Maxim Glukhov

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Oct 7, 2020
25
17
Hi.

I was wondering if there are any Mac Pro owners here that use their Mac Pro primarily for software development?
If so, what type of software do you work on and did the Mac Pro improve your workflows?

I myself develop mobile apps (Android & iOS), web apps and recently started experimenting with game development (just Unity for now).
My primary machine is a maxed MacBook Pro 16 (except for storage) plugged to a Pro Display XDR, coming from an iMac 2017.
There are times where I miss the advantages of a desktop - with good thermals and silence when under load, especially when building projects. This made me wonder whether the Mac Pro would be a good improvement to the current setup.

Would love to hear your thoughts.
 

penguinlust

macrumors newbie
Dec 19, 2019
24
20
I got my 7,1 primarily for desktop software development. I work on audio software specifically in Xcode as well as a couple open source side projects utilizing the built-in compiler along with the Qt Creator framework (in one case) and several standard unix CLI tools. I went with a 16-core model with 384 GB of (third party) RAM. It's been a godsend, replacing my old 4,1 12-core with 96 GB RAM. I'm still using an old Apple 30'' cinema display.

I've got an 8-core 2019 16'' MacBook Pro as well and it's no comparison -- the Mac Pro is far superior to work on.

(Edit: I installed a Sapphire Pulse 5700XT in it for a graphics card -- not relevant to my development work, but makes the machine more capable for any gaming I want to do and I wanted to limit the monitor dongles to one as the card has a standard DP connector)
 
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aagribeiro

macrumors member
Jun 3, 2019
32
17
Mac Pro, 16 core, W5700X, 144Gb RAM, one Pro XDR, two 27 inch viewsonic monitors. I use it for mobile dev mainly, running Unity, Qt, XCode, Illustrator, Photoshop, FCP X. I just keep everything open and the Mac Pro keeps on being silent. My Macbook Pro 2018 seems like a vacuum cleaner compared to the Mac Pro.

This being said, the Mac Pro is a total overkill for what I do. In my case, it's kind of like buying a Porsche, it does the same as any other car when you drive it on a public road, but sometimes you get a big grin on your face.
 

Maxim Glukhov

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Oct 7, 2020
25
17
Thanks for the responses, that’s kinda what I was thinking.
It would probably be an overkill for some of the tasks.

I have many projects open in the same time and I like to keep them open so I can switch between them quickly when I need to.

Will probably get one after all... 😅
 

Maxim Glukhov

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Oct 7, 2020
25
17
I actually considered getting a mini, but I need an eGPU for the XDR and any graphics related work that I occasionally need to do for my projects - especially Unity.

On top of that I really don’t want to buy a Blackmagic eGPU with outdated non-upgrade hardware.
I know that I could probably use a custom eGPU but also don’t want that because of potential noise and the overall aesthetics
 

pento

macrumors member
Mar 4, 2008
72
41
I use a 2019 12-core Mac Pro for software development, and while it’s definitely a luxury pick, it is glorious. Like others have said, being able to have all of my cores maxed out and not hearing the fans blasting is a delight. No weird clamshell issues, etc.

My 2009 Mac Pro was long in the tooth, and prior to getting my 2019 Mac Pro, I did all development on recent 15” MBP models. I can’t compare it to the 16” model though. I’m a full stack developer, primarily Java and JavaScript(Node) on the backend and Angular or React on the front end. I also dabble in iOS development. Primary dev tools are IntelliJ, VSCode and Xcode.
 

Maxim Glukhov

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Oct 7, 2020
25
17
I use a 2019 12-core Mac Pro for software development, and while it’s definitely a luxury pick, it is glorious. Like others have said, being able to have all of my cores maxed out and not hearing the fans blasting is a delight. No weird clamshell issues, etc.

My 2009 Mac Pro was long in the tooth, and prior to getting my 2019 Mac Pro, I did all development on recent 15” MBP models. I can’t compare it to the 16” model though. I’m a full stack developer, primarily Java and JavaScript(Node) on the backend and Angular or React on the front end. I also dabble in iOS development. Primary dev tools are IntelliJ, VSCode and Xcode.
That’s very very similar to my use-cases - Android in Kotlin, iOS in Swift and JS(TS) for React/backend. I work mostly with IntelliJ based IDEs (if it exists for the language, I use it) and they are really resource hungry.

