Life extension for 2013 Mac Pro

I have a 2013 Mac Pro w. NEC 27” Spectraview monitor. When purchased, the Mac was close to the most basic model offered: quad-core, 16GB ram, 512GB SSD. I use it for Lightroom, Photoshop (still image editing and printing) and other light-duty tasks. This system sees about 15 hours of use each week and has been operational for 5 years so far.

I’ve been considering swapping it out for a new Mac of some kind, but nothing quite fills the bill. The new Mac Pro is out of the question cost-wise, the Mini lacks a decent GPU, I like the NEC/Spectraview display a lot and am not keen on the all-in-one iMac configuration.

And besides, the machine still works fine and is quick enough—mostly. With Lightroom and Photoshop both running (multiple files and layers in Photoshop) it’s not uncommon to get persistent beach balling that requires start-button shut-down. Of course, I want to fix that behavior.

So I’d like to extend the Mac Pro’s life instead of replacing it. I’m thinking of upgrading the ram to 32GB or 64GB and then erasing the SSD and reinstalling the OS.

So, my questions:

=> Is it realistic to think about getting another 3-5 years out of this machine?
=> Does my ram upgrade/nuke and pave strategy sound appropriate?
=> If yes to the above, is 64GB overkill (@ $200)?
=> Is there a better approach altogether to correct the bad behavior and, hopefully, extend the beast’s life?

OWC claims that their SSD is faster than the stock SSD.
I would run something like DiskMark to have a point of reference.

You can certainly do this, the question is how much longer will you be able to keep up with new OS releases. My guess would be not much longer.

Compare each component with any proposed upgrade - memory, CPU, GPU. I generally look for at least 2x improvement on each. If the mac mini is attractive apart from its GPU, remember there’s the eGPU option.

I also had a MacPro 2013, though I put in 32GB back in the day, and two NEC monitors that I like.

In the end, I decided to get a fast Mini and pump it full of RAM. I’ve been pretty happy with it (it’s /much/ faster) and so far the integrated graphics has not been a problem.

I have a lot of TB2 peripherals, so I’ve send my old MacPro to the cellar to front them … I can remote in if I needed something from the old install, but so far (since November '19) I haven’t needed to.

The 2013 is Catalina capable according to Apple—I’m running High Sierra now. If I upgrade to Mojave and if that continues to get security updates for a couple of years I’ll be satisfied with that.

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Sounds like you may be doing photo editing with the Mini. Are you still using an NEC display? Can you outline your Mini specs for me?


How much swap space are you using? If it’s a lot then a RAM upgrade will probably do quite a lot to improve things.

In that case I’d take @JohnAtl’s advice and go for the OWC SSD, and yes, I’d get more RAM. Before you do anything, though, run Apple Diagnostics. It will give you an idea of what else (like fans) need to be replaced.

Sure, why not :+1:

Just keep the inside clean and cool.

mposter, I’m set-up to do editing on the Mini, though I haven’t done any really long involved sessions with it … my normal workflow is to photo intake and edit on a laptop, and then migrate the work to a larger collection, fronted by the Mini. Switching away from Aperture has thrown a wrench in my usual photo editing workflow, though.

The machine itself is a Mac mini (2018), 3.2 GHz i7, with 1TB storage and 64GB memory. I would regularly find the old MacPro paging to disk, so I’ve been happy with the 64GB. The self-install was involved but do-able.

I’m still running Mojave.

The photos themselves live on an external hardware RAID 6 box, connected by TB3. The upgrade from TB2 to TB3 in my case was noticeable.

The mini also drives two NEC displays: a PA271W and a smaller PA241W, in portrait mode.

The only glitch I’ve had with this set up so far is that every now and then the PA241W doesn’t remember it should be in portrait mode, but I think the problem is with a preference in Jump Desktop, such that the orientations and resolutions get messed up every now and then when I remote in.

Finally, the old MacPro is working great with a HDMI dongle in the cellar; I can remote into it and use it in a pinch over my network.

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Thanks, everyone for all the advice. I ordered OWC ram. My plan is to install it and run the machine and see how things go. At some point I will erase the disk and install Mojave. I took the case off today and was quite taken with the way the thing is built. I know it’s a limited (flawed?) design in some ways, but it’s beautifully built IMO. I decided my time and the relatively modest amount of money made the life extension gamble worth it to me. If it goes bust, I’ll put it on a shelf and admire it. If I luck out, maybe it’ll buy me some time til a new, more appropriate-for-me Mac model comes out.