New addition to the Cowbelly family: a Mac Pro desktop computer

I’ve been needing a new desktop computer all year, since my early 2009 iMac has become woefully inadequate for the things I’ve been trying to make it do. It was nothing short of a major miracle that I finished writing my book this spring, given the overwhelming technical issues I’ve had that nearly drove me to quit everything- the book, my job- everything. Five days before my final book deadline my iMac was at the genius bar at the Apple store for repairs. To say that was stressful would be the understatement of the year. A new O/S install helped the situation a little, but I continue to get the spinny rainbow with nearly everything I do, which makes getting work done challenging and time-consuming. I did everything I could do make the machine run well, but ultimately it’s just not enough computer for me. This has been a really bad year for me technology-wise. I’ve had to develop some very zen-like philosophies about things.

I’ve been all over the map with what I wanted to do as far as a replacement for my iMac goes. First I decided I wanted a brand new Mac Pro, but then I decided against it after seeing the email circulating online from CEO Tim Cook indicating they were “working on something really great for pro users for later next year”. I wasn’t about to spend north of $6k for a computer that would be obsolete a year from now, given the fact that Apple has done very little to improve/upgrade the Mac Pro for years, while in the meantime, producing all kinds of iToys for consumers. They seem to be forgetting that it was their pro market that helped build their business, but don’t get me started on that. That’s a soapbox I’m not likely to step down off of anytime soon and it makes my stomach hurt just thinking about it. Given all of the problems I’ve had with Apple this year, they have darn near completely lost my consumer confidence in their products and them as a company. Unfortunately my issues with Microsoft and PCs were worse before I switched to Apple, so I don’t see those as being a viable option. Plus my brain is so programmed to function in ‘Appleland’ there is no going back. I’ve decided from now on that instead of running out and buying the latest and greatest Apple product, I’m going to upgrade, repair, and improve machines as much as possible before giving Apple any more of my cash for brand new products.

Back to my story, so then the guys at the Mac Store told me that the new iMacs were capable of being expanded/upgraded to the specs I needed, mainly in the memory department. “That’s great!” I thought, so I switched tracks and decided to purchase a new iMac, once I was done teaching workshops, announcing the book and catching up on client work. Recently while finally carving out some time to look at iMacs online I stumbled on yet another article about the ‘Apple Special Event‘ that took place earlier this week where they would be announcing a new iMac. I woke up that morning, read all of the details about the new iMac on my iPhone while still laying in bed, and thought “Ok, well, that seals the deal, not getting that either”. This finalized my decision to purchase a gently used, fully loaded Mac Pro. And that’s what you see there in the photos below. 🙂

Here are the specs on this bad boy:

  • 6-core 3.33 GHz Xeon W3680 Westmere processor with a dedicated 256k of level 2 cache for each core and 12 MB of “fully shared” level 3 cache. (Compare this to my 3.06 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo processor in my iMac, which has a PassMark Benchmark of only 2,261 and ranked as #522, compared to 9,660 for the Xeon, which is ranked at #34 in high-end processors.  With any luck I’ll notice a difference- HA!)
  • 12 GB RAM (will be bumping it up to 32 GB with OWC memory)
  • 2 (TWO) 2TB 7200 rpm Western Digital Caviar hard drives = 4 TB in internal drive storage (add this to my brand new 3TB Western Digital Studio external drive and I shouldn’t run out of room on my drives for my Canon 5D Mark III RAW files anytime soon).
  • 2 (TWO) 240 GB Solid State Drives (mmmmm, drooling on this part). Guess which apps are going on those?
  • 18X dual-layer “SuperDrive” and an ATI Radeon HD 5770 graphics card with 1 GB of GDDR5 memory.
  • Two external 5.25″ “optical” bays (one free by default), four internal 3.5″ “cable-free, direct attach” hard drive bays, and four PCIe 2.0 slots (one free PCIe 2.0 x16 slot and two free PCIe 2.0 x4 slots with the default single graphics card installed).
  • Ports include five USB 2.0 ports, four Firewire “800” ports, dual Gigabit Ethernet, two Mini DisplayPorts and a dual-link DVI port, among others. AirPort Extreme (802.11a/b/g/n) and Bluetooth 2.1+EDR is standard. (Don’t care that I don’t have USB 3.0 or Thunderbolt as I don’t have any devices that use those anyway. FW 800 is fast enough to make me happy for now).
  • Mountain Lion installed. Came with the install CDs, keyboard and mouse. All in excellent condition.
  • Applecare through January 2014.

Am I happy? Yes, very much so.

Everything is currently fired up and working great. Unfortunately I can’t use my iMac as a target display because the early 2009 iMacs like the one I have are one of the few iMacs that can’t be used as a target display (booo), so I’m currently debating options to replace the older 23″ standalone display I’m using. It’s either going to be an older 30″ Cinema Display or new 27″ glass LED display. I really need the large screen size but I also want the quality of the newer displays. Decisions, decisions!

Lastly, before I forget to mention- I am selling my very gently used near-mint condition 17″ MacBook Pro. It’s an early 2011 2.3 GHz i7 processor with 8GB RAM and an anti-glare screen (I’ll upgrade it to 16GB memory if the buyer is interested). It has a brand new 7200 750GB hard drive and a new O/S Mountain Lion install, and comes with a 17″ Twelve South BookBook case. Not a scratch or dent on it- has never been dropped or used outside the case or taken outside the home. I used it for one year for emails, internet and minimal photo processing. It’s an awesome machine and Apple is no longer making or selling the 17″. I’m selling because I bought the Mac Pro, already have a 15″ MacBook Pro and really don’t need 5 Apple computers.

From The MacBook Pro “Core i7” 2.3 17-Inch (Early 2011/Thunderbolt) features a 32 nm “Sandy Bridge” 2.3 GHz Intel “Core i7” processor (2820QM), with four independent processor “cores” on a single silicon chip, an 8 MB shared level 3 cache, 4 GB of 1333 MHz DDR3 SDRAM (PC3-10600) installed in pairs (two 2 GB modules), a 750 GB Serial ATA (5400 RPM) hard drive, an 8X DL “SuperDrive”, dual graphics processors — an AMD Radeon HD 6750M with 1 GB of dedicated GDDR5 memory and an Intel HD Graphics 3000 graphics processor that shares 384 MB of memory with the system — and an integrated FaceTime HD webcam.

I will be posting a blog post, Craigslist ad and eBay ad early next week on the 17″ MacBook Pro, but if you are a seriously interested party and would like information on it now, please email me at with 17″ MacBook Pro in the subject line and I can give you more specs. I will ship through UPS.

I’m off to get my new computer set up. Whoopee! 🙂

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