Where's The Speed In The New Quad Core MBPs????

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by iAmLegend, Mar 17, 2011.

  1. iAmLegend macrumors regular


    Jul 8, 2007
    What is a good way of testing the speed of a quad core MBP (with SSD) so that I can finally feel how powerful this machine is supposed to be? I didn't get too much time to play with it last night, but installing applications still took a long time and transferring large files from an external hard drive wasn't amazingly fast, so I'm starting to worry that I paid a premium just to have my apps open in 1 second rather than 3.

    PLEASE tell me this thing is more than that. Should I do some photoshop work? Garageband? Let me know so I can test it out tonight when I get home. Hopefully I'll be singing it's praises by tomorrow.
  2. Hansr macrumors 6502a

    Apr 1, 2007
    Both those tasks are hard drive speed dependent. Obviously they won't be faster unless you're old machine was a normal HDD one and the new one had a SSD. What do you normally use the machine for that is CPU dependent?
  3. simsaladimbamba

    Nov 28, 2010
    The HDD is still the bottleneck and the CPU is not involved that much in transferring data from one HDD to another.
    You could use CineBench, XBench or Geekbench to benchmark your MBP.
    Or you could use some CPU intensive application like Handbrake or whatever you use your CPU for.
  4. iAmLegend thread starter macrumors regular


    Jul 8, 2007
    I'm coming from a 2008 iMac, and some of the processes that use to drive me crazy for how long they took were adding filters in Photoshop and importing sound banks and samples into Reason. I plan on testing those things out tonight, but just want to know what other things I can do.

    Again, this MBP does have an SSD, so I'm wondering why installing an app from a .dmg file already on my SSD should take so long. I'm sure it's faster than on my 2008 iMac, but I'd be lying if I said I wasn't expecting it to be faster.

    Also, should it say quad core anywhere in system profiler? Because it only says "2.2 GHz Intel Core I7."
  5. mark28 macrumors 68000

    Jan 29, 2010
    under system profiler, go to hardware. Then it should say you have 4 cores :p
  6. simsaladimbamba

    Nov 28, 2010

    Have you looked at Activity Monitor > Disk Activity during the copying process?
  7. Steve121178 macrumors 601


    Apr 13, 2010
    Bedfordshire, UK
    It will be quicker than your old machine, but not massively so. Essentially you paid a huge premium for a modest improvement. You'll soon find that the SSD provides a more noticeable boost over your old mechanical drive though.
  8. WillEH macrumors 6502a


    Feb 8, 2011
    United Kingdom
    I managed to open up around 450 screens from my external hardrive at once, on any other laptop/i3/i5 desktop computer (PC) I have not been able to do it without it lagging or crashing :D So I guess that shows the speed of mine? I hope you truly test out your laptop, and enjoy it =) x
  9. VTMac, Mar 17, 2011
    Last edited: Mar 17, 2011

    VTMac macrumors 6502

    Jun 9, 2008
    Most people have no need or use for 4 cores (nor 8 virtual cores). Cores increase throughput, not necessarily speed. Speed only increases if the work being performed can:

    1) Be broken into smaller chunks that can be performed in parallel and combined at the end
    2) Programmed by the software you're using to take advantage of this characteristic.
    3) Isn't bottle necked by some other system resource such as disk IO, network IO, or RAM.

    This is not true for the vast majority of office productivity tasks. Things like browsing websites, email. office documents, copying files, and even most games benefit very little from additional cores. (In some cases they will actually run ever so slightly slower do to the lower total thermal envelope available for turbo boost, but that's another story.)

    Encoding video, running multiple virtual machines simultaneously, compiling code, certain scientific simulations and other more intensive tasks benefit immensely from the multiple cores. If you're not doing those sorts of things, then you likely have way more horsepower than you will ever be able to use in a practical way.

    A rough way to think of this is as follows. If each core were a car that could go 100 MPH, having 4 of the same cars wouldn't make it any faster to deliver an item from point A to point B. However, if that item were so big that it couldn't fit in a single car, AND that item could be disassembled into 4 pieces with 1 piece in each car being simultaneously delivered and reassembled at point B, it would be 4 times faster than making 4 trips with a single car. (I'm ignoring the 3 return trips for the single car here - it's a rough analogy like I said.) So if you're particular workloads and applications don't break down like this, you'll only see marginal improvements over your prior machine. That's the case for most end users currently using dual core CPUs.

