4 core for general use/gaming?

abluehaze

macrumors regular
Original poster
Aug 25, 2008
103
3
I've been waffling back and forth on whether to get an iMac or Mac Pro for my general use/hobbyist/gaming needs.

In considering the Mac Pro vs the iMac I'm trying to decide which would be the best configuration. If I'm understanding this correctly if you don't use applications often that require multiple cores like Photoshop or other pro apps then you're better off getting the 4 core because of the faster clock speed. Is this correct?

I'm looking to use this Mac Pro primarily for general use>Mac gaming>PC gaming, in that order. Would 4 cores or 6 be best in that situation? I'm currently looking at a 4 core build with dual D700's.
 

wildmac

macrumors 65816
Jun 13, 2003
1,167
1
I've been waffling back and forth on whether to get an iMac or Mac Pro for my general use/hobbyist/gaming needs.

In considering the Mac Pro vs the iMac I'm trying to decide which would be the best configuration. If I'm understanding this correctly if you don't use applications often that require multiple cores like Photoshop or other pro apps then you're better off getting the 4 core because of the faster clock speed. Is this correct?

I'm looking to use this Mac Pro primarily for general use>Mac gaming>PC gaming, in that order. Would 4 cores or 6 be best in that situation? I'm currently looking at a 4 core build with dual D700's.
If you can afford it, the 4-core/D700 and a pile of ram is likely the best config. Yes, the faster clock is better for general tasks.

Do you have a monitor already? If so, the nMP might indeed be a better choice (if you can afford it). If you don't have a monitor already, then the iMac might wind up being the better deal, assuming you are fine with the glossy displays.
 

Anim

macrumors 6502a
Dec 16, 2011
614
22
Macclesfield, UK
Gaming on the nMP is a huge mixed bag debate on here because the nMP is a workstation that has had some benchmarks putting it above a dedicated titan gaming machine. The fact that the word "workstation" should be considered for "gaming" is irrelevant depending on your needs. Same as buying a 4x4 for town driving or buying a sports car for driving around the city.

So, with that out the way....

light gaming or hardcore gaming does not really change the spec. Gaming often requires pretty high end hardware to cover the broad range available, obviously much more demanding than an office based PC. So depending on what genre you play; first person shooters (demanding) vs strategy (less demanding) vs online RPGs (average) or all of those would help you work out what hardware to go for.

Some older games use more CPU power where others lean towards the GPU. Because of that a mixture of both would be better IMO.

Personally I think a middle ground between cost/performance would be a 6 core, D700 setup with 12 or 16GB ram and at least a 512GB disk because your boot camping as the sweet spot.

If money is more of an issue then you could get a 4 core Mac i7 with a single graphics card and included monitor.

If it was just windows gaming then you could get a dedicated gaming machine for cheaper with more performance, but you want mac gaming too so that is my recommendation.

Anim
 

Wardenski

macrumors 6502
Jan 22, 2012
464
4
If I had to choose between an iMac and Mac Pro, I would choose the Mac Pro but I would game only in Windows so I could use both GPUS.

As far as I am aware, a decent clock i7/Xeon like the one in the Mac Pro is still overkill for games. GPU power is where its at. On Fry Cry 3 my CPU approaches 100 % when things get tough but my Mac Pro is 5 years old and I only use 4 cores in Windows.
 

Anim

macrumors 6502a
Dec 16, 2011
614
22
Macclesfield, UK
Just to backup my thoughts for 6 core vs 4 core for gaming.

Modern game engines are starting to utilise more cores/hyper threading so 6 cores are a good thing here. e.g. Battlefield 3 makes use of more than 4 cores if you have them, including other games using the Frostbite 2 engine. Other engines are still in the 2,3 or 4 core camp but will catch up.