How did the upgrade from 15” feel?

I have a 2018 15” work MacBook and under heavy loads it starts to choke (especially with a running Simulator)
 

pento

macrumors member
Mar 4, 2008
72
41
To me, it feels night and day. Like you mentioned, IntelliJ is quite the resource hog, and it’s awesome to see it spinning up multiple threads during compilation, dependency resolution, etc., and not having to worry about dev workflows, other apps, or the OS slowing to a crawl....and did I mention it’s virtually silent?? :D

I haven’t properly put it through it’s paces with Xcode or the iPhone/iPad simulator, so I can’t comment as heavily there.
 

Maxim Glukhov

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Oct 7, 2020
25
17
To me, it feels night and day. Like you mentioned, IntelliJ is quite the resource hog, and it’s awesome to see it spinning up multiple threads during compilation, dependency resolution, etc., and not having to worry about dev workflows, other apps, or the OS slowing to a crawl....and did I mention it’s virtually silent?? :D

I haven’t properly put it through it’s paces with Xcode or the iPhone/iPad simulator, so I can’t comment as heavily there.

The good thermals and silent operation is really what made me consider the Mac Pro ;).
I haven't been looking at it since launch at all and simply admiring it from the side, but having switched to the MacBook it made me consider.
While the i9 on the MacBook can potentially turbo boost to 5GHz, it won't stay there long because it gets hot and the fans spin up which is a bummer.

I plan on getting either 12 or 16 core to maintain high single core performance since not all compilation tasks can run in parallel, I think it's a good balance.
From what I read, IntelliJ IDEs are really well optimised for multi-core usage for tasks like indexing.
 
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thexash

macrumors member
Jan 19, 2020
49
19
Here's my 2c,

I have a 28c, 192GB RAM, 1TB (Apple) + 2TB (2x1TB nvme), the 580X and I have a MBP 16" 8c i9, 2TB SSB, 32GB RAM. I work on fairly large Java (in IJ) & C++ projects mostly (~100K-1M lines of code depending on the projects).

From what I've seen the Mac Pro 16c single thread perf are the same as the Mac Pro 28c - remember that they would both turbo boost the about the same frequency as long as there's enough thermal head room. And anyway, from my first hand experience the single threaded perf of the 28c Mac Pro is just better than the i9 in the MBP 16" (5-10%, and if the MBP throttle all bets are off).

The multi-core performance is just not comparable... the 28c is about 3-4x quicker (vs the MBP) in almost everything I do regularly, that is compile large projects and process large datasets. I'm talking a 3m build time on the 28c for something that takes 15minutes on the MBP 16", or another task that takes 5m on the 28c vs almost 40m on the MBP (I assume the difference is higher because the MBP throttles at some point whereas the desktop doesnt). That makes a huge difference in productivity.

As a dev machine I've seen quite a few ppl comment that incremental builds are what matter and that for that there's little difference - and its true that the Mac Pro isn't much quicker for that particular use case. But, I would also add that now that my full builds take 3/5m vs 15/45mins I can actually do code refactoring or anything that touch large part of the code base without thinking about it. One issue that seems to be often overlooked is that if you have large C/C++/ObjC/Swift/Java projects and you refactor a dependency than you often get a full (or almost full) rebuild, if your full build takes more than 10m then you're going to be very reluctant to do those refactoring or add features in those places. With the Mac Pro its a non issue (or any machine with a lot of cores...), that changes the way you work.

On top of that you can have a heavy build / task in the bg and still use the machine for normal tasks without any issue, which is a big plus. On the MBP a heavy bg tasks makes the machine unusable for anything else, with the added bonus of making it sound like its going to take off.

The Mac Pro is also always silent, and stays up for usually 20-30 days at a time - it reboots mostly for OS or hardware upgrades.
 
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Krevnik

macrumors 68040
Sep 8, 2003
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I got a Mac Pro for a mix of software development and some hobby stuff. CAD and Photography work, which both benefit from something better than the Intel iGPUs in my case.

I went with the 12c mostly because my personal work is smaller scale than my professional work, and my professional work is done on equipment I don't have to pay for. Although there are a few times I really would have liked a 28c system for my professional work. I've worked on projects where the only full build you ever wanted to do was an overnight build.

