nMP vs Workstation Price Comparisons

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by fixmdude, Nov 29, 2013.

  1. fixmdude, Nov 29, 2013
    Last edited: Nov 29, 2013

    fixmdude macrumors member

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    #1
    BOXX is one of the most popular Workstation vendors online (according to Google). Their model selected for this comparison was based on which model matched the nMP in its internal components (single processor Xeon):

    Brand | nMP | BOXX model 4925
    Cores | 4 | 4
    2 GPUs | D300 | w7000
    RAM | 12GB | 8GB
    SSD | 256 | 240

    Cost | $2,999 | $5,310


    Brand | nMP | BOXX model 4925
    Cores | 6 | 6
    2 GPUs | D500 | w7000
    RAM | 16GB | 16GB
    SSD | 256 | 240

    Cost | $3,999 | $$5,896



    Brand | nMP | BOXX model 4925
    Cores | 6 | 6
    2 GPUs | D500 | w8000
    RAM | 16GB | 16GB
    SSD | 256 | 240

    Cost | $3,999 | $$7,508



    The GPUs are not exact matches so the comparison was made using both the w7000 and the w8000.
    The BOXX system uses a much slower SATA SSD drive at approximately 500 MB/s compared to the nMP PCI-e SSD at 1250 MB/s.

    People have posted unsupported claims that one can find or build a PC Workstation with comparable components (Xeon, ECC RAM, PCI-e SSD) for less cost than the nMP. I'm still looking for examples.
     
  2. Gonk42 macrumors 6502

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    near Cambridge
    #2
    GPUs

    It is very difficult to make such a comparison between the nMP and other workstations because a lot of the cost is in the GPUs and much of what you pay for is in the drivers for the GPUs (the equivalent consumer cards are very similar hardware but much cheaper).

    The nMP may not have the same drivers, I guess, available as the Windows cards containing the same chips. If that is the case (and I don't know if it is) then it might not be fair to equate the GPUs in the nMP with a fully supported professional card in a different workstation.

    I think though you are correct about pricing if you rigidly try to match a pc workstation to the nMP. The key point though is that general workstations are much more flexible in their configuration and for applications not designed mainly for dual GPUs a pc workstation could be more powerful and cheaper.

    Another issue is that Dell workstations (for example) are available at very large discounts which won't be true of the nMP. The Dell workstation I purchased 4 years ago was only 40% of its official list price (it was officially a refurb but was actually brandnew).
     
  3. fixmdude, Nov 29, 2013
    Last edited: Nov 29, 2013

    fixmdude thread starter macrumors member

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    #3
    The video card comparison with a non-pro card can be done and the BOXX still costs more:

    Brand | nMP | Boxx 4925
    Cores | 6 | 6
    GPUs | D500(x2) |GTX 770 (x1)
    RAM | 16GB | 16GB
    SSD | 256 | 240

    $3,999 $4,812

    Since the average buyer is only looking for one computer, and purchasing refurbished with quality is very limited in quantity, bulk or refurbished purchases are unique circumstances which don't apply to this general circumstance comparison. At my last company we bulk purchased 600 MBPs from Apple and got a discount, though I'm not allowed to reveal how much. I open the challenge to anyone who would like to price another brand or model and post the comparison here as I did. Prove me wrong, it would only benefit me because I would buy it, if it's spec-ed as well for less cost. (Just don't confuse a 'Workstation' with a cheaper 'Desktop' that doesn't support ECC RAM or uses a much slower HD.)
     
  4. twietee macrumors 603

    twietee

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    #4
    Are you sure that those 'unsupported claims' weren't made regarding the ability to build the system yourself? Because that's one of the two main advantages of PCs as far as I see it. Flexibility being the other one.

    The MP was always quite competitive in pricing terms compared to other vendors - opposed to most of the other Apple items to my knowledge.
     
  5. JavaTheHut macrumors 6502

    JavaTheHut

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  6. fixmdude, Nov 29, 2013
    Last edited: Nov 29, 2013

    fixmdude thread starter macrumors member

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    #6
    The claims were about price, they are unsupported because no one can produce the parts and numbers here to back up those claims. I tried building one myself and didn't find a comparable build option for less cost. There are cheaper desktop builds that are missing ECC RAM support, or that have slower PCI-e SSD, but I have yet to see a personal build with specs comparable to the nMB for a lower price.

    ----------

    That SSD is only 540 MB/s, while the nMP PCI-e SSD is 1250MB/s.

