Mac Pro as Windows 7 Workstation recommended?

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by needlz, Nov 11, 2009.

  1. needlz macrumors member

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    May 14, 2008
    Location:
    Zurich, Switzerland
    #1
    Hello,

    I need a new workstation for developing heavy Windows Applications (.NET/WPF/Silverlight).
    After comparing Workstations from Dell, HP etc. I also checked the Mac Pro Series - and it looks like a really good competitor to the other PC Machines (yes, even the Price if you consider that it's a Workstation).

    Now my question is: How stable are the Boot Camp drivers for Windows 7 (and maybe XP)? Will I notice any problems on the Mac Pro which wouldn't show up if I take a PC Workstation?

    Any input is appreciated.

    Cheers
     
  2. frimple macrumors 6502

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    Nov 18, 2008
    Location:
    Denver, CO
    #2
    Well considering you can build your own workstation that will preform better and cost less why not go that route?
     
  3. needlz thread starter macrumors member

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    May 14, 2008
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    Zurich, Switzerland
    #3
    At the moment situation it's more expensive for us to build a custom system (warranty, single point of contact, time for assembly & configuration, fast replacement in case a workstation drops out)..
     
  4. BHamilton macrumors newbie

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    Nov 7, 2009
    Location:
    Canada
    #4
    We use Mac Pro's as forensics workstations. They run Win 7 and are rock solid. There are only a handful of systems that have been certified by Government labs to run Win 7, the Mac Pro is one of them.
     
  5. maven8 macrumors member

    Joined:
    Nov 30, 2007
    #5
    It works perfectly fine. The bootcamp drivers are stable, though in some cases seem to be pretty old, or bare bones. For example by randomly browsing the Intel site, I found that there were newer ethernet drivers, something that windows update doesn't pick up on.
     
  6. wibongo macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Mar 22, 2009
    #6
    They are rock solid and fast with Windows 7. You don't really NEED to install the Bootcamp windows drivers, Windows 7 has all the built in drivers for 2009 MacPros. Unless you are using an Apple wireless keyboard, mouse or cinema display you can skip them. There is supposed to be an update to Bootcamp drivers before the end of this year with proper Windows 7 drivers. The ones included on the Snow Leopard DVD should work fine, however until the update.

    Be sure if you have a dual CPU Mac Pro you get the business or ultimate version of Windows 7, all other versions are for single CPU systems.
     
  7. needlz thread starter macrumors member

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    #7
    Thanks guys for all the answers. We ended up buying a Mac Pro and we're very pleased with the performance and stability. Maybe a faster HDD, but well, there's always something to moan about ;)

    Cheers
     
  8. gugucom macrumors 68020

    gugucom

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    May 21, 2009
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    #8
    The main difference is that the Mac Pro has EFI firmware instead of Bios. It means you will never get advanced features that are Bios activated.
     
  9. nanofrog macrumors G4

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    May 6, 2008
    #9
    The system's already purchased though :(, as I was going to recommend getting either a Dell, HP, or Sun instead, due to the single point of contact requirement if a problem were to arise.

    There would have been additional options as well (graphics cards, faster RAM, RAID,...), including support, over an MP.
     
  10. needlz thread starter macrumors member

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    Zurich, Switzerland
    #10
    I actually don't need access to those features.

    You're right, Dell, HP etc. are playing in a much higher league concerning warranty/business support. All our other machines are from HP and we are very satisfied with their service. Because of that (and some other reasons) we have bought another HP Workstation too.. in case the MacPro would disappoint us somehow - but until now, the HP didn't get touched.

    And finally, to be honest, I guess the child in me also pushed a little to go for the MacPro... :)
     
  11. nanofrog macrumors G4

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    May 6, 2008
    #11
    The lack of firmware access can be gotten around, but it usually requires some additional hardware, adding both cost in financial terms, and potential use of PCIe slots.

    The inability to set AHCI mode via firmware is one of the biggest PITA's in this regard. :( Ports available (ODD_SATA), but can't be used for booting Windows drives ('06 - '08 systems). They've managed to fix it in the '09's, but eliminate the IDE ports previously used for optical drives. Perhaps small, or inconsequential to some, but a major headache for others.

    All three brands mentioned produce good systems, and the hardware and support options are better. Cost is too in some cases, but competitive advantages make up for it in instances where the MP may be a bit cheaper. Namely the memory bandwidth and capacity, accessible firmware, and no need for adapters to use an internal RAID card with the HDD bays.

