Frequently Asked Questions

If you do not find the answer to your question here, feel free to contact us. We are here to help.

Product Information

Video Editing - Adobe Premiere / Divinci Resolve / Final Cut Pro - Recommendations

There are four primary components which are vital to performance:

1) Processor - For Adobe Premiere and Divinci Resolve, the more cores the better. The processor speed also matters.
Year 2008 Model 3,1 8-Core 2.8GHz - good
Year 2010 Model 5,1 6-core 3.33GHz - better
Year 2010 Model 5,1 12-core 2.66GHz - great
Year 2010 Model 5,1 12-core 3.33GHz - fantastic

2) Memory - We recommend at least 4GB per core.
For the 6-core, 16GB is good, 24GB is great, 32GB is fantastic.
For the 12-core, 32GB is good, 48GB is great, 64GB is fantastic.

3) Storage - The drive speed is extremely important for boot time, opening applications, editing files, and saving files. We strongly suggest going with a PCIe-based SSD for the boot drive which holds your operating system, applications, and usually plug-ins.
Hard Drive (HD) - standard. We recommend the hard drive for data storage. Performs at about 175MB/s.
Solid-State Drive (SSD) - the Mac Pro drive bay has a SATA2 controller which maxes at 3GB/s or 300MB/s. The new technology is SATA 3 which is 6GB/s or 600MB. Thus, we install the SATA3 SSD's on the PCIe slot which allows the drive to perform at it's full potential. The PCIe SSD typically achieves 550MB/s.
Flash Storage - the same drive used by Apple in the Mac Pro cylinder. These drives are straight PCIe rather than SATA 3. The newest technology that achieves about 1000-1500MB/s.

4) Graphics Card - Divinci Resolve uses more of the processor. Adobe Premiere uses more of the graphics card. Essential for reducing rendering times. Most video editing applications utilize CUDA cores. The standard ATI Radeon graphics cards don't have any CUDA cores. The NVIDIA GTX class of graphics cards offers the most CUDA cores. See question "Which graphics card is best for video editing" section for more details.

Audio Recording - Pro Tools / Logic Pro - Recommendations

We were actually at a AES convention recently and spoke with a couple AVID employees. They stated for Pro Tools, the more cores the better. When we have completed upgrades for customers, we have noticed that the processor usage monitor shows a decrease in CPU usage when upgrading from Quad-Core to 12-Core.

There are three primary components which are vital to performance:

1) Processor - For Pro Tools and Logic Pro, the more cores the better. The processor speed also matters.
Year 2008 Model 3,1 8-Core 2.8GHz - good
Year 2010 Model 5,1 6-core 3.33GHz - better
Year 2010 Model 5,1 12-core 2.66GHz - great
Year 2010 Model 5,1 12-core 3.33GHz - fantastic

2) Memory - We recommend at least 4GB per core.
For the 6-core, 16GB is good, 24GB is great, 32GB is fantastic.
For the 12-core, 32GB is good, 48GB is great, 64GB is fantastic.

3) Storage - The drive speed is extremely important for boot time, opening applications, editing files, and saving files. We strongly suggest going with a PCIe-based SSD for the boot drive which holds your operating system, applications, and usually plug-ins.
Hard Drive (HD) - standard. We recommend the hard drive for data storage. Performs at about 175MB/s.
Solid-State Drive (SSD) - the Mac Pro drive bay is SATA2 which maxes at 3GB/s or 300MB/s. The new technology is SATA 3 which is 6GB/s or 600MB. Thus, we install the SATA3 SSD on the PCIe slot which allows the drive to perform at it's full potential. The PCIe SSD typically achieves 550MB/s.
Flash Storage - the same drive used by Apple in the Mac Pro cylinder. These drives are straight PCIe rather than SATA 3. The newest technology that achieves about 1500MB/s.

Drives - For audio, it's important to separate the applications/plug-ins from the sessions from the samples/content/sound libraries. We recommend:
PCIe SSD 1 - operating system, applications, plug-ins
PCIe SSD 2 - sessions and samples

OR

PCIe SSD - operating system, applications, plug-ins
Hard Drive 1 - sessions
Hard Drive 2 - samples/content/sound libraries

Many people have the sessions and samples on external hard drives. If so, just the primary PCIe SSD is fine. Plus, you can get a USB 3.0 card for your external drives.

