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You are here: MacNN Forums > Hardware - Troubleshooting and Discussion > Mac Desktops > Thinking of purchasing a First Gen Mac Pro, still makes sense?

Thinking of purchasing a First Gen Mac Pro, still makes sense?
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Cottonsworth
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Jun 14, 2009, 10:31 AM
 
How does the first gen Mac Pro dual 2.66 Xeon compare in performance to the current gen Imacs? Cost wise they are similar and I'm wondering if there is any advantage in going with a three-year old machine? Also, should I be concerned about reliability for the Mac Pro? Any feedback would be appreciated.
     
mduell
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Jun 14, 2009, 01:46 PM
 
Should have no problem beating the pants off an iMac (a laptop without a battery): twice the cores, 4x the memory ceiling, upgradeable graphics, 4x the hard drives.
     
Big Mac
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Jun 14, 2009, 02:02 PM
 
The problem with the first gen Mac Pro as I see it is the PCIe GPU slot is incompatible with newer GPU cards. If that doesn't matter that much to you, then they probably represent a good value.

"The natural progress of things is for liberty to yield and government to gain ground." TJ
     
Cottonsworth  (op)
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Jun 14, 2009, 09:27 PM
 
Originally Posted by Big Mac View Post
The problem with the first gen Mac Pro as I see it is the PCIe GPU slot is incompatible with newer GPU cards. If that doesn't matter that much to you, then they probably represent a good value.
Hmm, that is a good point. I'm not sure actually if that will be a sticking point or not. I came across a Mac Pro dual 2.66 for a pretty good deal, so I thought maybe that would be a wiser purchase than a new iMac. But it seems like Apple is going with Mini DisplayPort format with their new displays that and that might make me think twice since I am partial to their displays.

Can anyone speak of their reliability? Do these babies run hot? The machine is already 3 years old, I feel like things today are not built to last, will this last for a few more years?
     
QuadG5Man
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Jun 14, 2009, 10:19 PM
 
I've used one (2.66x4 gen 1) for photo and video tasks for a few years and it hasn't missed a beat, except one of the front usb ports went out. (shrug)
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mr. burns
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Jun 15, 2009, 12:10 AM
 
Originally Posted by Big Mac View Post
The problem with the first gen Mac Pro as I see it is the PCIe GPU slot is incompatible with newer GPU cards. If that doesn't matter that much to you, then they probably represent a good value.
that's what apple wants you to think, but the radeon 4870 and 4890 work.


i have a first gen mac pro 2.66GHz with plenty of ram and it runs great. the original x1900xt has been having heat issues, showing artifacts in photoshop and overheating very easily in games, so i'll be looking to get one of those cards. pretty sure you can just drop in a 4870 and it'll work, thanks to the 10.5.7 drivers. the 4890 takes a little more work.

Ultimate Thread: 4890 in Mac Pro - Mac Forums
( Last edited by mr. burns; Jun 15, 2009 at 12:26 AM. )

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angelmb
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Jun 15, 2009, 02:30 AM
 
Anyhow, the NVIDIA 8800GT is still a solid performer.
     
SierraDragon
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Jun 15, 2009, 02:31 AM
 
Do not worry about modern displays, there will always be a way to connect them.

iMacs are much lesser boxes than Mac Pros, not comparable for many reasons. I too have a 2.66 GHz MP and it runs Aperture and Adobe CS3 just fine.

However to do a righteous analysis it totally depends on what one intends to use the box for in 2009, 2010 and you have not told us that.

-Allen Wicks
     
Cottonsworth  (op)
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Jun 15, 2009, 02:14 PM
 
My main purpose is to run two or three monitors. I thought about using an iMac and getting on extra display but I'm not entirely a fan on mixing displays (imac and something else), so I found a first gen Mac Pro 2.66 Xeon priced less than a current gen iMac and thought maybe I could just get that and get my two or three monitors that way.

In terms of processing power, I probably don't need something that heavy duty, I'm slowly getting into video editing but I still have a long ways to go but just in case I need the processing power, I don't know if I'm better off with a current gen imac or the first gen Mac Pro for down the road, say 2-3 years.

