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Mac Pro Now, or Wait?

A number of readers have written to ask whether to invest in a Mac Pro now, or whether to wait. I share my thoughts on that here. See my previous thoughts on No New Mac Pro Yet, Which Means What? and End of Life for the Apple Mac Pro? Still no word from Apple.

Fast enough

The existing Mac Pro meets my needs, which are relatively demanding. Sure, a faster CPU would be nice, but would it actually improve my productivity in a significant way? No.

In short, fast enough is fast enough, and beyond that, it’s not a serious issue.

On the other hand, if your work is suffering from an aging or too slow system, moving to a Mac Pro system now (with appropriate drives and memory) is likely to save you more time even in the short run than the difference between a current Mac Pro and a new one, because if the new model is 10 times faster (just for giggles), it wouldn’t speed up 95% of what I use my Mac Pro for; the current one is “fast enough” for just about everything I do.

Upgrades

Your existing system might actually be fast enough, but it might be that the drives are slow, or your work demands more memory than is available. Investigate memory usage and pay attention to disk speed; it might be that a modest upgrade is enough to deliver satisfaction.

Especially with a laptop, a slow drive and/or a measly 4GB of memory can be a wet blanket on a cold day.

On the other hand, if all CPU cores are fully utilized, then only more or faster CPU cores are going to help. You can upgrade the CPU in the 2009 and 2010 Mac Pros. For those with a slow 4-core , moving to a faster 4-core CPU or 6-core CPU is a relatively good deal (upgrading from a single CPU to dual CPUs is much more expensive, due to the parts involved).

Fault tolerance

Another reason to get a Mac Pro are the options it offers for expansion, backup and fault-tolerance (via RAID mirroring for example). All those things with high performance too. If your work depends on uptime, then a system that puts you at risk from a black-swan failure is grounds for a high priority upgrade.

Buyer’s remorse

Skip the buyer's remorse.

Computers get a little better every 6 months. But until then, a system that meets your needs, even it lacks full sex appeal, has nonetheless given you the benefits for a significant period of time. That aspect is often overlooked; skip the buyer’s remorse and realize that “killer” breakthroughs in performance are rare, and that a balanced system (CPU, ample memory, fast drives, solid backup) is what matters.

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