Super Quick ? - 6 or 8 cores?

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by Michael73, Dec 18, 2013.

  1. Michael73 macrumors 65816

    Feb 27, 2007
    I've been in contact with the business team and asked them to spec me out an 8 core, 16GB Ram, 1TB SSD, D500 rig.

    I got a call this morning from the guy at the store who told me he'll have pricing for me tomorrow morning (same as everyone else, I guess) and that he couldn't put an order into the system until then anyway. Interestingly, he told me that the business team had a conference call yesterday afternoon with some engineers and others out of Chicago to "better understand the machine, its capabilities and help us guide business customers choose the right configuration."

    I told him that my use case (aside from MS Office and all the other normal stuff) was Adobe CS6 mostly around Photoshop (occasionally Illustrator and Dreamweaver) but also that I frequently use VMWare Fusion and run Windows 7 which slows down my current 8 core Mac Pro 3,1. He suggested that I'd be better off with the faster clock speed of the 6 core machine and adding more RAM than stepping up to the 8 core. No doubt a 6 core with 32GB RAM is cheaper than an 8 core with 16GB that I was originally looking at.

    So, what do you think makes the most sense to go with keeping in mind I'm keeping this machine for the next 5-6 years?
  2. Cubemmal macrumors 6502a

    Jun 13, 2013
    This is my estimation. I've had people argue with me on this, but for many (most?) uses having the much higher base clock, with the same TurboBoost stepping basically as the quad, and only two cores less than the octo is the sweet spot. Once you jump to octo you get, in addition to a huge hit on your wallet, a big drop in base clock for only two more cores.

    I say go for the hex.
  3. woodhouse macrumors newbie

    Dec 13, 2013
    I'd like advice on this too. My tasks are split pretty much 50/50 between straight-up design (Photoshop, Illustrator) and video and motion graphics (After Effects, Cinema 4D, Final Cut Pro, some Premiere).

    I'm set on the D700s, RAM, storage.

    It's just the 6-core or the 8-core that I have to decide on.
  4. AidenShaw macrumors P6


    Feb 8, 2003
    The Peninsula
    I'd tend to agree that 32 GiB of RAM would be better. The more memory that you give the VM, the better both the VM and host run. The VM caches more file info, which puts less load on the host and disk. The attached "resource monitor" capture shows that my Win7 workstation is using 5 GiB of RAM, but has almost 10 GiB in the cache. Win7 seldom has much truly free memory, it uses all that it can find.

    Also, be careful not to assign all or most of the available logical cores to the VM. When the VM needs CPU - it grabs all of the cores it should have, even if in means idling them in the VM. For example, if you run a quad core VM on a quad core host - when the VM runs the host has to pause.

    If you need 8 cores in the VM, however, I'd go with the 8 core (16 logical core) system.

    Attached Files:

  5. spaz8 macrumors 6502

    Mar 3, 2007
    I think you are good with the 6 core. There is a good article on the Digital Lloyd site RE: the nMP, he is still calling the 6 core the "sweet spot" as he did with the 3.33 hex-core in the old form factor.

    I want to get the 8 just because I spend a decent percentage (25%+) of my time rendering and encoding and can max out the 8 (16 threads) in several apps I use.
  6. medium8080 macrumors newbie

    Oct 18, 2012
    I'm on the fence between 6 and 8 cores also.

    I'm planning to get 1TB SSD, 32GB RAM, and D700's

    I do video and photo work, so I will be using a lot of FCPX, Premier, Photoshop, and Lightroom. I will also be doing a little bit of After Effects, Illustrator, and Dreamweaver.

    My goal is to speed up my workflow and minimize an rendering time.

    Think a 6 core is still a sweet spot for this type of work?
  7. spaz8 macrumors 6502

    Mar 3, 2007
    I think it depends a bit on the D700's (I'm want those too). How much FCPX (10.1?) will use them. The lineup of apps you list all (minus Dreamweaver perhaps) are in the cue to have, or already have some OpenCL support. My gut says you would be ok with the 6 core.
  8. jivemaster, Dec 18, 2013
    Last edited: Dec 18, 2013

    jivemaster macrumors member

    Oct 13, 2011
    Photoshop, Illustrator and Dreamweaver don't really benefit from multi core processing. Your main concern here is your VMware virtual machine. How many cores you dedicate to your VM and what programs you run in your VM are the deciding factor. If you're not running anything intense in your VM, the 6-core is for you.

