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Which is Faster - Mac Pro's Xeons or New Core 2 Duo Extreme

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August 13, 2006 9:06:53 AM

Hi everyone,
I hope this isn't a stupid question, but I'm torn between buying a Mac Pro or just buying a PC with a Core 2 Duo. I'll be using the computer for primarily applications like After Effects and Photoshop (using Windows Xp until Universal Binaries are available). And also for gaming. Anyway, i want to get as fast a system as I possibly can afford. But I can't find any benchmarks comparing Xeon's to Core 2 Duo.

I would be be using the computer to play some games, but nothing that the 1900xt card can't handle.
I like that with the Mac Pro I can run both OSes, but it's not a make or break for me. Performance and Price is more important to me.
For $2100 I can get a Core 2 Duo extreme with a x1900 graphics card, or for $2700+ I can get Mac Pro with an X1900 XT.
Is the extra grand worth it? That's what I'm trying to figure out.

Any advice would be appreciated

Thanks
Terry
August 13, 2006 10:14:42 AM

the mac pro will be better for near enough anything associated with photo editing, or editing as a whole. i prefer PCs as they (unlike macs) can be built by urself and run pretty much everything, whereas Macs as far as i know are propreatery machines. this really doesnt effect you unless you like to build them. though Macs for you are gonna be better unless of course you dont like the lack of a right click...
August 13, 2006 10:33:41 AM

I'm hearing two differeing opinions. Urgh!
I do appreciate both of your inputs though.

And I plan on using a microsoft mouse and keyboard, I can't stand mac's pereipherals. That's one area they really need to improve on
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August 14, 2006 12:58:01 PM

Quote:
I'm hearing two differeing opinions. Urgh!
I do appreciate both of your inputs though.

And I plan on using a microsoft mouse and keyboard, I can't stand mac's pereipherals. That's one area they really need to improve on


If thats the case, just go with a PC. Windows runs photoshop flawlessly and if you feel like maybe pickin up a game later on, the PC has a way better selection.
August 14, 2006 1:43:57 PM

Well if money doesn't matter to you I'd say go with the mac.
Windows install/boot for gaming.
MAC OSX(or whatever they use now) for your videoo editing etc.
Depending on what your use to using now.
If your using a mac now for video editing prolly goodidea to stay.
However if your using a windows based now then I'd say stick to the PC/C2D system.
It's a good enough processor that you shouldn't have a problem really.
Also You are paying for an apple symbol to some extent.
Also regarding someone saying omd quad xeons b4 amd had quad omg.
Xeon=Opteron.
Tons of Opteron servers etc.
August 14, 2006 2:20:41 PM

Dude, spend the $600 and get the Mac Pro. Like the one dude said, the Mac Pro is already a Quad CPU machine. For your video/photo editing, the more cores the better. Quad core for desktop PC's is a year away at best. That Mac Pro is quite the deal for 2 Woodcrest Xeons.

Correction, Mac's are no longer proprietary. The Mac Pro runs an Intel CPU with an Intel platform. USB2, PCI-X, Serial ATA all there for ya. Not going to go as far as saying the Mac OS will plug and play every Windows hardware you can find, but for that hardware usage, run Windows.

And to that one guy, the Mac Pro is a desktop machine. AMD Opterons are far from being legit quad core "desktop" PC's. Unless you got $4-5 grand.
August 14, 2006 2:37:07 PM

You can build a decent quad core machine utilizing opertons far cheaper than Apple's $2500 minimum Mac Pro. If you want turnkey go for it, if you want to build it yourself you can.
August 14, 2006 3:17:34 PM

ahh
Intel has teh woodcrest cpu's avaliable for winxp since release. Go to dell.com size up a precision 690 - and the price - performance isnt that bad. same as apple's setup, except 1- sli is avaliable on teh woodcrest system.

or piece together a dual woodcrest using oem, cpu+supermicro mb= FAT performance.
August 14, 2006 3:31:09 PM

It's not worth it; the mac will be slighly faster then the PC, and that speed will be brought down by the macs SLOW program file format, it would be better to take that extra 600USD and buy some more ram, thats what photoshop is realy hungry for.

P.S. you can always install Mac Os X on a PC, I even have the legit install disks right from apple(wait...apple makes install disks?)
a b à CPUs
August 14, 2006 3:31:59 PM

Terry, ignore the wintel fanbois out there. They have never really used Mac OS X and do not understand what all the hype is about. Also, when you buy Apple hardware, you are honestly buying a Ferrari, even if they all run on gasoline.

