4,1 for upgrade - 8 or 4 cores?

macmesser

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Aug 13, 2012
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Just about to buy a used Mac Pro 4,1 with the intention of flashing to 5,1 and I'm wondering if I should go for 8 cores after all. When I upgrade the CPUs it will be twice the cost, but CPU prices will probably be lower and availability of used will be greater. A 12 core upgrade might soon be in reach. My original plan was to buy a 2.66 quad core, use it for a while and then upgrade to 6 cores. I can pick up a 2.26 eight core for not much more. Any insights appreciated.
 

paulrbeers

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Dec 17, 2009
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Just about to buy a used Mac Pro 4,1 with the intention of flashing to 5,1 and I'm wondering if I should go for 8 cores after all. When I upgrade the CPUs it will be twice the cost, but CPU prices will probably be lower and availability of used will be greater. A 12 core upgrade might soon be in reach. My original plan was to buy a 2.66 quad core, use it for a while and then upgrade to 6 cores. I can pick up a 2.26 eight core for not much more. Any insights appreciated.
Normal question as always: What are you going to do with it?
 

macmesser

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Original poster
Aug 13, 2012
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Long Island, NY USA
Normal question as always: What are you going to do with it?
Photography, Windows emulation. RAW file processing and editing, image stacking, general mix of digital photo processing software. The ability to have Windows running in the background and some other apps would be good. I'm thinking of future needs. I know that for my present use a quad or hex would be more than adequate but if in the near future I can leverage bang for buck, why not?
 
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paulrbeers

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Dec 17, 2009
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Photography, Windows emulation. RAW file processing and editing, image stacking, general mix of digital photo processing software. The ability to have Windows running in the background and some other apps would be good. I'm thinking of future needs. I know that for my present use a quad or hex would be more than adequate but if in the near future I can leverage bang for buck, why not?
You are correct. What you are currently doing wouldn't require more than 6 fast cores. I would say something along the lines of "the MP Xeons are a lot more expensive than their single counterparts", but then again over time getting dual hex-core processors will drop considerably (especially whenever Apple moves to Sandy or Ivy Bridge based Xeons). For what I do, higher processor counts are more important than single core speed (running multiple VM's as well as video encoding which is highly multi-threaded), so I would choose the 8-core over the quad core.

With that said, right now the single 3.33ghz hex-core processor runs about $600 new. Even dual hex 2.4ghz processors are running about $1200. It will still be awhile before the higher clocked dual hex processors come down in price (the dual hex 3.06 currently runs about $3,000 for the pair!). So if you are planning on upgrading soon, you would probably be better with the quad core because 1 - 3.33ghz Hex will crush the dual quad core 2.4ghz, but if you think you will be fine for the new 2-3 years (at least) before you upgrade then by then the dual hex cores should be more reasonable at that time.

It's a tough decision. Also depends on how long you plan to keep your Mac Pro. 2-3 years? Then Single Proc. 4+ then maybe the dual proc is the way to go.....
 

macmesser

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Original poster
Aug 13, 2012
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Long Island, NY USA
You are correct. What you are currently doing wouldn't require more than 6 fast cores. I would say something along the lines of "the MP Xeons are a lot more expensive than their single counterparts", but then again over time getting dual hex-core processors will drop considerably (especially whenever Apple moves to Sandy or Ivy Bridge based Xeons). For what I do, higher processor counts are more important than single core speed (running multiple VM's as well as video encoding which is highly multi-threaded), so I would choose the 8-core over the quad core.

With that said, right now the single 3.33ghz hex-core processor runs about $600 new. Even dual hex 2.4ghz processors are running about $1200. It will still be awhile before the higher clocked dual hex processors come down in price (the dual hex 3.06 currently runs about $3,000 for the pair!). So if you are planning on upgrading soon, you would probably be better with the quad core because 1 - 3.33ghz Hex will crush the dual quad core 2.4ghz, but if you think you will be fine for the new 2-3 years (at least) before you upgrade then by then the dual hex cores should be more reasonable at that time.

It's a tough decision. Also depends on how long you plan to keep your Mac Pro. 2-3 years? Then Single Proc. 4+ then maybe the dual proc is the way to go.....

Thanks Paul. More grist for the mill but I'm probably looking at the single.
 

Melbourne Park

macrumors 6502
Mar 5, 2012
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One thing not mentioned is the 8 RAM card slots in the dual, compared to 4 in the single. This means that because smaller RAM cards are cheaper, RAM will cost you less. Also the data path for the memory is wider i.e. faster with the dual, than the single. Although I suspect that issue would be minor, but RAM cost and capacity is IMO something worth factoring in.
 