Thanks for the replies thus far, please give me more of your input so I may make a final decision.
     
angelmb
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Jun 15, 2009, 05:31 PM
 
I would always go with the 'Pro' line, besides what others have said, you may always find that some apps are certified only for Mac Pro and MacBook Pro, and while these apps could easily work (and maybe they do) with an iMac or MacBook, the maker just doesn't feel like supporting such computers. Maybe it is not usual with video apps but happens with e.g. Alias Design Studio 2010, not that I use it but my brother who is studying at the local Industrial Design University found that he would have to borrow either my Mac Pro or my unibody MacBook Pro cause his aluminum 24" iMac is lame <-- Autodesk's way of thinking for such a task.

Only thing to worry is the warranty left on a first gen Mac Pro, mine is also a 2006 model and my Apple Care is going to expire on October.
     
Cottonsworth  (op)
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Jun 15, 2009, 10:26 PM
 
Originally Posted by angelmb View Post

Only thing to worry is the warranty left on a first gen Mac Pro, mine is also a 2006 model and my Apple Care is going to expire on October.
Right, that is exactly what I am worried about. If the logic board fails then it is pretty much useless. Don't know if it is worth doing that or not.
     
bearcatrp
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Jun 16, 2009, 02:38 AM
 
What is the price of this deal? Have you looked at any refurbs on apples web site? Pretty good deals there. The 1st gen (intel) mac pro is a solid machine with plenty of options to expand. Even the processors can be swapped to 8 cores. Did mine from a 2ghz quad to a 2.33 octo. Does run hotter though. That generation motherboards are not hard to find if it did goes go bad. If the owner took good care of it, will last a good while yet.
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Cottonsworth  (op)
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Jun 16, 2009, 08:40 AM
 
Originally Posted by bearcatrp View Post
What is the price of this deal? Have you looked at any refurbs on apples web site? Pretty good deals there. The 1st gen (intel) mac pro is a solid machine with plenty of options to expand. Even the processors can be swapped to 8 cores. Did mine from a 2ghz quad to a 2.33 octo. Does run hotter though. That generation motherboards are not hard to find if it did goes go bad. If the owner took good care of it, will last a good while yet.
The guy is asking 1k for it but the handle is damaged from a move. Other than that the machine is working perfectly fine. I didn't want to spend that much, I was actually looking at an iMac but then I came across this and thought for about the same money (with the monitor) I can go with a Mac Pro setup, just didn't know if I was buying "old" technology compared to a brand new iMac.
     
kalex
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Jun 16, 2009, 09:13 AM
 
Thats an awesome price for dual 2.66

I recently sold mine for $1700 on local CL. With a video card upgrade 2.66 dual will hold its own great. its a great workhorse
     
Big Mac
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Jun 16, 2009, 09:35 AM
 
Gee, it takes a lot of force to damage a PM/MP case handle.

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SierraDragon
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Jun 16, 2009, 11:21 AM
 
I strongly recommend the MP over any iMac.

Yes it takes lots of force to damage a MP case but it is easy to see how a heavy weight could fall on the handle and seriously cosmetically dent it without really harming the internals. Part of the purpose of the (IMO excellent) MP case design is to absorb and/or pass such forces through to the floor without damage to the electronics. Buy it.

Certainly for "...main purpose is to run two or three monitors" the much, much stronger available (and upgradable) graphics of the MP strongly argue for the MP over an iMac.

Do some homework as regards optimizing for multiple monitors when you go to add graphics cards, because different apps require different cards scenarios and MPs do not work well if at all with mix-and-match cards. Apps like Aperture like a single strong card like the 4870 driving just two displays, while other apps like a stocks program may do best with multiple GT120 cards and more displays. Gamers will have their own very specific card needs.

HTH

-Allen Wicks
( Last edited by SierraDragon; Jun 16, 2009 at 11:44 AM. )
     
Cottonsworth  (op)
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Jun 16, 2009, 02:26 PM
 
Originally Posted by SierraDragon View Post
Do some homework as regards optimizing for multiple monitors when you go to add graphics cards, because different apps require different cards scenarios and MPs do not work well if at all with mix-and-match cards. Apps like Aperture like a single strong card like the 4870 driving just two displays, while other apps like a stocks program may do best with multiple GT120 cards and more displays. Gamers will have their own very specific card needs.
Thanks Allen. Would I be able to use two displays with a 4870? If I want to add a third display, would I have to get a second 4870?
     
