Concluded that nMP is not for me; bought a Dell Xeon server for $700

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by johngwheeler, Feb 3, 2014.

  1. johngwheeler macrumors 6502

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    I come from a land down-under...
    #1
    I was initially really excited by the nMP, and thought it might make a great "mini" server for VMs and Java app servers. I already use a 2011 Mac Mini server in this role, but it's limited to 16GB RAM and only has a quad-core mobile i7 @ 2GHz, so I was looking for something with more power.

    After a lot of research, I've had to conclude that the nMP just isn't a good fit for what I need, which is basically a VM server, with the ability to be used as a Java development workstation.

    I really don't need any fancy GPUs, just the capability of running at least 2 large monitors.

    Portability would have been nice as I often travel with my Mac Mini server + MacBook, which is why I was looking at the nMP.

    Unfortunately, it just seems way overpriced to use in a headless server role - you're paying for the dual GPUs, Thunderbolt & high speed SSD. I'd love to have one, but simply can't justify the price.

    Also, initial reports seem to indicate that at least the 4-core model (and even the 6-core for some tasks) is slower than a top-end iMac, unless you have software that uses those GPUs. If not, you're paying over the odds for the available performance, unless you are optimistic about the release of new GPU-enabled software in the near future.

    In the end I found a deal for a Dell PowerEdge T110 II Xeon server, for about $700, including 8GB RAM & 500GB disk.

    This is a mini-tower format with a Xeon E3 1230v2 CPU, 4 PCIe slots, 4 3.5" drive bays.

    I've ordered 32GB of ECC RAM for about $300 and a Samsung EVO 840 250GB SSD for about $150. I also added an Asus Radeon 7750 video card with support for 3 monitors for about $100.

    So all up I have paid about $1250 for a quad-core Xeon workstation/server, which seems to run pretty well - I've yet to do any benchmarks, and I won't turn it into a Hackintosh, but I'm pretty happy with my purchase.

    I intend to either use it as a pure server (either running VMWare ESXi VMs), in conjunction with my MacBook Air or Mac Mini as the "workstation", or use it as a development workstation (under Windows or Linux), using VMWare Workstation or VirtualBox to run my VMs "locally".

    I guess that like many people who don't work in video/3D modelling, I find the value proposition of the nMP is not that good. Unless you use the GPUs, it's simply not a good bang for your buck.

    I'd love Apple to release a "server" version of the nMP as they did with the oMP, in which you could downgrade the GPUs, or even replace one with a second CPU; but I doubt this will happen.

    I'll see how I go with the 4-core Xeon, and may upgrade to a dual CPU machine later, if my workload warrants it. I'll also be following the development of the nMP to see whether GPU-optimized software in my field becomes available.

    It's a pity not to get the latest & greatest from Apple, but in the end I've got something that is a better fit for my work, and saved an awful lot money.

    John.
     
  2. Anim macrumors 6502a

    Anim

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    #2
    Yeah, Apple have gone down the creative arts route with the nMP.

    As to your needs, is that a bit pricey for a single xeon server?

    I only ask because another forum member went for a HP Z800 and got dual hex cores (see here)
    http://www.bargainhardware.co.uk/hp-z800-configure/

    Anim
     
  3. AidenShaw macrumors P6

    AidenShaw

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    #3
  4. td2243 macrumors 6502

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    #4
    What works best for you IS the best choice, so I hope it works out for you. I'm still planning on getting a MacPro because I'm a video editor.

    You are completely correct. For many, the two GPUs are completely unnecessary and will be a waste of money if you won't use them. Unfortunately, only FCPX users are fully utilizing both of those GPUs at this time. That isn't me.

    I'm banking that more apps will turn toward double GPU usage. I sure hope so or these machines will be underwhelming for a long time. Considering software companies learned of the two GPUs back in June, I would have expected more optimization by now. Maybe that's naive. I hope it isn't a sign they are down with the design of the nMP.

    I've been debating between an iMac and MP for a long time. I'm still leaning toward the MP, but I keep reading not-so-thrilled reviews of the MP. That is part of why I still haven't pulled the trigger.
     
  5. Anim macrumors 6502a

    Anim

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    #5
    Ah ok. I was just comparing cost/performance based on the OP's want list.

