Friday, February 17, 2012

Sold My Mac Pro – Very Geeky Post

So I put the Mac Pro on eBay with the hopes of selling it for maximum value. MANY people sent messages trying to get me to end the auction and back door sell. eBay is getting like Craigslist where people don’t bother with the rules, it’s getting harder to sell things. My Ham Radio could have sold outside eBay but I told the buyer to bid just like anybody else, eBay gave us the ability to buy this way so they are due their share. I could have put another $120.00 in the bank by going behind eBay’s back but that just doesn’t sit right with me.

The person who bought my Mac tried the same thing, I explained to him that his best option would be to bid, like everybody else and if he wins then great! If not then them there's the breaks. This also protects both of us should something sour during the transaction. He bid and won the system and we scheduled for him to come over and pick it up instead of me shipping it out. My wife worried that a stranger was coming but I explained I don’t let people without a decent bidding history and excellent feedback bid on my stuff so he should be ok. I was worried also, you never know these days but I figure if he tries something we’ll cross that bridge when and if it happens. He came to the house and picked up the Mac, paid cash and everything was fine.

On to what was my quandary, do I build an entirely new machine or try and build up a Dell Precision Workstation machine I acquired?  After pondering this and also researching the cost of building a new machine I found I could easily build a much faster machine than my Mac with just the money I sold the Mac for, I mean a seriously faster machine. BUT, did I need to, how much work do I do on the machine and do I actually play games anymore? Do I need anything super powerful? My gut of course says hell yes!! MORE POWER! (insert Tim Allen grunts here please) Also, how do I represent myself to my customer(s) that I build custom super computers for and here I am with a Dell workstation?? I could point to the Windows Home Server 2011 sitting next to the Dell that is obviously very custom and built by me but do I really need to?

For once my brain won out over my gut, I don’t need a monster computer and nearly zero customers ever see my home office. Besides I could rebuild that Dell into nearly a monster and keep $900.00 of the profit from the Mac in the bank for new tires this Spring for the RV, here's how.

I bought the Dell for somebody else but it refused to turn on without errors so I put it aside and bought another one on eBay. That machine was missing parts so while I was rebuilding my Windows Home Server I removed parts from it and installed them into the 2nd Dell Precision which turned out great! They love the Dell and it worked out great but now I had this non-working Dell that I had to figure out, I bought it as is for very little so I dug into it and replaced the memory with 12Gigs found on eBay and I took the machine apart and cleaned all connectors and fired it up and wouldn’t you know it, fired right up, 2 bad memory modules but I had the exact kind to replace them.

The machine is now running with a single Intel Xeon 5405 2.0GHz 12meg cache Quad Core CPU from 2007. The machine can handle dual cpu’s though he he he. Winking smile Don’t think little of this 2.0GHz CPU, it kicks the heck out of faster frequency Core 2 Duos of the same vintage, it’s kind of a step backwards from the Mac but here is what I’m doing. I’m going to pull that CPU and sell it on eBay. I found a pair of matched Xeon E5450 3.0GHz 12 meg cache Quad Core CPU’s on eBay so that’s 8 cores total and they bench a bit higher than the E5462 Xeon’s that were in the Mac. So parity there almost but the Mac has a faster memory system, but not by much, plus I can upgrade the memory to the same speed as the Mac uses in the future. Here is where this little machine opens up a very large lead on the Mac and it just gets better from there.

The Mac had a mechanical hard drive, the slowest component in any computer, period. I bought 2 Intel SSD 320 160Gig hard drives, these are not mechanical, they use NAND memory and provide such a large increase in hard drive performance they make any computer feel MUCH faster. My Mac scored 459 in the Passmark 7 benchmark, the Intel drives scored 3531, that’s like going from a 486 to an i7 CPU or in car terms from a Yugo to a Corvette. 2 SSD 320’s in RAID 0… WOW!

Next I addressed the video, the Dell has an NVidia Quadro 4600, that video card was king back in 2007, not so much in 2012. The new video card is an EVGA GTX 560 Ti FPB Fermi that is about 6 times faster than the 8800GT in the Mac and about that much faster than the Quadro in the Dell, for half the cost of an upgrade in the Mac, easy decision!

So, when the parts get here I will have a Dell Precision that will easily trounce the Mac Pro I sold plus I can still put $900.00 from the sale into the bank for tires. I think I made the smart choice. If after this the Dell has an issue or won’t work properly I sell it and start fresh but I’m hoping the parts I bought will work and this machine will last me 4 years until I am ready for something faster. Windows 9 will be out by then and I’m sure it will have high demands.

That’s it for my geeky post and sorry the only thing relating to RV was the money saved to buy RV tires. The season is drawing near so the RV posts will start anew! Have a great weekend everybody! Smile with tongue out


Big Matt said...

The only draw back to those particular Xeon CPUs is they're Quad Core, but Single Thread systems based on the old Conroe Architecture.