But currently, my work machine is a 16" MBP and I tried to use a Mac Mini for the home setup. I'm not a fan of either for two reasons:

* MBP is noisy under load, and running a clean compile that takes even just 2-5 minutes will cause it to run at full tilt. And the battery lasts barely longer than 2 hours doing a lot of compiles and running an iOS or Android simulator, so it's generally tethered anyways.
* Mac Mini really needed an eGPU in my case, and it was just a mixed bag using an eGPU. It worked, but wasn't terribly stable compared to a Mac Pro or iMac with a dGPU in my particular setup. When my finances allowed me to stretch and grab the Mac Pro, I was effectively paying to not have to fiddle with the system every day or so and getting derailed from whatever I was working on. Assuming this is for professional work, this sort of thing seems even more important, because having to fiddle with cables/etc is a great way to lose time and money.

I mostly only hear the fans in the Mac Pro when the GPU is under full load for a few minutes. The 580X wasn't loud under full load, but it was not nearly as fast. The fans don't spin up for the CPU at all.

The Mini is also quiet enough under full load that I wouldn't mind using it if the 6-core CPU is good enough for the size project you work on, and it's in the same ballpark as the i9 16" MBP. But that iGPU is the real killer if you happen to need some oomph there. I'm kinda hoping Apple Silicon makes the Mini better in the graphics department. Who knows.
 
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Maxim Glukhov

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Oct 7, 2020
25
17
Thanks for sharing your experiences, it definitely makes a lot of sense to me and highlights the benefits of this machine.
16c will be the best choice atm in terms of performance and price. If I require more cores down the road (although I doubt that) I can always replace the CPU :)

I thinking about upgrading to the W5700X for GPU work (Unity and maybe some lite gaming occasionally). Also heard that it can provide USB3 speeds through the Pro Display although I am skeptical as I read that it might not be the case.
 

eflx

macrumors regular
May 14, 2020
171
170
I'm predominantly a cloud-app developer myself, and also tackle mobile development. You can't go wrong with this Mac Pro setup FYI. Even if it's a bit overkill outside of compiling some software; it's nice and quiet. Expandable, and I can run dual XDR displays no issue.

In my case, I tried the W5700X and I was seeing a bit of graphical glitching when used with dual XDR's on boot screens, recovery menus, and the corners of some of the windows instead of being round had a weird square glitch in and out of view sporadically. I went with the Vega II and no issues at all since ... sadly, I wish the W5700X didn't do that as it had advantages in some ways and was a snappy card overall at a good price point.

Ended up myself with the 12core, 96GB RAM, 1TB SSD and single Vega II 32GB - wouldn't use anything else at the moment.
 
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Maxim Glukhov

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Oct 7, 2020
25
17
I did it, placed my order on a 16c, 1TB, W5700X. Will get 6x16 3rd party ram.
Super excited to experience the capabilities of this machine 😬
Thanks everyone for your input, it was very useful to me 😄
 

codehead1

macrumors regular
Oct 31, 2011
108
91
I did it, placed my order on a 16c, 1TB, W5700X. Will get 6x16 3rd party ram.
Nearly identical to the way I went (except 2TB). Software development also, among other things. I fully admit to paying to the extreme for a dead-quiet computer. Primarily for that reason I don't feel I overpaid, worth every penny 😅
 
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Maxim Glukhov

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Oct 7, 2020
25
17
Nearly identical to the way I went (except 2TB). Software development also, among other things. I fully admit to paying to the extreme for a dead-quiet computer. Primarily for that reason I don't feel I overpaid, worth every penny 😅

I considered 2TB at first but honestly never reached the 1TB I had on my previous computers (software is mostly text afterall).

But I do believe this machine will last for a few years and I will probably experiment with other stuff too. So if I do max out the 1TB, I’ll expand with more NVMe SSD.

Gotta say, it’s nice knowing that I can do this later without buying a new machine 😉
 
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codehead1

macrumors regular
Oct 31, 2011
108
91
I considered 2TB at first but honestly never reached the 1TB I had on my previous computers (software is mostly text afterall).
I went with 2TB because I was habitually fighting filling up my old Mac's 1TB—offloading audio plugins and sample libraries to another drive, etc. Life is simpler when you can install them on the system drive. But yeah, otherwise 1TB and NVMe expansion as needed is best for most—a more realistic size and significantly faster than 256MB, since 256 uses only a single slot.
 
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