    I thought VMWare likes Ram then CPU. The Z800 can have up to 196GB where the powerEdge (based on link) can only have up to 32GB. Might be an issue?
     
  6. phrehdd macrumors 68040

    phrehdd

    Joined:
    Oct 25, 2008
    #6
    The new Mac (mini) Pro has been a let down for many. Once again innovation is form over function. The nMP is very limited in scope in what apps really can take advantage of its inherent design. While I do love the look and "wind tunnel" usage (not really original btw), the lack of real useful BTO for many has made people look elsewhere.

    I went to Mac late in the game. I left the MS camp because of Vista. I have had earlier Mac Pros and though larger than it needed to be, it was a decent machine that did get some swap outs and also additions in the way of PCI cards and drives. This new is even more "niche" than any other Mac before it.

    Only 2 things I missed about the PC world was building machines to spec and the late great OS/2. I may return to the fold of PC building given Apple's attitude on telling us what we need. (and first thing I'll make sure to put in is a disc reader/writer)
     
  7. johngwheeler thread starter macrumors 6502

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    #7
    I'd agree that the other poster who got a 12-core HP Z800 for about $1200 did well, as the cheapest current model with 2 x 6-core (E5-2620) & 48GB RAM (supplied by HP) comes in at about $5,500. This new system is likely to be considerably faster than the 3 year old Intel 5660 system that the other guy bought, however.

    Actually $700 for my Dell PowerEdge with Xeon E3-1230v2 isn't too bad. Dell's site sells the same config for about $1200.

    At the end of day, computers are a terrible "investment", probably worse than cars. They depreciate at an alarming rate, and today's cutting-edge tech is tomorrow's "meh". Although I love reading about and playing with hi-end technology, it only makes sense to pay for it if it helps you make money, or makes your life significantly better. In most cases, getting something that is "fit for purpose" is good enough. This is certainly the way the corporate world thinks!

    John

    ----------

    Yes, the 32GB limitation is going to limit the number of VMs I can run, but seems about right for a 4-core CPU, which is also going to limit the number in any case. Another factor is the free version of VMWare ESXi only supports up to 32GB, although I'm not sure if this refers to the host memory or maximum for a single VM.

    In any case getting 196GB memory would cost a fortune, and isn't necessary for my development.

    I'd look at something like the HP Z620/820 if I need bigger servers; in which case I'd definitely go for a dual-CPU option with 12-16 cores.
     
  8. hugodrax macrumors 6502a

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  9. ugahairydawgs macrumors 68020

    ugahairydawgs

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  10. Anim macrumors 6502a

    Anim

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    #10
    Ha, they do. As soon as you click "Buy" on something the next model comes out the day after :D I hate buying hardware because of this and spend more time researching than just getting on with it and working. But I waited 6 months for the specs to appear on the nMP (how horribly long was that wait!) and for my 3D animation work it should be a very pleasant upgrade.

    My trusty old 2007 iMac has been fine for app development the last 7 years although I am constantly moving windows about the screen. It now has brown burn marks around the edges of the screen and it occasionally has a GPU panic when my blower heater is on; it's cold in the UK at the moment!

    It is a case of Business vs Pleasure I think, most businesses that thrive get what they need on the bottom line rather than what they want. I bet most self made millionaires will agree as the ones I know are all tight gits in the work place but don't mind spending all their cash on a luxury lifestyle at home.

    Anim
     
  11. brand macrumors 601

    brand

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    #11
    Agreed. I doubt that people don't go to a Chevy or Ford forum saying that they bought a KIA instead.
     
  12. AidenShaw macrumors P6

    AidenShaw

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    #12
    There is no rule like VMWare likes Ram then CPU.

    It totally depends on what the VMs are doing and how many of them you have.

    Some VMs will eat every core that you give them and be happy in 1 GiB or 2 GiB - others Some want 16 GiB or more but hardly keep one core busy. It depends on the apps running in the guest.
     
  13. linuxcooldude macrumors 68020

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    #13
    More then 136 professional software applications utilize multiple GPUs. Its not something that popped up once Apple came out with FCP X 10.1.
     