Frostbite 3 engine as used on Battlefield 4 can use up to 8 CPU cores.
#ref
Slide 18: http://www.slideshare.net/DICEStudio/battlefield-4-frostbite-3-mantle

On older games that only use up to 4 cores leaving the other 2 sat idle unless you are multi-tasking while playing games. Multi-tasking as in Team Speak, Virus scanning or even streaming your live game to twitch while you play so there is still a benefit there.

So is 6 core better? Yes, if running same Mhz (or matching Turbo Boost)

By how much? depends on the engine the game uses or if your multi-tasking outside the game.

Anim
 

abluehaze

macrumors regular
Original poster
Aug 25, 2008
103
3
Just to backup my thoughts for 6 core vs 4 core for gaming.

Modern game engines are starting to utilise more cores/hyper threading so 6 cores are a good thing here. e.g. Battlefield 3 makes use of more than 4 cores if you have them, including other games using the Frostbite 2 engine. Other engines are still in the 2,3 or 4 core camp but will catch up.

Frostbite 3 engine as used on Battlefield 4 can use up to 8 CPU cores.
#ref
Slide 18: http://www.slideshare.net/DICEStudio/battlefield-4-frostbite-3-mantle

On older games that only use up to 4 cores leaving the other 2 sat idle unless you are multi-tasking while playing games. Multi-tasking as in Team Speak, Virus scanning or even streaming your live game to twitch while you play so there is still a benefit there.

So is 6 core better? Yes, if running same Mhz (or matching Turbo Boost)

By how much? depends on the engine the game uses or if your multi-tasking outside the game.

Anim
I'm pretty much always running something in the background while gaming. I was just under the impression that the higher clock speed on the 4 core would be better for general use and gaming. As I understand it adding more cores is only beneficial for pro design apps and as I've done some research I'm reading that even for photoshop sometimes a 4 core is better than a machine with higher cores.

The thing I'm trying to avoid here is having to buy another PC in 2 years because I can only run the latest games at low settings or medium settings with crappy framerates. The allure of the Mac Pro is that it's possible that in 2 years I might be able to upgrade the graphics cards if gaming performance begins to suffer too much without having to buy a whole new machine. I'm also thinking that apple might enable dual gpus for general use and gaming In osx with a future osx update.

The issue I've had with iMacs in the past is that the graphics cards outdated MUCH faster for gaming than the rest of the machine which is why I'm apprehensive to buy another one.

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If I had to choose between an iMac and Mac Pro, I would choose the Mac Pro but I would game only in Windows so I could use both GPUS.

As far as I am aware, a decent clock i7/Xeon like the one in the Mac Pro is still overkill for games. GPU power is where its at. On Fry Cry 3 my CPU approaches 100 % when things get tough but my Mac Pro is 5 years old and I only use 4 cores in Windows.
I'll only do some light gaming in windows in situations where a Mac client isn't available. I buy macs to stay away from windows. If I didn't mind windows I'd just buy a win machine because really Win machines and direct x are far superior for gaming.

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If you can afford it, the 4-core/D700 and a pile of ram is likely the best config. Yes, the faster clock is better for general tasks.

Do you have a monitor already? If so, the nMP might indeed be a better choice (if you can afford it). If you don't have a monitor already, then the iMac might wind up being the better deal, assuming you are fine with the glossy displays.
I don't have a monitor already. If need to buy a Thunderbolt Display. I'm really looming for longevity for gaming and bang for the buck.
 

zesta

macrumors member
Jan 31, 2008
38
3
The quad and 6-core both have the same frequencies when the same number of cores are active. They both are 3.9 GHz for a single core, and both are 3.7 GHz for 4 cores. If you have the 6-core, and all 6 cores are active, then it drops to 3.6 GHz, but I think that difference is greatly overshadowed by the additional power of the 6-core.

If you have no need for the 6-core, then do the quad, but the quad is never going to be faster than the 6-core at any given application.

The 8-core is faster than both when 2 cores are active, but starting with 4 cores, it is 200 MHz slower than the quad or 6.

