Quad or 8 Core 2010 Mac Pro for Software Development

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by MFDoom, Aug 21, 2010.

  1. MFDoom macrumors member

    Mar 30, 2009
    I'm a hardcore hobbyist in the market for a Mac Pro.
    This will primarily be used for application development, primarily with Xcode.
    I'll also use it for photography/video (GIMP, and stepping into Aperture and Final Cut Express).

    I've ruled out an iMac because I want plenty of expansion options.

    I know Xcode scales linearly depending on the number of cores but I am trying to look for a sweet spot in performance and budget. I want something I can grow with for a few years (i.e 3-4).

    Currently I am suing a nearly full Macbook 2Ghz Core 2 Duo. I just built the latest nightly from Webkit and it took 1hr 9m, so I am definitely looking for an improvement.

    Any help/opinions you may have would be most welcome.
  2. Ryan P macrumors regular

    Aug 6, 2010
    You could try what I am trying and buy the 2010 Octa 2.4 and later replace the processors. I'm hoping to be able to replace them with the 3.47Ghz Xeon 5690's that are due out in the 4th quarter.

    That may or may not be possible but you should at least be able to move up to the 2.93 5670's. The Xeons are not cheap but they should fall in price once the next generation are released.
  3. costabunny macrumors 68020


    May 15, 2008
    Weymouth, UK
    The way I see it is this:

    If your mac will earn for you then get the best your budget allows now (in CPU terms) as replacing them later is messy and not that cheap.

    If its pure extreme hobbyist (needing expansion) then the 2.8Quad is a powerful beasty and a good choice.

    (I went through the same dilemma and concluded that while my mac does earn me money - its a very small percentage and most of my use is Prosumer) - the 2.8 still has 8 vThreads and lots of power. (still a shame apple does not make a Prosumer i7 based machine with a couple of HDD bays and a PCIe slot or two for us).
  4. Giuly macrumors 68040


    What kind of expansion do you talk about?
    Hard drives?

    As a coder, you'll likely be more pleased with a 27" IPS display rather than 4 killer graphics cards in SLI.

    Go for the 27" i7 iMac! It's about as fast as a quad-core MacPro.
  5. MFDoom thread starter macrumors member

    Mar 30, 2009
    Sorry I wasn't specific. By expansion I meant the ability to drop in multiple SATA drives as needed. I plan on mounting an SSD for my boot drive into the lower optical bay. Same with the memory I plan on stepping into 12GB. I don't do much in the way of visualization anymore, so I am content with the stock graphics card.

    I will also rip via Handbrake, I failed to mention that.
  6. Giuly macrumors 68040


    The iMac is good for up to 16GB of RAM, I guess they will be releasing 8GB sticks soon (As 8GB ECC sticks came just out), then you can put up to 32GB of RAM into an iMac.

    For the hard drives, as of the PowerMacs, there were no external hard drives suitable for work, that's why you'd prefer it over an iMac. Now there are FW800 external hard drives, like this one from OWC for 4 SATA hard drives. You don't need a MacPro for that anymore.
    Also, in the new iMac there are provisions for one 3.5" SATA hard drive and one 2.5" SSD at the same time.

    Then the only difference which is left is the iMac having a georgeous 27" IPS screen and HD 5750 graphics, where the MacPro has HD 5770 or 5870 graphics. If you don't do heavy graphics, video or games, I guess you wouldn't even notice the difference between 5750 and 5770.

    Sums up: iMac offers the same as a low-end MacPro for the same money (Actually it's $300 less, but you'd need to get a hard drive enclosure), plus it gives you an $800 27" screen.

    If you go MacPro, then go 6, 8 or 12-core, for everything else, the iMac is fine.
  7. drml macrumors newbie

    Nov 9, 2009

    MFDoom, I do software development and similar activities to you on a daily basis. I purchased the 6-core 3.33 machine. The 3.33 machine is the sweet spot. It is crazy fast on single threaded activities but it also has 6 cores for the big tasks, like handbrake. The 3.2 quad would be a good fallback option. The 2.4 octo will be a fair bit slower than the 3.33 6-core and is only $200 cheaper than the 6-core.

    Your biggest improvements will come from 2-3 monitors (I use 3 24's) or an SSD (or two) as the boot drive. After you use 2 (or more) monitors for a while, you won't go back :) I am about to upgrade to 2 of the 27's when they release.
  8. simplymuzik3 macrumors 6502a

    Jan 29, 2009
    I completely agree. I bought mine for iPhone development in Xcode and I got the 6-core 3.33 w/ 16GB of RAM. I can currently easily use up 8GB on my MBP, so hopefully 16 will last me a while :) For monitors, I'd also go with 3. It seems to be the sweet spot for programming. I have 3 x 23" monitors and I love it! The screens are the biggest productivity booster IMO. Also go for an SSD as boot. You'll have a computer that rips through everything you throw at it!
  9. MFDoom thread starter macrumors member

    Mar 30, 2009
    How the story ended...

    Well folks, I ended up going with the base quad core strictly out of budget. I appreciate all of the sound advice.

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