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Upgrade to 08 Mac Pro 3.1 for FCP X

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Neil Paisnel
Upgrade to 08 Mac Pro 3.1 for FCP X
on May 14, 2015 at 6:14:37 pm

I know this is not a hardware forum, but well I want to upgrade for FCPX use...so

here goes

I have an old MP 3,1 2008
28gb RAM
3.0Ghz 8 Core
HD4870 1gb VRAM Graphics card.
Also the original ATI2600 256mb.



Now, been thinking about upgrading it ..maybe two graphics cards...probably from macvidcards.com

A pair of ??? but probably 2 or 4gb cards ..so if what I have been told is true, the matched cards will then be used by FCP X to help with processing...

Also maybe swap out the 3.0 Ghz cpu's to 3.2ghz CPS'

So RAM upgrade, CPU Upgrade and maybe a bit more RAM?

But hey I know nothing ..


I had also been lead to believe that later Macs have some sort of hardware acceleration that means that h264 video gets rendered q lot quicker , on effectively a lower spec machine



Or will I be better of seeing if i can get a used MP 5,1 Looking at current used prices , it will probably cost about the same as the upgrades to the 3,1


Or if any one has a pair of old 3,1 graphics cards, better than what i have at the moment they are wanting to sell?

Any ideas appreciated


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John Davidson
Re: Upgrade to 08 Mac Pro 3.1 for FCP X
on May 14, 2015 at 7:04:57 pm

Let the Mac Pro just become a backup machine. You'll get better and more powerful performance from a new i7 iMac. It's not worth the effort. We have the same one and it collects dust now. Even a 2012 iMac kicks it's butt in performance.

John Davidson | President / Creative Director | Magic Feather Inc.


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Neil Paisnel
Re: Upgrade to 08 Mac Pro 3.1 for FCP X
on May 14, 2015 at 8:27:01 pm

How would the 5,1 mac Pro , 12 core stack up against the i7 iMacs?



I really done want to go down the route of the glorified laptops that are iMacs. There is no way I'd ever buy an iMac, i just don't like fact that if you want extra HDD they have to be external.

Since the new Macs Pros have become dustbins I'd not get one of them either....Unless I could perhaps house it and all the external HDD's inside a proper tower case, ;)

Next time I spend big money on a mac it is going to have to be a 'hyacinths' so I can keep the tower case style that I prefer


But for now it is back to my basic question...upgrade the 3,1 or get a 5,1 ?




I run 4 screens here and all are DVI . Have 4 internal HDD's. It is just so much easier and neater without having boxes and cables everywhere. it is bad enough with the screens without having to have all the harddrvies external too. This is in my home in the living room and it is relatively neat as a single tower box.


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John Davidson
Re: Upgrade to 08 Mac Pro 3.1 for FCP X
on May 14, 2015 at 9:31:43 pm

We use our old 5,1 12 core as a server mac now. It became too frustrating working with FCPX in an older hardware system because they're just designed for an older generation of software. Now that it has just one job to perform of managing a 10gb ethernet server and 2 60TB arrays, it's great.

With all due respect, it seems like your preconceived notions about iMacs, laptops and "dustbins" are clouding your understanding of what these systems are actually capable of nowadays. The type of RAM you can put in these systems just isn't as fast as the RAM you can put in a new mac system of any flavor. In fact, I think I once priced out a RAM upgrade on the 3,1 and it was so overpriced (because it's no longer in production perhaps) it wasn't worth the effort.

There are other really important things you might be overlooking. Thunderbolt 2 is no joke. USB3 is also a game changer. Connected to something like a RAID5 Areca 32TB Thunderbolt Array, these systems all beat the pants off of an internal 4 drive array in RAID 0 (in 3,1 as well as 5,1) that isn't even capable of taking advantage of 6G drive speeds. Lastly, the internal SSD's on new macs really do rock.

Life moves pretty fast Neil. If you don't stop by your local apple store to smell the upgrades, it might pass you by :).

You can compare any model of mac to another here:
http://www.everymac.com/ultimate-mac-comparison-chart/?compare=all-macs

I made the comparison for you here.



