Is the base model nMP worthwhile?

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by SpectreSupreme, Jul 21, 2014.

  1. SpectreSupreme macrumors newbie

    Jul 21, 2014
    I have just graduated university and have been offered a nMP as a graduation present. I intend to explore the various avenues of computer development across the range; programming, 3D modeling, video editing, photoshop work, etc. Generally things that I touched upon during my course. I haven't decided exactly which software I will be using yet, for the sake of this topic lets just assume I would be using the computer for the sorts of things that the nMP will either be underutilized for or excel at in general as I don't want to discuss the specific usage too much.

    The budget for the computer will limit my options for the configuration of the nMP, I would go with the base model plus the ram upgrade from 12GB to 16GB.
    (quad core CPU, D300s, 256GB SSD, 16GB ram)

    My question is whether you think the base model is good enough to warrant the purchase. I see that most of the people on this forum who have the nMP have chosen to buy it with more upgrades. I am wondering if it is the case that the value of the machine is adequate with the low end specs. I generally have the mentality that if you are going to do something, do it right, but unfortunately my budget won't allow me the option to get the mid-range or high end model.

    The iMac or MBP do not interest me as I already have a mid 2010 15" MBP and a 24" Benq BL2411PT 1920x1200 which I want to use with the nMP should I buy it, I will look to get an additional 4K display when they are more affordable.

    So to reiterate;

    Is the base model nMP worthwhile?
  2. SarcasticJoe macrumors 6502a


    Nov 5, 2013
    Dude, this is the MacBOOK Pro section...

    As for the actual question, I don't see even the baseline being underpowered for anything except some really high end work, but I suppose the actual question is that is it OVERpowered for your work. As you don't seem to have a clue what you're going to actually use it for it's hard to tell if it is genuinely overpowered.

    So real the question is in my opinion not "Is it worth it to buy the entry level Mac Pro", but "Is it worth it to buy a Mac Pro to begin with".
  3. SpectreSupreme thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jul 21, 2014
    Actually this is the Mac Pro forum.

    I said I didn't want to discuss usage too much as I simply want to know whether the base model is worthwhile in general without considering specific usage. I provided some details anyways for the sake of it.
    I just see most threads focusing entirely on the potential buyers use rather than the hardware itself.
    If it eases your mind I will be getting Final Cut Pro.
  4. Neodym macrumors 68000


    Jul 5, 2002
    Iirc Apple's own software (like e.g. FinalCut) is actually making use of GPU computing, so the dual graphic cards should come in handy. For first explorations and light-to-medium work those entry cards should be (more than) sufficient. Exception: You intend to play high-end games on high(est) quality settings in OSX (where - unlike Windows - utilizing both GPU's via Crossfire is currently not supported).

    Same for the quad core CPU. It has the highest single-core clock count, so it's ideally suited for the majority of "normal" software - and you can upgrade it yourself later on, when prices are coming down.

    A bigger concern to me would be the 256GB SSD, especially with video work. If you feel okay with using external drives for storage and having only your actual project on the SSD, it may still work out okay (I'm not that disciplined ;)). 3rd-party SSD upgrades probably won't appear before next year (if that early).

    16GB of Ram look plenty at first sight, but with image and video editing (especially in multitasking and perhaps with a VM or two involved) it may quickly become tight, so you may want to stick with the 12GB stock for now and later directly expand to something bigger (like e.g. 32GB) if you find you're actually Ram-limited within your usage profile.
  5. richardmu macrumors 6502a

    Oct 10, 2007
    Bristol, UK
    Sure is. I replaced my i5 Mac mini with a base nMP for general purpose computing tasks and don't regret it for a minute. If you can afford it then go for it. Beautiful piece of kit to own!
  6. laurihoefs, Jul 21, 2014
    Last edited: Jul 21, 2014

    laurihoefs macrumors 6502a


    Mar 1, 2013
    It is now, after a moderator moved the thread to the Correct forum. In the time of the post you replied to was sent, the thread was still on the MacBook Pro forum.
  7. snouter macrumors 6502a

    May 26, 2009
    It does not sound like you have the budget to the do the nMP right, so...

    Anyhow, without going into details about usage, since you don't want to go there... my opinion is that the nMP 4c model is not a particularly compelling buy.

    If you want it, buy it though. It sounds more like you want it, than need it. The nMP itself is a pretty nice computer, I just think its value comes from abusing 6, 8 or 12 cores.


    I have a pretty average low end set-up. nMP 6c, 64GB, Pegasus 8TB Thunberbolt2 R4, two 2560x1440 IPS monitors, a good UPS power back-up. I think I "did it right" but it cost about $8000 at the end of the day.

    For the price of just the nMP 4c, you could get a maxxed out iMac that would be faster, have more ram and comes with a 2560x1440 IPS screen.

