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2013 Mac Pro: CPU Upgrades
Here at MPG, primary use of a Mac Pro is for intensive digital photography work. For such work, an 8-core running at 3.3 GHz (Turbo Boost 4.0 GHz) is better than even a 6-core at 3.7 GHz, because there are a variety of tasks that use more than 6 cores, including things like sharpening that makes heavy use of all 12 CPU cores in a 2010 Mac Pro.
And yet the 3.3 GHz 8-core CPU is just as fast for lightly-threaded tasks as the 6-core options (the 3.7 GHz 6-core edges it out barely for the 4/5/6 cores case, but the 8-core adds two more CPU cores over the 6-core).
The all-around merit of the 8-core 3.3 GHz CPU can be visualized below via the green line at top: for 1-3 cores used, it offers at least as good a performance as the 4/6-core CPUs, and then extends that performance out to 8 cores at a level well above the 10 core or 12 core CPUs. It also has 25MB of CPU cache memory which might further aid it with some tasks over the 4/6-core options.
Sometimes 10 or 12 cores can be used, but those situations are sporadic, and the usage scenarios there often involve the GPU (e.g., intensive video work). Hence the 8-core looks to be an ideal choice for a wide array of high-end tasks, especially if the high-end GPUs are also chosen to address video intensive work.
Discussion continues below.
When does it make sense to upgrade?
Discussion here is premised on two key ideas:
- That OWC will in fact offer CPU upgrades for the 2013 Mac Pro. As this was written, that confirmation has yet to be officially stated.
- That the incremental gains are of value to the user; there really is no point to upgrading for mainstream use; know your own particulars or consult with me to discuss the value (or lack thereof).
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$1400 SAVE $149 = 9.0% NEC PA272W-BK-SV 27" 16:9 IPS Monitor with SpectraViewII in Computers: Displays
$899 SAVE $200 = 18.0% Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark II Mirrorless (Body, Silver) in Cameras: Mirrorless
Shown below is the MPG recommendation for the Mac Pro configuration to order for upgrade purposes. Recommendation is premised on a realistic need for the highest performance! It is not necessary for most mainstream uses.
- Upgrade the memory to 64GB at OWC.
- Order the D700 GPUs, because the D700 GPUS might be helpful in time.
- The 1TB SSD (flash) is not easily upgradeable and is the only internal storage available, so it should be ordered also.
Bottom line: the CPU upgrade will be expensive*, so skimping on the other components makes little sense in the context of the total system cost and a real need for high compute power. If your own usage can benefit from a modestly faster CPU, then top-end versions of the other components should also come along.
* OWC does not have CPU purchase pricing power like Apple does. Discounted CPU prices are highly unlikely.
B&H Photo has a similar model Mac Pro with 512GB flash.