For $700 difference, I couldn't bring myself for the 8-core

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by thermodynamic, Sep 27, 2009.

  1. thermodynamic Suspended

    thermodynamic

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    May 3, 2009
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    #1
    :( :(

    Not when too many articles agree that single-threaded apps would still suffer at a lower base GHz speed.

    By the time all major apps are properly multi-threaded (Snow Leopard just sets the basis for developers to follow), it'll be 3 or 5 years from now and it'll be upgrade time again. By then affordable Pro systems will have 4GHz CPUs and RAM will be cheaper than the sand it's made from.

    I also considered the low-end 8-core costing like $300 to upgrade to 16MB compared to the $700 I'd have to pay for the 4-core system. Given prevailing costs, it's still cheaper to go the $640 route (but not by too much and most of what I do wants more RAM; for big renders I can leave the computer on overnight. Or $440 if I went for 3 RAM modules instead of 4 and have a higher memory bandwidth, which I likely won't see a major performance difference in. Again, overnight stuff...)

    Either way, benchmarks show even the single quad cremates a 3.05GHz iMac and mine's 2.93GHz. I'll be happy. :D

    My new Pro:
    * Xeon 2.66GHz (I did not spend the extra $450 for the 2.93GHz model; a 270MHz difference is 5% - negligible)
    * 8GB RAM ($225 and Apple tested it in-house, it's worth the $50 differential after shipping and that gamble there'd be a problem with the delivered RAM from a third party)
    * ATi 4870HD video ($180)
    * AppleCare 3yr ($200)

    $3081 after tax. (If I went with the 2.93GHz unit, it'd be $3600 after tax, and if I went 8-core the price would have been $3800. I cannot afford either of those and with the 8-core, there's not enough to justify it and by the time it is, newer hardware cremating it will have arrived.)
     
  2. Gomff macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Sep 17, 2009
    #2
    At the end of the day you need to work with the budget you have so you've made the right choice if you did that.

    I am curious though about what software you're using for rendering. Do you do 3D? I ask because I use Modo and Lightwave and both are truly multi threaded. When I hit the render button in modo, my CPU meter for all cores goes to 100% and doesn't step off the gas until the rendering is finished.....So for me 8 cores was a no brainer.

    There seems to be a misconception that multi threaded apps didn't exist on OS X before Snow Leopard which isn't true. Modo has been multi threaded (for rendering which is where you need it) since it had a renderer in it. Lightwave was multi threaded before Snow Leopard as well.

    As far as I understand it, SL just makes it easier for developers to take advantage of multi core systems because the OS takes the need for some of that coding away.
     
  3. thermodynamic thread starter Suspended

    thermodynamic

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    #3
    Thx for the response, and asking! :)

    Primary apps:
    * Photoshop (w/SiteGrinder)
    * Dreamweaver
    * Flash
    * MS Office 2008

    Secondary apps:
    * After Effects (CS4, as with the other Adobe apps)
    * VMWare to run an emulated XP session)
    * The Sims 2
    * UltraFractal 5 (under Crossover Mac)

    The secondary apps aren't used very often; right now just for school or a little leisure time.

    I do web design and photo manipulation (40MB files, easily, for many).

    Macworld and other sites' benchmarks (now dated, due to SL) show the 2.66 quad often pulling ahead. Only in 3D rendering and fractal rendering did the dual quad really shine - logical, of course. :D I just don't do those often enough to justify that cost. And, again, future RAM upgrades, at $640 via OWC for four 4GB units is still slightly cheaper than doing eight 2GB units ($300) on the dual quad system...

    I hate money. LOL...
     
  4. nanofrog macrumors G4

    Joined:
    May 6, 2008
    #4
    Most applications that can truly benefit from being multi-threaded have already gone that route, as it would help them sell their software.

    The remaining aren't going to be all that many, and it's either a result of fence sitting (waiting for something, such as tools to make the job easier, such as what's been placed in SL), or more likely due to limited development resources or product roadmaps (scheduled development).