Pre-Owned vs. Refurbished

Some of our competitors use the term ‘refurbished’ to refer to the condition of their product. We don’t like to use the term ‘refurbished’ because by definition a refurbished product is one that was at one point defective or faulty, then repaired and restored to functional condition.

At iBuildMacs, we never stock refurbished units, nor do we accept defective units for the purpose of refurbishing. All our Apple Mac Pro’s are ‘pre owned’. Specifically, the Mac Pro’s we stock have always been in functioning and well performing condition from professional environments.

We acquire our Mac Pro’s from only educational and government facilities, as well as larger corporate level post production companies. We frequently get the question, “How do you get this many Mac Pro’s” or “Why do these companies sell these systems?”

  1. These entities typically replace their workstations every two to four years. The replacement of the systems is within their budget, so they must do it. Also, the purchase of new systems provides them with tax benefits. Some companies actually lease the systems from Apple or a third party company.

  2. Some of the larger post production companies purchase a set of workstations for one job. Once the job is complete after 6 months or a year, they sell the extra systems. This is common with the new body Mac Pro cylinders.

Condition - Chassis

Towers:
The Apple Mac Pro towers are no longer in production by Apple, so it's not possible to find them in new condition. Our Apple Mac Pro's are pre-owned by professional institutions including large video editing companies, and governmental/educational facilities. We do not like to use the term 'refurb' because refurbished items by definition are faulty then repaired/refurbished to working condition again. Our inventory comprises of only Mac Pro's that were used by a company, then upgraded. This occurs frequently because larger corporations have every two to four year system replacements within their budgets.

Cosmetically, our units are in good condition. Our vendors know that we are paranoid about the cosmetic condition we acquire. They know that we will complain if they send us poor condition units, so they directly pass it on to our competitors. We never sell units with bends, dents, or dings. Units might have light scratches and/or scuffs. If you would like to know the condition of the specific unit you will receive, please contact us with your configuration as our inventory changes on a daily basis.

Cylinder:
Majority of our Apple Mac Pro cylinders are pre-owned. This is how we are able to offer them at such a competitive price. At times, we stock units that are brand new. If a vendor offers new units at fair market value, we always purchase them. Also, depending on the configuration, some of the units are still covered under Apple warranty. Units that are third party upgraded do not carry Apple warranty. Thus, we strive to stock as many original configuration units, so we are apple to ship units that retain the original Apple warranty. If you would like to know if your configuration will have Apple warranty, please contact us.

Cosmetically, our units are in excellent condition. We attempt to stock cylinders only in like-new condition. These units will be in almost perfect condition. At most, they will have one or two scratches. If you would like to know the condition of the specific unit you will receive, please contact us with your configuration as our inventory changes on a daily basis.

In General:

  • We purchase only from professional, government, and educational facilities. We never purchase individual units from home users because we found the condition to be lower (excess dust / stench of smoke). The companies we purchase always have non-smoking and clean facilities.
  • All units are examined, tested, and cleaned when they arrive at our location. Once customized, they are tested again.

Condition - Components

The following components are new:
- Processors (for cylinder)
- Memory
- Solid-State Drives
- Hard Drives
- Flash Storage
- USB 3.0 / eSATA cards
- Later model GTX 970/980/980Ti/Titan X graphics cards

The following components are pulled / pre-owned:
- Processors (for tower) - Unfortunately, Intel no longer produces processors for the 2009-2013 systems, so it's impossible to find them new. Please note that we acquire our processors from professional facilities that part high quantity of systems. 1) They have experience to pull the components correctly. 2) The systems they pull the processors from are acquired from large corporations that maintain equipment very well.
- GTX 680 / 780 graphics cards - Unfortunately, NVIDIA no longer produces this class of graphics cards. Please note that our vendor does a thorough stress test on each graphics card.

Original Components

Since you upgrade the Mac Pro to new components, what happens with the original components?

