Best Mac for the job?

Hi

I need to upgrade one of my development computers soon and I could do with a little guidance. Whilst budget is always important, I don’t want to skimp and regret later. After reading a few articles, including this one: (macrumours article comparing Mac Pro to iMac), I am wondering is an iMac a better choice for compilation speeds over a Mac Pro.

Does anyone have advice or comparison experience?

Thanks in advance!

Chris

I think you will happy with either. I had a couple of thunderbolt displays and loved the design of the Mac Pro so I bought one when they first came out. I love it but honestly after seeing the 5K iMac display I sometimes second guess myself.

Thanks for the reply Peter. The screen is a very small part for me it would be 27" on either machines. My quandary is compilation and linking speed comparisons

if you choose the imac, please do not forget the ssd drive !!!
I think I read here on the forum that multiple cores does not speed up compilation time
so a faster ghz mac should do faster job ? but may be in a near future xojo will use all cpu cores for that ?

I would suspect you won’t find that much difference most of the time with Xojo at least. The Pro could have advantages if LLVM compilation/linking should use multi cores, but then how often do you build your project or simply run it in the debugger? If you’re into video, audio or high-end image editing, the Pro will definitely be the better choice. If you’re not, the iMac comes with a great screen for less and could be even a bit faster with single core processes – which is what Xojo apps mostly are.

With more and more of the graphics stuff being translated to Metal, it’s probably rather a question of mighty fast against blazing fast when it comes to graphics applications. My recommendation would be the bigger GPU in a Retina iMac therefore. Oh yes, and definitely a SSD or Fusion drive!

As long as you get an SSD in the iMac, I think it would be speedier for the type of work most developers do. The Mac Pro is gorgeous, but that video card is overkill for software development. And the iMac single-core speed is faster than the Mac Pro, which matters more for typical usage.

My experience says two things make for a good dev box:

  1. Must have an SSD. Boot up and shutdown are fast and return from suspend is almost instant.
  2. Enough RAM. Eight Gigs minimum.

I have a personal older MacBook Pro (Early 2011) with a fast aftermarket 500GB SDD, 8GB RAM, and 2.7Ghz i7 processor. I use a MacBook Air with a 1.4Ghz i5 processor and 8GB RAM for work. Both generally have VMWare Fusion and Win7 running all of the time. Both compile XOJO about the same speed and that speed seems acceptable. Could it be faster? … probably but it is not a problem and does not cause me any frustration.

Also, my Computers for Cross-Platform Development blog post might have some helpful tips.

Is the Fusion drive as efficient a she SDD (within reason)?

My current personal machine is a 2.4 GHz Intel Core i5 MacBook Pro with 8GB RAM and 256GB Flash. Project opening time usually takes about 60 seconds and running compiled takes about 70 - The 2010 2.8 GHz Intel Core i7 can take up to 4 minutes to run debug, which I consider difficult to work with.

Well if you guys would just rewrite the compiler to run in a massively parallel fashion on the GPU. Isn’t that a weekend project? :wink:

Is it just me, or has Moore’s Law stalled in desktop CPUs? The latest/greatest MacBook and iMac CPUs score better then models from 4-5 years ago…but only by the difference in clock plus a very, very tiny percentage.

If you pick a 4-5 year time period in the 1990’s the performance gain was 3-5x.

Any way, I would probably go with the iMac since just about everything involving development is single core.

[quote=217695:@Chris O’Brien]Is the Fusion drive as efficient a she SDD (within reason)?

My current personal machine is a 2.4 GHz Intel Core i5 MacBook Pro with 8GB RAM and 256GB Flash. Project opening time usually takes about 60 seconds and running compiled takes about 70 - The 2010 2.8 GHz Intel Core i7 can take up to 4 minutes to run debug, which I consider difficult to work with.[/quote]
considering a mechanical harddrive to be speed 1, a fusion drive is usually 3x faster, and a ssd 10x faster than the mechanical drive
so yes if you can afford a ssd, go for it !
I have a 2008 macbookpro with a crucial ssd and I don’t complain about compiling times …
I recently went from 10.6 to 10.9 without noticing any speed lost too.

