Speed

Beachguy

macrumors 65816
Original poster
Nov 23, 2011
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402
Florida, USA
I got into a discussion with someone and we came to differing views. He pointed out that so many of the comments and posts about speed seem to reflect some real pro usages- videos, very high resolution graphics, intense gaming, VR...

Neither he nor I are users like that. We write code (he for the Mac, my work is for non-desktop machines) and surf the net, use databases not housed on our computers, email, office apps (and occasional programming in VBA) and such. So, he is considering buying one of those Macs on sale in today's front page article for $300 off. We got to the issue of speed, and hold divergent viewpoints on otherwise similar laptops. The choice is between 2.6 Ghz 6 core and 2.3 Ghz 8 core. We both agree that the 8 core can handle more intense workloads, but we're not users that spend much time in that territory. One of us says "6 cores at 2.6 Ghz, most of the time, will be faster because 6 cores is more than enough for our usage, and the clock is modestly faster." The other says :8 cores, even at 2.3 Ghz, will take more load before it bogs down, and besides, a 300 Mhz difference on single core work isn't really noticeable."

So, would the 8 core be faster even at a lower clock speed? If so is it $400 faster, the difference in price? Consider we're both coming from quad core machines.
 

Weaselboy

Moderator
Staff member
Jan 23, 2005
29,159
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California
I think it will come down to how you use it and with that apps. I know a lot of apps don't even take advantage of all those cores, so spending more money for then is a waste.

Maybe explain more what apps you use and someone can weigh in to help you?
 
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leman

macrumors G3
Oct 14, 2008
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Neither he nor I are users like that. We write code (he for the Mac, my work is for non-desktop machines) and surf the net, use databases not housed on our computers, email, office apps (and occasional programming in VBA) and such. So, he is considering buying one of those Macs on sale in today's front page article for $300 off. We got to the issue of speed, and hold divergent viewpoints on otherwise similar laptops. The choice is between 2.6 Ghz 6 core and 2.3 Ghz 8 core. We both agree that the 8 core can handle more intense workloads, but we're not users that spend much time in that territory. One of us says "6 cores at 2.6 Ghz, most of the time, will be faster because 6 cores is more than enough for our usage, and the clock is modestly faster." The other says :8 cores, even at 2.3 Ghz, will take more load before it bogs down, and besides, a 300 Mhz difference on single core work isn't really noticeable."
Modern CPUs don't really work like that — they dynamically overclock themselves to deliver maximal achievable performance given the circumstance. The 8-core will be faster in almost every scenario simply because its effective clock is going to be higher. The nominal frequency are just the lowest reasonable (or guaranteed) frequency the CPU is expected to operate at when at 100% utilisation. The 8-core CPU is 6% faster when looking at its clock limit (4.8Ghz vs 4.5Ghz) and I expect it to be marginally faster in burst workflows as well as substantially faster in workflows that can utilise multiple cores (such as compilation of larger projects since you say that you are programmers).

Does this mean that one has to buy the 8-cod model? Not at all. For someone like me, the difference would be substantial, since I am doing enough of stuff that can be parallelised well and two additional cores will probably cut the waiting times by around 20-25% (which is very substantial). If your workflow relies more on burst performance (office etc.), even the quad core CPU in the 13" will be more than adequate.
 

Beachguy

macrumors 65816
Original poster
Nov 23, 2011
1,007
402
Florida, USA
Excellent- I was sorta right, and he was completely wrong.

A portion of your explanation explained more than just the obvious about a number of other observances I've had with no explanation. I understand the turbo boost technology better know because of some inferences from what you gave. Many thanks!!