You get the best of both worlds. Quad Intel CPUs, more memory expansion shuold you ever need it, and the ability to run Windows and Mac OS X (legally). Sure, you pay more (or less if you do a spec-for-spec comparison with Dell), and you get what you pay for.

All I can say is, Final Cut Pro. Apple has never released this killer app for Windows (and probably never will). If you are into digital video production, it will blow your mind away with how easy and intuitive it is to use the interface. And once Adobe releases CS3, all their mainstream apps will be dual binary, including Photoshop. Sure, right now, Photoshop CS2 will run like you are using a dual G4 1 Ghz under Rosetta, but that is still nothing to scoff at.

Posted from a Mac Book Pro. Running beautifully and triple booting (Mac OS X, Windows XP Pro and Ubuntu) since March of this year.
August 14, 2006 3:38:29 PM

"Believe it or not, Intel's Xeon 5160, a faster alternative to the Core 2 Extreme X6800 is actually priced lower."

Intel Xeons ARE faster than the C2D cpu. If you want the greatest 'bang' for your money go for a Xeon based system. Even though they are 'server' based cpu (grinded into our heads by such company's as Dell) you can still run a XP pro workstation on Xeons.


"By the end of this year, Intel will be shipping Clovertown, a quad core version of the dual core Xeons you see in today's Mac Pros. If Apple chooses to, with minimal effort, it could release 8-core Mac Pro systems in a matter of months (assuming Intel keeps its accelerated CPU schedule)."

Core 2 Duo is not compatible with the Clovertown CPU. Xeons are! If your looking for upgradeability go for a PC based on Xeons (which currently has 2 cpu's with 4 cores on 1 motherboard) and then, if you wish, upgrade to clovertowns down the road which will give you 8 cores.

The Xeon based pc should be a beast and with Clovertowns down the road, you'll be set for a while. If you're thinking about getting a mac pro and then upgrading to Clovertowns later, you'll find that Apple isn't very friendly when swapping out cpu's.

Go for a Xeon based pc and skip the C2D. You'll have all the power of the mac pro plus the upgradability of a pc that we all love.

ps. Quotes are from anandtech

Xeons and the motherboards can be found on newegg (as well as other sites)
August 14, 2006 4:09:56 PM

Quote:

The Mac pro is also quad CPU --- looks like in a funny sort of way Intel beat AMD to the punch on quad desktop thanks to Apple :)  ....


Intel beat AMD to quad on a desktop, but IBM beat them both when Apple released the G5 Quad PowerMac last year. Not to say that it was faster or anything ;) 
August 14, 2006 4:10:16 PM

The Mac Pro may be THE ENTHUSIASTS BEST current hardware, or at least by end of year when Intel releases the 4-core chips.

The Mac Pro should be able to accept the quad chips for a total of eight cores (and if Apple doesn't offer the firmware update, someone else will).

That will be one screaming workstation.
August 14, 2006 4:29:44 PM

Quote:
The Mac Pro may be THE ENTHUSIASTS BEST current hardware, or at least by end of year when Intel releases the 4-core chips.

The Mac Pro should be able to accept the quad chips for a total of eight cores (and if Apple doesn't offer the firmware update, someone else will).



Most 'hardware' enthusiasts build thier own systems.....it's like saying your an enthusiast but have a dell xps at home because it was the only way you could get quad sli. Build your own and wait it out. If your an enthusiast, build your own mac pro. The only difference would be the OS and the case. (you may be asble to install osX on a pc but i'm not 100% sure.....and if you really wanted to, you could find an old G5 case and modify it to h3ll)

It's not only about firmware updates. (and if apple doesn't release it for thier own hardware, no one else will -- I haven't seen a third party firmware update and i don't expect to see one anytime soon)

What about cooling? The Macpro can probably do well cooling 4 cores but using 8 cores with a heatsink that is designed for 4 would probably mean *overheating issues*.
a b à CPUs
August 14, 2006 5:00:59 PM

You are not legally able to run Mac OS X on any hardware other than Apple hardware, but since when has legality slowed down the enthusiast community. The biggest hurdle you would have to overcome is the fact that Apple has completely dumped legacy BIOS in favor of Intel's EFI technology. Now, if you can find a manufacturer that makes a mainboard that uses EFI (and within your budget), then you are halfway there.

