Advice on Quad core MP

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by iPapa, Feb 1, 2008.

  1. iPapa macrumors member

    Jan 31, 2008
    Long time forum lurker, newly registered...

    I am stuck between getting an iMac and a Mac Pro. A 2.8GHz 24" iMac (pros: silent, display included, needs little desk space. Cons: display is glossy, hard drive cannot be changed by the user, no room for more drives, graphics card sucks).

    I'd rather want a Mac Pro because of the upgrade options. Four internal hard drives (space for photo and video work), the GeForce 8800 GT will make the gamer in me happy, and some 8GB of RAM will be a lot better for me when using heavy apps, rather than the 4GB RAM limit of the iMac.

    I'd settle for the Quad version, as this effectively is the headless Mac to fill the gap between the iMacs and the 8-core MPs.

    The MP needs a display though, and so far Apple has not updated the ACDs with an integrated iSight. Can anyone confirm if the firewire based stand-alone iSight camera works with the Mac Pro when using the PC version of MSN via Parallels, Fusion and Bootcamp (XP and Vista)? I've got an iSight (been using it with my aging G4 400MHz Sawtooth...), but I don't know if it'll work when using PC apps for video communication (I'd rather not like to buy a separate ugly USB cam for a shiny new MP, so Apple, please give us new ACDs with integrated cams).

    Heat & noise
    I'm also interested in knowing of any heat/noise issues related to the new MPs. What kind of noise levels (and heat) will there be if I install 4 hard drives and generally use the MP for hours while pushing it to the max? My current 2.1GHz G5 iMac gets very noisy whenever I use it for only 2-3 hours, when gaming (WoW), or even just when Safari is the only open app. I need a silent machine (which is why the iMac might remain an option instead of an MP).

    Processor upgrade
    It is unlikely that I'll need 8 cores, but in the event that I get the Quad now, and in 1 or 2 years realise that I'd benefit from 8 cores, will I be able to upgrade the MP from 4 to 8 cores?

    Hard drives
    I've read new tests saying that RAM from OWC works like a treat in the new MPs. But how about hard drives? did some benchmarks recently, saying that the hard drive that comes with the MP (stock drive) is actually slower than the stock drive found in the iMacs... A review in the Baltimore Sun says the same: The stock drive is slow.

    What kind of drives do you recommend for the MP (speedy, reliable for 24/7 use, low heat, I want no fan noise and heat issues) ?

    On a completely unrelated note, I'll also get a new MBP. Will I notice any heat issues or noise fan if I go for a 7,200rpm hard drive rather than a 5,400?

    Thanks in advance for any input on this.
  2. Mackilroy macrumors 68040


    Jun 29, 2006
    iSight: I believe I saw drivers for the Firewire iSight when I was installing Windows, but I'm not certain.

    Heat and Noise: I have three hard drives, and even if I'm using all four cores on my Mac Pro it's whisper-quiet. The most noise I ever hear is a slight whirr of the hard drives or if I'm gaming, the fan on the HD2600 XT I have installed. It's still not that loud.

    Processor upgrade: You can upgrade the older Mac Pro, Anandtech did it, so I don't see why you wouldn't be able to upgrade the 2008 Mac Pro if you knew what you were doing.

    Hard drives: There's been a lot of people around here pumping for the Samsung Spinpoint F1 drives. I just use a couple of Western Digital and a Samsung drive in my machine.

    MBP: it might be a little worse, but as my laptop went from a 5400 to a 5400 RPM drive, I'm not sure.
  3. iToaster macrumors 68000


    May 3, 2007
    In front of my MacBook Pro
    I'll be getting the 8 core version (if my MBP ever sells) because I found out that while the socket is there, you need the special Apple heat sink (dimensions, etc). The iSight should work with whatever as I believe that is among the drivers in bootcamp. The machine should be silent regardless of what you do to it, you might hear the fans or the occasional HD click. As for the MBP, there isn't really going to be a difference, but from my findings, there's more to a drive than just it's speed, it's a correlation of disk density and speed (ie, if a car has to go 100 miles at 50 MPH vs a car that has to go 75 miles at 40).

    PS, if you're interested in my MBP, check it out here.
  4. ntux macrumors member

    Jan 29, 2008
    If you use the firewire iSight, I don't think it's gonna work under parrallels though, since parallels doesn't support firewire virtualization (neither does vmware). So if you want to use it with windows' msn, you would have to use it under boot camp. But I might be wrong though.

