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BARE FEATS LAB - real world Mac speed tests

PRELIMINARY ANALYSIS:
The 'Westmere' 12 Core Mac Pro

Posted Wednesday, July 28th, 2010, by rob-ART morgan, mad scientist
Updated on August 22nd, 2010.

It seems overdue but we now can order a new Mac Pro as of August 9th. Let's talk about the key improvements:

Next Xeon Processor, More Cores
The "Westmere" processor will give you the choice of 6, 8, and 12 core Mac Pros with up to 12MB of shared L3 cache. Both Turbo Boost and Hyper-Threading are supported.

Apple has posted some performance test results comparing the fastest 2009 with the fastest 2010 Mac Pro. We'll post our own test results soon but check out Lloyd Chambers' posting of a great comparison between the 6-core Westmere and three other Macs that includes Photoshop, After Effects, memory bandwidth tests, and more.

Faster Memory
Top models now feature 1333MHz DDR3 ECC SDRAM. (NOTE: OWC confirmed that 8GB modules work in the 6 and 12 core Westmere. See links below to order.)

Faster GPUs
ATI Radeon HD 5770 and 5870 GPUs both with 1GB of GDDR5. (Both will be offered in kits. Yes, they are compatible with older Mac Pros, though officially only supported in 2009 and 2010 models.)

To characterize these GPU choices, using five 3D apps running at high settings, the Radeon HD 5770 tied with the Radeon HD 4870 offered in last year's Mac Pro. The HD 5870 is 38% faster than the 5770 (and the 4870). The HD 5770 uses less power (one power feed) so you can run two of them in your Mac Pro. The HD 5870 requires two power feeds.

New Cinema Display
The 27" LED (backlit) Cinema Display that wowed the iMac owners will be available in September for the Mac Pro (or any other Mac).

HERE ARE YOUR PROCESSOR CHOICES

FOR MORE DETAILS ON PROCESSOR SPECS
See the comparison of memory bandwidth, system bus speed, and other specs on Intel's site.

MORE CORES AREN'T AWAYS BETTER
My tests last year with Compressor 3.0 showed that the 8-core Nehalem rendered the HD DVD fastest when only 6 instances (cores) were specifed -- even though up to 16 instances were possible. After Effects CS5 ran fastest when 11 cores were specifed on a Westmere that had up to 24 virtual cores available. When you export RAW to JPEG with Aperture 3.0, it only uses 5 cores whether you are running a Mac Pro 6, 8 or 12 core.

ULTIMATE ENTHUSIAST MAC?
I've ordered the 6-core Westmere Mac Pro (3.33GHz; Turbo Boost to 3.6GHz) with the optional Radeon 5870 for our lab. I ordered it with the minimum memory and HDD. I will "pump it up" during testing with various configurations of memory and storage.

We are looking for Remote Mad Scientists who ordered 2010 Mac Pros with either 4, 8, or 12 cores with either Radeon 5770 or 5870 to run some benchmarks for us. Contact me , mad scientist.

FLASH: We'll post our own test results soon but check out Lloyd Chambers' posting of a great comparison between the 6-core Westmere and three other Macs that includes Photoshop, After Effects, memory bandwidth tests, and more.

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APPLE RESELLERS

IF YOU NEED MEMORY FOR YOUR MAC PRO, start your search at...

Apple Online Store

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copyright 2010 Rob Art Morgan
"BARE facts on Macintosh speed FEATS"
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