This is my first experience with a refurbished Mac. At 15% off, and with the same warranty, what's not to like? A refurbished model might actually be more thoroughly tested than a brand-new one, though perhaps that’s wishful thinking. So far, so good—no problems.
This thing is quiet. Amazingly quiet. Noise increases a bit with the installation of four hard drives, but that’s hardly the fault of the Mac Pro. And it’s fast, too.
I began, as I always do, by wiping out the pre-installed system. I don't want 2GB of Garage Band sounds and all the other assorted “goodies” (junk) taking up hard disk space. As is my practice, I installed the system on an external Firewire 800 drive, so that all internal drives could be dedicated for data use. This is my preferred approach, since any system problems can be rectified by wiping out the boot drive without affecting any data (I strongly recommend against making your boot drive a data drive, at least for serious use).
Apple’s installation process includes a choice to suck in applications, settings, etc from another Mac. It works tremendously well, and I used it to quickly make the Mac Pro have all the same applications and preferences as my G5 Quad. Even the desktop looked exactly the same!
In fact, it worked so well it was eerie—I felt like I had to double-check which machine I was using! I could even print immediately to my Epson printer. Wonderful feature, a savings of hours of effort. As usual, Photoshop’s authorization procedure was a needless hassle. I hope more vendors don’t follow Adobe’s lead—what would it be like to have to de-authorize and reauthorize a dozen programs? Shitheads. Finally, I installed the various system updates.
On to the hard drives: I removed the pitiful 250GB hard drive, and installed four (4) Maxtor 7H500F0 hard drives. Apple’s system for installing drives could hardly be easier; pull the mounting bracket, screw in four screws, and slot the drive into its bay. Great stuff.
I created two 4-way striped RAID volumes: “Master” and “Backup”. Failure of a single drive will of course destroy the data on both “Master” and “Backup”, but I keep multiple offline copies; “Backup” is for the convenience of a quick incremental backup of files. Users with less demanding performance requirements could make two 2-way stripes instead.
Finally, I copied my 533GB of data to the new striped volume. Everything seems to be working well, though this blog is being written with Macromedia Dreamweaver 8, which is not a Universal binary, and thus it’s even more sluggish than on the G5 Quad.