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macmesser

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Aug 13, 2012
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One thing not mentioned is the 8 RAM card slots in the dual, compared to 4 in the single. This means that because smaller RAM cards are cheaper, RAM will cost you less. Also the data path for the memory is wider i.e. faster with the dual, than the single. Although I suspect that issue would be minor, but RAM cost and capacity is a read factor.
Thanks for the input. I wondered about RAM config because I have never owned a Mac Pro. I'm looking now at a 2.93 dual CPU 4,1 which is a few hundred more than the singles I'm looking at. The 2.93 GHz processors are attractive and for that much it might pay to keep options open. Do you know if all the 4,1 models feature turbo boost processors?
 

paulrbeers

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Dec 17, 2009
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Thanks for the input. I wondered about RAM config because I have never owned a Mac Pro. I'm looking now at a 2.93 dual CPU 4,1 which is a few hundred more than the singles I'm looking at. The 2.93 GHz processors are attractive and for that much it might pay to keep options open. Do you know if all the 4,1 models feature turbo boost processors?
All processors on 4,1 forward have turbo boost. How much each processor "boosts" though varies.
 

derbothaus

macrumors 601
Jul 17, 2010
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Thanks Paul. I imagine 2.93 processors would boost to over 3, and the dual CPUs would probably take it fairly close to to a single quad or hex 3+ Ghz.
Dual 2.93GHz 8-core 2009 is slightly faster than 3.33GHz Hex in Multi threaded applications. Single threaded is won by the hex at 3.6GHz vs the 2.93's 3.33GHz top turbo speed. You also get the 8-DIMM slots.
 

macmesser

macrumors 6502a
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Aug 13, 2012
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Dual 2.93GHz 8-core 2009 is slightly faster than 3.33GHz Hex in Multi threaded applications. Single threaded is won by the hex at 3.6GHz vs the 2.93's 3.33GHz top turbo speed. You also get the 8-DIMM slots.
Didn't think there would be that much difference in turbo speed. Not too bad though, considering the upgrade potential and increased RAM capacity. Interestingly, the 2.93 gets 13.7% boost over nominal speed while the 3.33 gets only 9.9%. After factoring in price and other vagaries I can make a reasonably well informed, if not necessarily wise, decision. Thanks to all.
 
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Rainier42

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Aug 21, 2009
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One more thing to consider, I believe you can also upgrade the 2.93MP from a W5570 to a W5580, which runs at 3.2GHz.
 

derbothaus

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Jul 17, 2010
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Didn't think there would be that much difference in turbo speed. Not too bad though, considering the upgrade potential and increased RAM capacity. Interestingly, the 2.93 gets 13.7% boost over nominal speed while the 3.33 gets only 9.9%. After factoring in price and other vagaries I can make a reasonably well informed, if not necessarily wise, decision. Thanks to all.
TDP plays a major role in that. 95W for X5570 and 130W for W3680, X5680.

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One more thing to consider, I believe you can also upgrade the 2.93MP from a W5570 to a W5580, which runs at 3.2GHz.
You can technically flash logic board to 5,1 firmware and run dual X5690's if you wanted which maxes out X58 platform. 2x 3.46GHz 6-cores. More price/ performance conscious to do dual X5670/X5675 or X5680 though. Still pricing is insane unless you can get something via eBay. I think you mean X5xx series as W is for single socket single QPI. X is for dualies.
 

minifridge1138

macrumors 65816
Jun 26, 2010
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One more point to make about the 2009 dual cpu: they are lidless.

The only thing holding the processors to the daughter board are the heatsinks.
And the processors on the 2009 dual processor cards lack the IIHS.

That means that it is easy to over-tighten the heatsink and crush the cpu.

They can be upgraded, but not as easily as the single cpu Mac.
 

Melbourne Park

macrumors 6502
Mar 5, 2012
282
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One more point to make about the 2009 dual cpu: they are lidless.

The only thing holding the processors to the daughter board are the heatsinks.
And the processors on the 2009 dual processor cards lack the IIHS.

That means that it is easy to over-tighten the heatsink and crush the cpu.

