There are overwhelming computer-architecture differences between the models you cite that completely swamp raw memory speed.
A 4-core Mac Pro 4,1 with its correct memories at a certain CPU speed will benchmark at about the same speed as an 8-core Mac Pro 3,1 with its correct memories at the same nominal CPU speed. Nearly double the benchmark performance with the same number of processors.
Not all of that benchmark performance will translate into real-world performance, but it is worth looking at. The older memories are MUCH more expensive, and some users have found that it is cheaper to sell the 3,1 or older and buy a refurb 4,1 or later and fill up the newer one with much cheaper memory.
Primate Labs has posted Geekbench results for all the Mac Pro models since 2006. Here are some of the numbers in 64-bit mode:
- 2.0 GHz 4-core 2006, 4506
- 2.66 GHz 4-core 2006, 5933
- 2.8 GHz 4-core 2008, 6543
- 3.0 GHz 4-core 2006, 6661
- 2.66 GHz 4-core 2009, 9225
- 2.8 GHz 4-core 2010, 9659
- 2.93 GHz 4-core 2009, 10119
- 2.8 GHz 8-core 2008, 10715
- 3.2 GHz 4-core 2010, 10834
- 3.0 GHz 8-core 2007, 11014
- 3.0 GHz 8-core 2008, 11376
- 3.2 GHz 8-core 2008, 12054
- 2.26 GHz 8-core 2009, 13400
- 2.4 GHz 8-core 2010, 14174
- 3.33 GHz 6-core 2010, 15574
- 2.66 GHz 8-core 2009, 16066
- 2.93 GHz 8-core 2009, 17608
- 2.66 GHz 12-core 2010, 22418
- 2.93 GHz 12-core 2010, 24219
- 3.06 GHz 12-core 2010, 25375
FBDIMMs run hot, use more watts, and even Intel could not wait to ditch that technology as used in 3,1
I would not touch anything earlier than 2010. DDR3 is cheaper, more memory bandwidth and more mature machine.
I think I was trying to figure out why the question. Seems to be more about what to buy really ratehr than DDR2 800MHz vs DDR3 1066 or higher.
What are the differences.... firmware and build, there were tweaks to the PCIe bus itself. As a result 3rd party cards and booting is better.
Support in 5,1 firmware for more 56xx and W35/36xx processors. Also memory timing.
The 4,1 was "64-bit boot mode optional" and 5,1 was default. I don't know if there are changes but I assume so, even if it is not reflected elsewhere or in version number.
I don't know what the prices are but 2009, to buy one today, when the 2010 is $1800.
The 2008 of course was test bed for 64-bit UEFI and it sure seems even Lion and then ML are not as well engineered - outside of Linc who would be the least likely to have a problem.
I would assume 2010 has better support for 8GB and even 16GB DIMMs as well as for 1333MHz.
Nehalem family had only come out in fall 2008 and a lot of work went into making improvements well past 2009.
If you remember, there were serious heat problems with those and 10.5.7+ up thru 10.6.2 even with iTunes, audio, and hyperthreading and cores hitting and staying in 80*C range. That I assume was both poor code (sleep does not mean poke and ask constantly) as well as changes in SMC and kernel improvements, to work around. Microcode can be patched in firmware, kernel, by drivers and by code, but it is best when the chips and core elements don't need to be.
If someone is stretched, and can get 2009 for $1200 it might be a fine fit. That year offered the OEM GT120 which isn't really as nice and matched for today both OS and apps that rely on a GPU. And for odd reasons two such 120's don't work well in Lion+ but that is probably minor. Having the 5770 is just "nicer" though.
There are some articles about trouble booting with PCIe SATA/SAS/SSD and less trouble with 2010. Also support for graphic card and audio I think was one of those "minor" 5770 related support issues. But shows some small changes were made there too.
I wish someone would come out and pre-announce DDR4 + SATA3 along with PCIe 3.x (for bandwidth and more power per rail) along with say Ivy Bridge-E socket processors was going to be this summer's 3 yr anniversary and to replace the 2010 designed motherboard. But that is what is on Intel's and others drawing boards simmeringn in the pot.
Thanks for the info. I see now how computer architecture is more significant than raw memory speed. And that DDR3 memory is much cheaper than DDR2. I am now leaning towards a 4,1 Mac Pro. Because of cost I can't go with 5,1 model. Something that I don't understand about Macs: on newer Mac Pros I see a tendency towards lower CPU speed. A new Mac Pro can have 2X6 core 2.4GHz CPUs or a 4 core 3.2GHz CPU. Is there a reason for less speed as the number of cores increases? Am I wrong in thinking that faster CPU speed means faster, better real world performance? Again, thanks.
Background: I own a 2011 iMac, 2.5GHz, 4GB of 1333MHz RAM. Apple sent it to me as warranty replacement for my 2008 iMac (2.66GHz, 4GB of 800MHz RAM) which had random shutdown syndrome. I should have gotten a Mac Pro in the first place- hindsight.
I see that my reply did not post properly- it lost several sentences. It was supposed to say:
Hatter- thanks for your advice. I see your point about the older memory. I think I will be happy with a 2009 4,1 Mac Pro. It has the DDR3 memory. Also, I want the Mac Pro to be able to boot with Leopard and Snow Leopard. But I see that Grant Bennet-Alder answered that, saying a 4,1 machine would run anything from Leopard to Mountain Lion, with enough memory that is. But maybe you can answer this question:
On newer Mac Pros I see a tendency towards lower CPU speed. A new Mac Pro can have 2 X 6 core 2.4GHz CPUs or a 4 core 3.2GHz CPU. Is there a reason for less speed as the number of cores increases? Am I wrong in thinking that faster CPU speed means faster, better real world performance? Thank you. Your help is appreciated.
Once you make the leap to two chip solutions, a huge amount of potential compute-power is chewed up in chip-to-chip communication.
If you can get by with a one-chip solution (up to hex processors at this writing) you should do so. The extra baggage is very expensive, and begs the question of whether you would be better off with two complete Mac Pros for the same money.
What an unexpected piece of information- 2 processors means more housekeeping functions, to the point of significant computer power being used up? I had never thought about single vs dual processors in that light. In that case I think a 2010 Mac Pro with 6 cores would be best. I'm not sure I can budget the initial cost.
So a 4-core Mac Pro 4,1 would be much more efficient than an 8-core Mac Pro 3,1 and cost about the same. If I could ask you, what other benefits would I realize with the 4-core Mac Pro 4,1?
And then, I must look into 6-core Mac Pros as well. So much to consider. Thanks for your help. You make good, valid points.