    The HD is the slowest component in a modern computer. The nMP's slowest component is more than 100% faster than the presented comparison. A comparison should have all components at least as good. Whether or not some components are even better after that baseline is up to you.
     
  7. VirtualRain, Nov 29, 2013
    Last edited: Nov 29, 2013

    VirtualRain macrumors 603

    VirtualRain

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    #7
    The nMP could definitely present a bit of a problem for PC workstation vendors... Although the GPUs are a bit neutered in terms of clocks and RAM, they are essentially much better value than AMDs workstation parts. Although this value can only be realized and therefore compared if the nMP Dxxx GPUs are recognized as workstation cards in Windows so the Catalyst Pro drivers can be used (as that's what Windows workstation card users are paying a premium for). If the Dxxx GPUs are merely identified as 7xxx series or R9 series desktop gaming parts in Windows, then you can't compare the nMP with workstations... only desktops. But even then, the value of the nMP is still decent (especially as an OS X workstation compared to over-priced official Mac Pro GPUs available today for the 5,1 and the challenge with powering a pair of them). We simply don't know what the situation is yet. But, if the nMP does indeed offer Windows users workstation GPUs for much less than PC builders, we could see a lot of companies buying the nMP as a Windows workstation. Of course, build-it-yourself will always be cheaper for enthusiasts, but we're talking about the commercial workstation market here (I believe).
     
  8. fixmdude, Nov 29, 2013
    Last edited: Nov 29, 2013

    fixmdude thread starter macrumors member

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    #8

    The additional comparison I added here using a non-pro GPU was still higher.
    The build-it-yourself systems I have tried have been higher as well when using Xeon, ECC RAM, and a comparable speed PCI-e SSD.

    I created this post because everyone everywhere is so used to historically being able to build PCs for less than Macs that they have missed the paradigm shift that is occurring here with the nMP in that you can no longer build a Workstation with comparable components for less than what the nMP is offering, even without the GPU Pro drivers. That's right: You can replace the GPU with a desktop version of comparable speed so long as you keep the 6 cores, ECC RAM and comparable speed PCI-e SSD... the challenge is that you still can't build something as good for less cost. Try it and post the parts and prices.
     
  9. VirtualRain macrumors 603

    VirtualRain

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    #9
    I agree the value packed into the nMP is decent, (and compares favourably with BOXX) but... Is it really true you can't even build a comparable system from parts? That would be impressive.
     
  10. fixmdude thread starter macrumors member

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    #10
    That's what I'm asking, that's what I'm challenging.

    You can build a much cheaper desktop system if you go with i7 but then you lose ECC RAM. When you get up to 64 GB of RAM there is a greater frequency of errors with more RAM so it becomes more important to have error correcting.

    Then there's the outrageously fast PCI-e SSD card Apple designed for the nMP. You can't even get close to 1250MB/s speeds over SATA 3 so that takes away a bunch of the build-your-own savings. The Republic of Gamers PCI-e SSD card is only 830 MB/s, and you can't RAID0 two PCI-e SSD cards together without losing TRIM.
     
  11. N19h7m4r3 macrumors 65816

    N19h7m4r3

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    #11
    Okay I went to Scan.co.uk, where you can get server and workstation parts for rather 'cheap'.

    This is what I managed. Keep in mind that I was trying to aim for the 6 core nMP model. Although the RAM is only 1600Mhz ECC, and for workstation cards I opted for the significantly cheaper W7000's.
    The CPU is Sandy-bridge instead of Ivy-EP, and the PCIe SSD is at 1000MB/900MB/s.

    The PSU is included in the Supermicro chassis, and is 665W.

    It all depends on the nMP's actual GPU performance, which is still an unknown. We'll need to wait until proper reviews, and tear downs really before we can slot in GPU's to accurately get a performance to price ratio compared to the desktop versions.
     

    Attached Files:

  12. Gav Mack macrumors 68020

    Gav Mack

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    #12
    The first two customers I have for the nMP are both PC workstation clients. Couldn't get a Dell Precision with anywhere near the spec for the same money.
     
  13. JavaTheHut macrumors 6502

    JavaTheHut

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    #13
    Yes thats why that config has 2 SSD to be RAID0 could even add a third for S&Giggles
     
  14. fixmdude thread starter macrumors member

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    #14
    Two SATA 3 drives using a controller with a maximum speed of SATA 3 at 6 Gb/s = (you have to divide by 8 to convert bits to bytes) 750 MB/s max.

