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You are here: MacNN Forums > Hardware - Troubleshooting and Discussion > Mac Desktops > Your feedback on the [newest] Mac Pro models

Your feedback on the [newest] Mac Pro models
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kentuckyfried
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Jun 19, 2009, 06:57 PM
 
The first gen macbook is on its last legs I think, at least if I don't get it repaired. It's an unknown rattling issue, could be fan, could be worse.

So...I've read a number of opinions here on Macnn that the newest Mac Pro's are too expensive. I'm here to try and get some more buying advice:

1) If I do decide to go waste my money on a mac pro, what's the best place to buy online so I can avoid 9.5% CA sales tax? A road trip to Oregon, perhaps?

2) My target, if I buy, is the single processor 2.66 ghz quad-core with ATI Radeon HD 4870 512MB card. How much memory is recommended for this puppy if I [fantasize] about using it for learning Maya, Photoshop, and Final Cut Pro, and/or running games?

3) Is large-screen iMac a better investment at this time instead of the Mac Pro?

4) What about a Macbook Pro?

5) Or maybe just a PC, built by a computer whiz buddy? (bastard does owe for helping me lose a $400 snowboard off of his truck, but I digress)

I originally had a G5 Power Mac, but decided to sell it once Apple moved onto intel chips. As much as I'd like to tout my macbook as a great replacement, I've mostly been using it as a desktop coupled with multiple portable hard drives. It's a clunky arrangement I'd like to get away from.
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MichiganRich
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Jun 19, 2009, 07:26 PM
 
The latest greatest Mac Pro that I use at work is great, since they paid for it. It's a batch processing monster in Photoshop. I think it had 6gigs RAM standard and works fine, since PShop still can't use more than 3gigs. I did have to persuade them to buy me a better video card since the GT120 was having problems pushing a 30" monitor at the speed that I'm used to.

The 24" iMac that I have at home is my fave, since I could actually afford it. It still does everything I throw at it, and I love the display. It really is the most bang for the buck with desktops.

If bucks aren't an issue, get what turns your crank eh?
     
mduell
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Jun 19, 2009, 11:52 PM
 
1) An out of state vendor is all you need; a road trip is unnecessary.

2) 8GB is a nice cheap point to start with, then upgrade when you start to swap.

3) Computers are terrible investments.

4) Great... if you want a laptop. Pretty much an iMac with a battery.

5) Sure if your apps run there. You can match the performance of the single socket Mac Pro for half the price.
     
SierraDragon
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Jun 20, 2009, 12:13 PM
 
Originally Posted by kentuckyfried View Post
1) If I do decide to go waste my money on a mac pro, what's the best place to buy online so I can avoid 9.5% CA sales tax?
Try http://www.smalldog.com/, great folks that I have used for years. Especially look for the occasional demo, used or refurbished box.

I have found that MP to be an excellent box, not a waste of money. If you really do think it is a waste of money consider a new Mini.

2) My target, if I buy, is the single processor 2.66 ghz quad-core with ATI Radeon HD 4870 512MB card. How much memory is recommended for this puppy if I [fantasize] about using it for learning Maya, Photoshop, and Final Cut Pro, and/or running games?
I own that box. At today's RAM prices 4x2GB RAM is a good place to start. Where you end up will depend on how seriously you get into what apps, but with RAM prices constantly falling it makes sense to start at 4x2GB.

3) Is large-screen iMac a better investment at this time instead of the Mac Pro?
Computers are tools and newer cheaper better versions are released every few months. Although many of us make money using our computer tools, the computers themselves are not investments in the sense of recouping the cost of the box itself upon sale. Those folks who constantly worry (and whine) about the current dollar value of their computers are IMO fools destined to remain miserable.

What is relevant is to select an appropriate tool for the job. A MP is overall much more strong and far more versatile, but a Macbook Pro or an iMac with 8 GB RAM will run the apps you describe at entry-level performance adequately if you are not a graphics pro like me who cannot tolerate the iMacs' glossy display (many consumers like glossy). Personally I consider the Mac Mini generally a desirable box, but the 4 GB RAM limitation will give it a short life cycle.

As much as it goes against my experience, making a short life cycle choice might not be a bad strategy for you right now. A Mini is stronger than your existing box, so buying one and just using it until the 4 GB RAM and/or graphics limitations become intolerable would be a cheap exit from your current failing-box situation. 1-2 years from now you may have established specific apps needs (i.e. Maya versus FCP vs. games all present different hardware demands) that would lead you toward a different optimum box in 2010/2011, especially with the now-happening confluence of the full 64-bit competence of OS/apps/hardware and falling RAM prices.

4) What about a Macbook Pro?
Macbook Pros are excellent portable choices, you just pay for that portability (unlike iMacs where one gets the engineering compromises of mobility componentry but without portability). I own a 17" MBP and love it. All laptops and iMacs are limiting to the apps you mention, so if you go laptop/iMac choose the high end. I cannot recommend the 17" size too strongly; the very substantial extra screen real estate and pixels are a huge benefit for anything that involves images or other graphics.

5) Or maybe just a PC, built by a computer whiz buddy?
From a hardware-only standpoint a carefully built homebrewed PC is best value if one does not find all the issues involved with MS Windows problematic, and you would need new software versions. Although I manage a number of PCs along with Macs personally I would rather eat dirt than deal with Win.

...I've mostly been using it as a desktop coupled with multiple portable hard drives. It's a clunky arrangement I'd like to get away from.
Yeah my MP setup with the stock drive plus 3 x 1 TB drives (two in RAID0 array) is much cleaner/stronger/faster than the MBP when I have the external drives cluster. However, I use the MBP more than half the time because it is so convenient and portable. Note that an iMac would be neither convenient nor portable - and still clunky.

