Replacement for an aging Mac Pro?

In the old days with a spinning hard drive, lots of memory made the system much faster. With modern SSD’s which are much faster than the old disk drives, extra memory is not as important.

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I replaced the main, 2Tb spinner HD on this 2012 Mac Pro with a 2Tb SSD from OWC a while back, gave it new life, speed, but I’m still faced with the hardware limits of the beast, and stopped at the Mojave OS… Trade-in value = $0

The 2014 11" MBA is an SSD - 250Gb, OK for it’s use as a travel laptop… OS is Big Sur (11.7.4) - Never have had it open… Trade-in value = $0

The 2012 13" MBP is a little spinner, 500Gb, it could be helped with an SSD, battery is bad… OS is Catalina (10.15.7) - I upgraded the HD years ago… Likely limited to Catalina… I haven’t done anything with it, other than wipe it, reformat to APFS, unsure of it’s future… Trade-in value = $0 It’s advantage is that it has a DVD drive… Maybe handy as a travel laptop, but is big, heavy…

I just checked on trade-in values, all are $0, free Recycle offered… Too old, all…

More Info -

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I think you might have missed the point alan81 was making. In the old days paging memory to disk was s-l-o-w because disk was slow. With SSDs replacing disks, the performance penalty for page swapping came down by an order of magnitude or two. Yes, plenty of memory is wonderful, but performance no longer falls off a cliff when paging starts. And paging is not evil; it lets the system keep the really important stuff in memory while things rarely referenced but unavoidable are put aside.


Another point would be that the amount of cache on the cpu has risen. The cache today takes over the abilities of the RAM partially since the RAM has a higher quantity of memory, but the L1 can have Kb of memory, the L2 has Mb of memory and the L3 can have a significant amount of Mb memory. You have to look at the cpu’s to figure out how much each one has.

An example is the AMD Ryzen 5600X has 384 kb of L1, 3Mb of L2 and 32 Mb of L3 cache. I remember when the cache was on the mobo. I wonder what the specs are for the Apple cpu’s…doc

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Not just cache … apparently some of the processors “max”? “ultra”? whatever … have higher memory bandwidth to the processor. That alone can dramatically improve performance overall.


Well, I’ve done it now… Went for the Mini Pro, 16Gb RAM, 2Tb SSD. Plus Tax & Applecare, a bit under $2300… Delivery is two weeks out, March 17-24th… Patience…

Leaving the next step, finding a decent 4 Bay enclosure for the existing 2 Tb spinners and 2 Tb SSD from the old Mac Pro…
I found this, at Amazon: $120

It’s not USB 3.1, but… Mostly backup, Time Machine…

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Thanks, let the pacing begin…

Looking at that enclosure makes me a little antsy, It will tie up a USB port… I’d like it better if I can find a similar case that used the Lightning port, but so far no luck, so haven’t pushed that button…

Son inlaw has a spare monitor, so I can hook it up, on the old mac, see what’s going on during the switchover game… Should be able to use the HDMI for that…

So that isn’t the version with the Thunderbolt ports.
I’m really impressed with Thunderbolt. My (Windows) LG Gram laptop has a single wired connection, from a Thunderbolt port to a matching port on a Kensington dock. What goes that combination do? Well, it powers the laptop. And the dock has the keyboard, an external drive, ethernet, speakers, monitor, label printer, and various other USB devices. All through the same Lightning connection that powers it. It kind of blows me away.

Mac Minis have Thunderbolt & USB ports, the Pro has 4 of them… I lightened the photo and labeled them to be clear on what I was getting into

Haven’t looked until just now, was looking for a place to re-use the old Mac Pro’s collection of HDs, SSD… There’s several smaller HDs kicking around here I can ut in the Mac pro to just set it up as a basic CD/DVD copier unless I find someone wanting it… It’s nearly part of my desk, as an extension now…

Will take another look around Other World Computing, Amazon… I have time to research… A separate search/need may well be a dock or hub, although I have a bin of USB splitters, cables, the main search is an enclosure… I have some singles, but most are older tech, not SATA… No rush…

I think you will be happy with that setup. It sounds appropriate for your usage.

