Apple Mac Professional evaluation (2013): small, quick and in a league of its personal

Apple Mac Pro review (2013): small, fast and in a league of its own

It might be an understatement to say that Apple’s Mac Professional workstation was getting just a little lengthy within the tooth. As of summer time 2012, it was lacking Apple’s personal Thunderbolt ports, to not point out 802.11n WiFi. Lastly, although, Apple launched an up to date model, and it addresses a bit of extra than simply the wi-fi card and I/O choices. Redesigned from the bottom up, it is now a lot smaller and lighter, with an area-age cylindrical form, an overhauled cooling system that is considerably quieter and a spec sheet that features commonplace twin GPUs, PCIe SSDs, 802.11ac WiFi, as much as 64GB of RAM and the newest Intel Xeon processors, as soon as once more going as much as 12 cores. Briefly, these are specs that convey the Mac Professional into the fashionable age — and make it able to deal with the approaching onslaught of 4K content material.

In case you’re knowledgeable photographer, videographer, audio engineer, animator or what-have-you, you may truly be contemplating spending $2,999 on considered one of these — perhaps as a lot as $9,599, in case you have the means. Or perhaps you are identical to my colleagues right here at Engadget, who do not want one, and will not ever purchase one, however covet it simply the identical. Both method, you will need to learn on to see how this factor truly performs (although you in all probability have already got an concept).

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Mac Professional (2013)


  • Compact, area-saving design
  • Robust graphics efficiency, quick disk speeds
  • Runs quietly 
  • Helps as much as three 4K shows


  • Runs just a little heat, and may take some time to chill down
  • Many apps nonetheless have to be optimized to reap the benefits of two GPUs


There is not one other pc we all know of that is this highly effective and in addition this compact. With a beginning worth of $2,999, going all the best way as much as almost $10,000, it is fairly expensive, however for videographers, photographers, animators and different artistic professionals, it might be nicely well worth the funding. 


Apple Mac Pro review (2013): small, fast and in a league of its own

If the Mac Professional actually does seem like a trash can, as everybody says, it is a lot nicer than any garbage bin I’ve ever owned. Beginning with the form, which appears to have earned it a lot ridicule, the Mac Professional is principally a squat little cylinder, with a big round opening up prime the place the warmth creeps out. Between that and the shiny gunmetal “Area Grey” end, it does certainly appear to be some kind of futuristic wastepaper basket.

Then, in fact, you flip the factor round and see the Apple emblem, energy button and a cutout within the anodized-aluminum publicity, making it straightforward to entry the varied ports. Not precisely a rubbish can, that. All informed, the Mac Professional is a compact little factor, standing 9.9 inches tall and measuring 6.6 inches in diameter. For no matter cause– the images on Apple’s website, maybe — it feels smaller and shorter than I imagined it. To offer you some perspective, the Professional stands round half as tall as a 27-inch monitor, like Apple’s personal Cinema Show, and has roughly the identical footprint as an workplace telephone. So when you have room for a landline, you virtually definitely have room for the Mac Professional. And in case you have sufficient room for a landline, you possibly can in all probability get away with utilizing the Mac Professional in different small areas, like a music stage or the nook of a movie set.

Apple Mac Pro review (2013): small, fast and in a league of its own

Talking of the type, the machine is mild sufficient, at eleven kilos, that you possibly can conceivably take it with you to your subsequent shoot. Left uncovered, you will need to deal with it gingerly, in fact, however should you hold the unique field with the froth inserts, you should not have any drawback carrying it within the criminal of your arm. The truth is, which may not be such a nasty concept: The shiny aluminum end can also be fairly the fingerprint magnet, rather more so than another Apple merchandise we have seen. In the event you do carry this round by hand, be ready to wipe off some smudges once in a while.

Swinging again to the ports for a second, these embrace headphone and mic jacks, 4 USB sockets, six Thunderbolt 2 connections, twin Gigabit Ethernet ports and an HDMI 1.four port. As a pleasant, much more futuristic contact, the facility button glows white briefly whenever you activate the machine, as do a couple of different accent lights across the ports. The LEDs even fade as you shut down the pc, and flick on once more one after the other because it’s booting up. Moreover, you will discover a locking change that retains the detachable aluminum enclosure in place (you’ll be able to’t truly energy on the machine until the duvet is on). One factor you will not discover right here: a reminiscence card slot. This is sensible, in a means, provided that execs aren’t huge on SD playing cards, and there are just too many different codecs to accommodate on one small chassis. To construct in, say, a CF slot, however not one for XQD would have been slightly arbitrary certainly.