Can you find a source for Woodcrest CPUs that (a) isn't sold out and (b) cheap enough to compete with Apple's overall price? Retail on two Intel 5150 Xeon processors is around $1600 US. This means that Apple has to build the rest of the system, including memory, case, power supply, cooling, graphics, ect., all in under $900. Add to this all the polish that Apple throws into their build. This includes a case designed for optimal cooling for the entire system, a very polished drive tray system, RAM riser modules as well as 4 16X PCI-E upgrade slots. You will find very few homebuilt systems that can match these specs, let alone do it cheaper than Apple can offer for a complete system. I know. I've been building my own PCs for years now. And I would love to be able to homebuild my own Mac. But I know I would never be able to design and build a machine to the level of perfection that Apple has put into the Mac Pro.

What you will discover is that once you start looking at these components, you will find that they are all workstation and server level parts, where manufacturers tend to mark up considerably since they know businesses have deeper pockets than retail consumers. This is the point when a system integrator's economy of scale far outpaces the amount of savings one can derive from circumventing the integrators and going to the wholesale market.

I will qualify that these machines are most certainly not aimed at the enthusiast market, who are more concerned about FPS than they are about MAYA or CAD design. Would enthusiasts find these machines agreeable? Sure, why not? It's just that the sum of the components is really overpowered for the average enthusiasts' needs, yet more than adequate for the professional user.
August 14, 2006 5:12:10 PM

How about you do nither, you dont buy a mac, save a bomb, buy a 6700 (theres basically no difference, and you can always overclock to the 6800) you can spend half the money and get a more powerfull system.
a b à CPUs
August 14, 2006 5:26:14 PM

cusis...here's a clue...you are talking about Conroe processors. Apple is selling Woodcrest. It's not just the speed of the processor. It's not just the size of the cache. It's the bandwidth and speed of the pipelines that connects everything together. Workstations and servers will ALWAYS run faster than desktops of comparable technology because the needs are different. Not only is the memory bus bigger and faster, but it is more robust and uses fully buffered DIMMs. This is a step beyond ECC even.

Sure, you will spend less on a 6700 system, and you will probably play games just as fast as the workstation system, but you will not get the same level of performance overall in professional level applications such as Photoshop, MAYA or Final Cut Pro.
August 14, 2006 5:33:31 PM

true but is the performance increase of the woodcrest really worth that much money, at least you will be able to upgrade when the new intel system comes out, i just dont think performance justifies the price.
August 14, 2006 5:35:21 PM

Quote:
You are not legally able to run Mac OS X on any hardware other than Apple hardware, but since when has legality slowed down the enthusiast community. The biggest hurdle you would have to overcome is the fact that Apple has completely dumped legacy BIOS in favor of Intel's EFI technology. Now, if you can find a manufacturer that makes a mainboard that uses EFI (and within your budget), then you are halfway there.


hmmm...you have a point. but schools get upgrade disks everytime a new version of the OS come out (every update). plus early versions of Mac OS x86 could run on machines with BIOS.
August 14, 2006 5:52:19 PM

Lets take a look at the Apple MacPro base system

Suggested configuration:
Two 2.66GHz Dual-Core Intel Xeon "Woodcrest" processors
4MB shared L2 cache per processor
1.33GHz dual independent frontside buses
1GB memory (667MHz DDR2 fully-buffered DIMM ECC)
NVIDIA GeForce 7300 GT graphics with 256MB memory
250GB Serial ATA 3Gb/s 7200-rpm hard drive1
16x double-layer SuperDrive (DVD+R DL/DVD±RW/CD-RW)

$2,499.00


Now a pc based on the above specs

2.66GHz Dual-Core Intel Xeon "Woodcrest" 739.99 x 2 = $1479.98
Intel S5000VSASATA Dual Socket 771 Intel 5000V SSI EEB 3.6 (Extended ATX) Server Motherboard - Retail $394.99
Kingston 1GB 240-Pin DDR2 FB-DIMM DDR2 667 (PC2 5300) ECC Fully Buffered System Memory Model KVR667D2D8F5/1G - Retail $168.99
XFX PVT73EUDJ3 Geforce 7300GT 256MB GDDR2 PCI Express x16 Video Card - Retail $85.99
Western Digital Caviar SE16 250GB 3.5" SATA 3.0Gb/s Hard Drive - OEM $79.99
SONY Black 16X DVD-ROM 48X CD-ROM IDE DVD-ROM $19.99
WinXP Pro $189.00

$2398.94


Now I know that the pc configuration is missing a few things (case, power supply, etc.) but most enthusiasts are going to have a few cases lying around the house and could probably manage to find a worthy powersupply.

