- your choice between buying a 4-core or 8 core computer; the speed of the computer chip is up to you if you can afford them. Base prices for a system range from $2,499 to $5,899, and I can't optimize that. My current thinking is that you should get a USED MacPro from ebay, craigslist, etc. and refurbish it for your needs, and not pay for premium prices on the latest MacPro model. Lloyd Chambers has more tips, including buying refurbished from Apple with all the guarantees but a discount in price (up to 15%). Update : in the USA, check AppleInsider's pricing engine to get up to $200 extra discount by selecting the right retailer and using coupons. DealMac.com seems to have additional tips and discounts.
- I'll only look into optimizing your wallet by looking at hard drives and memory prices, for example on www.macsales.com. Shipping there is free, for an order over $199 in the 48 continental US states
- You should (in my opinion) always buy the same brand, model, and capacity for all your drives. Hitachi is doing a great job with Ultrastars (the enterprise version, which means they are thoroughly tested among all drives produced, and these are the ones that perform best, with little variance in performance. If you can, always go with these) and Deskstars (great drives still, go for these if you're on a budget, + never forget to backup).
- Except for getting only an enterprise 1TB drive for the 1st bay, it's ALWAYS cheaper to get your drive from another provider (macsales.com for example). If you buy 2TB 7200rpm SATA disks, then savings are of $240,01 per disk ! for a setup with 4 disks, then you are saving up to $760.04 compared to Apple prices. And installation takes really no time and no effort whatsoever.
- for all models, getting up to 8 GB on the 4-core and 16 GB of RAM on the 8-core is cheaper at Apple. Stick with them.
- Otherwise, get the entry lever model (3GB or 6GB respectively for 4-core and 8-core), and upgrade to a third party provider. In the highest configuration, you can save up to $1,252.01 for 16GB of RAM on the 4-core, and up to $2,550.01 for 32 GB on the 8-core. Note that third-party providers offer many more options (24 GB, 48 GB of RAM) not offered by Apple.
- whenever you can, get 4GB modules instead of 2GB modules. The price difference is only $10-$20 total, and you get the option of being able to upgrade in the future without having to throw away your old RAM. By the way, macsales.com even offers guarantees (15-day return policies, etc.), and rebates when you buy from them (maybe I should explore a rebate option...)
PS: my current favourite store (both online and offline in Paris) for Mac stuff in France is http://www.macway.com.