Cottonsworth  (op)
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Jun 16, 2009, 08:26 PM
 
I talked to the owner and I'm going to check it out tomorrow. Can anyone give me any advice on how to evaluate the machine on whether or not I should get it? I never owned a Mac Pro before, so I don't even know what I should be looking for. On the paranoid side, I am also worried if someone can get a Mac Pro case and make a hackintosh and try to pass it off as a real Mac Pro. Any advice would be greatly appreciated. Thanks.
     
angelmb
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Jun 17, 2009, 04:50 AM
 
Well, then open the side door and look if it looks exactly like this… that's a 2006 Mac Pro model.

     
SierraDragon
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Jun 17, 2009, 12:25 PM
 
Originally Posted by Cottonsworth View Post
Thanks Allen. Would I be able to use two displays with a 4870? If I want to add a third display, would I have to get a second 4870?
Any of the cards support two displays each. However, physically the box only supports one of certain card types (probably the 4870 is in that category). You can run up to four GT120 cards with two displays each, and the GT120 is a good card.

Call Apple for specifics on how many of any type card will work in any specific box. And as always write down the employee name and the date of the conversation in case you later find out the information was inaccurate...

Also note that card performance varies with different apps and Apple's employees are very unlikely to be conversant with all card/app performance scenarios.

-Allen Wicks
( Last edited by SierraDragon; Jun 17, 2009 at 12:46 PM. )
     
SierraDragon
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Jun 17, 2009, 12:38 PM
 
Originally Posted by Cottonsworth View Post
I talked to the owner and I'm going to check it out tomorrow. Can anyone give me any advice on how to evaluate the machine on whether or not I should get it? I never owned a Mac Pro before, so I don't even know what I should be looking for. On the paranoid side, I am also worried if someone can get a Mac Pro case and make a hackintosh and try to pass it off as a real Mac Pro. Any advice would be greatly appreciated. Thanks.
Under the Apple Menu go to "About this Mac" and click the "more info" button. The OS will report in detail what the box consists of. Certainly note the RAM amount. If less than 2 GB expect slower performance while testing but that is OK because RAM is cheap to upgrade. You can also get the serial number (write it down and watch to see if the seller gets freaky) from the About this Mac window: clicking on the version number will cycle to serial number and build number.

Ideal would be to run some heavy apps and see if the box is overly noisy. MPs are relatively quiet computers (you can establish baseline at a store), so a lot of noise would probably be indicative of overheating or failing fans/hard drive and be unacceptable.

-Allen Wicks
( Last edited by SierraDragon; Jun 17, 2009 at 12:48 PM. )
     
Cottonsworth  (op)
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Jun 17, 2009, 05:49 PM
 
Thanks for the input Allen and angelmb, I'll see what happens.
     
sseraph
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Jul 17, 2009, 05:37 PM
 
This is not altogether true. While it is not officially supported and claims it is PCIe2, I have installed the Apple ATI Radeon 4870 upgrade meant for later generations successfully. I have been running with this configuration 24x7 with no issues. It is a bit of a pain to install (barely enough room and then only in slot #1. But it does work. Improved throughput on graphics heavy apps I checked by aroung 4x and took a lot of load off the CPU cores.
     
sseraph
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Jul 17, 2009, 05:41 PM
 
Apple 4870 upgrade kit supports two displays but one of the outputs is mini DisplayPort so you need an adapter unless you have that kind of monitor.
     
paulmac
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Jul 26, 2009, 02:55 PM
 
I also recommend getting a 2006 Mac Pro because of the expandability. You might even be able to find a 2.0 ghz model for cheaper, then upgrade the processors yourself. I upgraded my 2.66 quad to a 3.00 quad for about $300 plus 1.5 hours of my time.

And if you're looking for some 5150 Xeons, I'm selling a pair for a pretty low reserve on ebay:
Matched Pair Intel Xeon Processors 5150 SL9RU 2.66 ghz - eBay (item 120451876266 end time Jul-31-09 13:09:18 PDT)

Paul
     
   
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