    IMHO, the best solution would be to buy a cheap usb webcam (one compatible with OSX). That way you would be able to use it with parallels.
  5. iAmRod macrumors member

    Jul 26, 2006
    Howdy, iPapa and Mackilroy!

    I'm curious about something. I've seen a couple different posts on these boards about people "gaming" with their Mac Pro, but no one seems to elaborate any further on that particular idea.

    Can I assume you are referring to Windows-based games? If so, are you using Bootcamp to do this? Can you give me an idea how you are gaming on these machines? Which games are you playing?

    I'm a Windows gamer myself and really that's the only reason I have a Windows machine in my house anymore. I currently own a MacBook Pro and first-gen Mac Mini. I'm toying around with the idea of getting myself one of the new Mac Pros. If I can play "Team Fortress 2" on there and a couple of other not-so-new Windows games I'd be happier than a pig in .. well, let's just say I'd be quite content. :D

    Thanks for sharing!
    ~ Rod
  6. Mackilroy macrumors 68040


    Jun 29, 2006
    I game under both Leopard and XP. Usually World of Warcraft, Halo, or a few other games I have on the Mac side, then under Windows I've been playing Half-Life 2: Episode One, Supreme Commander, and Command and Conquer. For Windows, yes, I am using Boot Camp, as that's the only reliable way to get as much horsepower as I can out of my hardware under Windows (VMware and Parallels are horrible for Windows gaming). I just game using a regular keyboard and mouse at the moment, it's basically a Windows machine once you've booted into XP/Vista.
  7. MIDI_EVIL macrumors 65816


    Jan 23, 2006
    The Mac Pro with 8800GT will handle these games superbly. The nVidia card is excellent.

    There are benchmarks of the Mac Pros running games under bootcamp.

    Search Barefeats for a start.
  8. jwt macrumors 6502

    Mar 28, 2007
    I have the quad core 2.8 and it nearly inaudible sitting beside my desk on the floor. I haven't heard the fan yet encoding video. But I will say that with the holes in the front of the case for ventilation, the optical drive is quite loud.
  9. iPapa thread starter macrumors member

    Jan 31, 2008
    Jwt: Thanks for providing a real world example of noise levels (or the lack of noise...). Noisy optical drive is no problem though, as I only use the optical drive whenever a game requires me to do so, or if I'm importing video or music from discs. Or installing new apps.

    Fatsoforgotso: I don't think anyone should have doubts about the abilities of the nVidia 8800GT. It'll rock for sure. However there are no benchmarks regarding this graphics card on the Mac Pro so far (obviously, as the 8800GT hasn't shipped yet). I'm looking forward to the first tests (although I might have already placed my order for a shiny new Mac with this card before that...).

    Rod: Yes I game. Sometimes a lot, sometimes not so much. Work and real life come first. Being stuck with a range of Mac models from way back in the mid 90s and up to the 2.1GHz iMac G5 (the last PowerPC based iMac before the Intel processors were made available), I'm not able to test Windows gaming yet. When I get a new Mac (soon, very soon, I'll place my order this month) I'll get around to try some games via Bootcamp. Obviously that'll just be like gaming on any PC. And frankly, I don't want to do this (buy a copy of Windows, reboot every time I want to game under Windows). I'll do it just whenever there are no options to game natively under OS X. Parallels and VMWare will be okay for very old PC based games, so I'll try these solutions out just for the fun of it.

    Specifically I spend most of my gaming time on World of Warcraft. I'm a sucker for all kinds of RP, strategy and sim games. The first game I'll test on my new Mac will be EVE Online. I'll also get around to try Lord of the Rings Online. I read somewhere that it is possible to get this game (it is a PC game only) to actually run directly under OS X with some extra hacks and the use of WINE. I'll try and see if it is indeed possible. If not, then Bootcamp will be my solution. Thanks to the recent ciderized games from EA, I will finally be able to pick up some nice titles and play them natively under OS X (Need for Speed Carbon, Tiger Woods PGA Tour 08, Battlefield 2142 amongst others). I might get a game pad and a racing wheel to make the best use of all this. So far I've been happy using just keyboard and mouse.

    Looking forward to Spore and StarCraft II :cool:...

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