    Most applications are single threaded, and just can't be made to multi-thread properly (sequential processes).

    OpenCL may make the biggest difference, but that will need time to be developed as well.

    From what you describe, you made the right decision. :)

    If you get to the point that you need an extra CPU, then you get a new/refurbished/used system that's capable of fitting your needs at that time. ;)
     
  5. thermodynamic thread starter Suspended

    thermodynamic

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    #5
    Thanks much!! :) If/when the time comes, there will be a Mac available somewhere... the one I've got is definitely no slouch; I've seen performance charts - enough to decide this as an acceptable midpoint between cost and performance. I also screwed up in an earlier post about the pricing of both units... I forgot which one I screwed up on, but there's no way both systems could be $20 different without a huge change in config somewhere... :eek:

    And you're right; most apps ARE multi-threaded to an extent, but to the last I'd read, even Photoshop CS4 is limited to 2 cores, and After Effects is said to struggle with multiple cores as well and that's just a secondary app... I honestly don't do enough of that to really need the power on even a regular basis.

    Still, it was not an easy decision to make... but, in the past, I had a Vista homebuilt machine using a quad core non-Xeon CPU (Q9650). I could throw the lot at it and it wouldn't flinch, save for one time... rendering that I didn't often need to do. The i7 is much more powerful, never mind the Xeon class... it's a great choice, no doubts on that.
     
  6. Gomff macrumors 6502a

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    #6
    I think you've made the best decision, based on the applications you mention here. I'm sure you'll be very happy with your mac when it arrives:D
     
  7. nanofrog macrumors G4

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    May 6, 2008
    #7
    Some may still need a little work, but in the case of using 2x cores only, that's likely due to when it was developed. Presummably, there weren't any Quad core parts out, and it was easier to set the core count (fixed) than develop it in a manner that would divide the load to the core count that was available to any chip or board (scheduling issues would get more complicated for example).

    Actually the i7-9xx = Xeon 35xx with the ECC functions removed (for the most part, binning is a little different, as is the VID).
     
  8. eawmp1 macrumors 601

    eawmp1

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    FL
    #8
    I had Octo-envy, for about 5 seconds. By the time most applications will be able to reap the benefits of the Octo, I'll be in the market for a new computer.

    I love my Quad. You'll love yours. Sleep well...you made the right decision.
     
  9. thermodynamic thread starter Suspended

    thermodynamic

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    #9
    I'm going to go cry... Well, maybe one tear because I haven't cried for weeks and they're begging to come out for some fresh air... :eek: I know the 35xx series doesn't allow SMP, but ECC too... Still, it's a Xeon and better than the standard grade i7 chips...
     
  10. thermodynamic thread starter Suspended

    thermodynamic

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    #10
    Thanks. :D I do know it will blow my iMac away... not that there's anything wrong with the iMac, except I've been taxing it with more at once than I ever anticipated on doing...
     
  11. thermodynamic thread starter Suspended

    thermodynamic

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    #11
    I just checked around, some claim the i7 desktop CPU has ECC turned off, but both Xeon variants (35xx, 55xx) do have it enabled... given the single quads come with ECC RAM, that would be overkill, if not incompatible (?), and as Apple would get into big trouble over misadvertising...
     
  12. nanofrog macrumors G4

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    #12
    ECC is the biggest difference between the i7-9xx (ECC = Disabled) and the Xeon 35xx parts (which from Intel = can run non ECC, and ECC in two flavors; Unregistered and Registered). A couple of other things (voltage for one = lower TDP), but functionally speaking, ECC is it. They both use LGA1366 sockets, and the same chipset (well family, as the SP versions come in both 24 and 36 lane versions).

    Hence the reason the Quad's can run i7-9xx successfully. :D

    i5 is really the desktop line, and I consider the i7-860 a true desktop part as well (also LGA1156 socket).
     
  13. thermodynamic thread starter Suspended

    thermodynamic

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    #13
    Thanks much for the clarification! :D I'm a bit out of touch with the latest processor technologies, as the last I read up on was the Q9xx0 line...
     
