At what point does the CPU in a 2009 MP become the bottle neck to the GFX card?

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by juliancs, Jul 4, 2017.

  1. juliancs macrumors 6502

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    Aug 24, 2006
    #1
    Looking at an 'upgraded' 2009 MP with the following specs:

    Apple Mac Pro 12-Core (Firmware-upgrade 4,1 -> 5,1, 2009 model) with two 3.46 GHz 6-Core (12 cores, 24 threads)
    48 GBRam 1333MHz
    Samsung SSD 850 EVO 250 GB
    2TB Seagate Desktop Drive

    I'm trying to decide on the best card for it. I could stretch to a GTX 980 but I'm wondering if the processor will hold it back before the card can reach its full potential. I'm mostly using it for boot camp gaming (1080p res) but also some video/mograph work in OSX.

    Will I be fine sticking a 980 in the thing? I've noticed there haven't been drivers since the 680 so I'm worried that the card will be hamstrung and essentially a waste.

    Side question - is the machine relatively future proof? I'm doing mostly audio work on it, and I have another 2 SSDs to put in, I'm a little worried about the processor's age and how that translates to modern apps.
     
  2. Sharky II macrumors 6502a

    Sharky II

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    Jan 6, 2004
    Location:
    United Kingdom
    #2
    If you're doing audio and not using anything that requires/benefits from CUDA, I'd go with an AMD solution.

    The biggest downfall of our machines (I have the same spec) is the single threaded 'per core' speed. When you start running VST/VSTi's that are loading too much onto one core, there's no real way around it!

    I think it's still a great machine, especially for tracking, mixing, etc. Software instruments are great too if you are smart with your implementation.

    I'm working on huge 96KHz projects with 128sample buffer and all native monitoring (Logic X) and only software instruments with lots of master bus plugins can bring it to its knees. Generally it's a champ. 44.1KHz projects are no sweat.
     
  3. juliancs thread starter macrumors 6502

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    Aug 24, 2006
    #3
    Thanks for your reply. I didn't know I could put pc AMD cards into an MP. I am working in After Effects and Premiere though, and I think AE uses CUDA. Otherwise, what's a good alternative AMD card for gaming?

    Interesting note about the single core speed - this is what worries me as the machine is priced at 2100 euros so not cheap. I work mostly with software instruments (composing). Is there no way to make use of both of the CPU cores? At what point are both used?
     
  4. casperes1996 macrumors 65816

    casperes1996

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    #4

    That's all on the developer of the software. A lot of tasks can be written to use multiple cores or processors, but some tasks must be done in sequence, and can therefore only run on one core at a time.

    Regarding the CPU bottlenecking the GPU it's a very complex story. On this MP, for most tasks, both an Nvidia 980 and a 970 would be bottlenecked by the CPU... But the 980 may still be significantly faster and give a better experience.
    Think of it as two manufacturing lines that are dependant on each other. Let's say we're manufacturing cars, and one line creates bolts and mounts them in engines, whilst the other line handles the rest of the engine. The first line has two stops where it puts bolts on either side of the engine.
    Line 2 rolls the engine to the bolt machine and a bolt is placed in the engine. Then at the exact moment line 2 turns the engine over, line 1 is ready with another bolt to plug in. This is an ideal scenario, where neither line bottlenecks the other.

    If we make line 2 a lot slower, line 1 will be ready with a new bolt, way before it can possibly insert it into the engine... But the speed with which line 1 can insert the bolt still dictates when line 2 is ready to turn over the engine, thus, even though we're bottlenecked by line 2, speeding up line 1 still increases our overall performance. Just not by as much or as efficiently as if we'd sped up line 2
     
  5. juliancs thread starter macrumors 6502

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    Aug 24, 2006
    #5
    Thanks for your reply, though I got a lost in your analogy unfortunately. I'm trying to decide whether it's worth it to get this MP and pay extra for the GTX 980 (purely for gaming), or if that's a waste. I'm also wondering whether or not it's worth spending 2500 euros on a 2009 5,1 MP (2x hexcore 3.46ghz, 48GB RAM, 1TB SSD and a GTX980) or whether I should spend the same on a PC set up. I'm a little worried I will get the MP (which I'd prefer, I like Logic Pro and have a MBP) and the 980 won't work to its full potential and the processor holds me back in a year or two.
     
  6. Squuiid macrumors 6502a

    Squuiid

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    Oct 31, 2006
    #6
    Definitely not worth that kind of money. Woah.
     
