9. Rod.Wright macrumors newbie

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    Apr 15, 2016
    Location:
    Potomac Falls, VA
    #9
     
  10. Ph.D. macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Jul 8, 2014
    #10
    If this is for hobby use, and you keep it to modest upgrades, then I think it's worth it. Add an SSD in one of the sleds (or two in RAID-0 if you want to go that way) and a little more memory. USB-3 is optional and not much needed in my opinion, but it might be cheap enough not to matter.

    If you have a single core, don't upgrade to dual. That's a more expensive and involved option that Adobe products would barely use.

    For reference, I have a 2.8 GHz 8-core 3,1 with 12 Gigs of RAM, two SSDs on an Apricorn card, a hard drive for backup, and a 280X graphics card. I use Photoshop 6 and it's quite satisfactory. However, I won't be upgrading it any further at all. Again, just keep it to the minimum upgrades, temper your expectations, and you will get a lot of good use out of it.
     
  11. Rod.Wright macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Apr 15, 2016
    Location:
    Potomac Falls, VA
    #11
    I have the 2013 MacBook Pro Retina model w 16GB and 768 GB flash drives.
    Lightroom is absolutely a powerful choice as a database and editor for your photos. In my case, I have nearly 80,000 photos taking up over 1 TB. (Lots of aviation photos and consolidated family photos some reaching back over a century.) That said, when you get that large, Lightroom can slow unless you have fast hardware and software. In my case, I used a 2 TB USB3 external drive for Lightroom but it was beginning to seriously bog down. (I use an external drive for my photos and catalog so that I can move Lightroom among various family computers.) So, I replaced the external drive with a Thunderbolt 4TB drive and that really sped things up. Yes, I know you are on a budget and that Thunderbolt drives are expensive ... but for me at least that upgrade really helped loads.
    Bottom line is that Lightroom is the best long-term alternative for large collections of photos for someone who is serious about properly cataloging and using a large collection of photos. In that case, there is no substitute for a system that has large capacity and very high speeds.
    By the way, IMHO the Adobe CC option for Lightroom and Photoshop at $9.99 per month is the best choice. Using the subscription based CC software assures that you get new versions on the fly. I've seen some serious new functions provided to subscription users.
    --- Post Merged, Apr 15, 2016 ---
    If your collection of photos fits and leaves room for other software and you don't need portability between computers, putting your Lightroom catalog and photos on the internal flash drive should provide high speed.
     
  12. Hamdizzle thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Apr 14, 2016
    #12
    Well, thanks for all the help guys. Unfortunately, I'm an idiot. I got my computer out, dusted everything, found all the things I needed to make it go, and it turns out it's a Mac Pro 1,1

    I have a specific memory of it being a 2008. I don't know why. Oh well, back to the drawing board.
     
  13. Hamdizzle thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Apr 14, 2016
    #13
    So I just scored a Mac Pro 5,1 quad 3.2ghz on eBay for $625. That should be significantly faster than my 1,1 I think!
     
  14. orph macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Dec 12, 2005
    Location:
    UK
    #14
    there's nothing wrong with the macpro 1.1 it'll work fine, if your on a budget just grab a cheep 128/256gb SSD (turn trim on) then grab a WD blue drive 1TB keep your 5gb of ram and see how it goes.
    the macpro 1.1/2.1/3.1 are vary vary close in speed and internals and take the same ram so your fine, you can run up to osx10.8 i think with no problems and if you ever want to hack it a tad you can run the newest osx with no problems. (it's not hard to do)

    as mentioned by rod.wright id not sink a lot of cash in because you will be better of with a new mac min (there fast now)
    if you can spend £30 on a 128gb ssd and £40 on a WD blue youll have a working computer 5GB of ram is ok. (it will work fine and the ssd will relay help if you run low on ram)

    but once you think of spending say £200+ your getting vary close to the price of a macmin
     
  15. mstasko macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jul 2, 2015
    #15
    Not bad and will provide a nice platform to upgrade performance that will meet or exceed the current Mac pros.

    I have a 4,1 8 core that I made a number of upgrades over the past year and now it more than meets my needs. It had almost zero upgrades when I bought it so I did the following in order:

    1. Speedier boot/os/apps drive - Addonics 4 bay msata card with2 250gb crucial ssds.
    I'll fill the remain two when prices move further down on the larger cards.
    Two drives are setup in raid0 - performance is high 700 mb/s.
    2. Sapphire hd7950 video card. Pc version so I don't have a boot screen but I saved over $300 over the Mac version. I found mine on eBay for only $175 or so.
    3. Additional storage. 2 2tb drives in raid0 and a 4tb drive to serve as a clone of the boot drive and a time machine location (separate partitions). Also utilize a nas as another Tm location, works well and provides some additional security if one of the locations has issues)
    4. Usb3 card. Cheap performance upgrade in moving media off cameras
    Last.. For now.. Updated the CPUs from 2.66 to 3.46 (x5677) $140 for the pair.
    If I were in your shoes I would skip upgrading the cpu since you are basically at the top end performance wise what the system will support.

    ..and to give credit, I got a number of these ideas from this blog by Pendelski. Good read.
    http://pindelski.org/Photography/technical/mac-pro/
     
  16. Hamdizzle thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Apr 14, 2016
    #16
    For now I just ordered 16GB RAM and a USB3 card. Those are all the upgrades I can afford for now. This is more money than I originally wanted to spend, but I'm in a weird position of being on my own. I don't have money for a computer but I need a computer to make money! The $750 or so I've put into this machine will get me something much more capable than a Mini, which I was looking at used for around $650. I hope I'm making the right choices, we'll see how it goes!
     

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