  • Processors - sold to refurbishing facilities
  • Memory - sold to our competitors
  • Hard Drives - sold to our competitors
  • Graphics Cards - sold to end-users on eBay
  • Mac Pro's in poor cosmetic condition - sold to our competitors

Chassis - Tower - 2010/11 vs 2012/13

The architecture in the 2010/11 is 100% identical to the 2012/13. There is no difference internally. The only difference is the year of manufacture. The chassis (case, power supply, logic board, and processor board) are a couple years newer on the 2012/13. If performance is most important for you while maintaining a budget, go with the 2010/11. If you want the absolute latest, go with the 2012/13.

Please note that regardless of the year, we only acquire systems from larger studios and corporations. The systems are utilized in air-controlled locations and are shut down / put to sleep after hours. Plus, we clean and test each system thoroughly.

Processors - Performance - 3.33GHz vs 3.46GHz

The performance between the 3.33GHz and 3.46GHz is minimal. Here are the average 64-bit multi-core benchmark scores using Geekbench 3:
12-core 2.66GHz: 25,500
12-core 2.93GHz: 26,500
12-core 3.33GHz: 30,500
12-core 3.46GHz: 31,500

The 12-core 3.33GHz is most cost effective. However, is you want the absolute fastest, go with the 12-core 3.46GHz.

Graphics Card - Video Editing - Recommendations

Year 2008 Model 3,1:
ATI Radeon 2600XT 256MB (standard) - minimal performance. no cuda. negative.
GeForce 8800GT 512MB - good
GTX 680 2GB - great

Year 2009+ Model 5,1: (our rating score out of 10)
ATI Radeon 5770 1GB (4/10) - minimal performance. no CUDA. This card is fine for daily tasks and audio production, but not sufficient for video editing.
ATI Radeon 5870 1GB (5/10) - even though it's also 1GB, it has a more powerful internal processor than the 5770. But still, no CUDA. This card is fine for photography. Photoshop requires performance, but not as much as video editing.
GTX 680 2GB (6/10) - Compatible with Mountain Lion 10.8 and Mavericks 10.9. Strong internal processor. 1500 CUDA cores. Very popular card because nice performance at fair price and pretty quiet.
GTX 780 3GB (7/10) - Compatible with Mountain Lion 10.8 and Mavericks 10.9. Very high performance. 2300 CUDA cores. Higher performing than the GTX 970. Maybe 15% less performance than the 980Ti at about half the cost. See here for comparison between GTX 780 and 980Ti.
GTX 970 4GB - (6/10) - Latest generation. Requires the NVIDIA driver which requires Yosemite 10.10 or newer operating system. The base model of the latest generation. 1500 CUDA cores. Good performance. The GTX 780 3GB is actually higher performing than the 970, but the 970 is more power efficient and a bit quieter.
GTX 980Ti 6GB - (8/10) - Latest generation. Requires the NVIDIA driver which requires Yosemite 10.10 or newer operating system. Very strong internal processor. 2800 CUDA cores. Second to best. The difference in performance between the 980Ti and Titan X is not much, maybe 20%. See here.
GTX Titan X 12GB (10/10) - Latest generation. Requires the NVIDIA driver which requires Yosemite 10.10 or newer operating system. Very strong internal processor. 3000 CUDA cores. The best.

Graphics Cards - NVIDIA vs. ATI

NVIDIA has proven themselves as the leader when it comes to performance and technology for performance workstations. Their video cards are consistently more aggressive than the competition. But besides the raw horse power, NVIDIA’s eco-system of different technologies such as: PhysX, CUDA, and 3D Stereo Glasses, revolutionizes the professionals productivity. This is exactly why iBuildMacs recommends NVIDIA.