Perfection is in the eye of the beholder.
I like the case of the macpro but I also like the lan-li's a lot more. The enthusiast wants a custom pc and if they're putting this much money into a system, they'll probably take the time to make it look as good as the mac pro, if not better.

Remember the first post was from a professional who also wanted a high FPS and with the cost of the 'upgrades' from Apple, you'll be hard pressed to find that in an affordable macpro.

You'll aslo want to think of upgrades and we all know that apple sucks in this respect.

ps. Adobe's software running on a macpro is faster on the windows partition then the mac's.
August 14, 2006 5:58:11 PM

Quote:
How about you do nither, you dont buy a mac, save a bomb, buy a 6700 (theres basically no difference, and you can always overclock to the 6800) you can spend half the money and get a more powerfull system.

But a 6700 only has 2 cores, while the Mac Pro comes with TWO CPUs each with two cores. That's 4 vs 2. You're right about overclocking...it won't be possible on the Mac Pro. But with two 2.66GHz Woodcrests, who would need overclocking?
August 14, 2006 6:03:50 PM

What about getting the 6700, getting x1900xt with al lth eother best omponents, and then upgrading to the quad that will be comig out next year?and still save a hell of a lot.
a b à CPUs
August 14, 2006 7:07:04 PM

Comp98, your analogy between systems applies as long as you discount 2 conditions:

1) The professional in question has all the experience and skills required to build/modify the machine, and is willing to work for "free." I know as a designer I usually charge between $120-140 US per hour to clients for my time. You have to take this into the equation for a busy professional who needs to use their computer for work that will be charged to clients.

2) The inimical value of being able to run both Windows and Mac OS LEGALLY. The BIOS version of Mac OS X86 (10.3.9, I do believe) is not upgradeable to the latest version of OS X (10.4.7) and will most certainly not be upgradeable any new versions of the OS.

Yes, I know that a skilled modder can probably build a machine with nearly the same level of polish that Apple is able to manufacture. Consider that this will probably require a full shop with access to a machining lathe, as well as all the skills necessary to operate this equipment. You have to add this into the cost as well.

As long as you are willing to make concessions as well as discount the price of your (or another professional's) labor, then, yes, you can probably build a machine for nearly as much as you can buy one from an integrator like Apple.

By the way, Photoshop will run faster in Mac OS X than Windows (and without the clunky Windows interface, as anyone who has to set text that uses any special characters can attest to) once Adobe updates to universal binary. As it is now, you do not get the full performance out of Photoshop, but it is still far from unusable, and still far better than the Windows version.
August 14, 2006 7:09:54 PM

It doesn´t worth the effort.
I tried to convert pc users to macs and they are always afraid. They don´t have a clue of what we are talking about.

All pc users have too much intelligence to use the "fool proof" software.
Let them alone with the blue screens and drivers problems:twisted:
August 14, 2006 7:12:10 PM

Terryrocks, from what I've seen you'd be better off buying the new Mac Pro. Take a look at Macintoch's Mac Pro report. A summary: The machine is quiet. My one gripe right now is that it's power-hungry.They have several benchmarks, and the machine looks to be a real screamer. Especially in memory-intensive tasks.

Keep in mind, though, that the major problem for you will be that there's no native version of Photoshop. Having to run this in emulation slows it down to the speed of a fast G5. When the native version comes out it should run a lot better.

You don't have to pay Apple's prices for more storage, either. Hard disk mount in sleds that then slide into the machine, to be locked in place when you close the side. No cables. Room for 4 SATA disks. Buy the machine with one, then buy three more from your favorite vendor.

I'll admit to preferring Macintoshi for most daily purposes. I have two of them. I also have a P4-based PC. They all work for their intended purpose.
August 14, 2006 7:27:31 PM

A quick question: Is boot camp a true install of WinXP or just emulation type software? It is one of the most interesting things about the whole Apple line using Intel CPUs.

Also, I think a dual Woodcrest would simply overpower a single C2D CPU.

Just my $.02
a b à CPUs
August 14, 2006 7:50:31 PM

Bootcamp is a full native install of Windows (or any other BIOS-dependent X86 OS) on Apple Intel hardware. The biggest hurdle that had to be crossed was the fact that Apple had dumped the legacy BIOS and went entirely with Intel's EFI architecture. This was the lynchpin in an equitable movement from the PowerPC platform (which used Open Firmware, in many ways superior even to EFI) to the Intel platform.

To put it simply. BIOS is a 16 bit implementation that sets up the hardware devices and passes this information and setup to a 32 bit bootloader. This is the space where IRQs and machine level drivers are loaded. EFI, on the other hand, is 32 bit throughout, and completely does away with the limitations of BIOS.