They can be upgraded, but not as easily as the single cpu Mac.
Good point. It wasn't until the 2010's that the twin CPU boxes got the easy to upgrade lever equipped CPU female connections.
 

macmesser

macrumors 6502a
Original poster
Aug 13, 2012
842
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Long Island, NY USA
One more thing to consider, I believe you can also upgrade the 2.93MP from a W5570 to a W5580, which runs at 3.2GHz.
Thanks. "Just when I thought it was safe to go back into the eBay." 10% or so increase. Doesn't seem compelling for other than highly CPU intensive jobs, but still something to consider. Perhaps more compelling if the turbo boost speed is nice, but I'd guess the % boost falls off as nominal speed increases.
 

macmesser

macrumors 6502a
Original poster
Aug 13, 2012
842
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Long Island, NY USA
Good point. It wasn't until the 2010's that the twin CPU boxes got the easy to upgrade lever equipped CPU female connections.
That's a good point indeed, but with an 8 core 2.93 my intended upgrade would be deferred anyway. Personally I'd be comfortable in giving it a try after studying the available videos. I guess it's a matter of strapping or screwing the heat sinks on with an appropriate amount of force. A torque wrench might help. There must be installation specs somewhere.
 

thekev

macrumors 604
Aug 5, 2010
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One thing not mentioned is the 8 RAM card slots in the dual, compared to 4 in the single. This means that because smaller RAM cards are cheaper, RAM will cost you less. Also the data path for the memory is wider i.e. faster with the dual, than the single. Although I suspect that issue would be minor, but RAM cost and capacity is IMO something worth factoring in.
The difference isn't too insane at this point up to 32GB. Either way it's around $200 to hit 32GB. A year or more ago the difference was quite significant and larger ram requirements could make the decision obvious. It's still that way if you need to go beyond 32GB. Not as many people need that, but they do exist.
 

Melbourne Park

macrumors 6502
Mar 5, 2012
282
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That's a good point indeed, but with an 8 core 2.93 my intended upgrade would be deferred anyway. Personally I'd be comfortable in giving it a try after studying the available videos. I guess it's a matter of strapping or screwing the heat sinks on with an appropriate amount of force. A torque wrench might help. There must be installation specs somewhere.
Not sure which one your talking about ... but evidently upgrading to 6 core around the 3 Mhz mark, doesn't require any more cooling at all. I guess the cooling fins for the Quads are sufficient until you get to the 3.3 version, I presume.

Of course, water cooling is a piece of cake presuming one can get a power supply for the heat exchange .... and I guess one would need to put in a radiator in the door, hence a need to get a spare door (to keep a spare original one. And then perhaps increase the exhaust fan speed, to stop a pressure built up from the increased inlet over the door's radiator.

Only guessing of course ...
 

langer

macrumors newbie
Aug 24, 2012
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Ireland
Strange idea, but would it be possible to buy one CPU of a dual core system now, say one Xeon X5690 and then run the dual CPU Mac Pro on just one CPU until affording the upgrade to dual CPU?

I have read that leaving a single CPU in a dual CPU system will still boot, but would it be usable?
 
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bizzle

macrumors 6502a
Jun 29, 2008
936
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Strange idea, but would it be possible to buy one CPU of a dual core system now, say one Xeon X5690 and then run the dual CPU Mac Pro on just one CPU until affording the upgrade to dual CPU?

I have read that leaving a single CPU in a dual CPU system will still boot, but would it be usable?
I believe you can but you lose the other 4 RAM slots.
 

langer

macrumors newbie
Aug 24, 2012
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0
Ireland
I believe you can but you lose the other 4 RAM slots.
So, you could put in a few heftier sticks to make up for the loss? This would seem a decent enough way to get by and leave future options for further CPU upgrade...or is it lunacy? I'm wondering if it'll run at half speed or something else wacky?
 

langer

macrumors newbie
Aug 24, 2012
22
0
Ireland
While I'm at it, does anybody know if pretty much any mixed pair of x56** Xeons would work in a 2009 Mac Pro dual core upgrade (after the 2010 fix is applied)? (Heat issues aside)

They do have to be mixed pairs, no?

There are some interesting looking ones on eBay, but some are listed as HP, like these -
http://www.ebay.ie/itm/HP-BL460C-G6-XEON-CPU-KIT-X5650-585-83-EX-VAT-2-66GHz-6C-595727-B21-BULK-KIT-/370564982938?pt=UK_Computing_Servers&hash=item564764e89a#ht_4197wt_1165

Would that make any difference? Or have they just come out of (or gone into) a HP and they're no different?

I have seen some other eBay shops with X5650s cheap, but then the eBay auction said not for Intel boards.

I guess I'm asking is there any stepping number, chip type or anything else I should be looking for, or could somebody point me in the right direction so that I don't buy two CPUs only for use with Asus boards? Cheers!