Is an 08 really better than an 09?

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by mds, Feb 18, 2010.

  1. mds macrumors 6502

    Oct 6, 2006
    Ready? Fight!

    haha....seriously, I've seen this said a few times on the site, but how true is it? Is an 8 core 08 superior to the 4 core hyperthreading turbo boosting single CPU 09? I can see how more discreet cores may be superior, but how about non-threaded applications? It seems like turbo boost might trump the cores in those situations.

    I've been holding out for a 2010, but I might just buy a refurb, so looking for some guidance. Thanks!

  2. Inconsequential macrumors 68000

    Sep 12, 2007
    Really depends on what you use it for.

    Most of my apps are single threaded so I went for a MP2009 2.66 Quad.
    In 2011 I'll be getting a 8/12 core monster as everything should be multithreaded by then.

    The only person who can decide what suits you, is you...
  3. j2048b macrumors 6502a

    Feb 18, 2009
    I believe* (dont quote me) the 2008 has 2 more sata ports, than the 2009 and there are a few others more suited to add a heck of a lot more to this discussion as to why the 2008's were a bit better?

  4. peskaa macrumors 68020


    Mar 13, 2008
    London, UK
    2009 is faster at single thread (I picked up a 2.93 Quad), but the 2008 beats it out on multi.

    Most of my stuff is still single, or at best dual, thread, so I preferred the faster clock.
  5. nanofrog macrumors G4

    May 6, 2008
    The '08's offer:
    1. Better value over the '09's

    2. EFI64 (so it can continue to recieve graphics card updates as well as new OS releases once it goes to K64 exclusively; SL is K32 + K64, and Apple has announced that they're not going to continue to run dual Kernel OS's, so 10.7 or 10.8 at the latest will be the end of it).

    3. No adapters needed to get a hardware RAID card to work with the HDD bays ('09's have the SATA ports soldered to the board, and require a $165USD adapter - pricey IMO).

    4. 2x ODD_SATA ports, though this may not be as wonderful as one might think, as they will NOT work with Windows in the '08's whether it's an ODD (installation DVD won't load - it stalls), HDD, or SSD. It's fine in the other models ('06 -'07, and '09's).

    As per the single vs. multi-threaded argument, the '08's can actually beat the '09's for both (Cinebench results). For example, a 3.2GHz '08 Octad is faster at both vs. the 2.26GHz base '09 Octad for the same money ($3299USD). The 3.2GHz '08 Octad has been available in the refurb store since the '09's shipped, and are still available last I checked.

    As per HT (virtual cores) vs. real, in the end when thinking of a Quad '09 vs. an '08 Octad, the end result is the same (virtual = 8 cores vs. 8 real cores). Also keep in mind, that HT shares a single physical core with 2x threads. That means theoretically it gets 50% of the core, but it's less in reality due to switching overhead (swapping between threads). If the thread doesn't need that much of the core, you won't notice. But if it's a heavy thread (needs more than 50%) you'll notice, and the real cores will be better (all other things being equal).

    Clock speeds will be important here, and is why the above example is correct (3.2GHz '08 vs. 2.26GHz '09 Octads). Take a look at the chart below, and make of it what you will (has both Quad and Octad system results), as only the user knows what they need (or should anyway). :D :p

    Hope it helps. :)

    Attached Files:

  6. VirtualRain macrumors 603


    Aug 1, 2008
    Vancouver, BC
    The 09 has a much faster memory architecture which may become more relevant down the road, even though very few apps can exploit it today.

    Hyperthreading, and multi-threading in general is an advantage in very limited cases but again, will be more future proof.

    The 3.3GHz (3.6GHz Turbo) W3580 in the 09 is the fastest single-threaded machine available.

    The only real tangible benefit an 08 has going for it in my opinion is lower cost. Whether it's better value depends on what you "value" :p
  7. TheStrudel macrumors 65816


    Jan 5, 2008
    I consider the internal hardware RAID flexibility a very tangible benefit. May not be useful to you, but I wouldn't downplay its significance. You can work around it on the 09 with some neat hardware pieces the aftermarket people have figured out, but that's more time, effort, and money.
  8. VirtualRain macrumors 603


    Aug 1, 2008
    Vancouver, BC
    I don't disagree, but it seems like most folks here are RAID0 junkies where SW RAID is as good as anything. If I were in need of a more redundant storage solution (RAID 5/6), I'd opt for a NAS anyway and keep the drives in my chassis as top performers.
  9. nanofrog macrumors G4

    May 6, 2008
    As you say though, most software can't utilize it. It comes down to whether or not the software will be capable before a user would move to a newer system. Presuming a 3yr service life, I'm not so sure the software will catch up soon enough to make a difference.

