Is the 2.66 GHz 12 Core worth it?

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by Fesco, Nov 5, 2010.

  1. Fesco macrumors newbie

    Nov 4, 2010
    Hey this is my first ever post – I’ve been more of a voyeur in the Mac Rumour forums,

    I am an architecture student going back to university next year; I am currently on my practical experience and have been saving towards buying a Hexacore Mac Pro this Christmas. I plan to learn/use a lot of 3D software with it and install windows on a Bootcamp partition, which my current MacBook Pro cannot do due to lack of HD Space;

    I am currently using on my MacBook Pro:

    Cinema 4d

    I aspire to learn on my hypothetical Mac Pro:

    3ds Max (which would require a Windows Partition)
    Maxwell Render
    After Effects

    This is my question; it would be a stretch but I could just (and I stress the word just) afford the 2.66 GHz 12 core model. However, I am hesitant in acquiring it for the following reasons:

    1. 2.66 GHz of power per CPU would make it not much better than my current, 2.5 GHz Core 2 Duo MacBook Pro, at single threaded tasks in software like Photoshop

    2. I would have to dig in to more of my savings for university to buy the 12 core model

    3. And I would have to waste two more months gaining the funds for the 12 core, taking time away from actually learning the software that would be installed on the new machine before I go back to university.

    I need this computer to handle a lot of 3d software and their many possible evolutions in speed and efficiency for at least the next three years; my plan is to use it to do my two-year architecture diploma course and buy a new Mac Pro after graduating.

    So what I’m saying is, would it be worth getting the lower end 12 core instead of getting a Hexacore model this Christmas and maxing it out with 24 gigs of ram, SSD and 2 LCD screens - I would not be able to afford to upgrade a 12 core anytime soon. I need a lot of power and speed as studying architecture is very demanding; there are a lot of deadlines that students need to work to - render time and multitasking on a computer can make or break your success for a hitting a deadline.

    So is the 2.66 GHz 12 core worth it?
  2. wirelessmacuser macrumors 68000


    Dec 20, 2009
    It's hard to say for you.

    In my case it was definitely worth it due to the extremely resource intensive work I do. In addition it was easily affordable for me, thus the only point being, price was not a deterant. It's more than worth it for me to purchase the maxed out configuration for the speed & convenience.
  3. 300D macrumors 65816


    May 2, 2009
  4. Luis Ortega macrumors 6502a

    May 10, 2007
    Fetcham Surrey UK
    Definitely not. The 3.3 6-core has better performance, even with 1/3 the ram, and it costs a ton less money.
    And given the direction that apple is going, they may not even sell computers by the time you get out of college.
  5. khollister macrumors 6502a


    Feb 1, 2003
    Orlando, FL
    Probably not, in my opinion. There are very few applications right now that really scale well to large numbers of cores. Every benchmark that I see that validates 8-12 slower cores over 4 faster ones are the same few video or 3D rendering apps. My particular domains are photography and music production, and I just a couple weeks ago bought a 3.2 quad - the more expensive dual CPU machines actually perform worse in my case.

    The 3.33 6-core is certainly a good compromise, and represents far better value for most users. In my case, even it is suspect as far as music is concerned, because Logic craps out beyond 8 cores, so the hyperthreading needs to be turned off (can't deal with with the 6 real + 6 HT).

    The quad machines can also accept the current versions of the 6-core Westmere CPU's as an upgrade path (assuming Intel doesn't change the stepping to be incompatible with the 2010 firmware in the future).

    As you mentioned, you would likely be at a disadvantage for many common tasks since 12 (or 24 with HT) cores are no help and you are stuck with a fairly low clock speed.

    Given that the quads take 8 GB DIMM's (for 32 GB RAM), I don't see the memory expansion capabilities of the quad/hex particularly limiting either.

    There is an $800 difference between the 3.2x4 and the 3.33x6 - my opinion is that you (and myself) are better served spending that on more RAM and SSD's (particularly scratch/cache if your apps use that) than on two more cores.

    It really comes down to whether most of your apps are 100% multi-processor friendly or not. And I really think the comment about Apple not making computers in 4 years is over the top, BTW. I realize folks are frustrated by the recent attention on phones and the iPad, but Apple has been investing big money in development of new computer products as well as OS X. There is frustration at the perceived slow pace of innovation in the Mac Pro line, but I'm personally not sure that is justified. Apple is somewhat limited by Intel - there are no magic CPU's available. About the only thing Apple could do is put another SATA channel in to increase total disk bandwidth. And there is always the complaining about graphics cards, of course. But the basic machine architecture is about as good as it gets right now. The bigger issue is cost.
  6. johnnymg macrumors 65816


    Nov 16, 2008
    JMO, but one of these huge desktops just isn't the right form factor for a student. Unless you're studying from home (only) then my suggestion is to rethink how you would use a desktop computer.

    A top end MBP should handle your 3D just fine............ at roughly half the cost.

  7. JavaTheHut macrumors 6502


    Aug 15, 2010
    I've seen some single app benchmarks (PS) by DigiLoyd, Barefeat etc. but... Has anyone seen any multi-apps running benchmarks? just to real world compare.
    It would be profoundly poor news if a dual cpu setup was not using both cpu's.
  8. J the Ninja macrumors 68000

    Jul 14, 2008
    No way. Have you tried doing 3D on a laptop? An MBP just plain won't cut it for rendering. The day I got into the 3D was when I pretty much gave up entirely on using my MBP for anything but web surfing. As for core scaling, I see a lot of render engines on that list. Including Maxwell. Spectral-progressive renderers like that will use every single core that you can throw at them for hours or even days. And they scale up some 70-90% with hyper-threading. IMO, if you are doing 3D anything, a Mac Pro is worth it, for both the speed and cooling.

    That being said, the Mac Pro I bought was a 2.8 Quad, so I wouldn't cut into my tuition money TOO much. The dodeca is a lot of money for a student, and you will ONLY see the benefit while rendering. It will be slower at PS, and probably slower at any 3D simulations you do as well. Your point #3 about sitting out going to class and practicing at home for 2 months to save money really convinces me the dodeca isn't worth it to you. I'd go for one of the hex or one of the quads.
  9. Fesco, Nov 5, 2010
    Last edited: Nov 5, 2010

    Fesco thread starter macrumors newbie

    Nov 4, 2010
    Thanks a lot for your time and replies!

    wirelessmacuser, What do you use your 12 core for? Are there any benchmarks between the speed of a 6 core and 12 core in rendering and CPU intensive tasks, to see if the extra money and time is worth it?

    I agree with khollister and J the Ninja - I just think a maxed out Hexacore model will be more or less equal to a basic 12 core due to the low simultaneous core usage of a lot of applications - it will be "up there" with future computers for the next couple of years.

    I see what Luis Ortega meant; the “Back to the Mac” event was disappointing because I got the vibe that Apple will focus on the mainstream consumer, producing computer versions of a slightly more powerful iPad/iPhone. I was debating getting a PC… but I’m so addicted to the Mac OS; Photoshop was born to run on a Mac system.

    @johnnymg: I plan to use my current MacBook Pro for the portability factor in studying but I need a good desktop for the long sessions of design/modelling and the classic “all nighter” before my final hand-in.
  10. iRCL macrumors 6502

    Nov 2, 2011
    Whatever you do, don't buy one until they bump the line.. all the current models now are old and slow.. get a quad core i7 sandy bridge and it's probably faster than many of those chips in the current Mac Pro line...
  11. nanofrog macrumors G4

    May 6, 2008
    Not sure you noticed, but this thread is over a year old... :D

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