    Woodhouse your video work would benefit from the extra cores, but is this your primary work? If it isn't, the upgraded GPU's would probably be enough.
  9. wildmac macrumors 65816

    Jun 13, 2003
    Part of the issue here may be with LR, and just what you are crunching through (how big are your raw files?)

    The problem is we don't have any benchmarking yet, and it will likely take months to get good benchmarking for specific tasks like LR refreshes.
  10. Killerbob macrumors 6502a

    Jan 25, 2008
    As a semi-professional photographer, I work with large RAW files. I shoot with a Nikon D800, the RAW files are in the 60-75MB range, and when editing in PS the TIFFs easily get into the 150-200MB sizes. I merge several of these into HDR pictures, and it puts some strain on my current MP3,1 Octo/2.8, 16GB RAM, 1TB Accelsior PCIe SSD, GTX680 setup. My WorkFlow is via Aperture, with a few 100GB libraries.

    Hence I want to upgrade to the nMP. Probably the 6 Core, 32GB, 1TB SSD configuration.

    I keep all my files on my ReadyNAS anyway, and I am thinking about getting an external TB2 housing for my Accelsior card.

    Only question I have is if I should upgrade the D500s to the D700s? Would that give me anything?

    In addition to my photography work, I use my MP for normal CS6 stuff, and I must confess, I game a bit in Windows 7 (Bootcamp).
  11. Michael73, Dec 18, 2013
    Last edited: Dec 18, 2013

    Michael73 thread starter macrumors 65816

    Feb 27, 2007
    This is very close to what the Apple business guy said and it's also why I mentioned that I plan to keep to the machine 5-6 years. I know Ps, Il and Dw don't benefit from multi core processing but I also wonder if in the future it will such that I'll be kicking myself for not getting the 8 core down the road?

    As for the VM, I played around with the hardware allocation to get where I thought performance was best and I think I settled on 2 cores and 2GB of RAM (I have 12GB total). Although, I'm not running anything too intense on the Windows side, my machine is still really sluggish and that could be because both OS X and Win are on the same 7200RPM drive. :confused:

    Anyway, I just want to do what's best. I mean $1,500 for 6 to 8 cores or $400 for 16GB to 32GB (if that's what the upgrade pricing winds up being) isn't chump change, but spread out over 5 years and it's like an extra $1.25 a day. I'm definitely conflicted!?!?!?!
  12. woodhouse macrumors newbie

    Dec 13, 2013
    The work is 50/50. Some projects are huge motion graphics pieces in which I'm doing a lot if 3D, AE and rendering and compressing. Other projects are just PS, but sometimes large files...
  13. AidenShaw macrumors P6


    Feb 8, 2003
    The Peninsula
    2 GiB seems to be a bare minimum for Win7. Sure it runs, but it will be hitting the disk much harder than if you give it 4 GiB or 6 GiB. When it's sluggish, what are the average queue depths on the disk?

    My home PC is Core i7-940 (quad core 2.93 GHz 1st gen Core i7 with triple chan memory) with 24 GiB. My normal load is doing light work on the host, and running a 16 GiB quad core VM that's usually at about 100% CPU for hours on end. I have HT enabled, so there are 8 logical cores for the scheduler.

    The interactive work on the host is fine - I can't tell that the VM is pegging its 4 CPUs unless I do something CPU intensive on the host, and then it's just the expected stretch factor.

    However, the VM files are on an eSATA 4 volume 16 TB that's on completely separated PCIe lanes and disk controllers from the system SSD.

    I suspect that you have an IO problem, not a CPU/memory problem.
  14. medium8080, Dec 18, 2013
    Last edited: Dec 18, 2013

    medium8080 macrumors newbie

    Oct 18, 2012
    One of the things I photograph is weddings, so I can be working with up 1-2 thousand RAW files that range from 25-30mb.

    If I'm working on other projects, then I can be photomerging up to 16 images for panoramas, or working with 25-50 layers, and I do HDR processing sometimes too.

    I have no problem spending the extra money for an 8 core if it will save me time in the long run. I would like this machine to still kick a$$ in a few years when the software I use can utilize more of the machine and also when I start throwing heavier video tasks at it, like 4k video content and RAW HD video content.
  15. mpantone macrumors 6502

    Mar 20, 2009
    Super quick? Which one of these configurations has more CPU secondary cache?

    That's the one I would take.