However, if ya run twin E5450's, then yer getting into the power end and that'd make a good WDS or Web hosting system.

Now, have you looked into the real dedicated gaming equipment? Not the cheap market variety, but the stuff that runs around $1000+ a CPU, those are repurposed server hardware with better cooling systems for the high graphics demand that a dedicated gaming demands.

Smackover and Smackover2 were a couple of the old hard core gaming generations Intel used to make and are still used.

Erik's RV Blog said...

Not building a gaming system. Until Windows 8 comes out these things will rock in both single and multi-threaded apps. Windows 8 is going to be a true real multi-threaded OS so will make better use of all 8 cores.

I'm ok that these E5450's are based on Harpertown. These two will equal the performance of a current i7-2700K (without over clocking of course) so will suffice even if the memory won't be quite there.

I'm going to benchmark it next week and see how it stacks up against some of the current stuff. It will be faster than some and hopefully adequate for my needs.

The SSD's in RAID 0 are incredible, unreal performance. The GTX 560 Ti will really sing as well.

I'll let you know how well it does when I get it all together. It passed initial burn in testing of over 48 hour straight with very heavy multi threaded CPU benchmarking and never broke a sweat.

I'll be running that again when I'm done with the re-build.

I ALMOST went with a $1,000 CPU (the i7-3960X) holy crumb what could be done with that beast! Or a couple of new monster Xeon's, alas the budget just isn't there so this will have to do. :)

Teri said...

Wish I understood more about computers so that I wouldn't get so frustrated when I run into problems with them.

Erik's RV Blog said...

There are many frustrations with knowing a lot about computers as well, but I can't get into that. :)

Kathy's Klothesline said...

I have to confess that all I took from this post is anxiety about having a stranger know your address when selling on the internet. Since I sort of meet total strangers everyday ...... we buy and sell on Craigslist all the time. Of course, all the transactions take place in the store and not our home. I depend on my son to take care of all my computer needs. He has a backdoor into mine, so that when he gets my call he can simply log in and take care of it. He has stopped telling me what he did, as he realized I wasn't listening.

JOJO said...

Glad you sold your Mac Pro, the rest just slid over my head. :)

Merikay said...

I'm glad you sold it if that is what you wanted. Personally I like my MacBook Pro very much.

Erik's RV Blog said...

Kathy - I work on my Dad's computer the same way, I stopped telling him what I fixed when I realized his eyes were glazed over all the time. :)

JoJo - Sorry! Sometimes I don't realize how geeky I can get. :)

Merikay - I like my MacBook Pro very much as well. I still have mine, haven't decided yet if I'm going to keep it or sell it and get something else. We'll see how this rebuild goes, if I have to build a new machine the MacBook Pro will have to go as well.

Big Matt said...

Don't feel too bad fellow commenters, it only makes sense to me because I work for the company that made the parts :p.

Erik's RV Blog said...

Matt - Heading out to Tiger Direct now to get the video card, Amazon is still sitting on the order so I cancelled it. 2 fracken days lost.

Sunny said...

Well, about all I can say to this geeky post is ..... you have a great weekend too, Erik!!
(Agreeing with you on the e-bay thing. You do whats right and you'll have a good place to buy and sell for a long time :) )

Big Matt said...

Erik - Have you ever perused before? They're usually a pretty good resource online for computer components.

They're trusted enough that we even order parts for some of our lab infrastructure from them.

Diana said...

You sound just like my Pastor. He is forever playing around with computers. He has piles them, he fixes up and gives to kids.
Sounds like you got yourself a good deal there Erik!
Love Di ♥

Erik's RV Blog said...

Matt - The price at Tiger Direct was the same as New Egg, typically I just order it from New Egg but I was itching to do some of this today so drove over the Tiger and bought a MSI 6950 Frozr II card. I'm going to burn the rom from a 6950 to a 6970 when the other CPU's come in.

Initial benchmarking shows the E5405 just doesn't have enough to benchmark worth a darn.

Windows 7 shows a 7.9 for both desktop and games while the Quadro showed a 6.8 so Windows likes the upgrade. The card barely fit in the machine but its quiet enough.

We'll see how she does when some real horsepower is installed later this week.

Erik's RV Blog said...

Sunny - Thanks! :)

Diana - I love tinkering with this stuff, have for decades. I get paid to work on 'em, can't argue with that! :)

Rae said...

Okay Erik, I won't even pretend to understand this post. I'm just gonna say HI and wish you and Rhonda a happy start to RV season.

Erik's RV Blog said...

Thanks Rae! :) You too!

Ronda said...

Dude...u lost me after 'Geeky Post' ;-p
Course you should be used to soon as u start talking computers...all I hear is 'blah blah and blah!'
I love you dearly though honey...just remember that!! :-D

Erik's RV Blog said...

Ronda - Blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah.... that's the list of things I am doing to the Precision computer. ;)