    This is actually one of the biggest challenges in computing today. Current manufacturing processes are bumping up against the physical limits of making a single core in a chip go faster. Now most work is being put into adding cores to chips and figuring out ways to divide problems into parallelizable chunks, while performing various incremental optimizations of the single core case. 10 years ago if you wanted a chip to go faster you largely just increased it's clock speed. It's not realistic to do that today without some crazy cooling techniques that are neither affordable or pragmatic.
  10. paulrbeers macrumors 68040

    Dec 17, 2009
    I can tell you that the transferring of stuff from an external drive will still be limited by the bandwidth of the connection and/or the external mechanical drive.

    As for installing applications, it will be faster, but not hugely. Mostly because while the actual copying of files will be faster, it will still be slowed down by asking for you to hit "next" and often new software goes back out to the 'net to download updates and/or other file depencies that did not necessarily come with the initial dmg. This last part is dependent on your bandwidth.

    In the end, you should be seeing boot up times around 15-20 seconds which usually run in the 30+ for mechanical drives. Further, I see it a lot in the bloated Microsoft Office product (which I have to use for business purposes). The first time I would open Excel (for example) after a reboot, it would bounce probably 6-7 times. With my SSD, it bounces maybe twice and it is up.

    The SSD that comes with MBP's isn't necessarily the fastest drives on the market, but they are no slouches either. My 2009 MBP has a sandforce drive that is faster in benchmarks, but the SSD that came preinstalled in my 2011 MBP doesn't feel that much slower in real world usage.
  11. camelsnot macrumors 6502


    Jan 31, 2011

    google benchmarks *shrug*
  12. adrian1480 macrumors 6502

    Sep 2, 2010
    oh jesus christ.

    USB has a real-world maximum throughput of between 30MB/s - 40MB/s. It's a limitation of USB. Your CPU and SSD can't do anything about it. You could have a super computer, but if you're going to use USB to transfer a large quantity of files, you'll still be enjoying 30MB/s.

    Your question is akin to asking why a floppy disc drive won't copy faster when hooking it up to a 2010 computer. It has nothing to do with the machine and everything to do with the maximum speed of USB.

    FYI - this is why USB 3.0, Thunderbolt and SATA III are here now. Their maximum theoretical speeds* are:

    USB 2.0 (what you're probably using) - 60MB/s

    Firewire 800 - 98MB/s

    USB 3.0 - 625MB/s

    Thunderbolt - 1.25GB/s (x2)


    *you'll never get those speeds. But probably 60%-70^ of those numbers.

    I hope you're very clear now. As for feeling the speed, people have already point out rightly that HDD was the biggest bottleneck in modern computing. You have an SSD now, so the use of most common apps won't feel meaningfully different now.

    Hypothetical: If your old computer + SSD opened an app in 1.0 seconds and this new system is 4x faster...your new machine might open it in .25 seconds. But is the .75 seconds you gained worthwhile? Probably not. You'll notice the biggest gains when doing things that tax your hardware. That's gonna be:

    -Audio/Video transcoding
    -Video/Video editing
    -Working with large photoshop projects
    -3D design/development
    -Software development

    ...because those are the apps that make your system work for its money. Everything else will feel nominal because most other apps and things open fast with an SSD installed already. So if you bought a new fancy machine and your only use for a computer is iTunes, Safari and Word, it's safe to assume you wasted a ton of money.

    BUT...at least you have Thunderbolt. If you buy an external drive/enclosure that is Thunderbolt compatible (whenever they hit the market), you'll find yourself a very happy man. I'm looking forward to that day.
  13. wildduke macrumors newbie

    Feb 28, 2011

    True statement, but I remember reading that even the new SATA III SSD drives have a maximul speed of 450-550 MB/s so even with USB 3.0 the HD is still the bottle neck. I guess that would mean a Thunderbolt drive wouldn't be any faster for a single HD than USB3.0, is that a fair statement?
  14. derbothaus macrumors 601


    Jul 17, 2010
    Well I just did a series of installs over network and internal HDD on a new 2.3GHz 15" and my time was cut, if not by 50% then by 75%. Discounting media source it multitasks very well. And this is with a lowly 7200RPM mechanical. Can't wait till all my users have these in their hands. Initial responsiveness was pretty close to my 3.33 6-core. but I was only building the thing not really using it with pro apps or anything. A 17" 2.66 i7 2-core sat next to it and it seemed pretty anemic running the same tasks. Again, initial impressions and I was just trying to get my work done;)

Share This Page