Is the 6 core/16gb/512SSD/D700 overkill for what I need?

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by richard371, Jan 19, 2014.

  1. richard371 macrumors 68020

    Feb 1, 2008
    Currently I am looking to run VMware Fusion with several VMs at a time such as Exchange 2010, server 2008R2 as a domain controller, DHCP server and a win 7 and win 8 clients. Im going to be taking online training that requires me to build many lab environments of Windows VMs etc. As far as games I will be playing Xplane 10. I will also do some photoshop and maybe FCP. I want to be able to add memory down the road if I run even more VMs at a time. I will be using the Thunderbolt 27" at first until Apple comes out with an equivalent 4K model.

    Ive been going back and forth over what config to get. Some recommend a top of the line iMac but I prefer not to be stuck with the current iMac monitor.

    With my student discount it comes to 4500 with the above specs. Based on my research this config is the best bang for the buck and should carry me 3-4 years. I can always add ram and external SSD drive later if needed.

  2. johngwheeler macrumors 6502

    Dec 30, 2010
    I come from a land down-under...
    Think about 3rd party memory upgrade

    I've been looking at the nMP for a similar use case - running a number of development VMs.

    It sounds like you want to run at least 4-5 Windows VMs, including a couple of clients. You should *just about* be OK with 16GB, but I would consider getting a 3rd party memory upgrade to 32GB (or 64GB down the line). If you do this it will be cheaper to get the base 4-core /12GB, and upgrade the CPU/GPU leaving the minimal memory. You can then upgrade the memory via a third party (OWC will give you some cash back for your original Apple RAM).

    One thing I have found is that VM performance really nosedives once they are pressured for RAM; you want to avoid overcommitting RAM (i.e. don't assign more total RAM to your VMs than you have physical memory).

    CPU should be fine - VMWare recommends starting with a single vCPU and only adding additional vCPUs once you VM CPU usage get over 70%. With a 6-core nMP you will have 12 hardware threads, so 12 vCPUs (VMWare maps 1 vCPU to 1 thread on Intel Xeon). If your CPU usage is low, you can overcommit vCPUs without too much impact. I would recommend leaving at least one complete core for the host machine (OS X), which would limit you to 10 vCPUs without overcommitment.

    Keep your VM virtual disks on the internal SSD if possible, or extend to an external SSD array; this will make a big difference to your VM performance. Avoid HDDs.

    In order of importance, in my experience, VMs need: 1) sufficient memory 2) fast disk I/O 3) CPU resources.

    You really don't need a D700 for running server-side VMs, but maybe your FCP & XPlane use justify it!
  3. richard371 thread starter macrumors 68020

    Feb 1, 2008
    Thanks. That sounds about right. Ill prob pop out one of the 4's and replace it with a 3rd party 16GB later on when I need it giving me 28 If I go with the base 12GB with the same specs ill save $80 so may do that.

    Yea I don't really need the D700 but I hear it will help with FCP and Xplane as I really want to crank everything up visually.

  4. michael_aos macrumors 6502

    Jan 26, 2004
    I have the 6-core / 512GB / D500's & 32GB RAM.

    I'm happy enough with it, but if I had it to do over again I would definitely look harder at the 4-core, 1TB, and OWC RAM. I still don't know what video card I would pick if I had gone with that config.
  5. mjohnson1212 macrumors member

    Nov 15, 2007
    It doesn't look like you can mix and match the 16 gig modules with the smaller ones because they are RDIMMS:

    From the apple support website:

    "Make sure that the memory you plan to use is compatible with your system. The Mac Pro supports both unbuffered UDIMMs and registered RDIMMs, but it is important not to mix these types of memory. DIMMs which are not properly installed or do not meet the system requirements may affect system performance or not be recognized by the system."
  6. richard371 thread starter macrumors 68020

    Feb 1, 2008
    What about 8GB modules with the 4GB ones?
  7. mjohnson1212 macrumors member

    Nov 15, 2007
    They should work together since they are both UDIMMs.

    The support docs don't actually say it will or won't work. It only says you will get the best performance with 4 of the same size dimms.
  8. richard371 thread starter macrumors 68020

    Feb 1, 2008
    Annoying that they use 4X4 instead of 2X8 on the 16GB model. i wonder how much the performance is reduced by mixing sizes?