For what it's worth, I decided to reduce our home system from an office to just a desk last year to make space in the home. I now have a retina MBPro 15" feeding to a tastefully hidden Promise Pegasus 8Tb array which is ample. When I want to view something on a big screen, the new mac systems are capable airplay to the apple TV 60in screen in the same room. Older systems can't do that. If I want to see something in 4K, I run the HDMI out of the iMac into the TV. It's a simple, beautiful and surprisingly robust system - that will get out of the way if I ever need to use the desk for something like changing a diaper :).

John Davidson | President / Creative Director | Magic Feather Inc.


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John Rofrano
Re: Upgrade to 08 Mac Pro 3.1 for FCP X
on May 15, 2015 at 5:32:08 am

I was in a similar situation and I opted not to go for an iMac or buy a new Mac Pro and instead updated my old Mac Pro's so let me at least share what I did:

I have a 2008 Mac Pro 2.8Ghz 8-Core, 16GB memory, 128GB SSD + 2TB RAID 0, and ATI Radeon HD 5870 that I picked on on eBay for $740. That should give you an idea of what your current Mac Pro is worth. The SSD and the Radeon HD 5870 make this old Mac feel pretty new. The only modification that I made to it was to upgraded to USB 3.0 by adding this Inateck 4 Ports PCI-E to USB 3.0 Expansion Card for Mac. USB 3.0 makes a big difference in speed when connecting external drives.

The only problem with the 2008 Mac Pro is that (1) The CPU doesn't support hyperthreading so there are 8 cores and 8 threads (2) the memory is really slow at 800MHz and (3) the SATA bus is limited to SATA II speed which is 3Gb/s. I also haven't been able to get a drive larger than 2TB to work in the internal bays.

At the end of last year I had to decide what to do about an upgrade. Do I buy a New Mac Pro? Do I buy an iMac? or do I buy a newer/old Mac Pro?

I bought a 2010 Mac Pro 2.93GHz 12-Core, 24GB memory, 1TB boot drive w/3 x 2TB Apple Hardware RAID 5 and AMD Radeon HD 5870 for $2275 on eBay. I also added the same USB 3.0 card to that. While this model has an updated CPU that is hyperthreaded supporting 12 cores with 24 threads, and it has faster memory at 1333Mz, it still only has SATA II drive speeds.

Since this Mac Pro didn't have an SSD I decided to add an OWC Mercury Accelsior_E2 480 GB SSD (which is scary fast!). I measured 582 MB/s Read and 650 MB/s Write on the Blackmagic Speed Test which is slightly faster than the SSD I put in my Mid-2012 MacBook Pro. This mounts in a PCIe slot so it doesn't take up a drive bay. It also supports SATA III at 6Gb/s and has an external eSATA port. That means that my external RAID is now connected at SATA III speeds as well. Alternately there are articles on how to Upgrade your internal Mac Pro bays to SATA III but I didn't go that route.

Finally I picked up an AMD Radeon HD 7950 Mac Edition since this was the fastest card sanctioned from Apple to work with the 2010/2012 Mac Pro. You can see from this Bare Feats 4K shootout that the HD 7950 is on par with the D700 on the nMP and the 295x in the iMac 5K.

So the 4 PCIe slots in my 2010 Mac Pro look like this (from top to bottom):

(4) Apple RAID Card
(3) Inateck 4 Port USB 3.0 card
(2) OWC Mercury_Accelsior_E2 SSD
(1) AMD Radeon HD 7950

What you don't get is Thunderbolt. If you have a lot of non-Thinderbot storage this might not be an issue for you and buying Thunderbolt storage is expensive but if you want to take advantage of Thunderbolt you'll need to get a newer Mac.

Also note that if you are expecting to add two graphics cards you are going to need an extra power supply because the PSU in your 2008 Mac Pro cannot drive two cards that require 2 6-pin power cables. In other words, the Mac Pro only has two of these cables and all modern cards require 2 cables now so if you will need 4 of them for two cards which means you need to add another power supply from somewhere. I'm not even sure how you would do this.

That means I'm not sure dual GPU's is a possibility. The fastest card that requires a single 6-pin power cable is the Radeon HD 5770. You could put two of these in your Mac Pro but the Radeon HD 5870 is twice as fast as the HD 5770 so you are using up a valuable PCIe slot for no real benefit. This is why I recommend one really fast card. If you can find a AMD Radeon R9 290X GPU that works with a Mac Pro that would be the one to get as long as the power supply can handle it.

