Nehalem Mac Pros Arrive: Unboxing and Benchmarks

Discussion in ' News Discussion' started by MacRumors, Mar 10, 2009.

  1. MacRumors macrumors bot


    Apr 12, 2001

    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
  2. chubad macrumors 6502

    Feb 1, 2004
    Frozen Wasteland
    Very nice. I agree with the faster quadcore. For many people it would be the better choice for most apps.
  3. talkingfuture macrumors 65816


    Dec 4, 2008
    The back of beyond.
    That picture is great, I have always liked the internal design of the Mac Pro. It looks so industrial and futuristic. My PC tower at work is hideous in comparison.
  4. More macrumors regular

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

    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 :)
  5. jbee macrumors member

    Jun 8, 2004
    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!
  6. lamina macrumors 68000


    Mar 9, 2006
    Imagine an SSD in that.

    Edit: Also, I demand XBench numbers.
  7. Zoowatch macrumors 6502

    Jan 6, 2004
    Sheffield, UK
    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.
  8. wayne226 macrumors member

    Mar 7, 2008
  9. coolfactor macrumors 68040

    Jul 29, 2002
    Vancouver, BC CANADA
    With Snow Leopard on the horizon, your 8-core beast will be the better choice in the long run, I believe.
  10. Igantius macrumors 65816

    Apr 29, 2007
  11. ajbrehm macrumors 6502

    Aug 14, 2002
    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.
  12. brygruver macrumors member

    Aug 2, 2007
    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.
  13. MrCrowbar macrumors 68000


    Jan 12, 2006
    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.
  14. wizard macrumors 68040

    May 29, 2003
    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.

  15. tufaw macrumors member

    Jun 26, 2008
    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.
  16. diamond.g macrumors 603


    Mar 20, 2007
    Not yet. At least not through Apples implementation of EFI....
  17. Flavioparentiq macrumors regular

    Mar 3, 2009
    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.
  18. Cabbit macrumors 68020


    Jan 30, 2006
    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.
  19. Scottsdale macrumors 601


    Sep 19, 2008
    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?
  20. Wild-Bill macrumors 68030


    Jan 10, 2007
  21. macrumors 65816

    Nov 10, 2006
    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.
  22. MACMUSO macrumors newbie

    Aug 18, 2006
    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.
  23. vjpulp macrumors member

    Dec 17, 2007
    Bern, Switzerland
    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...
  24. *LTD* macrumors G4


    Feb 5, 2009

    Very impressive.
  25. macrumors 65816

    Nov 10, 2006
    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.

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