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Apple Desktops Discussion of Apple's desktop machines including Mac Pro, iMac, Power Mac, and mini

Would like some advice on Mac Pro purchase


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iggibar

 
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I'm upgrading my office and would like to purchase a used Mac Pro within a month's time. I know this question might come with many possible answers, but I am not sure what to look for. What I would like is a setup running 3 monitors(~23"). I do not want to spend more than 1200-1300 for the system on its own. I don't mind buying separate parts to make the system work. Is there a specific model that I should look at that is still good, but does not cost a lot? I guess I'm just asking for a recommendation as to which model would keep me in budget while giving me the most bang-for-buck. Stuff like ram isn't an issue, as it can be upgraded any time, but my main requirement is it needs to have 3 monitors that run perfect without hiccups, which I believe means it will need to have 2 graphics cards(?).

I've been searching CR for local listing, but have not had any luck. Ebay seems to be pretty useless as sellers don't accurately identify their model, which is part of what confuses me the most. I've actually been relying mostly on MacTracker for accurate information. I would prefer the MacPro to have 8 total cores.

Any guidance would be appreciated.

...just noticed I spelled advice with an s.

“If you are distressed by anything external, the pain is not due to the thing itself but to your own estimate of it; and this you have the power to revoke at any moment.” Marcus Aurelius
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pigoo3

 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by iggibar View Post
...just noticed I spelled advice with an s.
Ha ha...I notice this quite a bit...but I try to hold my tongue! I think that you're the first person (poster) to notice the mistake that I can remember! I fixed it.

As far as the Mac Pro question...personally I wouldn't get a Mac Pro that was older that a 2009 "Nehalem" model...and with that model...I wouldn't get anything with a cpu speed of less than 2.66ghz. There was/is a 2.26ghz model...and IMHO it's too slow for tasks/software that don't take advantage of more than 1-2 cores. I had a 2009 "Nehalem" Mac Pro, 2.26ghz 8-cores...and one of the reasons I got rid of it was the 2.26ghz cpu speed.

Of course this model (or newer) will probably be very close or exceed your $1200-$1300 budget (I got mine for $1250 2.5 years ago)...and a 2.66ghz 8-core model will be more.

Yes you will probably need 2 video cards...but if you don't need "super duper" graphics performance...the GT 120 video cards can be had for around $50 via e-bay. They support 2 monitors each...so with two of them you can drive 4 monitors.

HTH,

- Nick

- Computer slow, too many "beachballs", read this: Beachballs
- Computer seems slower than it used to? Read this for some speedup tips: Speedup
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iggibar

 
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I've literally have spent countless hours sifting through every single Mac Pro listing on eBay. It seems that ~1200 is a low price for an well equipped MacPro3.1 or higher model. I was talking to my friend about his 2.8ghz 4-core MacPro5.1 and he might let me have it for $1200, and if I don't like it, I can give it back. I checked the benchmark scores and it scores 8839. I honestly know I will not care about gaming, so it has no role in this decision. I've been finding myself opening multiple desktops or using multiple computers to do one task that requires multiple open windows. As long as the processor speed is at least double what my MacBookPro5.1(still runs fine imo), and it has multiple graphics inputs, I will be happy.

However, 8 cores just sounds better than 4 cores. The problem is the MC3.1 2x2.8ghz 4-core(8 cores) scores less than my friend's MP5.1 with 4 cores. I personally think I will be fine with either one, but having 4 cores doesn't seem to do anything for me. I'm sure what's helping his MC5.1 score higher are faster ram and other communicating speeds. I guess that means I'll have to hunt and peck for a MC4.1 2.26ghz+ 8 core. That definitely will perform well for me

As for the graphics, I was planning on getting gtx400 or higher card for the center screen, and two gt120 cards for the side screens. Teems setup seems to work well with the right power splitter. I guess the gpu options wont be an issue as long as I look at 2008+ MacPros.

Looks like you got a good deal with that 2.26 8 core. I wouldn't mind paying that for one right now.
From what I've been looking at, exterior condition is the largest player in resale value. All the well priced ones with good specs are in horrible exterior condition(imo).

I feel like this will give me a hernia.