-Allen Wicks
( Last edited by SierraDragon; Jun 20, 2009 at 01:53 PM. )
     
SierraDragon
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Jun 20, 2009, 12:36 PM
 
Originally Posted by MichiganRich View Post
...PShop still can't use more than 3gigs.
Although apps can only directly address ~3 GB RAM, Mac OS X works with apps to effectively utilize much more than that. E.g. Adobe engineer Adam Jerugim in 2008 posted:

"CS4 (running on OS 10.5.x) will take advantage of all the RAM you have in your system as long as VM OS buffering is active (up to 32GB - I haven't tested more than that)."

The ability under Mac OS X to access large amounts of inexpensive RAM is a big benefit to the tower configuration.

Under OS X Photoshop can already take advantage of at least 32 GB installed RAM. We do not know what 64-bit Mac Photoshop or new MPs will bring us in a year or so, but odds are pretty high that as RAM prices fall having lots of RAM space available will be very desirable.

-Allen Wicks
( Last edited by SierraDragon; Jun 20, 2009 at 02:09 PM. )
     
SierraDragon
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Jun 20, 2009, 02:13 PM
 
Whoops!

Sorry, in my post above I was referring to the 2006 2.66 GHz MP, not to the current quad-core 2009 offering.

I do NOT recommend the 2009 quad-core MP. IMO constrained RAM and half the cores make the 2009 quad-core totally unacceptable at the price.


Look for a 2006 2.66 GHz MP at a good price and put in the 4870 card if you decide on a tower.

-Allen Wicks
( Last edited by SierraDragon; Jun 20, 2009 at 02:21 PM. )
     
mduell
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Jun 20, 2009, 03:01 PM
 
Has anyone tried 8 or 16GB modules in a 2009 Mac Pro? The Intel Xeon 5500 series support them, but Apple may have crippled it in the firmware.
48-64GB (depending on how bandwidth sensitive you are) in a single socket machine shouldn't be too constraining over the next 2-4 years.

Samsung announced 32GB modules the other day; would be great if those worked, but Intel is silent thus far.
     
SierraDragon
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Jun 21, 2009, 01:23 AM
 
Originally Posted by mduell View Post
Has anyone tried 8 or 16GB modules in a 2009 Mac Pro?
The problem is that even if higher capacity DIMMs work in the quad, the cost of such DIMMs relative to smaller DIMMs will remain prohibitive enough to make the 2009 quad forever a poor choice.

-Allen Wicks
     
kentuckyfried  (op)
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Jun 23, 2009, 02:24 PM
 
Thanks for all the input. Sorry, I didn't mean "investment," as you all pointed out, computers depreciate as bad or worse as cars.
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kentuckyfried  (op)
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Jun 23, 2009, 02:49 PM
 
Allen, this is the 2006 MP you were talking about, and I should grab 4x2gb (take out what's sold with the MP and sell it , or stick into the Drawer of Oblivion)? =D


edit: nevermind, that 2.66 ghz model on sale is the malinged 2009 version. *sighs*
( Last edited by kentuckyfried; Jun 26, 2009 at 07:52 AM. )
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kentuckyfried  (op)
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Jun 26, 2009, 08:08 AM
 
wow...that's kind of shady. It appears that Apple is restricting sales of current-gen items from smalldog only to "top dog pro" account members --> people who have previously purchased apple products from smalldog.com in previous years. At least this is what smalldog.com claims (and if you go through the checkout process you'll see this). Here's a table on the website that compares top dog vs. top dog pro:

http://www.smalldog.com/glossary#topdog

So it does look like the out of state friendly visit to Oregon might be in order, after all, if I can't locate a 2006 MP. O_o
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Bwa
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Jun 27, 2009, 10:14 AM
 
Originally Posted by kentuckyfried View Post
wow...that's kind of shady. It appears that Apple is restricting sales of current-gen items from smalldog only to "top dog pro" account members --> people who have previously purchased apple products from smalldog.com in previous years. At least this is what smalldog.com claims (and if you go through the checkout process you'll see this). Here's a table on the website that compares top dog vs. top dog pro:

http://www.smalldog.com/glossary#topdog

So it does look like the out of state friendly visit to Oregon might be in order, after all, if I can't locate a 2006 MP. O_o
Is there some reason Amazon doesn't cut it? I bought my MacBook Pro from Amazon, no issue. There's an Amazon warehouse in Reno and shipping it quick to the Bay Area.

Definitely don't get the quad core model with the low ram ceiling. 8 GB is minimum for the kind of work you'd do with a Mac Pro, IMO, and given that, it's likely you will want to be able to upgrade to 16 or 32 over the next 3 years.

I wouldn't buy an older used Mac Pro though--the lower power consumption will pay for itself (or at least offset the cost). My 2008 Mac Pro draw about 320 watts continuous with 8 FB-DIMMs.
     
bearcatrp
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Jun 27, 2009, 02:00 PM
 
If you want to save some cash, buy either a 1st gen mac pro or a 2008 mac pro. the 1st gen you can upgrade the processors to 8 total cores. But this one draws more heat. The 2008 mac pro I think are the most bang for the buck. Or wait til the mac pro gets updated and grab an early 2009 one. To get out of sales tax, check ebay, craigslist, or out of state vendor.
2010 Mac Mini, 32GB iPod Touch, 2 Apple TV (1)
Home built 12 core 2.93 Westmere PC (almost half the cost of MP) Win7 64.
     
Kaseys
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Jul 8, 2009, 04:57 AM
 
I have the 17-inch MacBook Pro with 2.8 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo processor and a 500GB hard drive - and I'm very happy with it.
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