    If however the software used is capable of utilizing triple channel DDR3 (i.e. scientific simulation,...), then that would preclude the use of an '08, as the additional memory bandwidth would be more of a requirement (if not definitely so), rather than just an option. This isn't common though, and the OP hasn't indicated this is necessary.

    I can see the logic, but I'm more accustomed to a 3yr service life than 5+ yrs (given the usage I'm familiar with). If it can be used longer, then yes it can be helpful, as software could catch up before a new system is needed.

    If the software usage is predominantly, or even exclusively single threaded and budget is adequate, this would be the best way to go if time is money.

    But if the budget isn't there or it must be balanced with software that can use more than 4x physical cores, then an Octad makes more sense, and the '08's can offer quite a bit here. Not only lower cost, but improved performance (assuming the software wouldn't require triple channel DDR3's bandwidth, just cores and as much overall performance that can be obtained within budget).

    Unfortunately, it's rare in my experience that budgets aren't an issue, and they have a bad habit of making life a PITA. :rolleyes: ;) :p

    Lower cost is a big one, and particularly with the Octads. They can offer better performance as well for the cost of a base '09 ($3299USD). This is based on budget precedence rather than all-out performance, but it's valid for most users.

    There's almost always the need to balance price/performance. Even companies that buy the fastest equipment absolutely possible are still doing so based on financial motives.

    And as TheStrudel mentioned, RAID is important for fast workstations. It's not a big deal if the software requirements don't require increased data throughputs (HDD and/or SSD), but for say video/graphics editing, that's not the case, and seems to be a common enough usage for MR members.
  10. chet.d macrumors member

    Dec 6, 2009
    FWIW, My reasoning landed up being get the 08 8 core now.
    Price and performance ratio is very good.

    I believe the time to upgrade will most likely be 2011-2012 ish in so far as software and HT / ram usage etc. Remains to be seen.
    I might be wrong but an 8 core 08 won't be thwarting my workflow for quite a while I think.
    I'm also holding NF responsible if this rational lands up being wrong. :p
  11. nanofrog macrumors G4

    May 6, 2008
    Deal with it. :eek: :D :p
  12. peskaa macrumors 68020


    Mar 13, 2008
    London, UK
    True, but you may not get warranty etc any more as AppleCare is expiring.

    Same with the '09s, so I don't see how the is an "advantage" for the '08 over the '09, as this thread is about.

    A little pricey, yes, but you can live with it if you need hardware RAID. I've been happy with software.

    Advantage to the '09 models then?

    See, this is selective use of figures and benchmarks. Yes, the 3.2Ghz '08 Octad is faster than the 2.26Ghz '09 Octad (but not exactly by much I might add), but the 2.93 and 3.33 Quad '09s are faster on single-thread, whereas your statement is worded as if the '08s win all round. Plus, the 3.2 '08 can be tricky to obtain - I see far more 2.8 '08 models around.

    Throw in the fact that the 2.66 and 2.93 Octad '09s cream the 3.2 '08 Octad, and you can argue that the '09s offer a greater range of options - although there is the cost implication involved.

    It very much comes down to what you want. Single to quad thread, you're best going for a 2009 Quad with the high clock. Multi, you go for an '08 unless you can drop the cash on a 2.66 or higher '09 Octad. It's not as simple as "zomg, buy the '08 3.2!"
  13. dazey macrumors 6502

    Dec 9, 2005
    Surely a big advantage of the 08 octa vs the 09 quad is that the 08 has 8 ram slots arranged in pairs so you can go to 32GB ram. The 09 has 4 but in sets of 3, so max of 12GB in the optimum layout or 16 with the 4th slot filled. I ended up getting a 08 2.8GHz and this was a big part of the equation.
  14. peskaa macrumors 68020


    Mar 13, 2008
    London, UK
    If you buy a Quad, yes. Octad '09s are 8 slots.
  15. chet.d macrumors member

    Dec 6, 2009
    That was a Big reason why I just got an 2.8 08 8 core with applecare on it till March 2012. For me, that + an SSD + 16 gigs of ram was enough to convince me it was the right move for now.