  9. mjohnson1212 macrumors member

    Nov 15, 2007
    They went with 4x4 because memory is quad-channel so you loose performance if you only have 2 dimms.

    Good question on how much. It would be an interesting test for someone to determine how much memory throughput it lost not running in the optimal setup.
  10. analog guy macrumors 6502

    Mar 6, 2009
    i agree (as i was one who would purchase 2x8 then have a cheaper upgrade path to 32).

    i would figure they'd go for highest performance (4x4), but the iMac 16GB configuration comes as 2x8.
  11. velocityg4 macrumors 601


    Dec 19, 2004
    That's just absolute and complete overkill.

    Since this seems to be more of a learning platform than an actual work environment and all Windows based. Buy Enterprise equipment that is just a few years old, that stuff is practically given away. It would seem reckless to spend so much on a Mac Pro.

    You could also get older gen 8+ core Xeon servers for dirt cheap off eBay. I'm talking 2x4Core Xeons (Core 2 type architecture), 2+Ghz, 16GB RAM and possibly some hard drives for less than $150. Though you will likely need to add your own hard drives.

    Here's one such deal (with 10K hard drives).

    Have it boot into Linux or Windows and run all your VM's off it. That should provide plenty of horsepower for your needs.

    Then you could get yourself a nice iMac for your Mac and gaming needs, build yourself a hackintosh or build a gaming rig and get a Macbook or Mini.

    You could also build yourself the gaming rig like I mentioned. Just use a socket 2011 board for a 6+ core i7 and also use it as your VM. Then get a cheap Mac for other uses.

    Those thousands you save can go towards a lot of beer and Ramen noodles for a college student.
  12. mjohnson1212 macrumors member

    Nov 15, 2007
    I don't believe the iMac is quad channel so no loss with 2x8.
  13. richard371 thread starter macrumors 68020

    Feb 1, 2008
    Ordered Saturday and it looks like the average lead time is 6 weeks so I took a number on Saturday for February delivery. Now it looks like they are going into March. I can always cancel it if I change my mind.
  14. mrsavage1 macrumors regular

    Feb 1, 2010
    once 4k monitors with single panels come you'll need to buy a new mac pro again.
  15. michael_aos macrumors 6502

    Jan 26, 2004
    Good point. I picked up an HP ML310e G8 for $352.99 from Newegg recently. Quad-core Xeon E3-1220 v2 @ 3.1Ghz. Bought an HP 8GB DIMM for $100.

    Runs KVM under CentOS just fine.
  16. richard371 thread starter macrumors 68020

    Feb 1, 2008
    Huh? The nMP supports 4K monitors.

  17. mrsavage1 macrumors regular

    Feb 1, 2010
    The mac pro currently supports dual panel 4k monitors. Anandtech was reporting that its not likely to support single panel 4k monitors when they come out.
  18. richard371 thread starter macrumors 68020

    Feb 1, 2008
    I dont understand what the difference is and cannot find anything when searching on google for single vs dual panel so I'm not sure it even exists as a potential issue.

  19. mrsavage1 macrumors regular

    Feb 1, 2010

    The d700 is a 280x core. Basically once the native (single planel 4k) monitors come out next year or at the 2nd half of this year the mac pro is likely not going to support it.
  20. theSeb macrumors 604


    Aug 10, 2010
    Poole, England
  21. FredT2 macrumors 6502a

    Mar 18, 2009
    That's not a given. From Anand's review of nMP:

    "I’m not sure if the Mac Pro’s GPU hardware can drive upcoming 4K single stream panels or not as AMD specifically lists that as a feature of the new Radeon R9 series."
  22. richard371 thread starter macrumors 68020

    Feb 1, 2008
    Yea and when the second version of the nMP comes out it may support this but we will find something that it may not support until the 3rd gen nMP comes out and this will go on and on to the end of the world. Its always that way with technology. You can literally wait forever to get one that will support everything forever lol.

  23. mrsavage1 macrumors regular

    Feb 1, 2010
    Yes but unlike other technologies the single panel are likely already coming out this year, not some time out in the far future.
  24. richard371 thread starter macrumors 68020

    Feb 1, 2008
    I'm sure it will get sorted out especially if apple starts releasing 4k panels. They will not release a 4k panel that's not compatible with the nMP. Most of us that just ordered will have a couple of months to see what happens anyway.


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