PC guy with Mac Pro questions

Posted:
in General Discussion edited January 2014
Hi all,



I am looking to move into a Mac Pro in the next month or so and I have some question. I build my own PC's and like the ability to upgrade as needs require. The Mac Pro looks like it is upgradable but i wanted to check. I know you drop in hard drives easily but I am curious about installing more memory (cheaper to get from a 3rd party than thru apple), upgrading the video card down the road (is it on board or a separate card?), and upgrading the CPU down the road as well. Can this done on the Mac Pro or do you just use it unitl its out of date and buy a whole new system?



I have checked out the MAC OS and it looks pretty slick. It does not appear that you can choose Leopard over tiger during the configuration step in the apple store. Is it out yet? Or is it just an upgrade that you are forced to buy seperately.



I have been on Newegg.com checking out prices for memory and it is a lot cheaper than buying thru apple. i assume this memory is ok.



I guess what i am looking for is a machine i can upgrade so i am not forced to spend butt loads more money in two years on a new one. I want it for video editing.



As you can tell I don;t have much of a clue when it comes to Apples. the last one i had was a GS a long time ago



thx!

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 10
    mr. hmr. h Posts: 4,819member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Nevada View Post


    installing more memory (cheaper to get from a 3rd party than thru apple)



    Any FB-DIMMS with heat-sinks will be fine.





    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Nevada View Post


    upgrading the video card down the road (is it on board or a separate card?)



    Yes, the video card is a "standard" PCI express one. However, because the Mac Pro is Apple's only machine that takes graphics cards, and it doesn't sell all that many, the installed base of PCI express-capable Macs is very small and therefore there is little incentive for card makers to come out with Mac-compatible cards. You can't just get any card, since Macs use EFI and PCs use BIOS, you have to have a Mac-specific one. There are Mac cards out there, they are just few and far between.



    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Nevada View Post


    and upgrading the CPU down the road as well.



    The CPUs are standard Intel Xeons in the expected slot. They are difficult to get at, but you can replace them if you really want. However, you should bear in mind that it's quite likely that by the time you want to upgrade the CPU, Intel will have moved on to a different slot.



    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Nevada View Post


    I have checked out the MAC OS and it looks pretty slick. It does not appear that you can choose Leopard over tiger during the configuration step in the apple store. Is it out yet?



    No, it's not out yet. Still in "private" (developer only) beta testing. It is expected to come out in October.



    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Nevada View Post


    Or is it just an upgrade that you are forced to buy seperately.



    You are not "forced" to buy it separately. No one will come over to your house and hold a gun to your head about it. If you buy a Mac now, when Leopard comes out, Tiger will continue to work in exactly the same way as it does now. If you decide to upgrade to Leopard, it'll cost you $129. So the choices are:



    1.) Buy Mac now, don't upgrade when Leopard comes.

    2.) Buy Mac now, upgrade when Leopard comes for $129.

    3.) Wait until Leopard is released and then buy Mac (Leopard will come pre-installed).



    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Nevada View Post


    I guess what i am looking for is a machine i can upgrade so i am not forced to spend butt loads more money in two years on a new one. I want it for video editing.



    Go for it. OS X and all Apple's video editing software is awesome. You won't regret it.
  • Reply 2 of 10
    l33r0yl33r0y Posts: 94member
    I'm from a PC background as well (still am, I've not actualy bought a Mac yet!) but in my experience the whole 'upgrade' argument for PCs vs an all in one Mac doesn't wash with me anymore.



    Of the last 3 home built PCs I've made, I've not actually 'upgraded' them other than adding more hard disk space, memory or adding USB/Firewire cards. When I wanted to upgrade the graphics card (because the latest game demanded it) I was generally unable to do so because either the connection standard had changed (PCI -> AGP, then AGP -> PCI-X) or the CPU was mis-matched in terms of performance. So in order to make the jump, I would need to upgrade the motherboard. But then, the processor slot would be different standard to my existing CPU, so inevitably I would need to upgrade to another CPU. Then that would produce another problem as the memory pin or speed standard would be mis-matched, requiring me to buy replacement sticks...



    Effectively, I'd be buying the guts of a new PC, leaving only the hard disks - which would no doubt be near capacity anyway and in one situation, would be using PATA where the standard would now be SATA... What am I left with from the old system? A dusty old case with now noisy fans.



    I initially thought along the same lines as you and considered a Mac Pro as this seemed logical from a PC user/builder because of the form factor. However in reality, the Mac Pro doesn't offer much more in terms of expandability over, say an iMac other than the ability to add hard disks easily *internally* and adding another CD drive with a BluRay/HD-DVD unit. Sure you can replace the CPU, but that will invalidate your warranty no doubt.



