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2013 Mac Pro: Which CPU and GPU?

An excerpt from my Mac Pro 2013 Choosing the CPU / GPU page:

Not sure? Consult with Lloyd Chambers.

Here’s a specification that caught my eye, just in case I feel like computing in Nepal:

Maximum altitude: 16,400 feet (5000 meters)

And 12 dBA at idle acoustics is simply amazing for a workstation-grade computer.

Choosing the right CPU for your needs

See the discussion.

CPU Cores Clock Speed Cache Memory Mainstream Task Speed* Core-Friendly Speed** Comments
  Higher numbers are faster
4 3.7 GHz
+37% / +5.7%
10 MB
2.5MB/core
14.8 14.8
Fastest for general use due to highest clock speed, but certain operations in programs like Adobe Photoshop Lightroom will be slower than with 6-core or 8-core options—and others will be faster! It all depends.
6

~ 5.6 ±
3.5 GHz
+30% / + 16%
12 MB
2MB/core
14.0 18.9 About 5% slower than the 4-core in clock speed, but the two extra CPU cores are WELL worth it for programs like Adobe Photoshop Lightroom. Best all-around solution.
8

~6.5 ±
3.0 GHz
+11%
25MB
3.1MB/core
12.0 19.2 With a 14% drop in clock speed, the 8-core model is not likely to outperform the 6-core model for most tasks, but it has more cache memory and this might mitigate the clock speed losses. And it’s a good middle ground for workflows which mix video with other tasks.

Still, Photoshop hardly ever uses even 4 cores for common tasks. The 8-core is really for video processing or other specialty tasks which can use all the cores.
12

~8.7 ±
2.7 GHz
30MB
2.5MB/core
10.8 22.7 Appropriate only for video users, unless big changes accrue, Photoshop and Lightroom and all productivity software will run slowest on this machine.

* Ordinary Task Speed = expected speed with mainstream tasks which typically use four CPU cores or fewer and rarely more except for brief spikes.

** Core-Friendly = Estimated real-world best-case performance taking into account clock speed and CPU cores, application multi-threading efficiency, memory contention.

± Taking clock speed into account, the equivalent number of 3.7 GHz CPU cores (multiplier of # of cores times the clock speed). This does not take the inevitable multi-core overhead into account (hardware and software factor), which degrades performance as the number of CPU cores increases.

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