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Excel - best  hardware configuration for best performance (multi core support?)

Posted on 2014-12-21
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Last Modified: 2015-01-03
I have a user with whom we are spec’ing up a Mac Pro for (which will be running Windows 8 via Boot Camp).
We are debating the number of cores to get and how much memory to put into the Mac Pro. The user will go up to the fully loaded spec if necessary (and this comes in about £10k with 96GB of memory)

But we want to know if it’s worth it.

The user works in finance and have Bloomberg running, but a particular thing he does also use is Excel with various third party plug in’s he’s purchased as well as coding he does himself.

Research so far has learnt that if he uses VBA that can only make use of one core tops, but I’m wondering if it’s possible if some of his third party plugins might do (There are numerous ones)

I’m not sure at present if he will use the 32 bit or 64 bit edition of Excel. I assume the 32 bit version of Office can only address 4GB of memory (it will be on a 64 bit OS).

So if this is his use, is it a waste of time buying say 64GB instead of 32GB (Adds another £640  / $1100).

Also is it worth going for lots of additional cores which again can make a jump in price.

The user is prepared to pay for the best performance, but of course does not want to unnecessarily spend, if it’s not actually going to make a difference to performance.
He will be running three displays of the Mac Pro also.
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Question by:IT Man200
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John Hurst earned 1000 total points
ID: 40511537
The issue with 32-bit Excel and 64-bit Excel (from my point of view) revolves more around software compatibility. If you use 64-bit Excel, everything around it must also be 64-bit. That is not usually true. I run Office 2013 32-bit on my Windows 8.1 Pro 64-bit machine. It runs really well this way.

I assume the 32 bit version of Office can only address 4GB of memory  <-- I don't know if this is true, but Excel on my machine is not constrained in any way.

is it a waste of time buying say 64GB instead of 32GB?  <--- I have an 8 GB machine. I can run Excel with large spreadsheets, IE11 with web pages running and 2 additional complete machines (Windows 7 and Windows XP) all simultaneously and still not run out of memory.  It is hard to imagine that 32 Gb of memory would constrain a user.
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Assisted Solution

by:carlrjr
carlrjr earned 1000 total points
ID: 40511596
John is correct; if Excel and web browsers will be the primary applications, 16-32 GB will do.
Since Excel VBA doesn't benefit much from multi-core I would choose the Mac Pro 3.7 Ghz 4-core over the 3.5 Ghz 6-core CPU.

I would also spec the SSD for the boot drive.

Since the Bloomberg plugin is the client's primary concern, it's requirement for 32/64-bit Office will dictate which version to use. if it tolerates either then go 64-bit.
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Expert Comment

by:KCTS
ID: 40511836
If its going to be running windows8 then why not just buy a PC which will not only save a lot of cash but will also run the native applications much more efficiently.
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LVL 97

Expert Comment

by:John Hurst
ID: 40511842
I tend to agree. The user wants MAC hardware. However, my own ThinkPad bows to nothing and performs really well,
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Author Comment

by:IT Man200
ID: 40511947
The PC over the Mac choice is a conversation for another thread. In fact here is the one I did earlier
http://www.experts-exchange.com/Hardware/Apple_Hardware/Q_28584459.html
So for the purposes of this thread lets assume we have to get the Mac as this is what the client wants for various reasons.
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Expert Comment

by:Rory Archibald
ID: 40512712
32bit Excel will only actually use up to about 2GB of RAM, but of course you will want more to ensure that there is always 2GB free for it to use when other things are running. Unless your user works with really large files or uses the Power BI add-ins, I wouldn't bother with 64bit Office.
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Author Closing Comment

by:IT Man200
ID: 40529074
All useful input. Many thanks
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Expert Comment

by:John Hurst
ID: 40529076
@ IT Man200 - You are very welcome and I was happy to help.
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