Deciding between 4-core and 8-core MP for... ... .... gaming in Windows.

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by mattcube64, Jun 4, 2009.

  1. mattcube64 macrumors 65816

    mattcube64

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    #1
    Hey guys!

    I'm considering upgrading my iMac to a Mac Pro using my ADC discount late this summer. I have to have a Mac for my major, as I use a lot of OSX-only programs.

    However, when looking at all the benchmarks available for the programs I'll use, it seems that half do better with the higher-clocked 2.66 4.core, and half do better with the lower-clocked 2.26 8-core.

    I'm a pretty big gamer, and so if I'm buying this computer anyway, it'll probably be replacing a PC as my "gaming rig."

    And, so, I'm thinking of letting that be my deciding factor. Now, I know that the workstation processors aren't meant for gaming. But, that's not my question. :p What I'm wondering is, while it seems 99% of games out right now prefer a higher clocks to anything else, would it be wise to purchase the 8-core (thus, even more cores than the currently underutilized 4-cores) model to future proof my system for gaming? Other than GTA IV, will we start to see games in the next year or two that really start pushing 4+ cores?

    Thanks!
     
  2. VirtualRain macrumors 603

    VirtualRain

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    #2
    As far as I know, the nature of game code doesn't lend itself to parallelism (other than the rendering/physics aspect which is already handled by your GPU). Hence, 4 CPU cores is likely plenty for games in the foreseeable future. Other's may disagree, but this is what I've read.
     
  3. Raid macrumors 68020

    Raid

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    #3
    As an owner of an 8-core Mac Pro (who occasionally plays a few windows games in boot camp) I'd have to agree with VirtualRain, the number of cores doesn't really matter much as I can't even think of a game that takes advantage of multiple CPU cores. If cash is an issue the OP might be better off upgrading the graphics card on the Mac Pro rather than going for more CPU cores.
     
  4. snouter macrumors 6502a

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    May 26, 2009
    #4
    This is correct for now. This will change, but not quickly.

    If the choice was between the 2.93 4 core and the 2.26 8 core, the 2.93 4 core would be the better gaming machine.

    So much of this is video card these days anyway...
     
  5. Plutonius macrumors 603

    Plutonius

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    #5
    Get the four core.
     
  6. nanofrog macrumors G4

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    May 6, 2008
    #6
    4 core for gaming, 8 core only if your primary OS X usage needs it. :)
     
  7. Tesselator macrumors 601

    Tesselator

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    #7
    Yup! 4-core. And get the highest clock! I would even consider a 2008 3.2 over a 2.66 2009. HT and multiple cores beyond two cores isn't useful for games. Two cores can help offload/balance some of the BG tasks and stuff leaving the game with a full core ALL to it's own. There are indeed games on my mac pro with settings for multi-core (on/off) but I don't seem to notice any difference at all in performance with the switch in either position. <shrug>
     
  8. rmpstudio macrumors member

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    Mar 15, 2009
    #8
    Here i go again.. being the black sheep.

    Get 8 core. No, it won't make any difference for your gaming but like you said, you're not buying it for gaming.

    Snow Leopard will make better use of the multiple cores and thus the software that runs on it will eventually be better optimized for utilizing the cores.

    I WOULD suggest getting the upgraded faster graphics card. ATI with DDR5.

    I have a 2.26 Octo with Ati card and I run LOTRO with Maxed out settings and it never glitches.
     
  9. MrRage macrumors member

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    Jun 14, 2008
    #9
    Normally I would agree and say get the 8 core.... but the cost difference between an 8 core 2.9 and a 4 core 2.9 is $3,000 - or just over the price of a whole new machine. So unless you really could use 8 cores you might as well get the 4 and spend that 3k later on and replace your mac pro with another one after a refresh or two.
     
  10. Tesselator macrumors 601

    Tesselator

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    #10
    Yup, and as far as I read it IS for games. And the very best gaming Mac Pro right now is the 2008 3.2 IMHO.
     
  11. Sehnsucht macrumors 65816

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    Sep 21, 2008
    #11
    I'm surprised this thread hasn't been infested by the PC trolls yet. I keep hearing them say on MR and other places that Xeons are "EEPIIIKKK PHAAAILLLL" for gaming, and that a Core i7 or Core 2 Quad PC is better. I have no idea the differences between a Core i7 and a Xeon. :confused:

    I've heard of gamers overclocking the Core i7 to 5 GHz. :eek: Sounds fast...and hot enough to boil the paint off your walls...
     