Anandtech's review has a really nice chart showing the different options' turbo speeds:

http://www.anandtech.com/show/7603/mac-pro-review-late-2013/4
 

Quash

macrumors regular
Sep 27, 2007
192
20
I'm kind of in the same situation, only instead of photoshop i do quite some virtualisation/development work. No matter how terrible value the mac pro might be for gaming. I'm not gonna go back to an iMac. I've had to many GPU problems with those in the past. Mac pro's have always been 100% stable. ECC Memories and xeons are just nice to have. I mainly buy my mac for general use and working but it also has to play Blizzard games at reasonable frame rates.

Problem is i have a really hard time justifying the D700's over the D300's as they are only 30% faster and one sits unused in OS-X. It's kind of spending 1000$ and then not using 500$ of that upgrade. The D700's might last me a year longer then D300's but probably not much more.
 

Anim

macrumors 6502a
Dec 16, 2011
614
22
Macclesfield, UK
Well, the good thing is that the CPU can be upgraded to 6/8/12 core down the road if you wanted a CPU based performance boost, somebody has already swapped the CPU for a standard intel equivalent so its doable right now.

The GPU which uses a proprietary connector is less likely to be third party replaceable, not impossible but we simply don't know yet. Lets hope that Apple offer card replacements in the future as GPU's get updated all the time.
 

antonis

macrumors 68020
Jun 10, 2011
2,085
1,007
I'll only do some light gaming in windows in situations where a Mac client isn't available. I buy macs to stay away from windows. If I didn't mind windows I'd just buy a win machine because really Win machines and direct x are far superior for gaming.
Mind though that nMP under windows has out-of-the-box crossfire enabled, thus it's going to last much longer perfrormance-wise for gaming. The gaming performance of nMP when CF is utilized is more than decent, with today's standards.

I don't have a monitor already. If need to buy a Thunderbolt Display. I'm really looming for longevity for gaming and bang for the buck.
I believe you'll be fine with any good monitor with an HDMI port. The advantage in comparison with the iMac is that you can choose your own monitor / resolution. The downside, though, is that you'll have a hard time finding a better one. Anyway, I'd go for a Samsung 23" or something like that.
 

wildmac

macrumors 65816
Jun 13, 2003
1,167
1
I don't have a monitor already. If need to buy a Thunderbolt Display. I'm really looming for longevity for gaming and bang for the buck.
Those are diametrical goals... :)

Bang for the Buck (if you need to buy a monitor) = iMac

Longevity = MacPro.

I would look at the standard Dell 24" monitors, and the Quad/D700 if you can afford all that. If all that gives you sticker shock, get the iMac.
 

abluehaze

macrumors regular
Original poster
Aug 25, 2008
103
3
Those are diametrical goals... :)

Bang for the Buck (if you need to buy a monitor) = iMac

Longevity = MacPro.

I would look at the standard Dell 24" monitors, and the Quad/D700 if you can afford all that. If all that gives you sticker shock, get the iMac.
I won't say money isn't an issue but I could go the 4 core or 6 core route depending on feasibility and best performance for my needs. I'm basically looking to use my money wisely and get something I'll be happy with that allows me to run any new Mac games for the next 2 years or so at high settings with decent framerates at 2560x1440.

I can't see myself going down in size as far as a monitor goes so I don't think going to a 23 or 24 would be an option. I'd also like to avoid buying a third party display. I know that right now isn't the best time to buy a Thunderbolt Display though because they're way past due for a revision.

I appreciate everyone's input on this. It's a tough decision for sure. iMacs are great machines I just wish apple would stop putting mobile gpus in them.
 

Gav Mack

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Jun 15, 2008
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Having had a nMP at full load very recently on my bench running premiere CS6 and witnessed iMacs and mini's playing games mostly on bootcamp I would absolutely go for the nMP. The other two sound like hovercraft when they are pushed hard thermally and do throttle back cos of the heat after a few mins.