    So personally I'd be much better off spending a bit more money on a whole new system where all component parts are of the same age, with a warranty & full *manufacturer* support. This is one of the main reasons why I'm thinking of replacing my PC workhorse with the new 24" iMac and keeping my storage on an external drive system (probably a NAS box that is independant of the computer and can be accessed when the Mac is turned off - so I can access music, movies and other media from my xbox with xbmc).



    So my advice is, even though it is kind of comforting to know your PC can be upgraded - bear in mind what you have *actually* upgraded over the years and to what cost. If like me, this is only hard disk and memory, consider the all in one solution that the iMacs provide. You may feel this is giving up on control (as I thought initially) but it was control I never really utilised anyway. Your milage may vary of course.



    Plus, if you find your iMac is not powerful enough for your needs (which won't happen for many years - many people out there are still using G3 and G4 iMacs happily) - you will have a greater chance of selling it on for more money than a no-name PC ever would fetch, because of its brand appeal, form factor and its ease of use.



    Oh and in terms of the new iMac being powerfull enough for video editing, the 24" (1900x1200) 2.8GHz with 4Gb is what I have in my 'saved cart' at the moment will be more than adequate! You could use any of the iMac range for this purpose - the difference in spec will only save you a small percentage in render time, and unless time is literally money (you are working on video all day everyday) this shouldn't be an issue. All the extra money should be spent on storage, or a vacation!





    Hope this is of help to someone (switchers!).





    L.
  • Reply 3 of 10
    Good posts...



    l33r0y, makes a good argument... In fact, the iMacs are pretty easy to work inside of anyway (at least the previous models were). Loosen 3 screws, tilt the back to remove, and you're in. Very easy to add RAM or replace a HD (I've never changed the video card in one, though).



    That said, the MacPro is one helluva machine. If money was not a significant consideration, I would definitely get a MP; if it was, I don't think I would be unhappy with the new iMac.
  • Reply 4 of 10
    freakboyfreakboy Posts: 138member
    The mac pro is a kick-ass workstation. If you already have a nice LCD then and imac doesn't make much sense. The mac pro can also have up to 16 gigs of ram, which is a level of future proofing that you just can't get with the imac. Add to that the fact that a low end 4 core mac pro can be upgrade to 8 much faster cores in the future, and you're looking at probably a 200-300% speedup down the road with some upgrades.



    So buy the low end mac pro, budget 500$ per year for the next 2 years adding more HDs and CPUs. It'll kick ass for a long time.



    with that said, i'd plan right away with a mac pro to put a raid in for speed. My XP with macs right now is that the limiting factor in performance is the HD throughput. Can imacs even do RAID?



    fb
  • Reply 5 of 10
    I too am making the move to Mac Pro from PC. One question about monitors. Can I use my current VewSonic monitors with a Mac Pro or am I constrained to specific types of monitors?



    Thanks
  • Reply 6 of 10
    kickahakickaha Posts: 8,760member
    VGA, DVI, DVI-I, DVI-D... just those types.
  • Reply 7 of 10
    mr. hmr. h Posts: 4,819member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by thejru View Post


    I too am making the move to Mac Pro from PC. One question about monitors. Can I use my current VewSonic monitors with a Mac Pro or am I constrained to specific types of monitors?



    Thanks



    I see no reason why you should be constrained. What sort of connector does the ViewSonic have?
  • Reply 8 of 10
    My ViewSonics have VGA connectors.
  • Reply 9 of 10
    MarvinMarvin Posts: 14,548moderator
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by l33r0y View Post


    Of the last 3 home built PCs I've made, I've not actually 'upgraded' them other than adding more hard disk space, memory or adding USB/Firewire cards.



    Sure but it's also about replacing parts when they break outside of warranty and getting the configuration you want in the first place. What if you want an iMac with an nVidia GPU? There are some applications like nVidia Gelato that require one. It's just not an option. Apple give you the choice of just two ATI cards in the iMacs now, which I found a bit surprising given that they are supporting Intel's rival now.



    I don't particularly care about upgradability but what I do care about are choices and Apple don't give you anywhere near enough with anything but the Mac Pro.
  • Reply 10 of 10
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by thejru View Post


    My ViewSonics have VGA connectors.



    You'll need DVI => VGA adapters. They cost like $20 or so from Apple. There may or may not be generic ones for cheaper on NewEgg.



    Just want to point out that Intel actually switches sockets pretty rarely. You ought to be able to get a Penryn into the MacPro (although maxed at 1.33 GHz FSBs without mobo firmware or EFI work). They shouldn't be switching sockets until Nehalem, which is at least a year from now.
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