mfbernstein

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Apr 19, 2010
14
1
Hi folks,

I'm looking at getting a desktop system for software development (mostly C++, a little bit of python). Target platforms are macOS and Linux. So far I've been using an older Linux desktop mainly, but it's fairly slow (only 8 cores) and I'd like something faster. I'd also like a system with upgradeable memory/storage and the ability to add at least a couple of PCIe devices in the future ('future-proofing').

It looks like I can get a pretty decent 16-core PC to run Linux for ~$1500 - 64GB RAM, 1TB NVMe SSD, Vega 56 video card etc.

What's the closest thing I can get on the macOS side? I don't mind paying somewhat more for an Apple system (25-30% feels fair), but the new Mac Pro looks like it's in a different price world altogether. Are there any other options closer to that price? Thanks!
 

ruslan120

macrumors 65816
Jul 12, 2009
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The 5,1 is an aging piece of technology. While it has 12 cores its single core performance is low compared to modern processors. Programming requires fast single core performance (for compiling due to data dependences in code).

Short answer - you can't.

A modern hackintosh or iMac (2019) with 8 cores and 128GB RAM might suit your needs temporarily.

Sounds like the Mac Pro (2019) is a worthwhile investment for you once it comes out in the Fall.
 
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aaronhead14

macrumors 65816
Mar 9, 2009
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Yeah unfortunately this is still the biggest hole in Apple’s product line. They’ve finally filled the gap for high end professional filmmakers, which is awesome, but they still don’t have a product that fits the needs of a prosumer individual who doesn’t want an all-in-one.

IMO, all-in-one desktop computers are an antiquated technology. The iMac doesn’t belong in the modern computing landscape. We need something with iMac specs that’s in a tower form and has user customizability. Basically a non-Pro Mac Pro. That would be perfect for a ton of people.
 
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ruslan120

macrumors 65816
Jul 12, 2009
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Yeah unfortunately this is still the biggest hole in Apple’s product line. They’ve finally filled the gap for high end professional filmmakers, which is awesome, but they still don’t have a product that fits the needs of a prosumer individual who doesn’t want an all-in-one.

IMO, all-in-one desktop computers are an antiquated technology. The iMac doesn’t belong in the modern computing landscape. We need something with iMac specs that’s in a tower form and has user customizability. Basically a non-Pro Mac Pro. That would be perfect for a ton of people.

I think Thunderbolt is the tech of the future though. (I agree that an AIO isn’t optimal for pro users, I personally would’ve also preferred a tower). But to play Devil’s Advocate I would’ve also bought a Mac Mini if it had 8 cores and plugged in storage, networking, graphics, everything I need through PCI Express over Thunderbolt. Why does one need a tower if you can use Thunderbolt?

.... “Thunderbolt.”
 
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goMac

Contributor
Apr 15, 2004
7,295
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why not ? Dual CPU Classic Mac Pro 5.1 with 12 hardware cores / 24 virtual will match

I wouldn’t. The newest developer tools are likely to require Catalina early next year, and it’s not worth hacking around.

A MacBook Pro with an eGPU would be the next best option. It’s more expensive and less CPU cites. The iMac would normally be a good option, but it’s missing the high end GPU options and doesn’t go that high for CPU cores.
 
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MacsRSour

macrumors newbie
Jan 25, 2019
19
2
His budget is =< 2k or less. i9 Macbook pro is 2500+

You'll rarely get 'comparable' specs dollar for dollar between apple and others.

I'd cut corners somewhere and get a refurb i7 mini + egpu (or wait till Oct). I dumped my 5,1 macpro (6Core 3.46) for a mini + egpu.
Happy with the performance increase but sad at the lack at the ease of expansion.
 
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goMac

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Apr 15, 2004
7,295
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His budget is =< 2k or less. i9 Macbook pro is 2500+

You'll rarely get 'comparable' specs dollar for dollar between apple and others.

I'd cut corners somewhere and get a refurb i7 mini + egpu (or wait till Oct). I dumped my 5,1 macpro (6Core 3.46) for a mini + egpu.
Happy with the performance increase but sad at the lack at the ease of expansion.

A Mini is a really good option I forgot about. It won't get the core counts, but unfortunately there's going to have to be a trade off.
 