  7. juliancs, Jul 4, 2017
    Last edited: Jul 4, 2017

    juliancs thread starter macrumors 6502

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    #7
    Really? I thought it was decent. A comparable spec here:
    https://eshop.macsales.com/item/Apple/MP10D9C32S1T/

    The one I'm looking at has 48GB RAM, and then I'm adding a new 1TB SSD and GTX 980 on top (which add 400 euros). Don't want to sound arrogant and I'm in a bitter battle between this and a PC at around the same price, but I can't really see the MP cheaper anywhere. I think they are pricier in Europe anyway. I'm paying a lot more to have the 12 core (2x6) processor and I'm not entirely sure that's worth it, either. Wonder if it's worth saving a few hundred and sticking with a single 6 core 3.46.
     
  8. Squuiid, Jul 4, 2017
    Last edited: Jul 4, 2017
  9. juliancs thread starter macrumors 6502

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    Aug 24, 2006
    #9
    I never considered doing it all myself..is it a complicated process to update the CPU/flash the PC card myself? I'm guessing you don't think the 12 core is worth it? Appreciate your responses, a lot!
     
  10. Squuiid macrumors 6502a

    Squuiid

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    Oct 31, 2006
    #10
    Unless you're doing some serious number crunching I wouldn't bother with the dual CPU tray.

    The Radeon RX 580 will be natively supported in the next update to Sierra, 10.12.6, (in a few weeks) and in the eventual release of High Sierra in October. No need to flash anything.
    The only thing you don't get is a boot screen but that is the case with most modern cards unless you pay a premium and buy a MacVidCards flashed card. Again, not worth it IMO.

    As for the CPU upgrade, there are plenty of guides on Youtube. It really is very easy.
     
  11. juliancs, Jul 4, 2017
    Last edited: Jul 4, 2017

    juliancs thread starter macrumors 6502

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    #11
    I'm buying it to work on music / mograph with plenty of gaming. As a comment said above it seems I don't get any benefit in Logic Pro using the dual tray. I wonder how much the single hexcore would bottleneck the games.

    Is there a reason you recommend the AMD over say a GTX 1060? I figured GTX for CUDA in After Effects, though I'm so out of the loop by now I don't know anything anymore. I'm not bothered about boot screens.
     
  12. Squuiid macrumors 6502a

    Squuiid

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    Oct 31, 2006
    #12
    Most games will NEVER use more than 6 CPU cores. Usually only 4.

    The AMD card I suggested has native drivers. Any NVIDIA card newer than the GTX 680 requires a download of the NVIDIA driver every single time Apple updates the OS. The quality of said NVIDIA driver is also not great IMO.

    You can't beat native macOS support in the RX 460 and RX 560/580 cards.
     
  13. juliancs thread starter macrumors 6502

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    Aug 24, 2006
    #13
    Alright, the guy also has a base level 2010 with a hex core 3.33 - not a huge difference from the 3.46, right? The chip is cheap if I want to update it later.

    I can then get a 1TB SSD, the RX 580 and 32GB RAM to bring the whole thing between 1800 and 2000 euros! I still get the base machine from the shop with a year's guarantee. I wanted to spend the extra on the dual processor to future proof the thing a little more but it doesn't seem like I'd get that much extra mileage for the extra 700 euros.

    What do you think? Do I have to worry about the power supply at all in the machine? I don't know if the 580 is too hungry.
     
  14. Sharky II macrumors 6502a

    Sharky II

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    United Kingdom
    #14
    Logic DOES make perfect use of 12-cores vs 6 - i recently went from a 6-core 3.46GHz to a 12-core 3.46GHz and the difference is really massive. Logic can make use of all the cores for playback. For real time playing of VSTs at low buffers, the machine is still good, but OP asked where the bottlenecks would come - and it will come in single core speed when VSTi's become more CPU intensive. Some instruments such as Diva can use multiple cores, but generally instruments like Kontakt do not.

    From what I can tell, the OP is not the most tech-y guy and needs to do a LOT of research and reading! My advice is to try to enjoy the process... :)

    If you don't, well time is valuable and finding someone else to make the machine for you might be a cheaper alternative!