NVIDIA GTX - Boot/Option Screens

We work directly with MacVidCards, the creator of the Mac firmware for graphics cards. All our graphics cards are flashed personally by the owner of MacVidCards, and have full Mac OS supprort displaying the boot and option screens.

iBuildMacs is the ONLY Mac Pro reseller that works directly with MacVidCards. Our competitors, in order to save money and maximize profit, buy their graphics cards from individuals who have stolen early versions of the MacVidCards firmware which may not perform properly. These individuals who have stolen the graphics card firmware from MacVidCards are not able to steal the latest, most compatible version, because MacVidCards has placed passwords on the new firmware. If you make a purchase of a Mac Pro GTX graphics card off eBay or another Mac Pro seller, you are likely to get a graphics card with an earlier firmware which may show symptoms (artifacts on screen of ports not functioning as they should)

Thunderbolt

Thunderbolt is not compatible with the tower Mac Pro. The PCIe 2.0 slots on the tower max out at 8GB/s. Thunderbolt 2 is 20GB/s. The PCIe slots cannot support the bandwidth of Thunderbolt.

However, you can get USB 3.0, USB-C and/or eSATA. We offer several options:
USB 3.0 - four ports with one controller; max total bandwidth of 5GB/s - if you connect one device, you will achieve the full speed of 5GB/s on that device. However, if you use two USB 3.0 devices at once, the speed will be divided between the two devices - each will achieve 2.5GB/s.
USB 3.0 - four ports with four controllers; max total bandwidth of 20GB/s - if you connect one device, you will achieve the full speed of 5GB/s on that device. Even if you connect four USB 3.0 devices at once, all will achieve the full USB 3.0 speed of 5GB/s.
USB 3.1 - also called USB-C is 10GB/s, double the performance of USB 3.0. We have two options available - PCIe card with 2x USB-C ports - PCIe card with 1x USB-C and 1x USB 3.0.
USB 3.0 (two ports) and eSATA (two ports) combo card - ideal if you have external drives with both connections.
eSATA (two ports) - if you don't need USB 3.0.

USB 3.0 is 5GB/s and eSATA is 6GB/s. However, one is faster on write speed and the other is faster on read speeds. They are both similar. If you are looking into purchasing external drive storage, go with USB 3.0; it's newer technology.

SSD vs PCIe SSD

The Mac Pro drive bays have a SATA2 controller which has a maximum speed of 3GB/s or 300MB/s. The new technology SSDs are SATA3 which have a maximum speed of 6GB/s or 600MB/s.

SSD on the drive bay performs at 275MB/s.
SSD on the PCIe slot performs at 550MB/s. Installing the SSD on the PCIe slot allows the SSDs to perform at it's full potential.

PCIe Slots

The Mac Pro tower has four PCIe 2.0 slots. One will be occupied by the graphics card.

Applications

Systems ship with a fresh install of the operating system you select on the configuration tool.
Snow Leopard 10.6 is the earliest operating system available for the tower.
Mavericks 10.9 is the earilest operating system available for the cylinder.

For the following hardware, we preinstall the following applications:
Solid-State Drive or Flash Storage - Cindori Trim Enabler, which enables TRIM on the operating system which maintains the efficiency and performance of the drive. For more information about TRIM, visit here.

GTX 970/980/980Ti/Titan X Graphics Cards - NVIDIA Web Driver. Since these are newer graphics cards, the driver is not included in Mac OS. The NVIDIA Web Driver is required for the graphics card to perform properly. Please note that the NVIDIA driver installed is specific to the revision of your current operating system. If you update your operating system, you must update the NVIDIA Web Driver as well. Please visit here for updates.

Blu-Ray Player - Blu-Ray Player application.

Cindori

If your Mac Pro has a solid-state drive or flash storage, we install Cindori to enable the TRIM feature.

How TRIM works: When an operating system uses TRIM with a solid-state drive, it sends a signal to the SSD every time you delete a file. The SSD knows that the file is deleted and it can erase the file’s data from its flash storage. With flash memory, it’s faster to write to empty memory — to write to full memory, the memory must first be erased and then written to. This causes your SSD to slow down over time unless TRIM is enabled. TRIM ensures the physical NAND memory locations containing deleted files are erased before you need to write to them. The SSD can then manage its available storage more intelligently.