So my recommendations if you don't want an iMac is to at least upgrade to a 5.1 Mac Pro to get hyperthreading, and faster memory. Then add an SSD card with SATA III and possibly an eSATA port, and a Radeon HD 5870/7950 graphics card or better. These upgrades made a big difference to my 2010 Mac Pro and gave it some new life. Would the money have been better spent buying an iMac? I'll never know because I don't have an iMac to compare it to. Clearly my Geenbench scores blow the iMac out of the water in multi-core tests. I was also worried about the iMac overheating on long renders. This is why I stuck with a Mac Pro.

~jr

http://www.johnrofrano.com
http://www.vasst.com



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Neil Paisnel
Re: Upgrade to 08 Mac Pro 3.1 for FCP X
on May 15, 2015 at 5:42:36 am

Thanks for the comprehensive reply John.

I'd try a 4TB internal again. I have 2 x 4TB in mine as Time Machine Volume, and Data sort roe volumes works just fine.

I'll pick through your post, just wanted to post back quickly since it looks like we cross posted, and want you to know that the 4TB internal is possible.


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Neil Paisnel
Re: Upgrade to 08 Mac Pro 3.1 for FCP X
on May 15, 2015 at 5:54:13 am

If you ever get the issue of needing a second supply to run cards, then running an external supply is not an issue.

I had been using a HP server style Hot swap PSU running externally , jumpered to run continuously with cables fed through the back to the second card.
That second card is a GT8800 512mb RAM and the first card is a HD4870 running off the internal 2x 6 pin ports

I was considering a pair of GTX 760 2 GB. as they only require a single x6 pin plug each...but they are double width cards so Ioose a PCIe slot.

Second internal PSU's are also available that sit in the lower Mac Pro CD drawer


As outlines further up, I am trying to avoid external storage as much as possible .

I want a bit of a speed improvement if I can obviously but this is no production environment where money is no object


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John Rofrano
Re: Upgrade to 08 Mac Pro 3.1 for FCP X
on May 15, 2015 at 4:32:04 pm

[Neil Paisnel] "I want a bit of a speed improvement if I can obviously but this is no production environment where money is no object"
The single most bang-for-the-buck speed improvement you can make is buying an SSD to replace your HDD boot drive. Honestly, when I put an SSD in my Mac Pro is was like night and day. Everything just responds faster. It was like a whole new computer. IMHO, if you do nothing else, do that. Good luck.

~jr

http://www.johnrofrano.com
http://www.vasst.com



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Neil Paisnel
Re: Upgrade to 08 Mac Pro 3.1 for FCP X
on May 15, 2015 at 4:44:00 pm

Yes, sorry I forgot that.

That is one I have already done.

Wondering about the blades SSD's units of the PCIe slot.

I have 28gb RAM and I don't see increasin that will improve speed any .
Looking on stat Pro figures and Activity monitor, RAM never seems limiting, it is always the CPU's that are max'd out at 680%


love to go out and buy new kit, but I have a mortgage to pay now


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Sam Lee
Re: Upgrade to 08 Mac Pro 3.1 for FCP X
on May 15, 2015 at 6:26:22 pm

Mac Pro 2008-2012 still has a lot of uses in 2015. It serves as a great distribute rendering farm with Compressor 4.2, RAID drive array and still can do some decent editing in FCP 10.2 providing beefy video card, HDD and RAM are upgraded. These legacy MPros help to speed up the h.264 rendering by 30-40 min over a single Mac! So it's not at all useless if you know how to leverage and use it to the max.

I don't know about others but to me the iMac is a desktop version of my latest 2014 MBPro 15" Retina. The big issue is overheating when doing intensive effects. I do have laptop cooler for the MBPro. That seems to remedy the heat, but not sure how one can cool the iMac... Perhaps a noisy small fan blowing it in the back?


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John Davidson
Re: Upgrade to 08 Mac Pro 3.1 for FCP X
on May 15, 2015 at 6:38:14 pm

[Sam Lee] "The big issue is overheating when doing intensive effects. "

I definitely hear the fan crank up when I'm running 4k footage in AE and using plugins like Form to do some 3D work - but nothing that requires any additional interference from me to keep from overheating.