    Apple blew it this time around, when they limited the DIMM slot count, and fixed the mulitplier. :( It may not be an issue for you, but for say simulations on a workstation, it matters. Other solutions would be a better fit in such instances, and also allows the system to have the potential to last longer, when software catches up (general use better utilizes the available memory bandwidth). Capacity is already an issue IMO, as the MP's force larger capacity DIMMs much sooner than the competing systems, increasing overall system cost.
     
  12. Tesselator macrumors 601

    Tesselator

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    Japan
    #12
    Also I think Windows on a Mac Pro isn't running as fast as Windows on identical hardware (except for MB manufacturer obviously). I haven't timed anything but my PCs boot up in about 1/20 the time and run everything a bit faster too. maybe 1.2 times the speed as on a Mac Pro running boot camp.
     
  13. nanofrog macrumors G4

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    #13
    Any BIOS based cards loading when you launch windows?

    BIOS emulation portion of the EFI launching would slow you down.
     
  14. Infrared macrumors 68000

    Infrared

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    Mar 28, 2007
    #14
    Why would that be, do you think?

    I suspect there's a double POST.

    Something I've wondered about: how common is the emulated
    BIOS in non-Mac machines? I've seen sporadic references to it.
     
  15. iamcheerful macrumors 6502

    iamcheerful

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    Oct 3, 2008
    #15
    Something like this?
     
  16. Tesselator macrumors 601

    Tesselator

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    Japan
    #16
    The only card is the 7300GT that came with the machine.

    No idea. But the system feels sluggish whereas the PCs seem very snappy-er-ish. ;P
     
  17. gugucom macrumors 68020

    gugucom

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    #17
    I mentioned advanced Bios settings.

    1. You have to consider that many SATA devices will run faster in AHCI than in legacy mode.

    2. Memory will generally run optimized when BIOS will be allowed to negotiate between the controller and the SPD. Apple hard codes multipliers in the EFI.

    3. You can generally access clocks with more ease.

    4. Additional CPU and GPU (SLI Crossfire) capabilities may be used that Apple disregards.

    Apple is also known to bottle neck systems by silly design compromises. For instance the number of DIMM slots or the way the PCIe lanes are restricted in Nehalems.
     
  18. nanofrog macrumors G4

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    #18
    Sort of. I see it as POST, translate, POST, so even longer. And given the historical latency added to emulation, it's not as quick as native/optimized code.

    It would only load when launching Windows with BIOS devices.

    This could very well be an issue for many, especially in the newer forms of Windows. Drives matter substantially as well.

    This won't matter for most, unless their software can make use of the unaccessible bandwidth.

    Depends on the system. DIY, almost certainly on the SP Nehalem systems. DP, no, as an enthusiast DP board hasn't released yet. Planned yes, but seems on again, off again. They may surface once the Gulftowns ship.

    As for ready made workstation and servers, not likely on SP systems, lest they use a retail board that supports it. Servers, NO. Not at all.

    Maybe. It depends on the PC and MP used in the comparison. But assuming niether has multiple graphics cards, and there's a performance advantage on the PC, it's more likely HDD throughput, and optimizations (better drivers than those available in Boot Camp for the system devices/components). Apple writes them as I understand it, and they're not that wonderful at it. Even for their own OS (especially graphics). :eek: :p
     
  19. Infrared macrumors 68000

    Infrared

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    Mar 28, 2007
    #19
    5. Secret EFI code that intentionally cripples Windows performance to make
    Windows look bad in relation to OS X ;-)
     
  20. nanofrog macrumors G4

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    May 6, 2008
    #20
    LOL. :D

    The sad thing is, if it's possible and would fit in the ROM, they could have. :eek: :D :p
     
  21. Transporteur macrumors 68030

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    Nov 30, 2008
    Location:
    UK
    #21
    I don't think they really did it.
    The MBP was once the fastest Vista notebook on the market. It wouldn't have reached that goal with a crippled EFI. ;)


    Anyway, my own experience with Windows 7 on the MacPro is mixed.
    All my FireWire ports don't work with Windows 7 and the NICs don't support auto-sensing, what they definitely do OS X.
     
  22. nanofrog macrumors G4

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    May 6, 2008
    #22
    Nor do I. Doesn't mean I don't appreciate a joke though. :D

    BIOS Emulation changes makes much more sense as a real cause to me.

    Apple is claiming Boot Camp 3.1 is the official version that will support Win7. So there's a good chance it could contain updated drivers to solve your issues. Those with BT keyboards seem to be having problems too, given a couple of posts (or so).

    Now when they'll actually release it, I've no idea. I'd have thought it would be out by now. Perhaps it's not as solid as they expected when the announcement was made. :confused:
     

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