I’ve recently been thinking about getting a new Mac. The dual 2.0Ghz G5 was definitely getting long in the tooth. I was really hoping that Apple would come up with some solutions to the slow FB-DIMM issues in the 8 core Mac Pro. Turns out they didn’t, and for most applications, the 8 core wasn’t much faster than the 4 core. It’s just starved for bus and memory bandwidth. Also, $200 for 1 GB of FB-DIMM memory wasn’t really appealing.
So it was time to build a PC. Turns out that you can build a pretty beefy machine these days for not that much money. I bought a e4300 Core2Duo, overclocked it to 3Ghz, got a Nvidia GeForce 7600GT and slapped in 6GB of RAM. That 6GB of ram cost me $400. The same amount in a Mac Pro would probably be around $600 at the cheapest. All told, the machine cost me right around $1000 using an optical drive and HD that I already had.
Now I want to make clear, I’m not running Mac OS X on this machine. From everything I’ve read, doing so would only be a violation of the end user agreement, and not illegal if you own a legit copy of Mac OS X, which I do. But I’m just going to say here that I’m not.
But yikes this machine is fast. Photoshop is very snappy, most applications open very quickly, and booting also happens very fast. Benchmarks with Geekbench are right up there with a Mac Pro 2.66, and actually crush that machine in memory speed and video performance.
This September, the 4 core q6600 should be dropping in price to less than $300, so I’ll probably bring it up to a quad core then. At which time I expect it will crush a Mac Pro 2.66.
Now, the Mac Pros have a lot going for them. I’m not saying they are over-priced for the components that are included in them. But I would say they are over-priced for the performance they provide. Now, I don’t think that’s Apple’s fault. Intel made some bad decisions with the Xeon and FB-DIMMs that limit their performance, and as a result, a well equipped Core2Duo can keep up with the Xeons in most tasks. Mac Pros will still have the edge, but you’ll pay dearly for it.
As it stands, I’m really happy with this machine.