Company Information

Payment

PayPal is our primary merchant because of their excellent customer service - representatives in the USA quickly come to the phone. Also, they offer both Buyer and Seller Protection. Thus, you can feel comfortable that your payment and purchase are protected. If you do not have a PayPal account or you prefer to not pay with PayPal, we have several other payment options:

1) PayPal - If you checkout directly through the site, PayPal will require you to login. If you do not have a PayPal account, that is fine; there is a work around. We can send you a PayPal invoice to your email account. You will receive a notification email with the pending invoice. Click on the 'Pay via Credit Card' link in the email and you will be directed to a PayPal page where you input your credit card information and shipping details. This way, you don't have to go through the hassle of signing up for a PayPal account, yet you take advantage of PayPal's secure system and protection.

2) Amazon Payments - If you are a frequent Amazon customer, paying by Amazon may be convenient since you already have your payment and shipping details already stored in your Amazon account.

3) Stripe - If you would like to pay directly, we can charge your credit or debit card directly. Please call us and we will complete the process over the phone. This way, your credit card information will not be lingering in email records.

4) Cashiers Check / Wire Transfer - If you would like to save 4% on your order, you can mail us a cashiers check and submit a wire transfer. We use Wells Fargo. We typically prepare the order the day after the payment is received. Sometimes we even ship the next day. Contact us for the mailing address. We also accept cash if you are local.

5) Venmo - a simple mobile app that allows people to send each other money using your phone number or email address. They charge the buyer 3% fee on credit cards and some debit cards. Since it's free for us to receive money, we will offer a 3% discount for Venmo payment.

Build Time

If all the components part of your configuration are in stock (most cases), we will ship your Mac Pro within 1-2 business days.
If a component must be ordered, it can take 4-6 business days.
Compare that with the average 10-15 days from most of our competitors.

If you are in a rush to receive your Mac Pro, please contact us with your exact configuration and we will provide a more accurate time frame.

If you are in the Los Angeles area, you also have the option of picking up your computer from our location the moment it is prepared.

Financing

Unfortunately, we do not offer direct financing. We have found that our interest rates would not be competitive, so we have not pursued this option. We do however accept all major credit cards, cashiers checks, and government and educational PO's.

PayPal has a financing program called PayPal Credit. Once you are approved, PayPal will release the funds into your PayPal account. You pay us for the order. You receive your Mac Pro, then pay monthly payments to PayPal. Visit here for the application and details.

"With PayPal Credit, you can enjoy special financing offers like this one: No Payments + No Interest if paid in full in 6 months on purchases of $99 or more." PayPal Credit also advertises:

  • Get a credit decision in seconds
  • No annual fee
  • Easy account management

Price Matching

There are many different types of sellers out there. Some focus on selling workstations in bulk, some sell base configurations, some sell lower quality equipment in attempt to offer the lowest prices on the market, and others focus on offering the highest quality equipment with support. iBuildMacs.com is obviously the latter type. Other sellers have no cost of researching quality components and latest technology innovations, no time invested in consulting, and no post-sale support costs. Because of those differences, a direct pricing comparison is not possible. If you find an Apple Mac Pro for a lower price, we cannot match the price. However, if you find a completely customized computer system with support for a lower price from a reputable company, we do encourage you to approach us about it. Most often, the other company is using poor condition chassis', used or low quality components, or is putting much less time into building the system correctly or supporting it.

Location

iBuildMacs is based in Los Angeles, CA -- just a few miles from the intersection of the 101 and 405 freeways near to Sherman Oaks . At this time, we operate as an internet business only, but you are welcome to stop by our location and chat! Without the cost of sales clerks, the monthly rent for a retail facility, and all the associated costs, we are able to greatly reduce our margins on every system we sell. This means lower prices for you. At the moment we are doing quite well in this position, and have no intention of opening a retail facility. It is our primary goal to provide quality systems and great customer service at the fair prices.

Plus, if you are local in Los Angeles, you are welcome to pick up. For quantity orders, we sometimes offer free local delivery.

Shipping

  • Apple Mac Pro 'Cylinders' - since these models are current, the unit will typically ship with the original Apple packaging. We will also place the original packageing in a larger box, so the Mac Pro will be extra secure.
  • Apple Mac Pro 'Towers' - we use custom double wall 24"x24"x13" boxes with custom manufactured foam molded for the Mac Pro.
  • We have shipped thousands of Mac Pro's to many countries across every continent. We are positive your Mac Pro will arrive safely.