If you ever come by a nice MacPro, please do not hesitate to alert me

“If you are distressed by anything external, the pain is not due to the thing itself but to your own estimate of it; and this you have the power to revoke at any moment.” Marcus Aurelius
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It's double your budget, but it is like new (Apple Refurb) and 8 core.
Refurbished Mac Pro - Apple Certified , 1-Year Warranty - Apple Store (U.S.)

I've always wanted to be smart, handsome and modest. But, I guess I'll have to be satisfied with two out of three . . .
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pigoo3

 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by iggibar View Post
I guess that means I'll have to hunt and peck for a MC4.1 2.26ghz+ 8 core. That definitely will perform well for me

Looks like you got a good deal with that 2.26 8 core. I wouldn't mind paying that for one right now.
As far as 4-core vs. 8-core...remember that if the software you're using isn't written to take advantage of multiple cores...then if you only have a core 2 duo or an 8-core Mac Pro...you won't see a tremendous speed difference (in regards to having many cores).

Regarding the 2.26 8-core Mac Pro. In my post above I was recommending NOT getting this model Mac Pro...unless you know for sure that the software you use takes advantage of multiple cores. If not...a 2.26ghz 8-core Mac Pro surfing the internet with Safari (for example)...won't be tremendously faster than a 2.26ghz core 2 duo MacBook.

Maybe you can tell us why you want an 8-core Mac Pro? Your initial post only mentioned wanting to run 3 monitors.

- Nick

- Computer slow, too many "beachballs", read this: Beachballs
- Computer seems slower than it used to? Read this for some speedup tips: Speedup
- Almost full hard drive? Some solutions. Out of Space
- Apple Battery Info. Battery
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iggibar

 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pigoo3 View Post
Regarding the 2.26 8-core Mac Pro. In my post above I was recommending NOT getting this model Mac Pro...unless you know for sure that the software you use takes advantage of multiple cores. If not...a 2.26ghz 8-core Mac Pro surfing the internet with Safari (for example)...won't be tremendously faster than a 2.26ghz core 2 duo MacBook.
Yeah, I understood what you were saying, but the price you got for it is still good today, considering how long ago you got it.

Quote:
Maybe you can tell us why you want an 8-core Mac Pro? Your initial post only mentioned wanting to run 3 monitors.
The usual answer when it comes to computers..."because it's more," but it doesn't exactly compare well with a 2008 to 2009 MP due to ram, bus, and other communicating speeds. As I mentioned earlier, I have a month before I choose something, and wanted some advise on what the best bang-for-buck would be so I know what to eye when I have to buy something.

I wish someone on here were selling one.

“If you are distressed by anything external, the pain is not due to the thing itself but to your own estimate of it; and this you have the power to revoke at any moment.” Marcus Aurelius
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pigoo3

 
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I got an awesome price on the 2009 8-core 2.26ghz Mac Pro I purchased (after some serious negotiation)...and that's why I bought it! In fact...I drove 100 miles (each way) to get it!!! And yes...even roughly 2 years later the price I paid would still be a good price. I actually sold it for about $300 more than I paid for it...which included a ram upgrade from 4gig to 12gig.

The reason why I'm trying to steer you away from this exact model is (the 2.26ghz cpu). From a design & logic board architecture standpoint it's a great computer...but the 2.26ghz cpu's were just too slow...unless you know that the software you will be using will be able to take advantage of the 8-core (16 virtual cores)...otherwise it really won't be much faster than a core 2 duo 2.26ghz MacBook.

My 2009 "Nehalem" 8-core 2.26ghz Mac Pro had a Geekbench score of just over 12,000 (it should be listed in the Mac-Forums benchmark thread). At the time it was/had one of fastest (or the fastest) Geekbench score of all the scores in the thread! It is possible to upgrade the cpu's in this Mac Pro from the 2.26ghz cpu's...to 2.66 or 2.93ghz cpu's...but it REALLY is still cost prohibitive. This is why I'm recommending that you get at least the 2.66ghz version right away...and not the 2.26ghz model.

Again...the 4,1 Mac Pro's I think are a great "bang for the buck" model at this time...but only if someone knows that the software they will be using can take advantage of all 8 cores (16 virtual cores)...and when that sort of software isn't being used (such as Safari, e-mail, some games, etc.)...that it have a cpu speed of at least 2.66ghz...since the 2.26ghz might be a bit on the slow side.