Moores Law hasn’t stalled… don’t compare computers by Clock Speed… that is so 1980’s :slight_smile:
back then a Pentium at 8mhz was indeed 2x the speed of a Pentium at 4mhz.

But today a modern CPU depends on much more. (Sure you can [for the most part] compare one i7 to another by clock speed), but comparing a 2ghz i5 to a 3ghz i7 and saying the i7 is 1.5x faster is incorrect, the i7 is probably much faster than that.

So you need to find a good set of benchmarks (note I said a “good set”)… Something that compares like units of work, not just loop speeds.

and diskspeed and cpu speed are two distinct items. and one barely affects the other.

Diskspeed is the “ON YOUR MARK, GET SET”
and CPU speed is the “GO!”

[quote=217695:@Chris O’Brien]Is the Fusion drive as efficient a she SDD (within reason)?

My current personal machine is a 2.4 GHz Intel Core i5 MacBook Pro with 8GB RAM and 256GB Flash. Project opening time usually takes about 60 seconds and running compiled takes about 70 - The 2010 2.8 GHz Intel Core i7 can take up to 4 minutes to run debug, which I consider difficult to work with.[/quote]
Unless you have lots of plugins or an absolutely ginormous project 4 min seems just wrong.

You have Trim enabled and enough space left on the SSD?

in 1980 there were no pentium processors, they came about 1993. In 1980 the processors from intel were 8086 and 8088. After that you got the 80186, 80286, 80386 and the 80486. The name of the 80586 became pentium.
The rest of your answer is spot on!

I wasn’t clear. Benchmark scores are tracking clock speed and not really improving otherwise. A Core i7 from 4 years ago is nearly as fast (within 10-20%) as a Core i7 today. Sandy Bridge, Haswell…there may be a difference in power consumption and TDP. But clock speed, actual performance per clock, number of cores…all essentially the same.

It’s not like there’s a Core i9 or Core i12 with double the clock or cores or performance per clock/core.

We’ve been bumping up against clock speed limits for a while. And I know it’s more difficult to overhaul a microarchitecture given how complex they are today.

But Moore’s Law would suggest at least a doubling of the number of cores every 18-24mo for the same die size and TDP. That hasn’t happened at the desktop level. I find that curious.

[quote=217733:@Markus Winter]Unless you have lots of plugins or an absolutely ginormous project 4 min seems just wrong.

You have Trim enabled and enough space left on the SSD?[/quote]

25 Plugins (MBS & Standard) and 40MB Project - 33GB available in SSD and Trim enabled…

Depends on whether or not the OS has decided that a file is accessed frequently enough to sit on the flash memory. If the file is on the disk then you will get HDD speeds, not SSD speeds.

Given the pricing on current SSD drives I would never settle for a hybrid drive.

The SSD drive and 16 gig of memory are my absolute favorite part of this machine. Yes, its less space and more money but oh my god how much faster everything happens with it. I’m not sure it really makes a huge different in compile speeds, but EVERYTHING else on the machine is ludicrously faster. get a small SSD for boot and development and keep all your music and movies on an external spinny one :wink:

iMac, one of the best value computers I ever owned. Like others mention get the fastest HDD and the most amount of memory you can afford. The main limitation of the iMac is upgradability, so speccing out when you purchase is a must.

Oh and invest in a backup HDD (a cheap external will do), SSDs will die just like spinning HDD (although not technically in the same way). I have a fried who’s just lost all his family photos :frowning:

If you have any change left over, I would also recommend picking up a cheap/second hand MacBook Air or even a new MacBook. The reason being is the fast machine is development, but it’s best to have a slow machine for testing. It will help you weed out bottlenecks and even interfaces that don’t work on a small screen.

My original MBA, earned it’s keep by doing just this, once I tuned an app to function smoothly on that baby, it sailed on almost everything else.

@Chris O’Brien : how many classes and now many klocs does your project have? 4 minutes is very very long and this would drive me nuts.