What Bootcamp does is emulate a BIOS environemnt within EFI for a very limited set of hardware and passes this along to the Bootloader, which is then responsible for launching the appropriate OS. From there on, all commands and calls to the hardware are native to the machine, so no emulation is involved beyond that point. By the time Apple released Bootcamp, a rather motley crew of Apple enthusiasts had already come up with a solution that had limited success in booting windows from EFI.

Fully expect to see more and more operating systems take advantage of EFI and start doing away with BIOS completely. It only makes sense, considering the trend of industry in standardizing on Intel technology once it has been adopted by Apple (ala USB).
August 14, 2006 9:26:36 PM

If you would like to use emulation on a Mac look at Parallels which Apple is pushing or VMWare.
August 14, 2006 11:40:30 PM

I'm a Mac fan, I love them for what they can do. But they're not for gaming. Read the original post:

"I'll be using the computer for primarily applications like After Effects and Photoshop (using Windows Xp until Universal Binaries are available). And also for gaming. Anyway, i want to get as fast a system as I possibly can afford."

After Effects and Photoshop run fine on both pc and mac hardware. Each has it's own downfalls. As Hounsteeth has said "Photoshop will run faster in Mac OS X than Windows" but Aftereffects runs faster in Windows then in OS X.

And seeing how terryrocks uses Adobes applications, I would definately go with a Windows machine because of the workflow integration between Photoshop, AfterEffects, and Premiere. If you have ever gone from AfterEffects to Final Cut you'll know what i mean and you'll very much like the integration of Premire Pro into that workflow. (Premiere is Windows only at the moment).

As for your first comment Hounsteeth, no one works 24/7 and a few hours building a new system while your old one renders wont hurt. If your even considering having a system like the mac pro or Xeon pc, then you probably already have a killer machine at your workstation that will preform well until this one is complete.

As for your second comment. OS X is definatly a must to be able to use, but terry's stuation doesn't require it's use.

Adobe suite + gaming = Windows PC

As for fabrication a machine that looks like a Mac pro........No profressional should give a d*mn about how thier case looks as long as it functions RIGHT. Give me a server case from 1991 and it'll fit all the components of the mac pro + more. As long as it works.....I'lltake it.

Remember the guy who started this post wanted a workstation he could play games on. Games in which hardware upgrades are required from time to time. Mac may be able to give you a few choice upgrades (ram mostly) but nothing like a pc will.

If terry was only asking for a Adobe compatible workstation I would suggest a mac (if adobe updates thier software), but for gaming and most of all upgradeability GET a PC. Woodcrest -> Clovertowns will probably only be possible on a custom built machine! Take a chance on a macpro having that option in the next 6 months with this kind of money being sepnt? Count me out.

As for you PMR, don't believe everything you see on TV. Macs CRASH, they don't have a blue screen but they do have the Four Languages of Death with the power down button. Apple deny's it but I've seen it plenty of times.
One of my work related mac horror stories:
1. Set up an After Effects 17 hour render.
2. Mac gives me the 4 languages -- only thing to do is restart.
3. Restarts fine.
4. The entire project is gone from the Hard drive. Everything, even the original AE projects.

MACS AREN'T PERFECT.
.....and I'm tired of these Mac people pointing thier noses up in the air trying to convice everyone else otherwise.
August 15, 2006 12:59:10 AM

Amen to that. I believe thats why they chose to use a mac book for their presentation on wireless vulnerabilities at Blackhat. Software/Hardware snobs=APPLE. Not that it mattered which OS it was, its the card manufactures drivers that were compromised. Those commercials about MACs and PCs make me want to puke. My Ubuntu box doesnt get viruses or need to reboot either. I find it interesting that Microsoft is more honest about their security shortcomings than Apple is.
August 15, 2006 2:10:02 AM

whatever...


To all anti-mac posters that want to kick my as*:
I don´t believe in everything I see on tv; I've been a mac and pc user for 12 years, and that's all I have to know.

Cheers 8)
August 15, 2006 5:52:03 AM

Has anyone tried Boot Camp?

I was wondering if there was a performance hit when running WinXP on, like a MacBook Pro or something like that.

I was looking at some laptops, and I might be able to get a MacBook Pro for a decent price, so I was wondering about Boot Camp.
August 15, 2006 12:14:11 PM

bootcamp is pretty good, its suppose to be up to par with a normal intel machine, there isnt suppose to be any really massive performance hit
!