Most cost effective 5.1 upgrade: 12 core or GTX980?

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by js2704, Jun 25, 2015.

  1. js2704 macrumors member

    Joined:
    May 20, 2015
    #1
    I've gradually been upgrading my 5.1 over the years and I think I'm now running out of options - it has 24GB of RAM so never swaps and most of the data is on SSD apart from boot which is on an SM951 (and that's great, by the way).

    So that leaves swapping the processors - it's an 8-core 2.4 - or the graphics card, which is the standard 5770.

    Assuming a broadly similar cost, my options would seem to be a GTX980 (I don't need a boot screen) or upgrading the processors to 2 x 6-core x5690s.

    Usage is basically office during the day, ripping DVDs, a bit of photography and having one decent game on the go at any given point in time (e.g. Diablo III).

    It's driving a 2560x1440 monitor (the new Dell 25", which I'd thoroughly recommend).

    Any advice welcome...
     
  2. IowaLynn macrumors 6502a

    IowaLynn

    Joined:
    Feb 22, 2015
    #2
    3.2GHz 8-core or even single socet 6-core 3.4GHz probably. Not GTX980 (maybe 960 later?)
     
  3. lewnworxx macrumors member

    Joined:
    Mar 19, 2015
    #3
    Having upgraded both, here's my $0.02:

    First, (since you mentioned cost effective), the 980 isn't all that much faster than a 970, and the 970's are substantially cheaper (like 3/5th or less) than a 980. I have 4 of them (2 Evga 970 ACX 2.0 FTW and 2 ACX 2.0 SC's), and if you're patient you can pick them up new off eBay for around $300.

    The procs can be had off eBay for around 220-245. I got mine locally from one of the eBay server parts vendors.

    However there isn't a huge performance delta between the 3.46 5690's and the 5680's, and the 5680's are a fair bit less expensive than the 3.46 5690's. I went with the 90's simply because the eBay seller was local and I didn't have to pay shipping by picking them up and they didn't have any 80's in stock.

    In use, both upgrades make a large improvement. I use mine mainly for 3d modeling and Cuda based rendering, so the GPU's made a massive difference, so I did them first. You've already done the SSD, and I'm guessing you're either on a GT120 or a GTX285.

    For your usage (particularly DVD ripping), I'd do the procs first then the card, however if you went with 5680's instead of the 90's you'd be pretty close to having enough left over to snag a 970 to boot, and that would net you a very capable system at a great bang for the buck ratio.
     
  4. auhlixer macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Apr 15, 2006
    Location:
    Philadelphia, PA
    #4
    The U2515H?
     
  5. auhlixer macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Apr 15, 2006
    Location:
    Philadelphia, PA
    #5
    What 3d modeling software do you use?
     
  6. h9826790 macrumors 604

    h9826790

    Joined:
    Apr 3, 2014
    Location:
    Hong Kong
    #6
    It seems that you will benefit form the CPU upgrade more than the GPU upgrade.
     
  7. lewnworxx macrumors member

    Joined:
    Mar 19, 2015
    #7
    For modeling, Mac Rhino, which despite some funky Mac version derived from window version derived from command line version UI conventions, is probably one of the most solid modelling apps I've ever used on the Mac platform, and I've used the gamut of them going back some 22 years now. It kicks the snot out of autocad Mac hands down. There's some annoyances to be sure, mostly in the online help being not completely converted from the windows version, but in terms of the tools implementation it's very solid, and is very stable.

    It is missing plugin support so it doesn't have grasshopper, or any of the 3rd party renderers yet and the built in renderer is ok for very basic stills, but I really don't even use it. Paneling tools aren't in the release, but are in the WIP builds, which you can use as long as your have a valid license. The intro pricing is good through sept 15th and at $275 is a friggin steal. The window version is $995 (although it does have plugins and a script debugger.

    The Mac version does have scripting support via Atom and iron python, although I haven't had time to explore that much. The user community and forum support is surprisingly good, better than I would have expected, actually.

    For rendering I'm using blender's cycles engine. I export as obj's out of rhino, bring that into blender and assign materials and set up the animation stuff and render with 2 cMP's with dual GTX 970's. It's not the fastest engine, and does lack dispersion, but you can work around that pretty easily via the node editor and get some very usable dispersion looks if your clever with the node programming. It does have quite an odd UI which takes a bit of getting used to. A lot of folks have complained about the render speeds, but it has very good support for multipass rendering and if you know how to leverage that along with a quite robust compositing engine you can slice render times down dramatically, literally to fractions of what you'd take with a single pass. It's physics engine is quite solid, it's script ability is very good, and for an open source platform it's pretty astounding as to what all is under the hood. It's also extremely solid. Never had it crash once in dozens of projects, which is way more than I can say for quite a few multi kilo buck "professional" products I've used over the years. (cough cough ****cad, cough cough F***Z, cough cough cough cough E**S).