    The less you thrash cache, the less you go to main memory (which is slower). The less you go to main memory, the less you write to swap (which is *way* slower).
  16. wildmac macrumors 65816

    Jun 13, 2003
    I did a few tests tonight on my old 1,1, and zooming in on D800 raw files were certainly tapping out the ram and the CPUs, but this is a very underpowered rig compared to even the 4,1 or 5,1 systems.

    Ideally, we would want to see some comparisons and benchmarks, but even then, they may not be indicative of your workflow.

    If you can afford it, the 8-core might indeed suit you better, with the ram.
  17. sboerup macrumors 6502

    Mar 8, 2009
    If you're a photographer, even the D300 GPU will be more than plenty. Really, nothing we use (Adobe CS6) really utilizes the power they offer.

    The 6 core is the sweetspot for the Adobe suite if you look at price/performance comparisons.

    I do some 3D rendering which can utilize all cores, so the 8 core (16 threads) is 4 extra cores vs the hexacore. Hard decision, but I think unless you're utilizing apps that can saturate all cores (and hyperthreading), then the hexacore is going to be best.
  18. Pressure macrumors 68040


    May 30, 2006
    A lot of Photoshop effects use GPU now and will more and more when they add OpenCL throughout the Adobe CC suite.
  19. theSeb macrumors 604


    Aug 10, 2010
    Poole, England
    Indeed. Photoshop uses OpenCL for certain tasks.
  20. Michael73 thread starter macrumors 65816

    Feb 27, 2007
    So in your estimation does that justify spending more to upgrade from the D500s to the D700s? Or, is this just un-needed for this type of work?
  21. wildmac macrumors 65816

    Jun 13, 2003
    Depends on what you are doing, and your workflow.

    I would except for the average PS user, D500 should be fine, but if you are doing intensive multiple layered large files, then D700 might be worth it.

    Depends on your budget too..
  22. Michael73 thread starter macrumors 65816

    Feb 27, 2007

    Good point. Not picking on you at all wildmac, but this whole budget thing is really getting to me. I mean seriously, if you need this machine, then you need it. Look at the math, say you buy a pretty maxed out 8 core machine and you spend $7k. You keep the machine 5 years. A full time employee is usually counted as 2,000 hours a year but say you only work 1/2 that number. So you use a $7k machine for 5,000 hours it works out to just $1.40 an hour. In the exact same scenario but with a $5,500 machine (say you opt for a 6 core, a little more than stock RAM a large SSD, etc.) and now it costs just $1.10 an hour to use. Really?!? The difference between a machine that I "settled for" versus one that really is the bees knees, as they say, is $1.20 a day. C'mon - that's not even a Coke and a candy bar from the office vending machine.

    OK, I'll get off my soapbox now. I've been reading too many MR forums with posts from trolls.
  23. wildmac macrumors 65816

    Jun 13, 2003
    Totally agree. :)

    For a Prosumer, the hex might be the stretch. For a full-time pro, the 8-core might be the stretch.

    For myself, as a prosumer (PS, LR, and WoW), the Hex is likely the best choice, as the D500 is a lot better than the D300, and LR will certainly use the cores. Price starts to get really painful if I add the 512 SSD as well, but if I do get the upgrade, I'm easily set for the next 4-5 years.

    For a graphics pro? Only the cost of a 8 or 12 core upgrade should give pause, as there might be more beneficial upgrades based on the apps and workflow.
  24. Dranix macrumors 6502a


    Feb 26, 2011
    Gelnhausen, Germany
    On what do you base that? The only thing is has a "big" advantage is double precision openCL...
  25. gnasher729 macrumors P6


    Nov 25, 2005
    The clock speeds are confusing and can be completely ignored.

    All these processors run at different speeds depending on how many cores you use. Use 1, 2, 4, 6, 8, 12 cores, and the clock speed goes down.

    Now Intel probably for legal reasons specifies the clock speed if all cores are running. So they publish the clock speed for four core processor running four cores, six core processor with six cores running, eight core processor with eight cores running and so on.

    The reality is, that they all run at exactly the same speed if you use four cores. And they all (except the 4 core machine which can't) run at exactly the same clock speed if you use six cores, and so on.

    The eight core machine might display a smaller number, but it runs six cores as fast as the six core machine.

    All that said, the price difference from six to eight is huge, and spending the money on more RAM and other things will most likely get you more value for money, unless your machine is cracking on 24 hours a day (in which case you should go for 12 cores).

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