I highly recommend using a native USB-C external drive for TM backups. I was using Western Digital USB 2.0 years ago, and more recently 3.0 drives, and my TM backups were taking forever. I had multiple conversations with Apple techs about it, spending at least 5 hours in such conversations over recent years. My major issue was that TM automatically does a snapshot every hour (and that time can only be changed to day or week, not to 3 hours for example) but it was taking over an hour, so backups were pretty much constantly going. This was going on for years through multiple backup drives (4 of them since 2013 according to my TM list).

Recently I broke down and bought a native USB-C drive, plugged it in, and it now completes the hourly backup in minutes, sometimes even less than a minute. Nothing at all has changed in the system, other than a different drive being plugged in. For example, my last TM snapshot was at 6:38am, so the next should start in about a minute. The backup just now took 2-3 minutes.

The drive I have is this one -

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That seems to be a real bargain, more bang for the buck it seems, but I’ll have the variety pack in the enclosure, including the current 2Tb SSD to pick from for TM… One other spinner is currently the TM drive, no known issues, but I haven’t looked, needed TM lately, but it’s there…

Different HDs, have different speeds, apparently, when I run the CCC script, the ine clone takes wekk over an hour, the next one 45 minutes, same amount of data copied, verified, just the drive’s abilities… They haven’t broke, and I let the script run once a week, overnight, so it isn’t a bother, just different…

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I didn’t buy it from Amazon, I bought it from Dell a few months ago … for $210.03!

What am I missing? The specs for the M2 Pro Mini say this -

Connections and Expansion

Two Thunderbolt 4 ports (M2) or four Thunderbolt 4 ports (M2 Pro) with support for:

  • DisplayPort
  • Thunderbolt 4 (up to 40Gb/s)
  • USB 4 (up to 40Gb/s)
  • USB 3.1 Gen 2 (up to 10Gb/s)
  • Thunderbolt 2, HDMI, DVI, and VGA supported using adapters (sold separately)
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I don’t know who is missing what, but the photo posted twice by wecoguy has four ports labelled as Lightning. The dim, hard to read photo I posted has four ports labelled Thunderbolt 4. I think my picture matches your specs, but neither is what wecoguy has put up.

You are correct, it was my own confusions, thinking Lightning & Thunderbolt were the same, seeing the lightning symbol on the ports… Oops… Fixed the pics…

Anyway, I was leaning towards a 4 bay external via Amazon, but reading reviews, I’ve decided to get back to MacSales/OWC and go for their 4 bay, external unit, without the RAID, $219, should be fine, I know they are responsive, stand behind their stuff…

Ordered! Be here 3/8, well ahead of the Mac Mini which arrives 3/13.

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As I try to sort all the ‘stuff’ on both my physical dektop and the Mac Pro’s scatterings on screen, I shuffled a lot of files yesterday, wiping out some folders, sorting some photos, so last night I ran CCC to be sure it wasn’t undone…

I still see quite a difference in the two APFS HD’s I use for clone backups, Quite a difference, both happily pass SMART checks, complete the operation… But the WD is a 5400 rpm, 64 Mb cache drive, the Seagate is 7200 RPM, 256 Mb cache… So speed, cache d make a difference! Not a problem, but interesting as wander along… I’ll move both and the SSD to the new enclosure, not concerned about the time involved, the 4th HD in the Mac Pro, Time Machine, is another Seagate Barracuda, 7200 rpm, 256 Mb cache, but is HFS+ Journaled, not APFS, likely leave as it is…

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Also interesting…

Is it possible to use MacBook as a display for Mac Pro? - Ask Different.

You might find Universal Control useful

Thanks for the try, but because the Mac Pro is blocked at Mojave, it doesn’t meet the OS requirements… Maybe later possibilities with other, later machines, but not for now… Looks like I need to double my keyboards, mice, monitors for a bit longer… And now the possible MBP died on me, so back to a loaner…

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