The little black can was laughably silent in comparison. In fact the quietest computer I've ever heard running a render hard!
 

FredT2

macrumors 6502a
Mar 18, 2009
559
99
Having had a nMP at full load very recently on my bench running premiere CS6 and witnessed iMacs and mini's playing games mostly on bootcamp I would absolutely go for the nMP. The other two sound like hovercraft when they are pushed hard thermally and do throttle back cos of the heat after a few mins.

The little black can was laughably silent in comparison. In fact the quietest computer I've ever heard running a render hard!
Were those recent iMacs?
 

Gav Mack

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Jun 15, 2008
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Were those recent iMacs?
Haswell 27 i7 with nvidia is the newest. But thermally and acoustically none of the other Macs compare to the nMP. Actually no other computer apart from a very expensive zalman heatpipe PC case even comes close to it full stop. You really have to hear what the nothingness of the gentle whirr of the nMP running hard is to appreciate the eerie lack of noise coming from it. I think I said "fork me is that it?" :D
 
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abluehaze

macrumors regular
Original poster
Aug 25, 2008
103
3
Has anyone seen any benchmarks on the quad core with D700's? I'd like to compare that to see how much more performance I'd be getting for the money difference.

One other negative for the Mac Pro would be that it seems like a bad time to be buying a Thunderbolt Display since its way past due for an update. It seems slightly odd to me that Apple is offering a third party display on their site for their new Mac Pro. I would guess this is a clue that they don't plan to release a 4K capable display anytime soon.
 

Anim

macrumors 6502a
Dec 16, 2011
614
22
Macclesfield, UK
Has anyone seen any benchmarks on the quad core with D700's? I'd like to compare that to see how much more performance I'd be getting for the money difference.

One other negative for the Mac Pro would be that it seems like a bad time to be buying a Thunderbolt Display since its way past due for an update. It seems slightly odd to me that Apple is offering a third party display on their site for their new Mac Pro. I would guess this is a clue that they don't plan to release a 4K capable display anytime soon.
If they update the Thunderbolt display to Thunderbolt 2 and 4k resolution you can bet it will cost as much as the current 4k monitors too. I myself got the 27" thunderbolt display at same time as the nMP. It's still a cracking display from what I have seen in the shops.
 

wildmac

macrumors 65816
Jun 13, 2003
1,167
1
I won't say money isn't an issue but I could go the 4 core or 6 core route depending on feasibility and best performance for my needs. I'm basically looking to use my money wisely and get something I'll be happy with that allows me to run any new Mac games for the next 2 years or so at high settings with decent framerates at 2560x1440.

I can't see myself going down in size as far as a monitor goes so I don't think going to a 23 or 24 would be an option. I'd also like to avoid buying a third party display. I know that right now isn't the best time to buy a Thunderbolt Display though because they're way past due for a revision.

I appreciate everyone's input on this. It's a tough decision for sure. iMacs are great machines I just wish apple would stop putting mobile gpus in them.
Well, with the pricing announced for the Dell 28" today, you may want to consider that display.

But for the nMP configuration, we are still stuck, because we just don't have enough test results. The only indication sofar is that the D500 might be underwhelming for the price, unless you are sticking a 4k display on it, or doing more serious graphics math (video and some 3D).
 

chevalier433

macrumors 6502a
Mar 30, 2011
510
13
Actually no other computer apart from a very expensive zalman heatpipe PC case even comes close to it full stop.[/QUOTE said:
Wrong pc case like fractal design with acoustic foam,water-cooled cpu with noctua fan and general fans replaced with noctua this is a true silent machine even at full load and better temps from nMP.
 

Anim

macrumors 6502a
Dec 16, 2011
614
22
Macclesfield, UK
Wrong pc case like fractal design with acoustic foam,water-cooled cpu with noctua fan and general fans replaced with noctua this is a true silent machine even at full load and better temps from nMP.
I thought if you water cool you don't use a great big fan? Just going off various pictures I've seen as not built my own machine in a few years.
 

