As of today, it’s been 645 days since Apple last updated the Mac Pro. This means if you buy a NEW Mac Pro right now, you’ll be buying hardware that’s almost 2 years old.
I just bought a Mac Pro. It arrives on Friday. It’s roughly 750 days old. That’s right, I bought a used 8 core Nehalem for $2000. A similar 8 core is $3500 on Apple’s site. There’s virtually no difference between the machines, other than mine will have been broken in after 2 years of use. Which I prefer. I’m gonna take the money I saved and spend it on a ton of RAM, an SSD, and nVidia cards.
I get asked this question a lot, especially since it’s been so long since a new Mac Pro has been released. We’ve all heard the rumors, but I don’t know what to believe. Personally, I think Apple’s waiting for the new Xeon E chips that were just released. I’m hoping there’s a great new Mac Pro waiting in the wings. But I’m also realistic.
I believe that if your clients are paying you to do work now, you have to go with what’s available NOW. You can’t wait for an ideal later. And for me, it’s not what Apple is selling as new right now. It’s a gently used system with the performance specs I need for my work.
I knew you would ask. With Apple’s towers, my experience is that it either breaks right away (within the first month) or well after the 3 year Applecare warranty expires. I have never sent in an Apple tower for Applecare service. The still running G4 and G5 towers sitting next to me are a testament to that.
No, I didn’t buy this computer on eBay. I bought it from Mac Of All Trades, which includes a 90 day warranty (you can buy a 1 year warranty too). Since I’m going to use this as my primary workstation, I didn’t want to risk the purchase on the open market from unscrupulous sellers. I have no problem buying used computers on eBay and fixing them up, but I would only do that with secondary systems. Not my primary. I’m planning to build a render farm in the near future, and for that I’ll probably try to pick up abused Mac Pros off eBay.
Think twice about buying a new Mac Pro. The technology in there is just too old right now to justify. Do you really need a Mac Pro? Have you looked at iMacs? They’re pretty powerful these days, especially with more Thunderbolt options becoming available. Or maybe an HP Z800 workstation? I hate to say it, but I’m contemplating the PC route. If the Mac Pro is in fact EOL, I will go PC, and perhaps Hackintosh.
Well, we now know that Apple in fact did NOT update the Mac Pro. They changed the processor line up a bit, but it’s still the same 2 year old technology. The rumor now is that we can expect a new Mac Pro, or Mac Pro replacement, in Dec 2013. So, my advice still stands. The best bang for the buck is the 3.33GHz 6 core Westmere. You can get this new at Apple for $3k or slightly used for $2500ish. It’s amazing how well these machines hold their value. But since the tech is now 2 years old, I would not buy new. The only downside to the 6 core is it maxes out at 48GB of RAM (you can physically install more, but it can only address 48GB). I confirmed this with OWC yesterday. If you need more RAM, then you need to go with a dual processor (8 core or 12 core) machine. I am still completely happy with my purchase of a used 2.26GHz 8 core Nehalem from Mac of all Trades. If the 3.33GHz 6 core had been available at the time, I probably would have jumped on that instead, as most of my apps would run faster on the fewer, faster cores.