  12. J the Ninja macrumors 68000

    Joined:
    Jul 14, 2008
    #12
    Why are you commenting on them if you don't even understand what they are talking about?

    The OP clearly said he needed OS X-only apps. The gaming power is simply a tiebreaker. Normally, I'd say steer clear of the MP, and for that matter, any Xeon/Opteron based system for gaming - it's throwing money away for hardware you don't need. This is sort of a special case as far as "Mac Pro Gaming" threads go, hence the lack of "Get a PC".
     
  13. nanofrog macrumors G4

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    May 6, 2008
    #13
    For the Core i7 and Single Processor Xeon, only the ECC function differentiates the two. Otherwise, totally identical.

    ECC may have a little higher latency, and can be found with a CAS = 7 for UDIMM's. DDR3 (non ECC variants) can be had in CAS = 6, and higher. No big deal IMO. :rolleyes:

    Over clocking and hardware aimed at this segment, may have more to do with it. Assuming they're comparing a standard clocked Xeon. I'm only aware of a couple of boards that can OC a SP Xeon (W35xx). None od the DP boards can, last I checked. It's been a few months, so this may have changed by now.
     
  14. joaoferro37 macrumors 6502

    joaoferro37

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    #14
    I usually open FCP, Live type, Soundtrack Pro and sometimes DVD studio pro on a 8-core. Maybe I should try VMWare on games.
     
  15. Tesselator macrumors 601

    Tesselator

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    #15
    5.8 GHz to be exact. ;)
     
  16. Matrixfan macrumors member

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    Oct 10, 2008
    #16
    Core i7 is faster than Core 2 at the same clock speed in games!

    I would like to advise to the op to take a look at this CPU scaling article using the GTX295: http://www.legionhardware.com/document.php?id=807&p=0
    It is a very detailed test covering all the CPU-s worth buying today, including the Core i7. Most importantly overclocked results are present too.

    It is worth noting that the Core i7 provides top notch gaming power, even clocked at 2.10 Ghz. In my opinion the only deciding factors should be your budget and how multithreaded is your workflow in Mac Os X. Snow Leopard and Open CL is just around the corner and cores will be put to a better use. There is a slight tendency of more frequent video card releases for Mac Pro-s. This leads to better PC card flashes/injectors.

    I have a 2008 2.8 octo MP and a 4.2 Ghz gaming PC with a 4870 1 Gb. I am thinking of hacking a VGA in and selling the gaming PC. My problem is that i do not have much gaming time, but when I do it is nice to enjoy games in 1080p on the big screen and the E8500@4.2 is better for gaming. On the other hand for the price of my current MP and gaming rig I could buy the quad 2.66 i7. The problem with the latter choice is that there is no point for me in upgrading to a quad system from my perfectly fine 8 core MP just for gaming. In addition to that I have a feeling that the second wave of i7 MP-s will be a much better value than this one.

    Please bear with my english, I am from Hungary!;)
     
  17. Bakey macrumors 6502

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    #17
    <OP>
    I'm a pretty big gamer, and so if I'm buying this computer anyway, it'll probably be replacing a PC as my "gaming rig."
    </OP>
     
  18. Merzie macrumors member

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    Jun 2, 2009
    #19
    See, I'm not sure I know if I should go Quad 2.93 Nehalem or 2.8ghz octo 2008...I don't think CAD and other engineering programs need multithreading, but in any case it would be nice to have. Where can I find benchmarks for the two? How likely is 8-cores in snow leopard going to very close to the performance seen with the quads?
     
  19. Tesselator macrumors 601

    Tesselator

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    #20
    Not to be a total smart-arse but that's like asking How much RED will be in the Blue moon when the moon is blue. :D Hasn't happened yet so no one knows.

    But benchmarks in this regard are VERY deceiving if you don't know how your own usage profiles in a multi-core system.