Gav Mack

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Jun 15, 2008
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Wrong pc case like fractal design with acoustic foam,water-cooled cpu with noctua fan and general fans replaced with noctua this is a true silent machine even at full load and better temps from nMP.
Lol. I've only ever heard so should I say not heard the Zalman heatpipe case that is quieter which is a snap fit assembly and not one of those things.

I'd like to know just how much the costings would be to make one of those cases silent, along with those fans, water cooled piping for the CPU and also a pair of GPU's. I bet it's not cheap, strictly for the crazed gamer market and the opposite of a workstation. As with all water cooled gear it requires regular maintenance too, I have had two gamer clients who didn't who learnt that to immense cost as the mobo and GPU's were shorted to hell! They took the air cooled route after..

Are liquid nitrogen types quieter?
 

abluehaze

macrumors regular
Original poster
Aug 25, 2008
103
3
Well, with the pricing announced for the Dell 28" today, you may want to consider that display.

But for the nMP configuration, we are still stuck, because we just don't have enough test results. The only indication sofar is that the D500 might be underwhelming for the price, unless you are sticking a 4k display on it, or doing more serious graphics math (video and some 3D).
Here's the thing with the whole 4k displays. Gpus aren't really ready for 4k yet. Once gpus can truly drive a 4k with decent performance then I'll be intweested.

Those 4k displays announcd at CES are still many months out from mass production also.
 
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wildmac

macrumors 65816
Jun 13, 2003
1,167
1
Here's the thing with the whole 4k display nonsense. Gpus aren't really ready for 4k yet. Once gpus can truly drive a 4k with decent performance then I'll be intweested.

Those 4k displays announcd at CES are still many months out from mass production btw.
Agreed. And many won't be happy with their UI on a 4k display anyway..
 

Gav Mack

macrumors 68020
Jun 15, 2008
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Here's the thing with the whole 4k display nonsense. Gpus aren't really ready for 4k yet. Once gpus can truly drive a 4k with decent performance then I'll be intweested.

Those 4k displays announcd at CES are still many months out from mass production btw.
Thing is also the display technology isn't quite mature yet either. The current crop are 2 panels stitched together with a controller fudge. I wonder just how many of these models are a true single 4k panel with a proper controller to drive it? Even if a brilliant model came out I would still wait at least 6 months for the firmware and revisions to become stable enough to own one myself :rolleyes:
 

chevalier433

macrumors 6502a
Mar 30, 2011
510
13
Lol. I've only ever heard so should I say not heard the Zalman heatpipe case that is quieter which is a snap fit assembly and not one of those things.

I'd like to know just how much the costings would be to make one of those cases silent, along with those fans, water cooled piping for the CPU and also a pair of GPU's. I bet it's not cheap, strictly for the crazed gamer market and the opposite of a workstation. As with all water cooled gear it requires regular maintenance too, I have had two gamer clients who didn't who learnt that to immense cost as the mobo and GPU's were shorted to hell! They took the air cooled route after..

Are liquid nitrogen types quieter?
Its irrelevant to the post but ok.My i7 Haswell hackintosh is build in fractal define mini,antec 620 watercooler (5 years no maintenance)all three fans replaced with noctua(watercooler and two from case),asus gtx 760 my system is cheap and dead silent. On full load is compared with my iMac(mechanical drive replaced with ssd's) in idle.I have it a meter from my ear.

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I thought if you water cool you don't use a great big fan? Just going off various pictures I've seen as not built my own machine in a few years.
I have replace it with a pwm noctua fan (1500rpm with the included 7V adapter max 1200rpm)for cpu watercooler and its dead silent idle run at 300rpm and full load handbrake 3 hours never exceed 900rpm with cpu temp at 54C.
 
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