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binaryduke

macrumors member
Jul 4, 2015
48
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I'm in 99% exactly the same boat as the OP apart from having a 12-core CMP. c++ and c# development in Windows; web development, creative and day to day stuff in Mac OS. 3x 4k displays are handled by a WX4100 and storage is on a pair of NVME SSDs. I get paranoid about the machine age and longevity. I can see how a Mac mini + EGPU + thunderbolt NVME enclosure enables re-use of current enhancements but this is realistically $2k+ of spend and I wonder to what end.

@goMac - what were your reasons for change and what performance increase have you seen?
 
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mattspace

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Jun 5, 2013
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Why does one need a tower if you can use Thunderbolt?

A thunderbolt-based graphics card can only drive ~ half the total screen resolution of the same card in a motherboard pci slot, because the bandwidth between the card and the host computer will be saturated, before the card's output capabilities are reached.

So that's one reason.
 
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goMac

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Apr 15, 2004
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@goMac - what were your reasons for change and what performance increase have you seen?

I didn't switch (waiting on the 7,1 release), but I've worked with the new Minis and can attest they are little monsters at compiling code. They're even faster than 5,1s. Heresy around these parts, I know.

I think a lot of people have emotional attachments to their Mac Pros, but unless you have really exotic requirements, I'd easily recommend a 6 core Mac mini over a 5,1 these days. Even over a 12 core 5,1.
 
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MrRabuf

macrumors regular
Jan 2, 2019
105
106
It looks like I can get a pretty decent 16-core PC to run Linux for ~$1500 - 64GB RAM, 1TB NVMe SSD, Vega 56 video card etc.

I would give up on a Mac and just build that. Apple just doesn't make the type of system you're looking for. The only reason I use a MacBook Pro for software development is because my employer paid for it, otherwise I'd be running Linux.

Why does one need a tower if you can use Thunderbolt?

Less wires, better cooling, better performance, it'll probably be quieter, it'll look nicer, don't have to waste a couple/few hundred dollars on an eGPU enclosure, etc. I hate the idea of a Mini + eGPU + external drives.
 
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Zdigital2015

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Jul 14, 2015
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East Coast, United States
Yeah unfortunately this is still the biggest hole in Apple’s product line. They’ve finally filled the gap for high end professional filmmakers, which is awesome, but they still don’t have a product that fits the needs of a prosumer individual who doesn’t want an all-in-one.

IMO, all-in-one desktop computers are an antiquated technology. The iMac doesn’t belong in the modern computing landscape. We need something with iMac specs that’s in a tower form and has user customizability. Basically a non-Pro Mac Pro. That would be perfect for a ton of people.

Based on the OP’s current Linux setup, even a non-Pro Mac Pro would not be adequate as the Core i9 tops out at 8-cores now and 10-cores (Comet Lake) next year.

Apple will never embrace Intel HEDT as that would be an admission that the Xeon is not necessarily necessary. For desktops, at least, Pro means Xeon CPUs. MacBook Pros will forgo Xeons as there are zero advantages for Apple to doing so.
 
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Zdigital2015

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Jul 14, 2015
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East Coast, United States
I would give up on a Mac and just build that. Apple just doesn't make the type of system you're looking for. The only reason I use a MacBook Pro for software development is because my employer paid for it, otherwise I'd be running Linux.



Less wires, better cooling, better performance, it'll probably be quieter, it'll look nicer, don't have to waste a couple/few hundred dollars on an eGPU enclosure, etc. I hate the idea of a Mini + eGPU + external drives.

There are a good portion of people who are perfectly content with that very same setup that you hate the idea of.

Need a GPU, add a box and pick and choose the GPU you want...don’t need a discrete GPU, don’t buy one. Add a second eGPU if needed, add a Dock with 10GbE, expand storage with a USB-C SSD or move up to a Thunderbolt SSD. Buy it all or none of it, depending on your exact needs. The only better thing I can think of right now would be for Apple to update the mini to 9th Gen 65w CPUs with 8c/8t or 8c/16t.

You say potato, I say potato...
 