    And again, I'd feel dumb if I didn't as NF admonished me that I'd be a fool not too jump on it. :eek::D
  16. AZREOSpecialist macrumors 68020


    Mar 15, 2009
    Cinebench benchmarks are nice in that the software is designed to utilize all available CPUs and cores. However, the vast majority of software available for the Mac (except for a relative handful of "pro" apps) does not properly utilize more than a single quad core CPU. Snow Leopard is supposed to change all of this, but by the time the software developers have updated all of their applications to take advantage of the new technologies, we will have much more wonderful Mac Pros in 2012! :)

    If you are doing mostly pre-press, web design/development, office applications, etc., I believe the 3.33 GHz quad will give you the best performance. Put an SSD and a RAID array in there and you'll be set for a long, long time.
  17. nanofrog macrumors G4

    May 6, 2008
  18. nanofrog macrumors G4

    May 6, 2008
    It depends on the circumstances/where you buy it. The 3.2GHz '08 Octad (or any others that might make a brief appearance) on Apple's Refurb store will have a full warranty, and and can be extended.

    You can also find used systems that already have extended Apple Care which would still be active as '08's haven't been around long enough for it to expire (unless the original purchaser didn't opt for it).

    You misunderstood what I was getting at I think.

    Both use EFI64, which places the '08's on the same playing field as the '09's (and '10's when they show) in terms of future graphics cards and OS releases.

    If RAID is needed, and a user is on a budget, it could make the ability to meet performance goals given the lower cost of the '08 systems, so less, or perhaps none of the upgrades needed/desired have to be eliminated/compromised,...

    It's up to the user to determine that, but budgets are a big deal in most cases in my experience.

    It will depend on what a user needs them for. In some cases, the additional ports will be an advantage (used under OS X). Others (Windows drive), the '09 has an advantage.

    Keep in mind however, there is an inexpensive solution to add SATA ports to an '08 (Windows drive use), and can be had for under $20USD. That + cost of the '08 is still less than the '09.

    It all comes down to specifics. Generally speaking, there are limitations in any Mac for some users (i.e available ports, necessary adapters,...), and can be gotten around for additional funds in many cases. It just comes down to what's acceptable for the specific use and within budget.

    It's not selective numbers, but rather no ability to make a general statement that applys across the board. The user needs to be able to consider their use, and see how the systems compare. Everyone's requirements are different, and that individual has to make their own decisions. The chart was intended to assist with that is all.

    Are the systems you list faster? Sure. But they're also much more expensive. If you look at the performance/cost ratio, the '08's do offer a better balance.

    Unfortunately, budgets are a major part of a computer system decision. So much so, they're almost always the primary factor in the decision.

    Actually, the 3.2GHz '08 gives you more performance for the same money as the base '09 Octad (2.26GHz) models (save the very rare instance the software used can actually utilize triple channel DDR3).

    Yes, but filling all 4 in an '09 also slows you down (from a technical standpoint, as there's precious little software that can utilize triple channel DDR3). Also keep in mind, the '08 Quad also had 8x DIMM slots. The current Quads do not. The lack of software that can take advantage of DDR3s bandwidth is one of the reasons the '08's are attractive for some, as they can get the additional memory at a lower cost (don't need larger capacity DIMM's to acheive their target).

    Again, none of this may matter, as it comes down to the specifics for each user.

    There may be reasons precluding such a machine, such as DIMM slots (since the larger DIMM capacities are rather expensive, particularly the 8GB sticks). And of course, there's budget as well. :p

    So it comes back to usage. ;)
  19. rickvanr macrumors 68040


    Apr 10, 2002
    Does the 08 model use IDE for the optical drives?
    Is that why there are the extra 2 SATA ports?

    If price wasn't an issue, would people still pick an 08 over an 09? I doubt it
  20. nanofrog macrumors G4

    May 6, 2008
    Yes and yes. :) It seems they placed it there because they could (ports were available on the Southbridge = ICH), and it left an option should the IDE drives not been available any longer.
  21. dazey macrumors 6502

    Dec 9, 2005
    Yes, the drives on the 08 are IDE. What are they on the 09? Are there two SATAs in the optical drive bay?
  22. nanofrog macrumors G4

    May 6, 2008
    The ICH is configured in a 4 + 2, where the group of 4 is the HDD bays, and the group of 2 is the ODD bays (of which one is occupied by an optical drive - base systems, and perhaps a second if CTO'ed that way or a 3rd party drive installed by the user).

    Generally speaking, that open ODD port is attractive for a SSD or Windows disk.

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