John Davidson | President / Creative Director | Magic Feather Inc.


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Neil Paisnel
Re: Upgrade to 08 Mac Pro 3.1 for FCP X
on May 15, 2015 at 7:03:40 pm

Prrvent overheating with SMC Fan Control app.

I just crank the speeds up to 85% and it keeps temps down below 28-30 deg C


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Sam Lee
Re: Upgrade to 08 Mac Pro 3.1 for FCP X
on May 15, 2015 at 9:49:26 pm

Whatever the case, the dilemma are: Resell value for the legacy Mac Pros are very low. So low that is heartbreaking to just donate it. Recycling to the trash it it an emotional thing because it once costed about $6-9K. Now, within $500-800. Hard to let it go to the trash. It's great for doing headless slave rendering with Compressor 4.2. It still can edit 1080p w/ out much issues, media management, hdd-hdd transfers..

I personally still use an old 17" MBPro back in 2006! It still works but definitely has overheating problem. If will freeze if it gets too hot. So extra fans blowing it on the back is a must.


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Neil Paisnel
Re: Upgrade to 08 Mac Pro 3.1 for FCP X
on May 16, 2015 at 4:21:01 am

ypu should open that 17 inch MBP up and give it a good cleaning /blowing inside. Maybe even see if you can detach the CPU heatsink, clean and put new thermal compound. I can't ssy 100 % that it does dry out and loose thermal efficiency, but that is whst I believe can happen.


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John Rofrano
Re: Upgrade to 08 Mac Pro 3.1 for FCP X
on May 16, 2015 at 12:49:51 pm

[Sam Lee] "Resell value for the legacy Mac Pros are very low. So low that is heartbreaking to just donate it. Recycling to the trash it it an emotional thing because it once costed about $6-9K. Now, within $500-800."
That's not what I'm seeing. I bought my 2008 Mac Pro 8-Core for $740 on eBay. The original price was $2799. That's 26% of it's original value after 6 years. My 2010 Mac Pro 12-Core was $2275 on eBay with an original price of $6474. That's 35% of it's original value after 4 years. So I'm not seeing $6000 Mac's going for $500... more like $6000 Mac Pro's are going to $2000. They are retaining their value. I believe the amortization schedule for depreciating computer equipment is 5 years so if a 2008 Mac Pro is till worth 26% of it's value after 6 years you are doing OK.

~jr

http://www.johnrofrano.com
http://www.vasst.com



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John Davidson
Re: Upgrade to 08 Mac Pro 3.1 for FCP X
on May 15, 2015 at 6:02:18 pm

[Neil Paisnel] "Thanks for the comprehensive reply John."

You bet! I think it speaks to the value of mac machines that - in many cases - they can just run forever. 7 years in computing is a lifetime. Imagine buying something today and knowing you were going to be running it until at least 2022. Self driving cars probably be very common at that point, 7 generations of iPhones/watches will have been released, and who knows what else will have changed in the world of technology. Figuring out how to keep older machines on point is a nice problem to have. :)

John Davidson | President / Creative Director | Magic Feather Inc.


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Neil Paisnel
Re: Upgrade to 08 Mac Pro 3.1 for FCP X
on May 15, 2015 at 6:30:08 pm

Well I don't buy new often.

My main windows laptop is still my 200;3 Sony Vaio. Only use it for one purpose now, once every fee months, but otherwisesgill running fine.

When I bought the 3.1 I bought way overspec for what I needed. The decision to go Mac was a bit 'odd' The Girlfriend liked their shiny screens ! And then the Apple store screwed me over and I did not get the shiney Apple screen!

So anything I can do to keep it or a similar style model like a 5.1 running with the rest of the kit the same, the better.


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John Rofrano
Re: Upgrade to 08 Mac Pro 3.1 for FCP X
on May 16, 2015 at 12:31:40 pm

[John Davidson] "I think it speaks to the value of mac machines that - in many cases - they can just run forever. 7 years in computing is a lifetime. Imagine buying something today and knowing you were going to be running it until at least 2022."
This is what most people don't realize. Think about it... I just purchased a 5 year old 2010 Mac Pro as my "new" computer. I would never dream of buying a 5 year old PC!