    You won't get over 750 MB/s on a SATA 3 controller no matter how many drives you RAID0.

    ----------

    VERY GOOD! You are the first to come close. Converting pounds to dollars, your build that uses the non-pro GPU comes to $3,542 compared to the nMP $3,999.
    You would have to add a couple more things:
    -Power Supply
    -CPU Cooling Fan

    That brings the price up maybe $200 more.

    The price now gets very close to the nMP, and you are left with hoping that everything is fully compatible, and hoping that the nMP will not support pro-GPU drivers in Windows.
    If the nMP does support pro-GPU drivers then your second build with the pro-GPU is more expensive than the nMP.
    Nice job.
     
  15. theSeb macrumors 604

    theSeb

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    #15
    Converting pounds back to dollars is not a valid comparison. We pay more for everything, so building that in the us would be cheaper. Don't forget how much the new Mac Pro costs in the UK.

    £2500 for base
    £3300 for 6 core with d500

    You have to compare the scan price to the apple uk price.
     
  16. fixmdude thread starter macrumors member

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    May 8, 2009
    #16

    Ok, but then you'll also need a PCI-e SSD card that is 25% faster to truly be comparable to the nMP, and faster RAM, and the speed of the D500 is between the w7000 and the w8000 so that would cost a bit more too, somewhere in between the 2 models. I think we would end up close to the same place again.
     
  17. clamnectar macrumors regular

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    #17
    Well, that kind of defeats the purpose of your experiment...
     
  18. nanofrog macrumors G4

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    May 6, 2008
    #18
    Another area where the PC's can make up for any MSRP differences to make an overall TCO, is with peripherals & their performance.

    With the nMP for example, if it's not part of the system as shipped, add-ons will have to be external. So adding things like 10G Ethernet, Fibre Channel, InfiniBand NIC's, or storage (RAID in particular) via TB, have a nasty habit of costing more. Quiet a bit more in fact, and the real kicker, is the performance will suffer as well, especially as you need to scale it up.

    The ability to add drives internally & faster I/O due to direct PCIe lane access (and more of them than 4x for such devices), is where the performance gains come from (also note, that TB adds additional latency to the mix, which will further hamper performance from just 4x PCIe lanes).

    So such comparisons are quite specific to each user IMHO.

    And there may be other issues as well. Some things, such as DAS RAID for example, don't offer the robustness of proper professional storage products either (no battery backups optional or otherwise, cables don't latch so can accidentally be removed during a write, and if it comes with drives, are consumer models in the products I've seen thus far <I.e. Promise Pegasus R4 & R6>). Serious compromises have been made with TB based RAID, and it's not the way to go as the primary goal is reliability (speed, though important, is secondary <speed is worthless if you can't rely on it>).
     
  19. theSeb macrumors 604

    theSeb

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    #19
    Don't get me wrong. I am not disagreeing with you. However, I just wanted to point that discrepancy out. The other issue with these comparisons, as has been mentioned, is that we do not know 100% just what the D500/D300/D700 actually is, so the comparisons are somewhat tricky.
     
  20. fixmdude thread starter macrumors member

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    #20
    Same, I appreciate the pointing out. All we are doing is trying to estimate, guess, try, and come close. It's all in fun.
     
  21. N19h7m4r3 macrumors 65816

    N19h7m4r3

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    #22
    Not really, it's the best I could get. The experiment is it try and see what you can buy for the same money. There's no similar 3.3Ghz 6core Ivy-EP CPU on Scan.

    There's also no Xeon motherboard that takes ECC 1866Mhz. It just shows that for now, bar the GPU's the nMP looks rather appealing.
     
  22. fixmdude, Nov 29, 2013
    Last edited: Nov 29, 2013

    fixmdude thread starter macrumors member

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    #23

    Arguing the differences for this thread isn't winable because different people have different opinions and needs. If you need a large case for the reasons you mentioned then that's what you need no matter what it costs. If you want small and quiet then that's what you need regardless of cost. All we can do here is try to compare the same components and prices, assuming the nMP would meet your needs.

    ----------

    Yes, that's the part I picked when I was trial-building.
     
  23. theSeb macrumors 604

    theSeb

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    #24
    I actually cannot find the E5 1650v2 for sale in the UK anywhere.
     
  24. N19h7m4r3 macrumors 65816

    N19h7m4r3

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    #25
    So at the moment, we can't even spec a nMP equivalent with as close to the same specs as possible.
     

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