I had been waiting for Nehalem Mac Pros to be released since the middle of last year, so I was pretty excited to hear Apple release them earlier this spring when I was in Thailand. Of course, I didn’t have time while abroad to actually put in an order, so I waited until I got back and ordered one in the beginning of April with these specs…
- 8 x 2.26Ghz Nehalem Xeons
- 12GB of 1066Mhz DDR3 RAM
- Radeon 4870 graphics card with 512MB of VRAM
- 2 1TB hard drives in a RAID 0 configuration
- 1 640GB hard drive for Time Machine
It was a tough decision between the 8 core 2.26Ghz model and the 4 core 2.66Ghz model. The 4 core model was a bit cheaper. It is also faster at single-threaded processes, but with the drawback of only having half as many cores. Since compiling code is the primary job of this Mac, and compiling takes advantage of as many CPUs as you can throw at it, I decided to go for the 8 core model.
I’m glad I did, because for compiling this machine is a beast. You can check out a screencast I captured showing XRG compiling subversion below. With 16 CPUs (8 real + 8 hyperthreading), I had to create a new CPU graph on XRG to show them more efficiently. The top shows a composite of all CPU activity, and the bottom shows a bar chart with immediate CPU usage for each of the 16 CPU cores.
All in all, this Mac is more than 6 times faster at compiling than the Dual 2.5Ghz G5 it replaces, which definitely saves me quite a bit of time day in and day out while working.
When ordering this Mac, I also ordered a second 24″ LCD. Now, having 2 24″ displays (an HP LP2475w and a Samsung 2493HM) makes usability a lot smoother. Plenty of space to spread out all the windows I’m working with. While coding, I can have Xcode take a full display, and then run the app on the second display, never having to worry about covering up the debugging interface while testing something.