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2013 Mac Pro: How Much Memory for Performance?

Last updated 2014-01-18 - Send Feedback
Related: Macs, Mac Pro, software, Memory, Photoshop, Mac

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Memory can be a critical factor for performance, though it all depends on the “pressure” any particular workflow exerts on the amount of available memory,

The optimal amount includes not only the needs of the application(s) in use, but also memory the system can use for caching disk I/O, and how much CPU time has to be spent managing available memory when the demands for it rise towards the amount installed.

Results

See the test machine configurations.

The 6-core 3.5 GHz Mac Pro with D500 GPUs was tested here, using the stock 16GB of Apple memory, and also the OWC 32GB and 64GB OWC memory kits.

For big jobs (diglloydHuge benchmark) more memory lets the processors do their job at high speed. Note that 32GB still shows a large loss of performance, with 16GB quite unpleasant for anyone who needs to work efficiently.

For medium sized jobs (diglloydMedium), the 16GB configuration drops performance considerably, and 32GB restores that performance.

There is a subtle but interesting speed trend with the three configurations: even for diglloydSpeed1 where 16GB is plenty of memory, there is a measurable loss of performance when dropping from 64GB to 32GB to 16GB, a slight notching up in runtime; the trend is clear and it is also seen from 64GB to 32GB for diglloydMedium.

The implications should be clear for anyone using a system to get work done efficiently: since even a basic 2013 Mac Pro prices out at around $3500 with keyboard, mouse, Applecare (and that’s before storage and display and sales tax), it’s a no brainer to consider 32GB the minimum. And realistically for this class of machine (anyone who really needs a Mac Pro), it just makes sense to go straight to 64GB*. For those with really huge jobs, 128GB is available from OWC.

* After the OWC rebate for the stock memory, the OWC 64GB kit looks highly attractive compared to Apple pricing.

2013 Mac Pro performance: Photoshop CC speed with 16GB, 32GB, 64GB
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