    For what I'm doing it's a very good combination of tools and workflow. So much so that I haven't needed to fire up after effects for post work since I started using them.
     
  8. auhlixer macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Apr 15, 2006
    Location:
    Philadelphia, PA
    #8
    I tried rhino when I worked with a designer who used it. I thought it was cool but a lot like auto cad but with better tools and better versions of tools auto cad had. A few years before that I learned Inventor and have been using it since. It seems autodesk 360 is their built from scratch replacement of the pc version but is slowly gaining new features every so often.

    For rendering I am using/learning Modo which i love in so many ways but not proficient yet. Also there are hoops to jump through to get what i did in Inventor into Modo. I am thinking about selling my new 2.5k mbp and get a used cMp 12 core to make rendering quicker so I can learn quicker.....
     
  9. lewnworxx macrumors member

    Joined:
    Mar 19, 2015
    #9
    One of the real bennies to cycles is the ability to render on the gpu via cuda. Even with dual 3.46's in my box CPU rendering for most of my stuff tends to run in the 15 minutes and up per frame range on CPU renders. On the dual 970's GPUs I'm using that drops to 2-3 at most. With both boxes rendering (the second is a stock 5.1 with 8gb ram and a pair of 970's as well) I can crank out a 600 frame render in 8-9 hours. One thing I was pleasantly surprised by is how easy network rendering is for small farms. You just share a network drive that has the project and a folder to dump frames into, set the render properties to placeholder and don't overwrite, open the project on all the boxes and hit render. Back when I was using EI you had to have a render master, a slave client on each node, and spool out a render control file and pray it actually worked, and most of the time it didn't. Any plugins that had any temporal referencing going on (physics sims, fluid stuff, etc. More often than not just not work at all). It was a pita to use even when it did work.

    I'd toyed with some of the other 3rd party renderers for blender, but they really weren't all that much faster, didn't integrate well, and in many cases were actually way slower. For what I'm doing it just wasn't with the pita factor to mess with them. Cycles has a few shortcomings (no dispersion, certain types of smoke sims won't render on GPUs yet), but you can easily fake the dispersion pretty accurately with some node setup tricks. It's astonishingly fast if you don't need IOR or SSS. I've done a few grass field fly overs with several million polys worth of vegetation at 1920x1080 and had frame render times of 65 seconds.

    And, you can't argue with the cost. I remember paying 5k for EIAS a decade ago and adding another few kilobucks worth of plugins just to be able to get usable footage out of it. Blender is zero. I'm so impressed with it I've donated to the blender foundation to help with ongoing development.
     
  10. PowerMike G5 macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Oct 22, 2005
    Location:
    New York, NY
    #10
    As I've also went through this and upgraded both CPU and GPU to the specs you want (and my boot is the SM951), I can attest to the speed difference you will feel with these upgrades.

    Ultimately, a lot will come down to the programs you use. With my main uses with Adobe CC, I can utilize all cores and CUDA rendering with the 980, so all the upgrades are worth it.

    It seems that you would benefit more from the CPU upgrades to start.
     
  11. auhlixer macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Apr 15, 2006
    Location:
    Philadelphia, PA
    #11

    Modo is pretty fast, loads faster than 3dmax. It also lets you have unlimited slaved nodes. Not sure if the newer version support cuda or OpenCL other then some renderman feature they use of theirs.
     
  12. js2704 thread starter macrumors member

    Joined:
    May 20, 2015
    #12
    Yes, that's it - very impressed; I only went up from the 2313UH but the difference is night and day.

    I'd tried one of the no-name eBay imports and it was horrendous - shiny, poor build quality and with shaky stand. The Dell's in a different league, and the 2" smaller screen just sharpens things up ever so slightly over the 27".
     
  13. iBuildMacs macrumors member

    iBuildMacs

    Joined:
    Dec 29, 2014
    #13
    If your budget can handle only one, I recommend getting a balance because the 5770 has almost zero performance and the benchmarks of the 8-core 2.4GHz are minimal.

    Maybe going with a 12-core 2.66GHz with a GTX 680 or 970. That will increase your benchmarks by 40% and give you 1500 CUDA cores and a lot more overall processing power.
     

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