Nehalem Mac Pros Arrive: Unboxing and Benchmarks

MacRumors

macrumors bot
Original poster
Apr 12, 2001
48,589
10,043



MacRumors forum user WonderSausage received his 2009 Nehalem Mac Pro yesterday. The system was configured as a Dual 2.93GHz Quad-Core system with 6GB of RAM and an ATI Radeon HD 4870 card. Additional high quality photos posted to Flickr with commentary in the discussion thread.

The early GeekBench benchmark for the Nehalem system gave a whopping total score of 17,665, placing it at the very top of the list of all GeekBench 2 scores. The previous #1 placeholder was a Sun Microsystems Sun Fire X4450. This also eclipses the results of the previous top-of-the-line 3.2GHz 8-core Mac Pro which delivers a score as high as 11,030 but with many results in the 9,000 range. As expected, the largest gains in the new systems revolved around multi-threaded functions and memory performance. To give some more perspective on this value, see GeekBench's cumulative table of all Mac performance benchmarks as of January 2009.

Meanwhile, another reader was able to benchmark his Nehalem 2.26GHz Mac Pro which resulted in a Geekbench score of 11226-13113. Again the Nehalem processors excelled at multi-threaded tasks but the raw clock speed of the 2.26GHz processor was slower than the 3.2GHz processor at single-threaded tasks.

This same observation was also seen in Cinebench benchmarks compiled by Tesselator and charted by PowerPaw:

In this example, the new 2.26GHz 8-core Nehalem performed comparably to previous 2.8GHz 8-core processor in multi-threaded tasks, but worse at single threaded tasks. Meanwhile, the multi-core performance of the new 2.93GHz processor significantly outpaced the previous generation machines.

As a result, depending on your work flow (multi-threaded vs single-threaded), it may make more sense to buy a faster Quad-Core than a slower Octo-Core. While some are hoping that Apple's push for multi-threaded support in Snow Leopard may change this equation, developer support and the eventual impact of Grand Central remain unknown.

Article Link: Nehalem Mac Pros Arrive: Unboxing and Benchmarks
 

More

macrumors regular
Dec 27, 2008
107
0
Just to recap my thoughts from the unboxing thread where this news article originated...

Most consumer grade apps struggle to use more than one core so it's interesting to see my 3.2GHz 2008 mac pro beat the 2.26GHz 2009 mac pro in every 'single theaded' benchmark by quite a margin.

2008 3.2Ghz 8 Core Mac Pro
Blowfish single threaded scalar: 2341
Text Compress single-threaded scalar: 2858
Image Compress single-threaded scalar: 2579
Lua single-threaded scalar: 5441

2009 2.26GHz 8 Core Mac Pro
Blowfish single threaded scalar: 1353
Text Compress single-threaded scalar: 1659
Image Compress single-threaded scalar: 1473
Lua single-threaded scalar: 2388
Basically (from further benchmarks posted in that previous thread). If you use multi-core apps the 2009 2.26 Mac Pro is on par with the 2008 3.2Ghz Mac Pro. If you use apps that only use a single core, like most consumer based apps as well as pro apps like Adobe Illustrator the 2008 3.2GHz Mac Pro is a lot faster.

Food for thought for those considering a 2.26GHz 2009 mac pro. You can pick-up a second hand or apple refurb 3.2GHz for less than the 2.26GHz model and get equal or better performance :)
 

jbee

macrumors member
Jun 8, 2004
55
0
Now totally confused

Can someone help? i'm now totally confused by these benchmark tests. I've just ordered 8 CORE 2.26GHz machine with the upgraded Graphics card and will max out the ram to 24GB. Will this spec be faster for final cut pro / logic pro / motion than a 4 CORE 2.93 Ghz machine???

Someone please help!
 

Zoowatch

macrumors 6502
Jan 6, 2004
348
0
Sheffield, UK
Can someone help? i'm now totally confused by these benchmark tests. I've just ordered 8 CORE 2.26GHz machine with the upgraded Graphics card and will max out the ram to 24GB. Will this spec be faster for final cut pro / logic pro / motion than a 4 CORE 2.93 Ghz machine???

