9 Replies Latest reply: Jan 31, 2013 6:14 PM by Grant Bennet-Alder
KEForex Level 1 (5 points)

Hello fellow mac pro experts.


I am in the market for a used mac pro, and would like to know which one you would recommend and with how much RAM for the following main tasks:


1) The usual email / internet stuff


2) DVD rendering


3) Logic Pro


4) Will have to be able to run Windows 7 Ultimate using bootcamp.



I will use two 30" monitors, from HP model LP3065 (2560 resolution)


I would rather use Snow Leopard (10.6.8) if possible. I don't like Lion or Mountain Lion.


So, what is the configuration you would recommend, considering most small tasks (email, internet, office, etc) use just 1 core most of the times?


Thanks in advance!!

  • Grant Bennet-Alder Level 9 (56,585 points)

    The 2006 and 2007 models cannot run full 64-bit kernel, so cannot take advantage of over 4GB per application, and cannot run 10.8 Mountain Lion.

    4GB or more will probably do what you want today. Large memories for these models and the 2008 model are much more expensive than later models. If you can get such a Mac very cheaply, perhaps you will see this as an advantage for "getting in the door". If you ever envision doing industrial-strength work on it, do not invest new money in these models today.


    Some of the later models require 10.6.5 or later. The "Full Retail" DVD contains 10.6.3, and will not boot on these models. It appears that if you can get "Full Retail" 10.6.8 installed from another source, it will run fine on any Mac Pro model, including the 2012 model. Buy getting it installed often requires another modern (but not too modern) Mac.


    To run Windows, plan on installing it on a different drive than your Boot Drive for least problems. You will also need a Backup drive.


    The Mac uses EFI firmware to draw the screens. Apple-firmware is required for trouble-free operation of graphics cards. Monitors wider than 1920 may require ACTIVE adapters from Mini DisplayPort with Apple AMD/ATI graphics cards. The Apple 5770 works in all models Mac Pro.

  • Grant Bennet-Alder Level 9 (56,585 points)
    Mac Pro
    Date introduced


    Original Mac OS X included
    (see Tips 1 and 3)

    Later Mac OS X included
    (see Tip 1)

    Mac OS X Build(s)
    (see Tip 2)

    Mac Pro (Mid 2012)Jun 201210.7.310.8 11D2001, 12A269
    Mac Pro (Mid 2010)Aug 201010.6.410.7, 10.7.2, 10.7.310F2521, 10F2554, 11A511a, 11C74, 11D2001
    Mac Pro with Mac OS X Server (Mid 2010)Aug 201010.6.410.7, 10.7.2, 10.7.3 (Server)10F2522, 11A511a, 11C74, 11D2001 (Server)
    Mac Pro (Early 2009)Mar 200910.5.610.69G3553, 10A432
    Mac Pro (Early 2008)

    Jan 2008


    10.5.2, 10.5.4

    9B2117, 9C2031, 9E25
    Mac Pro

    Aug 2006


    10.4.8, 10.4.9, 10.4.10, 10.5

    8K1079, 8N1430, 8N1250, 8K1124, 8P4037, 8R3032, 8R3041, 9A581, 9A3129



    It appears the 2012 is over-specified here. Since it is essentially unchanged from the 2010 model, Users (who wanted to bad enough) have downgraded to 10.6.8 and (once running) have no issues.


    N.B.> Installation is COMPLEX and may require another Mac.

  • The hatter Level 9 (60,930 points)

    $1800 2010 Specials from Apple Store section they are excellent ref'd units with 2.8 4-core and more than enough for your needs. And very upgradeable.

  • KEForex Level 1 (5 points)

    Thank you very much guys for the replies. I have noticed that the $1,800 2010 machine for sale at the apple store has only one DVI output at the back. How will I be able to run my two 30" monitors at their native 2560 resolution? Also, would it be better to go 8 core? I mean, would 8 core make a big enough difference on DVD rendering times?

  • Grant Bennet-Alder Level 9 (56,585 points)

    The four core is more than adequate, and the eight core is unnecessary and nearly twice the price. For that price you would be better off with two complete Mac Pros.


    Mac Pro with 5770 and 5870 have one DVI and two Mini DisplayPort. They can run three 30" Cinema displays at once. You would need an ACTIVE adapter from Mini DisplayPort to Dual-Link DVI. The Apple adapter costs about US$100.


    Do not scrimp on more Hard Drives -- most Mac Pros are NOT compute-bound.


    Their speed is limited because they do not have a separate Boot Drive AND a separate Source drive AND a separate Destination Drive. The I/O is all backed up behind the glacial seek times on a single rotating drive, while the CPU is sitting Idle and the owner is swearing at this "too-slow piece of junk", and trying to figure out how to make the CPU go faster (which will not solve the problem).


    Today's Mac Pros have enough compute power to do weather forecasting or other fluid-dynamics modeling. Compute power is not generally the issue for most users (High-end Video renderers being the possible exception)

  • KEForex Level 1 (5 points)

    Thank you again for the great answer. Are the 2010 quad core machines upgradable to how much RAM maximum? The idea here would be to save on the purchase of the machine, and spend more on upgrading RAM amount and perhaps installing 4 SSD drives. Another question, given that 4 SSDs are installed, is it better (faster) to have two raids or to have, like you've mentioned, 1 boot SSD, 1 source SSD, 1 destination SSD and finally the last one for Windows 7 via bootcamp? If I go with 2 raids (2 SSDs each) one of them would be for Win 7. I would be using OS-X 10.6.8 for all the video rendering stuff and the Win 7 for all other tasks that I can still only perform in Windows (sometimes with intensive disk access).

  • Grant Bennet-Alder Level 9 (56,585 points)

    The big speedup of a RAID on Rotating Drives is generated when reading or writing ONE large file. One drive's seeking overlaps with the other drive's data transfer. The 20 msec dead zone while a drive seeks overlaps with the other drive's data transfer time.


    SSDs already have such low latency that there is not nearly as much to gain from RAIDing them.


    SSDs are still pricey. I would go with Source and Destination on Rotating drives, Boot Drive on SSD and look at upgrading later.




    4*8GB = 32GB is under US$350, and you can go up to 3*16GB = 48GB with 16GB modules (but that much is twice the price).


    These are for the 2009 and later models -- 2008 and previous cannot go as high and are MUCH more expensive.

  • KEForex Level 1 (5 points)

    Excellent, and thanks once more for such fast reply. So I think I'll be set for a few years with a 2010 mac pro, 32GB and 4 SSD drives, without RAID(ing) them. This should be a beefy workhorse for my needs, which aren't as heavy as industrial stuff. I will do some 1080p / 1080i renderings though, but not as frequently.

  • Grant Bennet-Alder Level 9 (56,585 points)

    One really nice thing about the RAM for 2009 and later is that you only need to install ONE module initially. You could run it with 1*8GB for a while. [you could run it with the RAM it came with, 3GB or 6GB for a while and probably be happy initially]. Most Users opt for aftermarket RAM from a Mac-savvy Vendor with a moneyback guarantee --"It works in your Mac, or we take it back!"


    If you are filling up available RAM, you can add a second 8GB module and it speeds up as well. The third one provides an additional (smaller) speedup.


    The fourth one slows it down slightly, but that is more than compensated by things working faster without swapping to disk as much. There are tools in Activity Monitor that show you what's up with your RAM use.