4-core or 8-core ?

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by tamvly, Feb 16, 2008.

  1. tamvly macrumors 6502a


    Nov 11, 2007
    I currently use a PowerMac G5 2.5GHz w/ 1.5 GB of memory. And I'm looking to upgrade to a new MP. Here are the questions: 4 cores or 8 and whether to upgrade the video card.

    I love my G5, even if it's a bit shy on memory for Leopard. The reason I want to upgrade is that Leopard has proven to be unstable on this machine - 10 kernel panics since Leopard, two since the 10.5.2 upgrade. From reading the forums the Intel based systems seem more stable (like my MBP with which I've had only one minor issue). I can't really see that I would ever do anything that would need the power of 8 processors. I am an ex-coder (Java, databases and C++) so it is possible that I could start development again in the future, but that is iffy. And 500 bucks buys a bunch of memory.

    I'm using an older 24" Cinema Display with the old connector type. Does it make sense to upgrade to the 8800 knowing that I'll have to use the Apple display interface adapter? I'd really like to wait on a new display purchase until Apple introduces new displays. Besides, the old display works just fine.

    Opinions ???
  2. netdog macrumors 603


    Feb 6, 2006
    I think that buying the 4-core is false economy.

    Keep the old 24" and get a new display when you need one or there is a new one that you really want.
  3. dukeblue91 macrumors 65816


    Oct 7, 2004
    Raleigh, NC
    Why do you think that?
    Some people just don't need more than that.
  4. dukeblue91 macrumors 65816


    Oct 7, 2004
    Raleigh, NC
    I was in the same boat like you and went back and forth about this, eventually I decided to go with the 4 core because just like you I really did not do much video or gaming intensive stuff.
    It was not an issue of money but rather a question of what I will utilize with my daily work and also realizing that in a couple of years I will again upgrade to something newer than what I have now.

    Take a look at how often you upgrade your computer systems.
    Computer chips change so fast that in 2-3 years what ever you buy today will look like a mac mini or so, todays 8 cores will be tomorrows 16 or 24 cores for probably the same price as today.
    As far as I'm concerned people that are talking about future proving are kidding themselves or just want to justify their purchase.

    Of course there are some people that really need all the power they can get their hands on and those people should go for it.

    So put your money into Ram and HD's.
    Good luck to you.
  5. cenetti macrumors 6502

    Jan 30, 2008
    if you do video editing or encode HD movies...you SHOULD get 8 cores...
    thats all I got to say...
    even with 8 cores running.. encoding takes hours....I cant imagine it with only 4....
  6. cosmos macrumors regular


    Dec 17, 2003
    Cincinnati, Ohio
    4 Cores vs. 8...

    Anyone who needs a Mac Pro, in majority of cases, either needs raw CPU power, memory, storage, combination of the latter or more likely all of them.

    I don't know how many purchase it just for bragging rights to their friends. :rolleyes:

    Just remember that even if you think you will only need 4 cores today, you needs could change. The $500 difference in the machines would seem pretty small at that point.

    Of course, I am old enough to remember that ALL of the "best" systems would always run at least $4K from every vendor. In comparison, the price for a 8 core 2.8GHz system with aftermarket memory and drives is a bargain.
  7. tamvly thread starter macrumors 6502a


    Nov 11, 2007
    OK, my second question was "Why the 8800 video card over the default ATI"

    I am not much of a gamer, but with this purchase I'd like to prepare for the future. This might include larger displays (30" +) or multiple displays.
  8. m1stake macrumors 68000

    Jan 17, 2008
    If you're planning on buying a computer that's almost $3K, do yourself a favor and spend an extra $200 on the decent graphics card.

    My current G4, which I purchased in 2001, is using the default graphics card and it takes forever loading webpages (With cable internet) because of the graphics. Don't even think about casual games either.

    So while the 2600XT is good for today, 5 years from now it will be a piece of junk, while the 8800GT will be a 2600XT 5 years from now.
  9. G4DP macrumors 65816

    Mar 28, 2007

    It's not your graphics card that's the problem, Up until a month ago I was using a G4 from Aug 99 with the default card, and it was loading things just as fast as this Mac Pro with the stock card. As for 4 or 8, if you can afford 8 get it, if not get 4. Simple really.
  10. MIDI_EVIL macrumors 65816


    Jan 23, 2006
    This is a crap statement.

    You would say that because you have an 8-Core.

    Some people, like the people who were looking for something between the iMac and 8-Core Mac Pro, would be more than happy with the power and expandability the 4-Core would offer.

    The difference in price could cover a really nice monitor, so really speaking, it would make sense for a lot of people, and the fact that they offer a 4-Core version proves this.
  11. fluidedge macrumors 65816


    Nov 1, 2007
    4 core is fine for me; i use Maya, Final Cut and Adobe CS3

    like i always say, if something takes 15 minutes to render instead of 10 i'm not going to care - it's not like i'm just sitting staring at a blank screen for those 15 mins, a lot of rendering/encoding whatever goes on in the background. You can be getting on with a lot of other things. 8-core would be nice, though most of us have to think about cost. It boils down to whether the extra cost is worth it to you, and i mean really worth it. Will you get so much more done, get so many more jobs completed with 8-Core.