    Cheers,

    Ed
     
  15. juliancs thread starter macrumors 6502

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    Aug 24, 2006
    #15
    Thanks for your response! I'm now stuck again :). I think the 12 core is just a bit pricey for me. I had a 2009 Quad 2.93 mac pro before and while it started to get stuck on certain tracks, it did most of what I wanted. If I'm only ever going to see the difference when things get really big/intense, I think I can live with it. Ultimately the computer is 9 years old so I'm only planning on using it for about 3 years. I suppose I could always upgrade to the 2 cpu tray at some point right?
     
  16. rawweb macrumors 6502a

    rawweb

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    Aug 7, 2015
    #16
    Not quite true...The 700 series should be native as the late 2013 iMac shipped with a 755M, 775M and 780M if memory serves.
     
  17. SoyCapitanSoyCapitan, Jul 4, 2017
    Last edited: Jul 4, 2017

    SoyCapitanSoyCapitan macrumors 68040

    SoyCapitanSoyCapitan

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    Jul 4, 2015
    #17
    Musicians need DSP/VST accelerators when the CPU starts to creak

    https://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/897350-REG/Universal_Audio_UAD_2_Octo_PCI_EX_Card.html

    There's many debates about VST on GPU but I can't find decent products for you. Apparently the forums say that GPU has too much latency for audio engineers.
    --- Post Merged, Jul 4, 2017 ---
    AE uses Mercury. These is very limited support for CUDA in Adobe's apps.
     
  18. juliancs thread starter macrumors 6502

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    Aug 24, 2006
    #18

    Thanks again. I'm still not sure about a 1060 vs the RX580. I'm worried about missing out on all the Nvidia specific technology and that the 580 is such a power hog. The RX580 wants at least 225w and it seems the mac pro can just provide that. I'm guessing I'll have to get a 6-8pin converter as well..
     
  19. SoyCapitanSoyCapitan macrumors 68040

    SoyCapitanSoyCapitan

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    Jul 4, 2015
    #19
    The 8 pin connector doesn't mean it needs to draw 150w from that cable. My 580 is rated at 185w. It actually mines at 100w with undervolting, but that kind of thing isn't possible on the macOS currently.
     
  20. juliancs thread starter macrumors 6502

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    Aug 24, 2006
    #20
    I see. I'm a little lost in picking one out. For some reason they're all out of stock on Amazon.de (I am currently living in Germany), but this one seems to 'average' at 225w:
    https://www.alternate.de/SAPPHIRE/Radeon-RX-580-PULSE-Grafikkarte/html/product/1344689?

    Is there a big difference among different 'models' of the same cards?
     
  21. SoyCapitanSoyCapitan macrumors 68040

    SoyCapitanSoyCapitan

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    Jul 4, 2015
    #21
    Get the most basic you can find. The others are more expensive and use more power just for overclocking headroom, which you can't do on the Mac anyway.
     
  22. juliancs, Jul 5, 2017
    Last edited: Jul 5, 2017

    juliancs thread starter macrumors 6502

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    #22
    Thanks, there's one with less buzzwords at 20 euros less. I'll grab a 6-8pin cable and see how I get on. I'm still wondering if a 1060 would be a better choice as I'm getting a 'good' GPU 90% for bootcamp gaming.

    Ultimately, I don't know if either of these cards will be able to perform to their max in games with the hex core 3.33 processor.
     
  23. SoyCapitanSoyCapitan macrumors 68040

    SoyCapitanSoyCapitan

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    Jul 4, 2015
    #23
    Nvidia is just a pain to keep updated every time there is an OS update. We don't even know when or if Nvidia will give up developing the drivers. All the 9 and 10 series have been beta drivers.
     
  24. juliancs thread starter macrumors 6502

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    Aug 24, 2006
    #24
    Thank you so much for sticking with me. I guess the 580 is the easier option then; from benchmarks it looks like it will be totally fine (I made do with a 680!). Do you think it's worth getting the 580 with a single hexcore 3.33, or will the cpu hold it back when bootcamping?
     
  25. Squuiid macrumors 6502a

    Squuiid

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    Oct 31, 2006
    #25
    Take a look at my signature. I have a 1080 for Windows gaming but I'm about to return my 1070 and swap it for an RX 580 for macOS as soon as they're in stock on Amazon. (Yes, even with the supposed performance hit.)

    NVIDIA web drivers are a pain to use and not that reliable in my experience. Definitely worth getting an RX 580 over a 1060 without a shadow of a doubt.

    If this were a PC and not a Mac, then yes, sure, get the 1060. But if that were the case you wouldn't be here on MacRumors ;)
     

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