    Again, just my opinion, worth .02 on a good day.
  8. leman macrumors G3

    Oct 14, 2008
    A nMBP is a total overkill and frankly a waste of money for what you intend to do. I'd rather recommend you to sell your 2010 MBP and get a base 15" rMBP — it is around three times faster (and actually feels much faster then that subjectively) and will be more than an adequate platform for your exploration. Or a higher-end model with the 750M. Rationale: you most likely won't notice any difference to the Mac Pro in your usage, you will save money, you can take you work with you, and you don't have to maintain multiple computers.
  9. BayouTiger macrumors 6502


    Jul 24, 2008
    New Orleans
    The base would be OK, but I think the sweet spot is the 6 or 8 core.

    Only get the minimum ram from Apple and keep in mind that if you expect to go to 32GB or more ram, the 16GB modules can not be mixed with smaller dims, so get 2x16gb dims rather than smaller ones.
  10. koban4max macrumors 68000

    Aug 23, 2011
  11. ChrisA, Jul 21, 2014
    Last edited: Jul 21, 2014

    ChrisA macrumors G4

    Jan 5, 2006
    Redondo Beach, California

    WAIT until you can define a problem with a current computer then buy whatever fixes that problem. For now even a used Mac Book Pro would be fine. Buy one for $800 and use that. Then when you KNOW what you need buy that. You might get large LCD monitor and disks for backup.

    It is a total waste to buy a computer with no defined use for it. The longer you wait the faster and cheaper they get. Whatever you buy now will be "junk" in a few years so make sure you have a real use for the machine.

    You will know you need a faster computer when you can identify a few things you do routinely that are taking way to long. "routinely" is the key word. DOn't buy a faster computer for a job you do twice a month. But if you are shooting 4 or 5 hours of video a day and you are waiting two or three hours a day to import it to FCPX then it is time to upgrade.
  12. deconstruct60, Jul 21, 2014
    Last edited: Jul 21, 2014

    deconstruct60 macrumors 604

    Mar 10, 2009
    The threads focus on usage because that is where utility/value comes from. There hardware in and of itself doesn't particularly have much value at all (except as an item for sale). Without software hardware doesn't do anything. Without a purpose not particularly doing anything with a software+hardware combo either.

    Your criteria seems more so aimed at exploration/experimentation for skill development/maintenance than in time critical projects. The "Pro" monikier systems are typically priced in the zone where folks have commercial work to do. Project size and completion time impact the commercial viability and hence the hardware selection. It isn't the other way around.
    ( there is a smaller fraction of folks who blow money on "Pro" systems just because they can. Your restricted budget firmly places you outside that realm. There is little to no value in joining that "club" fresh out of school. )

    in terms of value/worthiness as an exploration tool and relative to your MBP 2010 the nMP would allow a larger range of exploration. Also larger than a rMBP 2013 or iMac 2013. If intend to eventually push into the realm of a 32GB system then nMP probbably has an edge on competing Mac alternatives.

    Similar if going to push past into larger and more varied direct attached storage systems.

    if the size and scope of your explorations weren't significantly hobbled by your MBP 2010 and primarily just want something "faster" than a newer MBP is likely the better path.

    The notion that you can learn more through exploration with 2 or 4 more cores is deeply flawed. "Do my expectations/internal-mental-model match what the software is doing" is has deeper learning utility than "I can press buttons faster and watch what happens more quickly".

    FCP cutting 2 year old cameraphone video versus cutting 4K Red video is two different realms. The software can do both. There is no inherent need for a Mac Pro if using FCP/FCPX. The software works just fine a wide variety of Macs.

    Gather up the system requirements for the range of software packages you want to try. If several of those have "recommended" requirements that largely outclass the baseline nMP then perhaps consider it unworthy. Otherwise it is. It isn't a handles anything configuration, but do not particularly need one of those with the budget (and commercial revenue workflow ... namely none ) you are working with. I'm sure it is possible to cherry pick some package that won't fit but the large majority will. That large segment is your exploration space.

    IMHO, I'd pass on another 4GB DIMM until had sorted out bulk storage requirements. You can guage how sufficient the 256GB SSD will be from a buik perspective by looking at how full your MBP storage drive is. If its a 1TB drive filled to the brim then you'll need some external bulk storage sooner rather than later. If living under 50% utilization on a 500GB drive then probably will be fine short term.

    3rd party SSD will likely show up later ( late 2014 / early 2015 ) . The baseline nMP isn't 'stuck' at that SSD capacity forever.
  13. SpectreSupreme thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jul 21, 2014
    Thanks a lot for everyone's input, you've given me more to think about.
    My apologies for posting on the wrong board.

    I've had experience using a lot of products with the multi tier price:quality business model like Apple and the value can vary a lot product to product which is why I asked.

    I want a Mac OS machine that is compact, easily moved around my home to be used on a variety of displays (I am not interested in a built in display so that excludes the iMac) and able to use my own choice of external hardware instead of increasing the size of the unit by having it built in.

    So I was looking at the Mac mini and Mac Pro. Unfortunately one is below my hardware requirements and intended budget and the other is the opposite. The mini wouldn't even be able run the stuff I do with Unity pro since my laptop struggled with it.

    So I am in a situation where the perfect product for me doesn't exist.