    So do you *need* 8-Core? Probably not, would it be useful? Almost Certainly.
  12. firestarter macrumors 603


    Dec 31, 2002
    Green and pleasant land
    I bought the 8 core - but the only thing that really stresses the machine is Handbrake encodes.

    Normal daily operation, Photoshop, Lightroom - none of this really uses the extra cores.

    I'd go with 8 core again - since I think it should give the machine extra life, and I like the lower encoding times - but most folks really aren't going to see any difference between 4 and 8, and the money would be better spent on extra memory.
  13. gazfocus macrumors 68000


    Jan 3, 2008
    Liverpool, UK
    I too am trying to decide between 4 and 8 cores.

    I am a university student and will use my Mac Pro for ripping my DVDs to my AppleTV, Some Video Editing, and Web Design.

    I'm not sure if the extra 4 cores are entirely worth it and if I bought the 4 core model, I could buy it now whereas for the 8 cores I'd have to wait another month.

    However, I would really like a computer that will still be relatively new in comparison to PC's in a couple of years from now.
  14. jb60606 macrumors 6502a

    Jan 27, 2008
    quick question:

    When people say they own a Mac Pro "Octo", are they talking about the 8-core?

    Also, are all of the latest Mac Pros using Penryn Xeons?

  15. kirkbross macrumors 6502a


    Mar 6, 2007
    Los Angeles
    Yes and yes.
  16. zdobson macrumors 6502

    Nov 9, 2007
    $500 is a pretty good value for a second processor that costs over $720 by itself. Plus, you're not going to be able to add a second processor later because Apple doesn't sell their heatsinks. Even if you could find a similar one to try, it would void your warranty for sure.

    Plus, what seems like overkill now will be nothing special in a couple years. You could double the life of the machine by getting a second CPU. Look at the G5 users on this site. I see a lot of people that still are using a dual G5 while I see practically no one with a single G5 anymore; most of them have bought a new machine by now.
  17. lloyd709 macrumors 6502

    Jan 10, 2008
    I've got an 'old' 4 core 2.66. I was considering the upgrade so I did some benchmarking on the sort of stuff I do in an apple store on an 8 core. The only heavy stuff I do is converting raw image files, the rest is all normal picture size photoshop work. The new 8 core machine was about 30% faster on coverting raws but this is a very processor intense task that can easily be split between cores. The 8 core machine was virtually zero percent faster in everything else I tested.

    Unless you are doing big processing tasks that can easily be split between cores such as rendering or converting large numbers or raw image files on a regular basis you will be throwing the money away if you buy the 8 core. The bottle necks on these machines for other tasks is buss speed, memory speed, cach size, disk speed, speed of processor etc - i.e everything except the the number of cores. 4 is lots!
  18. Maestro88 macrumors newbie

    Jul 6, 2007
    Get what you need today, but don't under estimate, over estimate slightly if anything. If you think you'll need 5 cores... get the 8 core, don't down grade.

    It's true you can't future proof, but if you are actually using this machine to be productive it makes sense to get what you need, and in that sense, an 8 core machine will "last longer" in terms of currency of technology, than a 4 core.

    And I don't think in 3 years we'll have 16 cores, or 24 cores, it will probably be more about SSD drives, and 32 - 50 cores!! :) (and 1024Gb ram sticks)

    On the other hand... (I hate internet shorthand) if you think you NEED 2, or 3 cores, get the 4 core and sponsor a child in a poor part of the world.
  19. Quash macrumors regular

    Sep 27, 2007
    If you can afford it just go 8 cores. There is no reason for it now (for 95% of the stuff) It will simply last you much longer 1-2 year at least as in the end you will have double the cpu power.

    That being said i would much prefer to run Tiger as the list with issues even after 10.5.2 is still long. And am facing a nasty one myself. I have the new MP but i would much rather run Tiger for the next year.
  20. fluidedge macrumors 65816


    Nov 1, 2007
    i don't see the point of buying 8 cores for the sake of it, or that it is only $500 upgrade. For a start, $500 is a lot of money. Secondly, why not take that $500 and put it towards your next mac pro?

    I'm personally looking for about 2-3 years out of a 4 core machine. It will still be worth quite close to what i paid for it (i paid £1300 ---> could easily get £1000) - then i can buy the next best thing while the 8 corers (who still have fantastic machines, don't get me wrong!) will still be looking for another 2-3 years out of their MP, by which time i'll have been using the latest thing for several years.

    It's all swings and roundabouts really. In the end as long as you have a machine that will get the job done (and a 4 core will take on anything and get it done quickly) it doesn't matter.

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