You asked for some recommendations...so I posted what I think...which includes my personal experiences with a 4,1 Mac Pro. Buying a Mac Pro is not a small-budget sort of thing...and $1200-$1300 is not a big budget. Yes you could relatively easily get a Mac Pro 1,1; 2,1; or 3,1...but some of these models do have some bottlenecks in terms of:

- EFI type (32 vs. 64 bit)
- video card "flexibility"
- cost of ram upgrades
- total max. ram
- ease of upgrading the cpu's (just expensive)
- compatibility with Mountain Lion
- etc. etc.

Purchasing a Mac Pro older than Mac Pro 4,1 can be done with a $1200-$1300 budget...but there may/will be some drawbacks.

Good Luck,

- Nick

- Computer slow, too many "beachballs", read this: Beachballs
- Computer seems slower than it used to? Read this for some speedup tips: Speedup
- Almost full hard drive? Some solutions. Out of Space
- Apple Battery Info. Battery
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iggibar

 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pigoo3 View Post
I got an awesome price on the 2009 8-core 2.26ghz Mac Pro I purchased (after some serious negotiation)...and that's why I bought it! In fact...I drove 100 miles (each way) to get it!!! And yes...even roughly 2 years later the price I paid would still be a good price. I actually sold it for about $300 more than I paid for it...which included a ram upgrade from 4gig to 12gig.

The reason why I'm trying to steer you away from this exact model is (the 2.26ghz cpu). From a design & logic board architecture standpoint it's a great computer...but the 2.26ghz cpu's were just too slow...unless you know that the software you will be using will be able to take advantage of the 8-core (16 virtual cores)...otherwise it really won't be much faster than a core 2 duo 2.26ghz MacBook.

My 2009 "Nehalem" 8-core 2.26ghz Mac Pro had a Geekbench score of just over 12,000 (it should be listed in the Mac-Forums benchmark thread). At the time it was/had one of fastest (or the fastest) Geekbench score of all the scores in the thread! It is possible to upgrade the cpu's in this Mac Pro from the 2.26ghz cpu's...to 2.66 or 2.93ghz cpu's...but it REALLY is still cost prohibitive. This is why I'm recommending that you get at least the 2.66ghz version right away...and not the 2.26ghz model.

Again...the 4,1 Mac Pro's I think are a great "bang for the buck" model at this time...but only if someone knows that the software they will be using can take advantage of all 8 cores (16 virtual cores)...and when that sort of software isn't being used (such as Safari, e-mail, some games, etc.)...that it have a cpu speed of at least 2.66ghz...since the 2.26ghz might be a bit on the slow side.

You asked for some recommendations...so I posted what I think...which includes my personal experiences with a 4,1 Mac Pro. Buying a Mac Pro is not a small-budget sort of thing...and $1200-$1300 is not a big budget. Yes you could relatively easily get a Mac Pro 1,1; 2,1; or 3,1...but some of these models do have some bottlenecks in terms of:

- EFI type (32 vs. 64 bit)
- video card "flexibility"
- cost of ram upgrades
- total max. ram
- ease of upgrading the cpu's (just expensive)
- compatibility with Mountain Lion
- etc. etc.

Purchasing a Mac Pro older than Mac Pro 4,1 can be done with a $1200-$1300 budget...but there may/will be some drawbacks.

Good Luck,

- Nick
Thanks, what you noted is basically what I've been thinking as well. As far as the cpu thing, that's why I was looking for one that is faster than my MBP's 2.4GHz.

I was actually originally planning on building something, but for the life of me, I can't stay within budget.

At least I'm finally ready to get one. I've been skirting around this computer need for a while now, and decided to get one. I'm probably going to go over budget, and I would rather go over budget on a MacPro than on a custom build, but that's just me.

Thanks for the advice

“If you are distressed by anything external, the pain is not due to the thing itself but to your own estimate of it; and this you have the power to revoke at any moment.” Marcus Aurelius
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Budget is always the big problem and Nick's advice on 2009 2.66GHz is right on. Even it costs a tad more that is the model to get. Office for business? Remember depreciation comes into play so a few more dollars spent will serve you well.

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