Someone please help!
the first question you need to ask is:

are FCP / LP / M written to take advantage of multi-threading by 4 or more cores?

if not then clock speed might be more crucial in term of performance.
 

coolfactor

macrumors 601
Jul 29, 2002
4,630
4,661
Vancouver, BC
Can someone help? i'm now totally confused by these benchmark tests. I've just ordered 8 CORE 2.26GHz machine with the upgraded Graphics card and will max out the ram to 24GB. Will this spec be faster for final cut pro / logic pro / motion than a 4 CORE 2.93 Ghz machine???

Someone please help!
With Snow Leopard on the horizon, your 8-core beast will be the better choice in the long run, I believe.
 

ajbrehm

macrumors 6502
Aug 14, 2002
341
0
Zurich, Switzerland
I will be buying a dual-CPU Mac Pro within the next few weeks. I would buy it now, but with three weeks lead time it would be arriving just a week before I am out of the country for two weeks.

Perhaps I will still buy it now. It's getting more difficult to postpone it every day! I think maybe the best strategy is to order it just before I leave for two weeks so the lead time will be covered by my absence.
 

brygruver

macrumors member
Aug 2, 2007
75
0
That is Beautiful.

The Interior of that Case is Fantastic. It's not a reason to buy a machine, but it's just another place where Apple's attention to detail shines through.

Glad the specs show off the potential performance after so much negativity on the original specs.
 

MrCrowbar

macrumors 68000
Jan 12, 2006
1,966
81
Can someone help? i'm now totally confused by these benchmark tests. I've just ordered 8 CORE 2.26GHz machine with the upgraded Graphics card and will max out the ram to 24GB. Will this spec be faster for final cut pro / logic pro / motion than a 4 CORE 2.93 Ghz machine???

Someone please help!
I know for a fact Logic 8 downmixes ("bounces") using just one core, but it won't make too much of a difference, might take a few seconds less on the higher clocked ones. Plugins are generally low-cost in terms of CPU cycles and all have their own thread. So the more cores you have, the more plugins you can run in realtime without hick-ups and you also can set a lower latency. Beware of Logic 8 major bugs though, I've gone back to Logic 7 and got some of my money back from Apple because some of Logic 8's advertised features don't actually work.

For the video apps, I'd guess more cores are better than higher clockspeed, too. If you have a multi-core intel machine, you can download the developer tools and compare the poerformance of the same task with half the cores off (there's a preference pane that let's you do just that). If all cores gets you close to double the performance compared to half of the cores switched off, then go for the slower clocked 8 core Mac Pro.

Another way to see if a certain process is nicely multithreaded is to open Activity monitor and look on the CPU graph. If you have one core around 100% and the others are pretty much idling, you got yourself a single-threaded Process that only gets faster with higher clockspeed. Beware though, the CPU peak in the graph may switch from one core to another occasionally to balance out heat dissipation on the chip, that usually means one thread is migrating from one core to another.
 

wizard

macrumors 68040
May 29, 2003
3,854
571
Nice! It does confirm the widening gulf betwen iMac and the Pro.

It is nice that the machines are doing well but this confirms that the gulf between iMacs and Mac Pros is even wider. Thus many of us are wondering when Apple will fill that hole.


It will be very interesting to see how well Snow Leopard can leverage these cores. Combined with the GPU this should be one impressive machine for certain tasks. It does suck a bit that the clock rate is slower on the one machine. I have to wonder what brought that on.


Dave.
 

tufaw

macrumors member
Jun 26, 2008
34
0
I've just ordered 8 CORE 2.26GHz machine with the upgraded Graphics card and will max out the ram to 24GB. Will this spec be faster for final cut pro / logic pro / motion than a 4 CORE 2.93 Ghz machine???
The quad core supports a maximum of 8 GB ram, the 8-core supports 32 GB. I'm pretty sure you've made the right purchase.
 

Flavioparentiq

macrumors regular
Mar 3, 2009
176
0
Roma
Woooooow!!! 17000+ in geekbench?? Beating a sun workstation?? This is for all the people whining about the price, may i present you the fastest workstation in the market... And it has the best os!

As expected, Apple did their best, with a month of advantage over the competitors. This sure has a price, but there is no doubt that between quality and price, quality is the one you need if you work with the Computer. Because quality is time. And time is money!