FedEx Ground within the US:

  • West Coast: 1-2 business days
  • Central States: 3-4 business days
  • East Coast: 4-5 business days

If you would like next-day or second-day air, please contact us for a quote.

Shipping options to Canada (Tower / Cylinder):

  • FedEx Ground (4-5 business days): $150 / $100
  • FedEx Express (2-3 business days): $300 / $200

Shipping options to all other countries (Tower / Cylinder):

  • FedEx Express (2-3 business days): $400 / $250

Shipping Rates Table

Sales Tax

Enjoy your purchase without the additional cost of sales tax. iBuildMacs is located in Los Angeles and is registered with the California State Board of Equalization. However, since we have several competitors nationwide, we cover the sales tax internally to stay competitive within the marketplace.

Returns

Our Apple Mac Pro's with a:

  • 14-day return period - if you are not happy with your workstation(s) for any reason, please contact us immediately. We will work with you to resolve the problem.
  • 60-day warranty period - you can be comfortable with your purchase knowing that in the rare case something happens, we will take care of it. Even after the warranty period, we will be here to assist you. Please see 'Warranty' and 'After Warranty' sections below for more information.

Warranty

Our Mac Pros come with a 60-day warranty period. You can be comfortable with your purchase knowing that if, in the rare case something happens, we will take care of it. Even after the warranty period, we will be here to assist you.

We acquire our Mac Pros from professional facilities and our components are primarily new. Further, we test our Mac Pro's thoroughly prior to and after the customization. We are confident our Mac Pros will perform fine for years to come. In the rare case there is an issue, it will typically occur within the first day or two of starting to stress the unit. If the unit performs fine for the first few days, it will be fine for years to come. This is because if there is a faulty component installed, it will quickly become apparent. Otherwise, the Mac Pros are resilient systems and will run strong.

Our competitors install used components, so it is important for them to offer extended warranty periods. If they don't, they will have big problems. For us at iBuildMacs, having a faulty component after 6 months or a year is slim to none.

After Warranty

Whether you purchased a workstation from us a week ago, a month ago, or 2 years ago, we offer phone and email support for the duration of you owning the system. We have a tremendous amount of experience, thus can easily diagnose issues...typically faster and easier than the Apple Store Genius Bar. If your warranty period has expired, we will help diagnose the problem, help locating the replacement component or offer the replacement component directly at cost, and even provide replacement instructions.

We stand by our product 100%. We sell only Apple Mac Pro's. It's what we deal with all day, every day. When it comes to expertise in the product, other companies cannot compete.

Our Beginning

iBuildMacs was founded in 2012 and iBuildMacs.com was launched in 2014 by Jonathan Soliemon. Currently, iBuildMacs is a registered S-corporation in California.

Track Record

There are numerous resources you can verify to make sure iBuildMacs is the right choice for you. Start with our customer testimonials. You can also reivew our 2500+ 100% positive feedback on eBay. Or just Google our name...we're confident in the talk you'll find!

Bulk Orders

Discounts:
Customizing systems in large quantities can be more time efficient, so we can pass along those savings in the form of a discount. We consider those discounts on a case by case basis. Contact us for custom pricing if you are ordering 5 or more computers at one time.

Delivery Times:
Normally, a large quantity does not significantly lengthen our standard 2 to 6 day preparation time. Usually, we request only a few additional days on 10 of more units.

International Orders

International customers are responsible for all brokerage fees, taxes and import duties. iBuildMacs is not involved with determining or collecting those costs. These costs vary by country, so we cannot tell you how much cost to expect. Your local customs agency can provide this information. Your shipping carrier will communicate your final costs for collection just before delivery.

International customers are responsible for shipping costs for warranty repairs or part replacements. iBuildMacs is proud to be able to offer our Mac Pro's internationally, but the high costs of shipping mean that we can only service other countries to individuals who are willing to accept the potential of these costs.

The Apple Mac Pro power supplies are manufactured per international specifcations. They are compatible with all international voltages and outlets.

The power cords we provide are for US style wall sockets only. If you require a different style power plug, you must source that cable locally.