Mac Pro Buying advice (as well as timing)

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by zeff, May 3, 2010.

  1. zeff macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Apr 21, 2010
    Location:
    Texas
    #1
    Okay,

    I'm in the market for a new Mac Pro. I don't currently own one so this will be my first. I do get an Apple discount, and with my budget (and the discount) the current MP 8-Core 2.26 GHz system with a 4870 and 16 GB of RAM JUST squeezes into my budget.

    But, if I were to try and configure a Quad-core system with a bump in processor speed and get somewhere near the same RAM with the 4870, my budget is busted.

    Here are my concerns:

    1 - The new Mac Pros that will come out will bust my budget with the new 8-Core systems (even though it may be a speed bump to 2.66 GHz and a 17% improvement).

    2 - A single processor configuration in the new 2010 MP that is bumped to a 6 core system will bust my budget.

    3 - When the new MPs come out, and I find that the two above are true, that I can't use my Apple discount to buy the current systems since they won't be sold by Apple anymore. (NOTE: Apple Discounts don't apply to refurbished systems. Only new systems).

    So, what would be everyone's recommendation? Buy now? Or wait?

    Any advice would be GREATLY appreciated!

    Cheers,
    zeff

    p.s. I love doing technical computing and using multiple cores and running as many processes as possible.
     
  2. nanofrog macrumors G4

    Joined:
    May 6, 2008
    #2
    What exactly will you be doing with the system?

    We'd need the details to help put you in the right direction, as there's limitations with both the Quad and Octad you're looking at (base on either).

    I did notice the last line in your post, but it's so vague, it's not able to be of any use. :(

    BTW, take a look at how the refurbished systems compare with your discount on new ones. And if you really do need an Octad, take a serious look at the '08 3.2GHz Octad available in the refurb section of the Apple store site. It outperforms the base '09 Octad for the same $$$ (MSRP on the '09).
     
  3. zeff thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Apr 21, 2010
    Location:
    Texas
    #3
    Hi nanofrog,

    I do physics algorithms with parallel processes with 12+ processes. A lot of distributed computing which will be localized to the multi-core mac.

    The cost of the '08 system ends up being more than what I could get for the current MPs. I'm guessing the speed increase of the '08 puts it just above the Nehalem architectural improvements? I would think the Nehalem architecture and L3 cache would be better and more efficient (even though it's a slower speed).

    Cheers,
    zeff
     
  4. macuserx86 macrumors 6502a

    macuserx86

    Joined:
    Jun 12, 2006
    #4
    Don't buy the RAM from Apple.

    the nehalem CPUs have hyperthreading which means you get 8 physical cores plus 8 virtual cores; this will benefit you a lot if you do heavily multithreaded computing.
     
  5. TheStrudel macrumors 65816

    TheStrudel

    Joined:
    Jan 5, 2008
    #5
    This. If there's any component you can buy from a third party, don't buy it from . Apple overcharges for RAM, HDDs like crazy.

    I think you have little to lose by waiting, because if you had money to waste on 's RAM prices, you can definitely absorb any raised price in the new low-end machine.

    Also...you can always buy RAM, HDDs, or video cards later. In fact, it makes far more sense to bump your processor(s) in the beginning than it does to bump your RAM first. Ram will get cheaper over time (to a point; FB-DIMMs being the exception since they're not used in Mac Pros any more).
     
  6. VirtualRain macrumors 603

    VirtualRain

    Joined:
    Aug 1, 2008
    Location:
    Vancouver, BC
    #6
    If your workload is memory intensive, definitely go with the Nehalem... it's memory architecture is vastly improved over the FB-DIMM architecture in the 08's.

    It sounds like you are one of the few who can utilize an 8-core setup. Therefore, I think you are on the right track with the 8x2.26.

    If you can't afford higher clocks on the 8-core, I think your only other avenue is to wait and see what the pricing is like on a single socket 6-core Gulftown with 12GB (in tri-channel config). The 6-core with hyperthreading (12-virtual cores) might digest your 12-process physics workload nicely. :)
     
  7. nanofrog macrumors G4

    Joined:
    May 6, 2008
    #7
    Well, you definitely would be able to use the core count in an Octad.

    As per whether or not Nehalem is the better choice, it still comes down to the software, in terms of Hyper Threading and triple channel DDR3 (currently, not much is, but you're usage is in an area that it might).

    So depending on what the specific software is capable of, the faster clock of the '08 system may be the better way to go. If the Nehalem architecture is leveraged to it's fullest potential, then that may be the better route.

    Obviously budget is an issue, but it might be in your best interest to research the software, and consider very carefully which Octad is going to give you the best performance for your money (i.e. put away the additional cash if necessary, and quickly).

    As mentioned, get any upgrades such as HDD's, RAM, graphics (Flash or Injector method will save a significant bit of funds) or even RAID via 3rd party suppliers. It's notably cheaper, especially if you need a hardware based RAID system.

    Below a chart that might help (Cinebench 10.1). I know it's not the software you're using, but it has enough similarities to warrant a comparison (multi-threaded, but can't utilize Nehalem's memory architecture fully).
     

    Attached Files:

  8. strausd macrumors 68030

    Joined:
    Jul 11, 2008
    Location:
    Texas
    #8
    Some people say that the prices of the next MP may not change, so you might want to consider waiting.
     
  9. zeff thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Apr 21, 2010
    Location:
    Texas
    #9
    Thanks everyone for all the information and advice. I honestly hadn't considered buying HDD/RAM/and other items elsewhere. This definitely helps out. And, with the possibility of prices being within the same range, I'm now convinced I should just wait.

    Thanks!

    zeff
     
  10. wisty macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Feb 18, 2009
    #10
    Apple RAM has a reputation for being very pricey. It's EEC, so it's a little expensive no matter what (and EEC does matter if you have lots of RAM and don't want cosmic rays to mess up your numbers), but I think you can get it cheaper elsewhere.

    I'm wondering though - why Apple? At the moment, Apple seems to be very pricey for raw number crunching. It was cheaper than Dell when they were both cutting edge, but it's end of cycle. I think Dell boxes are now either faster or cheaper. You might be able to get a Linux workstation for less.
     
  11. macuserx86 macrumors 6502a

    macuserx86

    Joined:
    Jun 12, 2006
    #11
    or he could build a linux/windows box.

    I'd honestly recommend OP build his own computer unless he really needs OS X. If that were the case, I wouldn't really recommend hackintoshing since it's still not a perfect science.

    What applications are you going to be running OP?
     
  12. zeff thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Apr 21, 2010
    Location:
    Texas
    #12
    Hello Wisty and macuserx86,

    The reason is simply that I want a Mac. With the Mac I can put on any number of OSs. Also, my sig-o would like me to get a Mac instead of another box she can't/won't use. Since I'm not into building a hackintosh, I don't see a reason not to get a Mac Pro.

    Cheers,
    zeff
     
  13. macuserx86 macrumors 6502a

    macuserx86

    Joined:
    Jun 12, 2006
    #13
    Sounds good! I just like to make sure that anyone who's looking at a Mac Pro actually wants/needs it, since a custom build is much cheaper.

    What kind of technical computing are you planning on doing? Folding@home or BOINC stuff? Something more complex? I'm curious to know.
     

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