Kudos to you Apple.
 

Cabbit

macrumors 68020
Jan 30, 2006
2,128
1
Scotland
My understanding is that the Quad core supports 24GB of ram to keep the triple channel memory working. And that taking it to 32GB would degrade performance as it did when adding a 3rd module to a dual channel set up.

For the Limit on the Quad core change that to 6GB triple channel in 2GB sticks or 12GB triple channel with 4GB sticks and i see the only reason that these 4GB sticks are not offered is that there so expensive your cheeper buying the Octo core Macpro and filling it with 12GB of ram in 2GB modules.
 

Scottsdale

macrumors 601
Sep 19, 2008
4,467
279
U.S.A.
Woooooow!!! 17000+ in geekbench?? Beating a sun workstation?? This is for all the people whining about the price, may i present you the fastest workstation in the market... And it has the best os!

As expected, Apple did their best, with a month of advantage over the competitors. This sure has a price, but there is no doubt that between quality and price, quality is the one you need if you work with the Computer. Because quality is time. And time is money!

Kudos to you Apple.
Have you priced it out with dual 2.93 GHz Xeons? EXPENSIVE YES!

I am not impressed that the Nehalem low end octacore model is not able to even beat an octacore 3.2 from 2008. That is not good news in the short run. In the short run, a quad core with higher clock speed is going to be a better investment for MOST current apps - until SL and the new "Pro" apps written to take advantage of this new technology.

Someone else mentioned that the Mac Pro is further ahead than ever compared to the iMac. I think the whole intention of two completely different Mac Pros was to make that xMac gap change... sure, it's called a Mac Pro... but the single CPU Mac Pro only accepting 8 GB of RAM in addition to its ONE 3500 Xeon makes it the "in-between" or xMac model in MY EYES. Sure, call them both a Mac Pro for marketing purposes but the two machines (Mac Pro Quad vs Mac Pro Octacore) are completely different!

However, I wonder what is going to happen on the 24th? Could we see something to take advantage of the new Mac Pro POWER?
 

commander.data

macrumors 65816
Nov 10, 2006
1,014
104
I guess it seems unlikely that the 1 x 2.66GHz Nehalem Mac Pro will beat the old 2 x 2.80GHz Harpertown Mac Pro in multithreaded applications that actually use 8 threads. So Apple's new entry Mac Pro is probably a downgrade or a sidegrade on the multithreaded front, although faster for less threaded applications.
 

MACMUSO

macrumors newbie
Aug 18, 2006
18
0
Have you priced it out with dual 2.93 GHz Xeons? EXPENSIVE YES!

I am not impressed that the Nehalem low end octacore model is not able to even beat an octacore 3.2 from 2008. That is not good news in the short run. In the short run, a quad core with higher clock speed is going to be a better investment for MOST current apps - until SL and the new "Pro" apps written to take advantage of this new technology
Although the fact that it only accepts 8 Gig of RAM is a real disadvantage to any pro / freelance Music / Audio guys as RAM is very important for sofware instruments and sample playback etc. Also it has no scalability / upgrade path. Seems to me like the OCTO 2.26 should have been the base machine and priced where the QUAD currently sits.
 

*LTD*

macrumors G4
Feb 5, 2009
10,703
1
Canada
Woooooow!!! 17000+ in geekbench?? Beating a sun workstation?? This is for all the people whining about the price, may i present you the fastest workstation in the market... And it has the best os!

As expected, Apple did their best, with a month of advantage over the competitors. This sure has a price, but there is no doubt that between quality and price, quality is the one you need if you work with the Computer. Because quality is time. And time is money!

Kudos to you Apple.
Agreed.

Very impressive.
 

commander.data

macrumors 65816
Nov 10, 2006
1,014
104
I totally agree!
To get a better performance than last years Octo 2.8, I would have to buy at least a Octo 2.66 – and spend that much more money...
I agree as well. Apple should have never reintroduced uniprocessor Mac Pros. Or they should have used uniprocessor Mac Pros as the cheaper upgradable tower that people seem to complain about starting at $1999, with dual-processor Mac Pros starting at $2799 like the old 2 x 2.80GHz Mac Pro price point.
 
Register on MacRumors! This sidebar will go away, and you'll see fewer ads.