When would you choose a 4-core nMP over an iMac or rMBP?

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by johngwheeler, Jan 15, 2014.

  1. johngwheeler macrumors 6502

    Dec 30, 2010
    I come from a land down-under...
    I've been reading the reviews of the nMP, most of which are for the 8 & 12 core models, and trying to find some objective information on the 4-core model.

    It seems that several benchmarks don't show any significant difference between the 4-core nMP and the top-spec'd iMacs & rMBPs, and in many cases single threaded performance on the nMP is somewhat less than the consumer models.

    I have a genuine question: for what use cases is the 4-core nMP a good choice?

    To my mind the following features might be relevant differentiators:

    1) Dual GPUs - at present only a limited amount of software can use the GPUs, but they may become more relevant in the future.

    2) Faster / bigger / more reliable memory - higher clock, 4 memory channels, ECC, up to 64GB: but how much difference does this make in the real world compared to DDR3-1600 if you need 32GB or less?

    3) More Internal & external connectivity - larger number of CPU PCIe lanes, 3 TB2 channels: again, how much difference does this make if you only have a couple of external disks?

    4) Better thermal behaviour: higher processor TDP should allow turbo speed to be maintained for longer. Cooler, quieter machine.

    The above may be important for some use cases, but what are they?

    Where would the 4-core nMP begin to show significant performance / usability improvements over an i7-4770 iMac?

    The nMP looks like a beautifully engineered computer, but it's considerably more expensive than a maxed out iMac and you don't even get a screen, keyboard & mouse.

    I'm trying to work out its value proposition. Any ideas?
  2. propower macrumors 6502a

    Jul 23, 2010
    You have highlighted many of the differences very well. Don't forget - size - built in monitor vs not ... etc...

    Cost is really not that different but It is in your use scenario and preferences what if any of this matters - What draws you to one vs the other??
  3. Gav Mack macrumors 68020

    Gav Mack

    Jun 15, 2008
    Sagittarius A*

    4 core review there

    Upgradeable E5 CPU and ram - 64gb max isn't enough for some on here but at least it's not soldered in like the retinas.

    Insanely quiet under full load, unlike the others which heat up a lot and make rather a racket. If you are going to give it hard, long work and it suits your requirements it's the best choice.

    I would buy one if I had cash to splash but my missus would kill me cos I don't need one :D
  4. johngwheeler thread starter macrumors 6502

    Dec 30, 2010
    I come from a land down-under...
    The cost in Australia is significantly different:

    iMac i7-4770K (3.5GHz/3.9GHz turbo)
    32GB RAM
    512GB SSD
    Includes display, keyboard, mouse

    Total: AU$4219

    Mac Pro 4-core
    32GB RAM
    512GB SSD
    Apple Cinema Display
    Keyboard & mouse

    Total AU $6336

    That's over AU$2000 more expensive! Even if you got a lesser display for $400-500, it's still a massive premium for the Mac Pro.

    Hence my question: are the differentiators worth it?


  5. Gav Mack macrumors 68020

    Gav Mack

    Jun 15, 2008
    Sagittarius A*
    Go 4 core d700, 8 core e5 later on grey market when cheaper as 12 has slower turbo boost clock speed than the 8 unless you need more cores..
  6. ActionableMango macrumors G3


    Sep 21, 2010
    Base model Mac Pros have traditionally been comparatively overpriced for their performance, so what you are noticing about the nMP is not new.

    In my case when buying a 2010 it was irrelevant because the all-in-one and portable packaging for the iMac and MBP made them unacceptable choices to me.
  7. deconstruct60, Jan 15, 2014
    Last edited: Jan 15, 2014

    deconstruct60 macrumors 604

    Mar 10, 2009
    a. Something skewed on graphics. A nMP 4core dual D700 should beat the slop out of any iMac on a highly focused graphics workload.

    Don't have to use both D700s to put the iMac in the rearview mirror. You'd pay more but would get more also. There is no way to "pay more" to get there with the iMac.

    It really isn't the number of external disks. It is how fast they (or the logic collecion of them ; RAID) are.

    Right now iMac TB 1. Mac Pro TB v. For 1500MB/s storage pool the Mac Pro makes a difference. Doesn't particularly matter many "disks" it takes to build to that number.

    Far more better under non turbo but fully loaded workloads. Turbo is basically enabled by drag racing on single threads. If that is your primary issue then Mac Pro is probably the wrong system.

    Four cores going full blast for 10 hours is far more an issue of whether the iMac's thermal system is going to start to loose traction or not being a problem for the Mac Pro.

    Again if don't particularly stress the machine ( only sporadic 4 core workload burts and normal 50% system utilization ) then not particularly an issue.

    How can get four cores going all at once? Do more than one thing at the same time. Process some files in a batch job while working on another set. Run multiple OS instanaces on your system.

    The use case of run one single app at a time (or completely ignore others for long periods of time) then Mac Pro probably isn't as good a fit (unless app is much better at doing multiple things at the same time).

    A significant fraction of the benchmarks folks get their underwear in a twist over aren't overall system benchmarks. If have a workload that makes the iMac cry "uncle" then mostly the Mac Pro wouldn't crumble as much. For example put a 6 core worth workload on 4 core Mac Pro and iMac the Mac Pro probably holds up better. That's the use case. For more than a few folks it is a better 6 core alternative because they can afford it.

    The problem for some folks is that their workload is well inside the range of the top end iMac. For those folks the Mac Pro isn't going to make a difference. Folks pounding the table about single threaded apps that they run 99% of the day don't need 4 cores either. They are also very odd since a simple trip to Activity Monitor will show that almost nothing a user directly interacts with is actually single threaded anywhere near that much.
  8. flyingmanatee macrumors member


    Jan 7, 2014
    Apple fixed that. All the price, no more upgradable than a Mac Mini.
  9. borad macrumors member

    Dec 13, 2013
    Or, if you’re like me with three (non-glossy!) decent monitors already, and no need for more keyboards and mice, $4959. Sounds like $730 well spent for me.

    (I may not use 6 Thunderbolt ports, but more than 2 is a distinct bonus.)

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