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Zdigital2015

macrumors 68040
Jul 14, 2015
3,140
3,883
East Coast, United States
Hi folks,

I'm looking at getting a desktop system for software development (mostly C++, a little bit of python). Target platforms are macOS and Linux. So far I've been using an older Linux desktop mainly, but it's fairly slow (only 8 cores) and I'd like something faster. I'd also like a system with upgradeable memory/storage and the ability to add at least a couple of PCIe devices in the future ('future-proofing').

It looks like I can get a pretty decent 16-core PC to run Linux for ~$1500 - 64GB RAM, 1TB NVMe SSD, Vega 56 video card etc.

What's the closest thing I can get on the macOS side? I don't mind paying somewhat more for an Apple system (25-30% feels fair), but the new Mac Pro looks like it's in a different price world altogether. Are there any other options closer to that price? Thanks!

What IDE are you using for your C++ development? Or not?

Will you be using Xcode? Eclipse? NetBeans? CLI? Visual Studio? VScode? Something else?

Xcode allows distributed builds, so perhaps an iMac 5K Core i9-9900K, 8GB DRAM, 512GB SSD, 580X for $2079 on the Apple Refurb store and then add 32GB of extra DRAM to start and then add an i7 mini if you actually run into build time issues in the future. Or start with an i7 mini and add more over time. Just a thought...but not necessarily a financially realistic one.
 
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MrRabuf

macrumors regular
Jan 2, 2019
105
106
There are a good portion of people who are perfectly content with that very same setup that you hate the idea of.

Apparently not the professional market. Just look at the new MP compared to the terrible trashcan.

Need a GPU, add a box and pick and choose the GPU you want...don’t need a discrete GPU, don’t buy one.

If I need a GPU, I'll pick a bigger case and put it in. If I don't need one, I'll buy a smaller case. If I don't know, I'll buy a case that supports a GPU and install one if/when I need it. Your version costs several hundred dollars more and is slower. Plus, my version will look nicer and take up less space on a desk.

Expansion via thunderbolt is for laptop users, not desktop users.
 
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goMac

Contributor
Apr 15, 2004
7,295
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If I need a GPU, I'll pick a bigger case and put it in. If I don't need one, I'll buy a smaller case. If I don't know, I'll buy a case that supports a GPU and install one if/when I need it. Your version costs several hundred dollars more and is slower. Plus, my version will look nicer and take up less space on a desk.

Expansion via thunderbolt is for laptop users, not desktop users.

I think everyone here understands the pros and cons of a eGPU. The issue is it's either that, or buying a new Mac Pro, or buying a much slower older Mac Pro that has been abandon by Apple for support.

Even with the wires and boxes, a Mac Mini with an eGPU is going to be faster than a 2010 Mac Pro. And still can run all the latest software.

Yes, if the mythical xMac existed for $1500 with internal graphics, that could be an option. But it doesn't exist, so it's not an option.
 
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ssgbryan

macrumors 65816
Jul 18, 2002
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Apparently not the professional market. Just look at the new MP compared to the terrible trashcan.



Expansion via thunderbolt is for laptop users, not desktop users.

I agree that T-bolt is still a solution in search of a problem, however, the 7,1 is targeted to the exact same demographic as the 6,1. It is aimed at video production.
 
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mfbernstein

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Apr 19, 2010
14
1
FWIW, I did the Linux route. My configuration ended up being ~$1800:
-AMD Ryzen 9 3950x (16x 3.7GHZ)
-AMD X570 ATX motherboard (6x PCIe 4.0 slots, 1x M.2, 6x SATA)
-Corsair Obsidian ATX mid tower (2 internal, 3 external drive bays)
-600W Gold PSU
-Radeon Vega 56 (8GB) video card
-1TB NVMe SSD
-64GB RAM

I also wound up with a LG 5K display ($1200 or so).

To get the same performance from Apple, I don't see any option under $7000 (16+ cores, 64GB).

It's too bad - I would much rather have spent my money with Apple, and would have been more than happy to pay a reasonable premium for it. They could easily build and sell something like my configuration for $2000, with 30% margins (they certainly would pay less than I did for the components). Unlike their current $3000 iMac, that's a system which in 5-6 years would still be eminently useful and repairable.

Once things settle down a bit, I will have to look into hackintoshing.
 
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