Mac Pro Overkill for Development?

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by Kryckter, Dec 9, 2010.

  1. Kryckter macrumors 6502


    Mar 12, 2009
    I am a serious iOS developer with many apps available. Over the years, my trusty macbook pro has done me well. Now, my projects are getting larger and alot more complex, and in turn they are taking longer and longer to load and compile on my 2 year old macbook pro. I am also looking at developing more client/server architecture in my apps with testing happening locally on the machine, and some localized servers can be memory hogs...

    Is a Mac Pro overkill for this scenario? I would be looking at the 6 core system, upgrading myself with OWC memory to 16gb, and some SSD's for storage, even though my storage requirements are very small.

    Im not really worried about graphics, I have a PC that I use for gaming. I dont really do any video editing, and I do very light photo editing for my applications. Nothing serious on the photo editing, but I imagine I could become more of a moderate user, no really large files, as this is mobile development.

    So whats the opinions, would it be worth the money to get a nice Mac Pro with dual monitors for development, or am I jsut wasting my money and a i3 or i5 iMac would be more then enough for Xcode development?

    Thanks for the input! :D
  2. johnnymg macrumors 65816


    Nov 16, 2008
    With "no really large files" it kind of implies that you won't gain much from a MP. The MP excels in expandability and customization.

    Unless you have $'s to burn the i7 imac sounds like a pretty good solution. The i7 will be significantly faster than your MBP but surprisingly NOT much slower than the MP for what you're doing.

    That said, here's another MR user asking a similar question re xcode development and the MacPro. Probably worth reading this thread:

    Congrats on the successful app biz
  3. zachsilvey macrumors 6502

    Feb 5, 2008
    Battle Ground
    Power-Wise the Mac Pro will be overkill of the actually "development" side. But in my experience there is quite a bit of Photoshop/Illustrator/Maya work when it comes to developing apps. In that case the Mac Pro would make sense.

    I personally continue to use a Mac Pro as my desktop machine because of the multi-monitor ability. I run 4 24 inch monitors which may seem ridiculous but it is very handy to be able to have XCode, Documentation, iPhone/iPad Simulator and misc on their own monitors especially if you have them mounted on arms that can be swiveled 90 degrees.

    Realistically a Mac Mini would be plenty to develop.
  4. cutterman macrumors regular

    Apr 27, 2010
    I am not a developer but have compiled apps using the macport system. On a 12 core MP, the gcc compiler is one of the few apps I have observed that actually will pin every processor to 100% when running. Point is it should scale well with more cores. If your projects are getting larger and your time is valuable than the 6 core MP is worth considering.

    I guess it boils down to your budget. If this is a pure business decision than an iMac or even Mac mini is the best choice. Otherwise get the MP :).
  5. jonnymo5 macrumors 6502

    Jan 21, 2008
    I have done iOS development and the Mac Pro is definitely overkill for development. The only reason I could see a need for it is if your server required it but chances are you aren't going to have customers connecting to a server running on your desktop so an iMac should be more than enough. I have a server, client, and regression suite all running on a MBP i7 with no trouble.

    Get the Mac Pro if you want lots of monitors or you need it to act as a build server for a team. If you are a solo shop then you won't need it.

    On the other hand, if you can afford it then it is a damn sweet machine.
  6. simplymuzik3 macrumors 6502a

    Jan 29, 2009
    I use pretty much the same system that you mentioned for my iOS development. The main reason for getting one in my case, was multi-monitors. I used to have USB > DVI adapters and run 3 monitors off my MBP with those, but it was just not going to cut it. The 6 cores also compiles WAY faster than my MBP. For a moderate project in my case, my MBP would take about 3 mins (2.26 Core2Duo), and MP does it in about 20 seconds!
  7. goMac macrumors 603

    Apr 15, 2004
    Not overkill.

    I'm a Mac/iOS developer and I definitely prefer working on my Mac Pro to my Macbook Pro. Larger screen size, more responsive, and faster compile times. It just makes going back and forth between writing code and debugging that much more seemless. Plus the failure rates on Mac Pros is lower.

    I have an 8 core and it works well. A 6 core would probably do fine, but XCode is one of those apps that will actually use as many cores as it can get.
  8. scotttaylor macrumors newbie

    Aug 15, 2010
    I'm not currently doing iOS development so this isn't an Apples to Apples comparison (no pun intended ;-) although I have done some recent MacOS Cocoa/OpenGL work using Xcode. I have been doing software development consulting work for almost 20 years now. I currently do a lot of .NET development, mostly WinForms and WPF stuff for medical and engineering type applications. I've been using an early 2008 MacPro for close to three years now and it still feels like a snappy machine. I typically run multiple virtual machines simultaneously along with a number of MacOS apps and the MacPro is able to handle everything I throw at it. RAM is key here, don't skimp on RAM. I have 16G and would consider 24G in my next machine.

    Another way to look at the analysis is not so much based on exactly what you need today but what you might be doing 2-3 years down the road. More apps will be multi-threaded. Existing apps will require more CPU, etc. Whatever changes come along in the next 2-3 years I know a new MacPro will be ready to handle it...

    I've never owned a machine for as long as I have my 2008 MP without feeling the need to upgrade. Top-of-the-line MP's might seem expensive, but they are an investment and hold their value remarkably well.
  9. holmesf macrumors 6502a

    Sep 30, 2001
    Unfortunately XCode is horrendously inefficient, so a Mac Pro may not be overkill. Sometimes XCode will be using 100% CPU just to download documentation :mad:

    I find that the Mac Pro makes for a good investment, regardless. My 2006 Mac Pro runs fine and still beats most of Apple's current offerings at geekbench.
  10. goMac macrumors 603

    Apr 15, 2004
    I've never had this issue... XCode has run fine for me... All the way back to my 400 mhz G3.
  11. holmesf macrumors 6502a

    Sep 30, 2001
    XCode definitely used to work fine on my 667MHz G4 back in the day. I feel like the quality has gone way done.
  12. goMac macrumors 603

    Apr 15, 2004
    I've noticed some speed issues in XC4 (which is still in beta), but XC3 has run perfect for me on all my machines, from my old Powerbook 1.25 to my Mac Mini, to my Mac Pro.

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