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Considering a Mac Pro Purchase

I'm considering a Mac Pro purchase to replace my Dual 2 GHz G5 (2x250 GB, 2.5, BT, AP, SD). I have an existing 23" Aluminum display that I'll likely carry over. With $899 for 4 GB of RAM from RAMJet, the price comes to about $4500 after tax for this configuration:

Two 3GHz Dual-Core Intel Xeon
Stock: 1GB (2 x 512MB)
500GB 7200-rpm Serial ATA 3Gb/s
500GB 7200-rpm Serial ATA 3Gb/s
ATI Radeon X1900 XT 512MB (2 x dual-link DVI)
Two 16x SuperDrives
Both Bluetooth 2.0+EDR and AirPort Extreme
Stock: Apple Keyboard and Mighty Mouse - U.S. English
4 GB RAM from RAMJet

I realize I could save a little money ordering my own hard drives, but the upgrade cost on the stock 250 GB drive is minimal and I've always liked the simplicity of having my hard drive(s) on the Apple order for warranty issues and simplicity, and I'd only be saving about $100 total. I added the better video card because I heard the stock card was surprisingly wimpy. I added the Bluetooth and AirPort because I use them. I stuck with the stock wired mouse and keyboard because I use my own mouse and don't mind the wired keyboard. The second SuperDrive is well worth the $80.

My current machine is feeling its age, and I'm wondering a few things:

  • How much faster really do these new machines feel? From launching and using Photoshop to doing audio work in SoundTrack Pro (I've gotten away from video work lately), are they appreciably faster than my machine?
  • Are they pretty stable? I haven't seen any reports about funny noises or anything else "buggy" about these machines.

I really think the machine will shine when Leopard hits.

I guess I'll have to dump the Apple-supplied DIMMs and go with 4 GB to achieve the most parallel and powerful system. That's a bummer. I may move a 250 GB drive from my current G5 over to use as a scratch drive. The second drive in the Mac Pro will serve as my backup drive (or my "Time Machine" drive when Leopard hits).

But mostly I'm wondering if now is a good time to buy. Seems that these machines are pretty solid, well-priced, and built for the future (64-bit Leopard).


P.S. I'm also tempted, if I can sell my current machine with the 23" display, to upgrade to the 30" display… but that's a tough sell, even to me.

14 Responses to "Considering a Mac Pro Purchase"

  1. Can you connect a Dual Link DVI to a 23" Cinema display? doesn't that just have regular DVI?

  2. Dan, a pair of dual-link DVI ports can drive two DVI displays. Or one. The extra "dual-link" is for extra data.

  3. You could save money by getting 3GB of ram at Crucial. They now have the proper ram with the large heatsinks. So you'd end up having your 4GB of ram using 8x512MB sticks (including the stock ram). And it's only $597.

    You could make due with that, and if some period down the road you feel you want more than 4GB of ram, i'm sure that 1GB sticks will be a lot cheaper, and so you could sell your old sticks and buy new ones. Just a thought anyway.

  4. I'd keep the old g5 around. But I am in that class of people that probably will not get a new mac until they are shipping with Leopard, and I also tend to like to keep the new mac as pristine as I can stand it, bringing over as few older files only as absolutely needed.

    I bought my last PowerBook as Tiger was released, with the intention of keeping the notebook as 'cocoa' as possible. I'm not sure howe well I succeeded, and have already installed several apps I have orphaned.

  5. Cody, I'm not interested in putting in a bunch of 512 MB sticks. If I ever need more than 4 GB with that machine, the 512 MB sticks won't be worth much.

    Plus, if I ever wanted to replace my DIMMs, I'd have to replace them ALL or I'd suffer a performance penalty. Or something… I think having matching banks gives you a little benefit.

    Bud: my current machine is over three years old. I don't even have a need for a high-powered server in the house or I probably would keep it around. I'm hoping I can sell it for a reasonable price to someone.

  6. Hi Cody, if my MacBook is anything to go by, your machine will be very snappy indeed. I'm still shocked at how quickly this laptop boots and opens applications in comparison to my previous lappy.

  7. Buy it. You can play Rush and Hannity simultaneously and still have two processors left over for posting nationalistic comments on RedState and MichelleMalkin. Shwing!

  8. You must enjoy wasting money on overpriced and overhyped hardware and software. There is no way in hell I'd pay $899 for memory alone. I highly doubt you're going to be utilizing 4gb of memory, even with a 64 bit CPU.

  9. Ron, that's a pretty ignorant comment. First off, Mac OS X uses however much RAM it's got available. Second, I do a lot of video and audio work. Third, software development can take up a lot of RAM.

    And finally, "overhyped hardware and software" makes you sound like a fanboy, which you probably are.

  10. No, sorry, not a fanboy. Just able to realize that Apple isn't selling anything more than an experience. To be honest, you fit the definition of a "fanboy" far better than I do. I grew up on the Apple IIe, the early Macintosh with Mac OS 7.5 in middle school, and OS 9 and 10 when I started my IT career. There's nothing exceptional with their PCs or their OS now that is worth the kind of money they're charging. The only thing of value you could say you got was bragging rights that you purchased an expensive Apple computer. Good show, chap!

  11. Their desktop computers are actually quite competitively priced, Ron. If you had cared to do some research instead of sticking your head in the sand like most IT folks I've ever met ("You can't get fired for recommending Microsoft!"), you'd have discovered that.

  12. Re: dual-link DVI

    It's not that dual-link DVI can drive two monitors or that you can't connect standard DVI to a dual-link DVI connector. Dual-link DVI is just the same DVI connnector except that it enables additional pins as data channels for sending signal data. It effectively doubles the data channels. This means that more pins are used in the connectors so you need a dual-link capable cable that actual has the wires for those channels. It does not drive two monitors, it just enables the cable to transmit more data to support higher resolutions (above 1920x1200 basically).

  13. Hey Jedi.. I say if it's something you really need, go ahead and do it. Personally, I would try to wait for the octocore cpus, sometime later this year or at the beginning of next. Ideally that would last you longer and be a far more significant real-world performance boost. Then again, my needs are different from yours. I don't make money on the notion that my computer can render or compile something twice as fast as the newest system out. My uses are mainly personal / educational in nature.

    Also, I'd be a little weary right now because of these being the first revision model. I took my MacBook Pro in for repair about four times so far and have only had it since March. YMMV

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