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Buying a used mac pro?

merlinhimself

Active Member
I've been considering buying a used/refurbished mac pro (mid2012) to run as a slave. My only worry is the life of computers. This is nearly 8 years old now, and even though the price is decent, Id be worried it'd die on me in a year or two. Any thoughts or experience with this? I've always used PC's, but buying a used older 12 core is much cheaper than building a new 12 core pc.
 

Dewdman42

Senior Member
The 2010-12 MacPro might be the best desktop computer ever made. Mine is still running strong. I personally think its still the best mac value out there, but be advised, that Apple is not going to support the next version of OSX on it. And it does not have the AVX cpu compatability, which as of now only means you can't run MassiveX on it. But despite the fact that the machine is very much powerful enough to do what you want and much more...its going to phase out in the next few years......sadly.

I'm planning to use mine as my main DAW for at least two more years. After that I may relegate it to Slave duty.
 
OP
merlinhimself

merlinhimself

Active Member
The 2010-12 MacPro might be the best desktop computer ever made. Mine is still running strong. I personally think its still the best mac value out there, but be advised, that Apple is not going to support the next version of OSX on it. And it does not have the AVX cpu compatability, which as of now only means you can't run MassiveX on it. But despite the fact that the machine is very much powerful enough to do what you want and much more...its going to phase out in the next few years......sadly.

I'm planning to use mine as my main DAW for at least two more years. After that I may relegate it to Slave duty.
Good to know! I've seen some for pretty affordable prices, found 1 for 1,000 that wouldn't be bad if it lasted me 2-3years
 

Morning Coffee

Active Member
I have a Mac Pro 3,1 (2008) which is still working fine and showing no sign of faults. Not bad for a 11 year old computer, but yeah, old technology now. I extended its life by installing a PCIe M.2 SSD card slot which made it a lot faster. I use the hard drives mainly for backup now. Even though it isn't officially supported, it will apparently work on OS Mojave, with some hacks.

I would love a 2012 Mac Pro though, but in my country they seem to have increased in price recently. I'm not sure how important it is, but there are a lot of people flashing the 2009 Mac Pro 4,1 to the 2010-2012 5,1 system, so perhaps be wary in finding a genuine 2012 model.
 

Nick Batzdorf

Moderator
Moderator
Another endorsement for the 2009 -12 Mac Pro Dewdman is talking about (all the same machine with a different video card, which you need to replace to run Mojave anyway). It's the 5,1 model, and the 2009 4,1 can and should be flashed to a 5,1 - in which case, as I said, it becomes the same machine.

Actually, most of the machines you'll find are 2009 models that have been flashed. While anything can break, I wouldn't worry about the age. I use a 1997 Mac as a synth librarian, in fact I have a couple of even older ones in my garage that started up last time I tried.

Be sure to look for a 12-core one, preferably 3.46GHz but 3.x doesn't make much difference. And I would (and did) look for one with 64GB in it. They're all close to the same price, so why not.
 

James H

01001000 01101001
2009 Mac Pro here still going strong with zero issues. Flashed to 5,1 with original video card.
Excellent machines
 

Wolfie2112

Senior Member
I've been considering buying a used/refurbished mac pro (mid2012) to run as a slave. My only worry is the life of computers. This is nearly 8 years old now, and even though the price is decent, Id be worried it'd die on me in a year or two. Any thoughts or experience with this? I've always used PC's, but buying a used older 12 core is much cheaper than building a new 12 core pc.
Just remember there's no USB 3 or Thunderbolt on those. Not sure about your demographic, but I just priced out an i9 12-core slave PC (32GB Ram) and it was only around $1400 (built by a local shop, and using my exiting drives). Although those older Mac's might still be great machines, I never saw the point in shelling out for old technology.
 

