9 Replies Latest reply: Sep 17, 2007 12:04 PM by The hatter
Jon99 Level 1 (0 points)
The most demanding computer work I do is with large Excel spreadsheets that take very long to recalculate on my current system (about 45-50 minutes).
Getting a new iMac would already provide great improvement in speed, but I was also wondering what additional benefit I could obtain instead from a quad-core Mac Pro. I am confused because Apple seems to mostly target this system for graphics or video work. Would I see a substantial improvement over the best iMac when doing spreadsheet calculations?

I would appreciate any comments. Thank you!

Windows XP
  • The hatter Level 9 (60,930 points)
    You don't mention much about what you are using currently.

    The Mac Pro is dual/dual-core. there will likely be quad-cores from Intel next year (true quad-core packages, too, not two dual-core chips) that could find their way into iMac.

    You could build a quad-core Windows systems.

    I think Excel runs better on Intel/AMD PCs rather than Mac OS. And, Excel is still a "PowerPC" application. It does not run natively on Intel-Macs. it runs under Rosetta. And the more demanding the code and spreadsheets, the more of a hit. So you would probably want to wait for the NEXT version of Office/Excel, too.

    I think you should buy based on your needs. The Macs can run OS X and Windows so you have a lot of choice and flexibility in that regard.
  • infinite vortex Level 7 (21,405 points)
    While on paper, and for many applications in real life, there's a huge gap between the computers the benefit will very much depend on Microsoft's implementation of Excel 2004 and the coming Excel 2008/9. If Microsoft don't spend time in optimising it for multi-core will be a decent differenre and multi-processor systems you'll find that it's max out only the one core. In this case the difference won't be much.

    At the moment, there will be a decent difference as Excel requires Rosetta and this has been written very well with good multi-core support.

    If you're looking for the best value for money you'll probably find that the iMac 24" 2.8GHz with 4GB RAM to fit that.
  • Martin Pace Level 5 (5,110 points)
    As previously stated, Office Mac 2004 only runs under Rosetta.

    Also, Office Mac 2008 will not have support for VBA so if you are using that at all, Office Mac 2008 will not be the way to go.
  • Jon99 Level 1 (0 points)
    I currently do my spreadsheet work on an XP, 2.8 GHz Pentium 4 system, with 1.25 Mb RAM. Obviously, what I need is as much spreadsheet processing power I can afford to reduce the long recalculation time, but of course money is a concern.

    I’m interested in switching to Mac mainly for the greater stability of the environment vs Windows. I guess what I’m trying to find out here is if the additional power I’d get from a Mac Pro vs iMac would justify the higher cost. Is Xeon more apt at graphics and video processing or is it equivalently good at spreadsheet processing?

    I will definitely wait until the next Mac version of Excel, and I hope they’ll have unlimited rows and columns as in the new Windows version. I think I remember reading somewhere that indeed Microsoft is implementing multi-threading in Excel. So it’ll most likely benefit from multiple microprocessors. And I couldn’t fully implement my few macros anyway because of bugs in VBA, so I’m looking forward rewriting them in AppleScript.
  • Allan Eckert Level 9 (50,741 points)
    Hi jon99;

    While the spreadsheet I was working on with Excel is not nearly as compute intensive as yours since it takes only about a couple of minutes to recalculate on a 1.6 GHz Windows laptop at work, I was pleasantly surprised at the performance of Numbers on my MBP to recalculate the spreadsheet after I moved it over for a test. The time to recalculate went down to a few seconds which is a vast improvement over Excel on the Windows laptop. Maybe your spreadsheet might benefit from a migration to Numbers. If I were you I take the spreadsheet to the Apple store and see if it can be opened in Numbers on one of their systems. If it opens do a recalculate and see what the results are. You may be surprised also.

  • The hatter Level 9 (60,930 points)
    Numbers? check the discussion group,

    it has some serious limitations as a replacement, let alone for size and number of cells. whether that is due to being 1.0 or something else, I don't see it as a replacement or challenge or whether it will even run or import as is, but you can demo the full version for 30 days.

    I don't find much of any difference in stability or reliability between OS X and Vista, but I expect Leo (10.5) will up the ante.

    The Mac Pro is ideal where you need more than 4GB RAM (which many would consider a good base, with 2-3GB as minimum); multiple hard drives is nice. You can install and boot from any of your disk drives as you wish, a real plus. And graphics is actually weak. The OEM card is an the lowest rung, and X1900 is a year old and mid-range only.

    Memory costs more, due to using ECC FBDIMMs.

    A quad-core anything would do nicely, and running XP you can tweak away to quite an extent.
  • Allan Eckert Level 9 (50,741 points)
    Hi Hatter;

    Thanks. I have been monitoring the Numbers forum ever since I upgrade to iWork 08. I have seen the problems others are having. So far I haven't seen any of these problems. I have been able to open all of my Excel spreadsheets without any problems so far. Hence the reason I suggested that the OP give it a shot.

  • The hatter Level 9 (60,930 points)
    There is a limit to the number of rows, don't know if it is 255 or a formula of rows x columns but it had some people miffed.

    I had to give up using Pages 3 because it couldn't handle long or complex documents and would go into SBOD and have to be force quit (just doing a find and replace for anything). I've since switched to OpenOffice 2.3 RC3 which handles everything I need (and has a decent spreadsheet, too

    Oddly, people are sometimes finding that a Mac Pro is the best Windows computers they've ever used!!