I'm a relatively new Mac user. I've ben using PC's for over 30 years (since their inception). Before that I had an Apple ][ Plus and the original Macintosh 128K! (both of which I still own) lol. My first introduction to modern Mac hardware was back in 2011 when I had a two year old 2009 Lenovo Thinkpad that was lumbering along. I couldn't wait to get an upgrade. Then someone at work left and they had a 2009 MacBook Pro and it was recommended to me as an upgrade so I took it. I even transferred my extra memory from my Lenovo to it because it has the same CPU (Core 2 Duo), same Memory, same everything. The two laptops had the *exact* same specs. Much to my surprise, I couldn't believe how fast the 2009 MacBook Pro was. It was truly an upgrade to me. I run a lot of virtual machines on my laptop for my software development work and the Thinkpad with Windows 7 could run one, maybe two before it bogged down to a crawl and became unresponsive. I could get 4 VM's running on Mac OS X Snow Leopard with good performance using the exact same specs hardware. It was then that I realized that OS X was just way more efficient at memory management and multitasking than Windows 7 was and from then on I was hooked on Mac. And it's not just me, I have a friend at work that was offered a brand new PC laptop or take someone's 4 year old MacBook Pro and he happily took the 4 year old MacBook Pro over the new PC and it performs just fine.

My last PC workstation that I built was a 2012 Intel Core i7-3930K Sandy Bridge-E 3.2GHz 6-Core, 16GB memory, 256GB SSD, NVDIA Quadro 4000 and I sold it to buy a 2010 Mac Pro 2.93GHz 12-Core, 24GB memory, AMD Radeon HD 5870. So I would rather use an older Mac Pro than a new PC. That's a testament to the longevity of Apple hardware as John said. I'm continually amazed at how many people are still using their 2008 Mac Pro's.

~jr

http://www.johnrofrano.com
http://www.vasst.com



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Neil Paisnel
Re: Upgrade to 08 Mac Pro 3.1 for FCP X
on May 15, 2015 at 5:38:05 am

Looking at just a select few of these Geekbench figures, may not paint the whole picture, but it does show the 5,1 still outperforming the i7 in many areas.

I was in a country (UK) last month where there is an Apple store, (Not one where live, Jersey island) and I did drop by an Apple store and did have a look at the dustbin, (their name for it not mine, ) and although impressive I could not afford one and all the extra I need if I did get one, plus the extra cutter it would create.
I've got used to using three screens, so I'd have to continue like that. I guess you can run 4 screens off Thunderbolt/DP adapters to DVI. If not then it is three new Dp type screens

And then I loose all my Internal HDD storage, so have to buy an external HDD army or similar, or external drive caddies etc to fit my drives in to .

I am not going to be able to buy all that for my current budget of about $1500 US dollars.

Also the extra amount of clutter it will create in our living space,..too many extra boxes..it is bad enough as it is.
I now have 3 screens, all DVI, plus the 4th screen benighted home TV over the top of the three smaller screens. I live in a small apartment and this is in our living room / kitchen.

With a Tower machine I have the three screens, on the office type desk, keyboard and mouse on the sliding shelf and the Tower in the side slot. All relatively neat and compact.


When I bought my 08, the store did rip us off, I specified 2x 4gb RAM , so I could up grade with out dumping old RAM to buy new. What did I get.8 x 1GB sticks.
I also ordered the Apple display to go with it. Then I go to collect the order...Oh sorry sir, Apple are not making that any more, but here is a slightly smaller Samsung screen, unless of course you wool like to pay another £1000 for the next size up Apple display. I guess they knew I had to travel to the UK to buy it so they could get away with it.



Yes, if I had the money I'd probably get a spec'd up dustbin, three new screens and a HDD external box fitted somewhere but it is just more than i can afford for a hobby. I cycle every where and my car is a 2001 Suzuki 4x4 that barely gets used


An upgrade to the 3,1 or replace with older tech but better spec 5,1 . That is within my budget and space limitations. I am afraid


Or as I said go the Hacintosh route.
I have a HP4530s core i5 laptop with OS X installed, 15 inch screen, SSD, 16GB RAM and 1TB in the CD caddy, built for $600 USD which outperforms a 15 inch MBP for a third of the price..maybe that is the way to go , thou a lot more work.


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