James H

01001000 01101001
I you do go this route, I dropped one of these in:

 

Nick Batzdorf

Moderator
Moderator
Just remember there's no USB 3 or Thunderbolt on those. Not sure about your demographic, but I just priced out an i9 12-core slave PC (32GB Ram) and it was only around $1400 (built by a local shop, and using my exiting drives). Although those older Mac's might still be great machines, I never saw the point in shelling out for old technology.
But that's a Windows machine. People who like working on Macs aren't interested.

Or in my case we're interested, but only as a sample slave.

Also, which is it: great machine or old technology? :) Computers are now 10-year + investments, rather than two like they were for 30 years.
 

Wolfie2112

Senior Member
Yes, true, they definitely have more longevity these days.

I just mentioned the PC route because the OP said he's always used PC's.
 

jcrosby

Senior Member
I went the hackintosh route recently. The CMP's are great but they've been lapped by new OS requirements, suffers in the single core performance department, and lack newer CPU architectures that are going to become more common. (MassiveX requiring AVX, so it's safe to assume NI may require AVX in other instruments down the road as well...)

If budget is a factor I'd build a 9900k hackintosh. Mine crushes my old Mac Pro in every possible way... E.G. I had 201 kontakt patches simultaneously playing, (ranging from Forzo to Novo to 8Dio to Samplelogic), CPU averaged around 40% in Logic, Activity monitor showed around 30%...

No building a Hac isn't for everyone, however it's not difficult and functions exactly as if it were a genuine mac...
 

Nick Batzdorf

Moderator
Moderator
No building a Hac isn't for everyone, however it's not difficult and functions exactly as if it were a genuine mac...
I haven't ruled out the possibility next time I need a computer - which I hope is a long time from now - but if compatibility is the reason to replace a machine, who knows what's coming. There are rumors about Apple changing chips, in fact I was guessing that the reason it's taking Apple years to ship the newest Mac Pro is that they were waiting for the new chips.

I'm probably wrong, but it's also possible that the chips are what's taking a long time.
 
OP
merlinhimself

merlinhimself

Active Member
Wow all great advice! Yeah I've put together some builds on PC's myself, I'm used to it and like a few said it'll probably last me a bit longer than going the used Mac route. I think I may bite the bullet and build a new PC. However maybe some of you can help me with this question. Right now I have a 6 core i7 6850k, 32GB(capable of 128). I'm wondering if I build a new PC either 8 or 12 core, should I use that as the Sequencer and my old PC as a slave, or use my current PC as the sequencer and the 12core as the slave. Ive been struggling with this as I'm not sure how much the 6core could handle as a vep machine, I tend to like to offload a lot of my samples to slaves and keep the sequencer moderate with it's load.
 

Shad0wLandsUK

Senior Member
I you do go this route, I dropped one of these in:

That only works up to 10.9 or perhaps one more. Says it on the information for the product.
Many people are beyond that version of macOS now

I have a CalDigit FASTA6U3 Plus which has USB-C, USB3 Type-A and two eSATA as well
If not there is the FASTA6U3 Pro with dual USB3 Type-A, dual eSATA and two internal SATA ports on the card too
 

GdT

Member
I bought a refurbished and uprated Mac Pro nearly a year ago. I got it from a specialist Mac factory in Berlin. They rebuilt it with 96GB of RAM. It has extra USB 3 ports and a graphics card that will support Mojave when I get time to upgrade. It is very stable and has been in constant use. I am very pleased - it should last me a few years.
 

AndyP

Member
Added one Macpro 12 Core 2012 to my vep setup this year. Got it realy cheap and upgraded the processors to 2 x 3,33 ghz. 96 gigs of ram, USB-C card, SSD, Saphire, Mojave ... runs like a perfect slave.

I had to decide between a Mac Mini, PC and the MacPro. Multithread Benchmark 26.500, silent, overall under $1.000.

Go for it if you can grab a cheap one, the old cheese graters are perfect slaves.
 