  14. VirtualRain, Feb 3, 2014
    Last edited: Feb 3, 2014

    VirtualRain macrumors 603

    VirtualRain

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    #14
    I refrained from adding my 2-cents to the other thread but you've forced me here to... quote you for truth! I belong to a number of other enthusiast forums that cover the spectrum and this one takes the cake... e.g. I concluded the M5 is not for me; bought a Ford F150 for $2K... :p

    The fact is the OP didn't even need a Mac! :confused: ...

    OP, you might as well drop in on the HP forums and say that wasn't for you either because you bought a Dell. :rolleyes:
     
  15. flat five macrumors 601

    flat five

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    newyorkcity
    #15
    just got back from the deli.. went there for a ham/broccoli rabe.. ended up with the pastrami/cole slaw.

    (true story)
     
  16. td2243 macrumors 6502

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    #16

    I don't believe that one bit.
     
  17. johngwheeler thread starter macrumors 6502

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    #17
    LOL :)

    (On second thoughts, I'm not really that interested in what's happening in the world of beige boxes - Apple tech is just sexier!)
     
  18. johngwheeler thread starter macrumors 6502

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    #18
    I take your point, but I'm actually a multiple Mac owner and regular reader (& occasional poster) to MacRumors and have been closely studying the nMP to see if offers me a good solution to my requirements.

    When I came to the (regrettable) conclusion that it probably doesn't, at least not at the moment, I thought I would share my thoughts with other Mac users who might be in the same position as me. I'm sure there are many people weighing up the nMP against other non-Mac Xeon workstations.

    This post was one of a series I have posted asking about the suitability of the nMP as a developer workstation and VM host.

    I'm not trying to rubbish the nMP or Macs in general or start a PC vs Mac flame; I'm completely uninterested in such partisan positions. I think the nMP is a very interesting design and I hope it does well in its target market.

    I think debating the choice of whether to buy a Mac at all for a given use is a fair question to raise on a Mac forum!
     
  19. echoout macrumors 6502a

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    Austin, Texas
    #19
    Both threads actually make total sense to me. It's not like these folks are trolls or haters. They sound like professionals considering the best tool for jobs that can be done on either platform. And the HP guy had a pretty darn interesting mix of solutions. I dunno. I appreciate it.
     
  20. VirtualRain macrumors 603

    VirtualRain

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    #20
    Yeah, debate or discussion is all good... and this nMP seems to create a ton of it. I'm just bitter you satisfied your requirements for $700 while I had to spend $5K! :D I guess a few of us are having a bit of fun with this, and given your's is the second such thread is an many days, I'm bracing for the deluge of threads saying "considered the nMP but bought a ChromeBook instead" :p

    Yeah, except if everyone who didn't buy a nMP posted... you get my drift! :D

    LOL... I literally spit all over my new wireless keyboard... Thanks! :eek:
     
  21. johngwheeler thread starter macrumors 6502

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    #21
    Not unless you can find 16GB SO-DIMMs (i.e. laptop memory), because the Mini only has 2 memory modules. I don't think 16GB SO-DIMM modules exist yet, and if they do, they are likely to be horrendously expensive.

    Technically, I think the Ivy Bridge CPU can support 16GB SO-DIMMs, so maybe they'll exist at some point!

    I remember when I got the Mini (only November 2011) they had just released 2x8GB RAM kits which cost $1400! A year and a bit later, I got them for $90. Sadly RAM prices have actually gone up since (in some cases to double their 2012 prices).
     
  22. JesterJJZ macrumors 68020

    JesterJJZ

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    Jul 21, 2004
    #22
    Yeah, I appreciate and applaud these posts. It's nice to hear from other professions speak up about why the nMP isn't something we are interested in.

    For some of us, it's pretty clear that Apple is no longer interested in making the harware that we want and need. While I never believed that Apple should make OSX available widely on the PC side, it would be great if they selected a manufacturer or two to make high end systems with it. Dell, HP and maybe a company like Boxx or Oxygen would be great. I'd love a 24core dual Xeon monster with 7 drive bays and pci slots running OSX and be officially supported by Apple.
     
  23. m4v3r1ck macrumors 68020

    m4v3r1ck

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    #23
    Amen!!!
     

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