  14. Techhie macrumors 65816

    Techhie

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    #14
    so, we should be expecting you to be the next guy to drop the 3.33 GHz i7 into your Mac? :p
     
  15. CSHawkeye81 macrumors member

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    Arlington VA
    #15

    I take it that we have similar machines. I use mine for both windows 7 and OSX and love it.
     
  16. nanofrog macrumors G4

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    #16
    :cool: NP. :)

    Understandable. ;) If there's no need to, only curiosity can motivate someone to do so, and it may not be enough. :eek: :p
     
  17. VirtualRain macrumors 603

    VirtualRain

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    #17
    Good call thermodynamic! :)

    Your quad is a multithreaded beast and by the time you need more parallelism, single CPU's will have at least 6 or 8 cores and OpenCL will be making extreme numbers of CPU cores irrelevant.
     
  18. jjahshik32 macrumors 603

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    Sep 4, 2006
    #18
    I'm glad that you made the right decision especially for your needs.

    As for me though, I've came from a 2.8GHz octo of last years model to a 2.26GHz octo and I was turned down by the lower clock but after using the 2.26ghz octo for a month I can say that it certainly spanks the 2.8GHz in real world life speed! I dont know what it is, perhaps the 40% less latency in memory + the new architecture or the mhz myth I suppose but I am happy as well! :)
     
  19. fandsw macrumors regular

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    Helena, AL
    #19
    That's what I found as well: my first replacement MP that Apple gave me for my old 2.66 Dual Duo was a 2.66 Single Quad, the 2nd one is the 2.26 Dual Quad I have now. The octo is faster in real world speed: it boots faster, comes in and out of sleep faster, apps come up faster. This agrees with some of the performance numbers shown on barefeats.

    In reality you can't go wrong with any of them......
     
  20. thermodynamic thread starter Suspended

    thermodynamic

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    #20
    You beat me to it!

    I've seen the 3.06 and 3.2GHz models and, for cost reasons, I'd probably wait until 3.2 got lower in price, but as I know the 35xx series' caps are not removed by Apple, in theory, it's much easier to upgrade the single CPU units... :D
     
  21. thermodynamic thread starter Suspended

    thermodynamic

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    #21
    The Macworld review article in March kept showing the octo-core being slower, save for CPU-intensive tasks.

    http://www.macworld.com/article/139507/2009/03/macpro2009.html

    Of course, SL invalidates that as I know it goes out of its way to help multiple cores... and no app, yet, is able to max the memory bandwidth anyway...

    I haven't opened the box so I can always go back to the Apple store, but I've had enough people agreeing that I might hold back and just get a second 4870, if not a W3550 or W3570 when the time comes...
     
  22. thermodynamic thread starter Suspended

    thermodynamic

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    #22
    Agreed. OpenCL is brilliant... And it does seem more logical to go with more video cards, as OpenGL apps already benefit from that -- I do need to find out HOW much before plonking down more for another 4870... LOL, four 4870HD video cards...

    Still, there are many times when 8-core systems are better, but the apps I use just don't seem to be "there" yet (e.g. 2 core max for Photoshop).
     
  23. nanofrog macrumors G4

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    May 6, 2008
    #23
    In that regard, SL provides a framework (API) that makes it easier for 3rd party software developers to write multi-threaded code. It can't automatically turn single-threaded apps into multi-threaded ones.

    Software that can benefit from multi-threading has likely already been done (though it seems there are a couple that need further work, as the core count is fixed; 2 from the information currently available). SL's new API will help those that have sat on the fence either for something that makes their lives easier, or has to do with product cycles (scheduling) or developmental resources (money, people, and time).

    OpenCL has a lot of promise, but will need time for the applications to take advantage of this as well. The aspect that helps now, is it's optimized compared to Leopard. :) Future versions will likely be further optimized, as they'll end up pure 64 bit (Kernel + OS only).
     

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