AndyP

Member
Wow all great advice! Yeah I've put together some builds on PC's myself, I'm used to it and like a few said it'll probably last me a bit longer than going the used Mac route. I think I may bite the bullet and build a new PC. However maybe some of you can help me with this question. Right now I have a 6 core i7 6850k, 32GB(capable of 128). I'm wondering if I build a new PC either 8 or 12 core, should I use that as the Sequencer and my old PC as a slave, or use my current PC as the sequencer and the 12core as the slave. Ive been struggling with this as I'm not sure how much the 6core could handle as a vep machine, I tend to like to offload a lot of my samples to slaves and keep the sequencer moderate with it's load.
Depends on whats running on your DAW. Slaves should be the bigger and faster machines, because the DAW itself + audiotracks don´t need to much power. Depends also on how many effects you ad in your DAW.
If you load lots of VEP instances on your DAW it will suck ram and cpu too. My experiance is, that, if I need additional vsti on my DAW, i also load them in vep on my main machine instead of loading them directly to my DAW (Cubase 10 Pro).
I can use my MacBook as DAW, connect 3 Slaves via vep running a big orchestra template and it works fine.
My main DAW is an iMac i9 running 72 gigs of ram and its bored most of the time. So, sometimes i think this machine is a better slave instead using it as DAW. A lower ended computer will do this job as well.
 

GingerMaestro

Active Member
Is the only way to use a slave using VEP ? or can you set this up with just Logic ? I have a macbook pro, but am low on memory and can't expand, so was thinking of getting a mac mini to use as a slave, or indeed just my main computer. That said I need something portable as I am on the road alot. So a Mac Pro with a mini slave, would help me avoid having to travel a big monitor etc...Is this possible ? Thank you
 

AndyP

Member
Is the only way to use a slave using VEP ? or can you set this up with just Logic ? I have a macbook pro, but am low on memory and can't expand, so was thinking of getting a mac mini to use as a slave, or indeed just my main computer. That said I need something portable as I am on the road alot. So a Mac Pro with a mini slave, would help me avoid having to travel a big monitor etc...Is this possible ? Thank you
The most important thing is ram. Even if you're doing orchestral music, with lots of tracks.
VEP makes things easier and the DAW can handle effects and audio tracks much better.
I have my studio setup, 2 mac pro and iMac i9 running as DAW. Main template has 266 tracks, but is not finished yet.
My mobile device is a MacBook pro 16 gigs of ram, and i use only The Orchestra and Symphobia for sketching. That s works pretty well, so no other device needed.

It always depends on what I am doing, or where. Sometimes i start with my DAW only, no templates. When the project grows up, i switch to templates. Often the DAW is enough, so no templates needed. For orchestral music i use all machines and my templates. Its way faster instead of loading every patch.

MacBookPro and MacMini is a good combination, and you can do lots of tracks with them. The higher end machine is the slave, for my personal view.
Many people can do fantastic tracks on a single machine, so it depends on your needs, and ... your skills.

Back to your question. I rarely used Logic, so I don't think it can handle this like VEP.
VEP is great, because you don't need to sync 2 machines. You only connect the plugins sound content via network to your DAW. But you need the licenses for VEP, and you have to be sure that your VSTi licenses running on your slave. Using only 2 computers means only 1 VEP license needed. It´s not a bunch of money, and very useful.

For on the road a laptop or macbook running 16 gigs of ram and i5, better i7 should work, always depending on what you want to do with it. It makes not to much sense to use Hollywood Orchestra Diamond or Metropolis Arks on that device, for example. But MacBook and Mac Mini are small and portable, so that is a nice solution. I don't know which MacBook or Mac Mini you want to use, but to me the Mac Mini looks like the better slave because it might be faster and for the Mac Mini 2018, you can easily upgrade up to 64 gigs of ram.
Startup mode for the Mac mini, login without password, because otherwise you cannot really startup without monitor. Then u can use Screensharing to control the slave an your MacBook.

For on the road I am fine with my MacBookPro 2015 and my Korg Microkey/Control only, it does what it has to do, using smaller footprint libs.

On my wishlist is a portable micro keyboard, 4 octaves with 8 configurable controller knobs or sliders. But unfortunately no supplier has something like this ...
 
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