    Although any benchmarks will be like this let's take the Cinebench benchmark graph I compiled from users here at MR:

    [​IMG]

    Notice entries 1 & 2 and 4 & 5. Many people looked at that and said WOW, the octads are almost twice as fast as the quads. And while that specific benchmark shows just that how true it will actually be in practice will vary greatly based on what apps are used, how often they're used, and how well they scale across multiple cores.

    If for example the user is in Lightwave 3D mostly and makes OpenGL preview renders as they construct their animations and only renders at the end of the job. Where the render takes one day and the construction took a month then that yellow bar in the graph is just about totally meaningless to them in actuality. Notice that the green bars show equal performance.

    If on the other hand they're a teacher who needs to render out 40 student scenes on a weekly/bi-weekly basis then that yellow bar becomes ever more meaningful.

    Snow Leopard will not likely change this basic ratio at all. What percentage increases it can deliver for 4 cores will be the same percentage it can deliver for 8 cores. All systems will likely scale up equally. The advantages that the new Nehalem processors have over the pre-Corei7 models I think is mainly due to the embedded (on-board) memory controller and Snow Leopard probably won't change that factor one way or the other. So it's very likely that the 09 machines will be scaling almost identically to all of the previous Intel macs as well.

    Weather or not an octad is advantageous over a quad to anyone depends entirely on how often and for how long their own profile is hitting in that yellow bar. For the vast majority of apps present and for the foreseeable future, it's 'not often' to 'almost never'. Snow Leopard won't be changing that either. For this to change radically where single applications scale their performance reasonably well (90% ~ 100%) with the number of cores available CPU architecture will have to fundamentally change first. The guesses about how much SL will increase single app performance vary here at MR from 0% to 10% so far - as I've read. I guess the middle of that will be about right.
     
  20. gugucom macrumors 68020

    gugucom

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    #21
    For me the 4 cores hold very little attraction because you agree to a build in limitation in what is basically a modular upgradable machine.

    If you buy an 8-core that is a bit slower and costs a bit more you have the chance to upgrade that with faster Nehalem processors when they reach the sweet spot in the market.

    Personally I like to take advantage of market forces and buy upgrades from 3rd party vendors, so I usually buy machines which have no build in limitations as long as they are affordable.
     
  21. Tesselator macrumors 601

    Tesselator

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    #22
    I totally agree. This is yet another reason I like and like to recommend, the 2008 models over Apples' new 2009 line-up. ;)
     
  22. Macrovertigo macrumors member

    Macrovertigo

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    #23
    This way of seeing the 2008's as more flexible, as described by gugucom, and Tesselator's points, are really helping me to narrow down a refurbished MP choice (no heavy duty needs, just want to be sensibly futureproof). Thanks.
     
  23. blackhand1001 macrumors 68030

    blackhand1001

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    Jan 6, 2009
    #24
    The 4 core will be plenty fast for even very complex tasks. 8 cores isn't gonna make any difference in gaming. Even games that can use 8 cores it won't make a difference because games are GPU bound. The GT120 (one of the biggest disappointments in Apples hardware choice) is nothing to run home about especially thats its actually pretty disgraceful in this price bracket (high end gaming cards or workstation cards is what other similarly prices systems have).
    So make sure you upgrade that graphics card. It would be nice if apple offered a 4 core 3ghz version for less money.

    Programs that aren't written with more than x number of threads aren't going to use more than that number of cores simualtneously. People are falsely led to believe that all your software is going to start using all your cores and use GPGPU when you upgrade. This is not the case. Software has to be written to do this regardless of the OS. Heck, Adobe CS4 isn't 64bit because adobe didn't port to Cocoa and Apple never made good on their promise to allow carbon apps to go 64bit. Neither of these things are new. They have been around for years.
     
  24. gugucom macrumors 68020

    gugucom

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    #25
    This is a philosophy thing. I look for lasting value in my machines and usually you find that those models which can be upgraded to the highest spec keep value best. I do not necessarily pay for the highest spec if I can later buy the top CPU at a lower price. It is probably different for people who immediately need a cutting edge machine in terms of CPU or memory performance. They cannot wait for upgrades. I do not expect my Woodcrest Macpro1,1 to exceed my computing needs anytime soon. When they scrap some Proliant servers and the X5365s show up at ebay more frequently I will buy two and have a top line machine of that generation for a fraction of the money.
     

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