Upload & Sell: On
Now that the specs for the 2013 iMacs and Mac Pro are out, I'm about to upgrade my computer. I use it mainly to process large RAW files from a 1DX using Aperture and Nik plug-ins.
I'm currently running a 2007 Mac Pro with an OS that can not be upgraded beyond 10.6.8, and thus I can not upgrade to the newer versions of Aperture either. The Mac Pro is also painfully slow, but a recent upgrade of memory to 8GB at least keeps it from crashing repeatedly.
For a variety of reasons, I've limited my choice to a iMac. I'm considering...Show more →
FYI, All MacPro machines can run OS X 10.7.5 with the only models limited to that being the 2006 (MP1,1) and the early 2007 (MP2,1). And actually those can run both 10.8.x and 10.9.x just by using a boot loader to load in the 64bit kernel - easy enough to do!
The early 2007 (MP2,1) can accept 64GB of RAM which is pretty cheap right now. I got 32GB for my MP2,1 for about $240 off ebay and that's pretty common. You do NOT need those massive heat sinks for DIMMs over 1GB in size - so most server RAM works just fine with no temperature differences at all.
Turning the machine into an 8-core 2.67GHz machine takes about $60 or so and the CPUs just slide right in (with a little thermal paste). It's about double that for 8 cores of 3.0GHz las I looked six months back.
GPUs of any speed can be added but both the 2,1 and the 1,1 have only PCIe version 1.1 so their top performances are throttled just a little bit. Multiple streams of 1080p is out of the question for example but typical 1080p editing is doable - and with a few filters on too. I'm using a Gigabyte GTX 570 (3 fan) GPU I got off ebay for $90 - and that's a fairly typical price right now ($80 ~ $120) for a PC card you can just drop in place. You don't get a boot screen unless you keep your old Mac specific GPU in place with a monitor on. It hasn't bothered me yet in 6 months - I don't keep the old GPU connected but in a box and handy if I ever do need it. I can play all current Mac games at very playable frame rates on my little $90 GTX 570 and it does quite well with OpenCL and CUDA capable apps too!
Photo editing on a machine like this is awesome. Add an SSD or a RAID0 of 3 or 4 3TB HDDs and you can rip through images at very close to the same speed as the newest 2012 MP6,1 machines by the time you factor in user induced operation waits. If you're batching hundreds of images at a time then these upgraded 2006 and 2007 machines are about half the speed of the newest fastest $6k 2012 MP 6,1 models. Still damn good IMO.
You don't really need a faster machine unless you're processing 100s of photos every day or unless you're getting hot & heavy into video.
If someone is looking to buy an older machine such as this I would recommend the MP3,1 but if you already have a 1,1 or 2,1 you're still OK.
PS: I would totally recommend getting the newer 1TB per platter drives. They're MUCH faster and you can get about 195 ~ 210MB/s out of them over your SATAII internal ports. For a two drive RAID0 you get about 400MB/s and for a three drive RAID0 you get about 550MB/s. The ideal setup for these machines is a new fast 128GB SSD and two or three of those 1TB per platter drives in RAID0. Add a single massive 4TB via USB or eSATA Drive Dock as a Timemachine backup drive and you've got a very complete solution. Later if you upgrade to a different machine the drives will go along for the ride and so will the GPU card.