    Overshooting a problem makes more sense than undershooting it.

    The budget is what it is out of fairness to my siblings.

    Like I mentioned I would enjoy exploring the areas of development that the computer excels at.

    Thanks again. Time for more reading and lurking forums.
  14. goMac macrumors 603

    Apr 15, 2004
    A 15" Retina Macbook Pro sounds like it's ideal for your use case. It'll outperform a 4 core Mac Pro for a lot of the things you're looking at doing.

    It won't outperform a 6 core or 8 core, but if you're budget has you stuck at a 4 core I'd go with the Macbook Pro. CPU is faster, disk is the same speed, and it's portable. If you want external displays, just attached the same external displays to it that you would have with the Mac Pro.

    The D300s might be a little faster, especially with two, but most software won't use two under OS X, but it doesn't sound like most of the apps you're talking about are very GPU accelerated anyway.

    If you actually want to do game development... honestly, and I know you said you don't want one, get an iMac. The Nvidia 780 GPU will blow away both the 750m in the Macbook Pro and the D300s. So if you want to make games, especially 3D games, very strongly consider the iMac as it's going to be the best performer for you.

    If you very strongly don't want a machine with an internal display, the Mac Pro will work for you, but you'll be make a lot of compromises if you don't want to pay for a better config that's competitive with an iMac, especially in GPUs.

    I know you said you don't want a MBP or iMac, but they're both faster machines much better suited for what you're doing, so I don't have much else to tell you. They're both better than the base model Mac Pro.
  15. Larry-K macrumors 68000

    Jun 28, 2011
    Dude, you need to be on the "Dude" forum.
  16. GreyMatta macrumors regular

    Jul 29, 2007
  17. cube macrumors G5

    May 10, 2004
    I don't think it is worth to pay Xeon prices if it's not going to be at least 6-core.
  18. jclmavg macrumors regular


    Aug 2, 2014
    Seriously, this is just plain nonsense.
  19. Alrescha macrumors 68020

    Jan 1, 2008
    I think it is. Although it does not have the most processors, it does have the fastest processors; for tasks using 4 or fewer threads it will hold its own against any other Mac ( ). Desktop performance should be excellent, and it will be no slouch when you have some real computing to throw at it. Unlike the Macbooks, it will be quiet when you have all four cores maxed out.

  20. GreyMatta macrumors regular

    Jul 29, 2007
    My thoughts exactly
  21. poematik13 macrumors 6502a

    Jun 5, 2014
    No its not. the i7 CPUs in the iMac/mbp/etc use quicksync which actually makes rendering of certain video codecs wayyy faster than the nMP's xeon processors, which dont have that tech in them.
  22. goMac macrumors 603

    Apr 15, 2004
    The nMP has a 4 core Sandy Bridge. The Retina Macbook Pro has 4 core core Haswell, which is a generation newer.

    The Mac Pro has an advantage with it's sheer number of cores... but if you take that away, it's not the best choice.

    GPUs are also another strong consideration. The D700s in the Mac Pro (which are already way faster than the base D300s) still cannot bench higher than a 780 in an iMac. The D300s are going to get slaughtered by most consumer gear.

    The base Mac Pro only makes sense in very specific situations (such as if you're a heavy FCPX user and you really don't want your OpenCL and OpenGL fighting over the same bandwidth, you seriously need a large amount of VRAM more than a fast GPU, or you need a server but you don't want to have to deal with a Mac Mini.) But generally, it's really not a great deal compared to other Macs.
  23. noke macrumors newbie

    Jun 25, 2014
    My situation is pretty much the same as the one from the OP.
    I also feel that the mac mini is not a choice because I recently play games on my computer and the intel graphics are just not very good.
    Also I already got two 1920x1200 displays, so I dont want to spend money on the imac display.

    This brings me exactly to the same problem, where I also think that overshooting a problem is better then undershooting it. So I will probably go for the entry-level nMP.

    I also dont like mobile-CPUs. Its just not the same as having a full-TDP CPU in a desktop computer. Mobile GPUs are even worse compared to their desktop-parts.

    Also I really enjoy the silence and temperatures of the nMP. I read many reviews saying their iMacs go very hot when under pressure for hours. I think the mac mini will also get very hot when playing some hours on it.

    I cant make use of the multicores, so a 4core with strong single-core performance is perfect for me.
  24. N19h7m4r3 macrumors 65816


    Dec 15, 2012
    Actually the Mac Pro's are Ivy-Bridge.

    Apple never used the Sandy-Xeons.

    Although I agree with many that the Base nMP is not really worthwhile. Haswell with quick sync is much better for H.264 codec processing. It's only when you use other codecs that the Mac Pro starts to excel.

    Especially where the GPUs get going.

    If apple ever updates the Mac Mini to Haswell, and also adds a mobile dedicated GPU it would be a brilliant choice for many that are currently looking at the iMac or Base nMP.
  25. noke macrumors newbie

    Jun 25, 2014
    Yes, my thoughts exactly. I would buy it in the second I see it.

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