Apple Mac Pro review (2013): small, fast and in a league of its own

Six paragraphs thus far and I’ve solely described the detachable case. Slip it off and also you get to the guts of the machine, a tall, three-sided board Apple is looking the “thermal core.” Two of the edges are taken up by the GPUs — twin graphics playing cards are commonplace right here — whereas the CPU occupies the third. I am going to get to efficiency and configuration choices in a second, however for now, suffice to say you’ll be able to configure this factor with two AMD FirePro D700 GPUs and 12GB of video reminiscence, amounting to as much as seven teraflops of computing energy (the final Mac Professional maxed out at 2.7 teraflops). In the meantime, there are two RAM banks (with two slots every), situated on both aspect of the CPU board. Mixed, these can accommodate as much as 64GB of DDR3 reminiscence, with bandwidth of as much as 60 gigabytes per second.

Aside from the processor, every thing is consumer-replaceable — the RAM, the GPUs and the strong-state storage. (I nonetheless would not advocate that the typical individual substitute the GPU himself, however then once more, the Mac Professional is not precisely for the typical shopper within the first place.)

Apple Mac Pro review (2013): small, fast and in a league of its own

Talking of thermal efficiency — that is the thermal core, in any case — Apple designed a cooling system whereby air is sucked in on the base of the machine, and will get pushed out of that enormous gap within the prime. Moderately than use a number of followers, Apple went with only one, tweaking the dimensions, form, velocity and spacing of the blades. In the long run, the corporate’s engineering workforce settled on backward-curved impeller blades, which spin at fewer revolutions per minute than on the final-gen Mac Professional.

The thought, in fact, is for the blades to successfully cool the system, but in addition to make much less noise within the course of. In accordance with Apple, the brand new Professional reaches 15 decibels whereas beneath load, versus 30dB on the final version. And when the machine is idle, it simmers down to only 12dB — similar to the decrease-powered Mac mini. As I am going to talk about later within the assessment, the machine is certainly as quiet as marketed, although which will or might not come on the expense of some heat working temperatures.


Mac Professional (2013, three.7GHz Intel Xeon E5-1620, twin 2GB AMD FirePro D300) iMac (2013, 27-inch, three.4GHz Core i5, 8GB RAM, 2GB NVIDIA GTX 775M) iMac (2012, 27-inch, three.4GHz Core i7, 8GB RAM, 2GB NVIDIA GTX 680MX) iMac (2012, 21.5-inch, three.1GHz Core i7, 16GB RAM, 512MB NVIDIA GeForce GT 650M) Geekbench (multi-core) 12,650 (32-bit) / 14,207 (sixty four-bit) 10,920 (32-bit) / eleven,867 (sixty four-bit) thirteen,045 (32-bit) 12,577 (32-bit) Xbench 601.ninety eight 539.seventy three 560.forty four 531.ninety one

Although the unit we’ve got right here could be very almost an entry-degree configuration (quad-core Intel Xeon E5-1620 processor, 16GB of RAM, 256GB SSD, twin 2GB AMD FirePro D300 GPUs), I additionally had the prospect to check out a extra tricked-out model. That was an $eight,099 mannequin with an eight-core CPU, 64GB of RAM, a 1TB SSD and two FirePro D700 GPUs — one of the best graphics Apple is providing. With the most recent model of Remaining Minimize Professional X, which has been particularly optimized to reap the benefits of the Mac Professional’s twin GPUs, I noticed the machine play again sixteen image-in-image 4K streams concurrently.

Modifying is a seamless affair too — you possibly can apply a filter to a video and see it go into impact instantly. Zero rendering time right here. Ditto for previews: You’ll be able to immediately see how an impact will look with out having to attend for the machine to catch up. Final instance: Retiming a 4-and-a-half-minute clip to just some seconds was additionally instantaneous — I might instantly play again a a lot shorter model of that very same footage. I am no videographer, as you all know, but when I have been, it will be good to not have to attend whereas I had a director or shopper wanting over my shoulder, asking me to make modifications. (As a result of in my fantasy life as a videographer, I am all the time on location.)

Fortuitously, you do not want an $eight,one hundred configuration to take pleasure in that type of efficiency. Even on the extra modestly specced machine, I used to be capable of preview and apply results and transitions with zero ready time. As on the upper-finish mannequin, I might play again a number of 4K streams directly. Moreover, I used to be in a position so as to add results to clips whereas enjoying again my undertaking, and will instantly bounce to that clip to see the impact in motion. At one level, I went slightly overboard and added 15 filters and the footage nonetheless ran flawlessly. (N.B.: There’s an choice in settings that causes playback to cease as quickly as a body drops, however that by no means occurred throughout my testing. Not as soon as.) Fact be advised, I in all probability might have utilized much more than 15 results, however by that point, I had conceded defeat, and was beginning to really feel tired of my little recreation.

Different stats: Importing a 9.23GB folder of .MOV information from the desktop took lower than two seconds — I had barely pressed the beginning button on my stopwatch and the import was already over. When it got here time to export, exporting that 9.23GB undertaking from ProRes 422 to H.264 took 5 minutes and sixteen seconds. As a aspect word, once I timed the export, I made positive I wasn’t doing anything in Ultimate Reduce Professional, because the program is designed to sluggish background processes if there’s one thing happening within the foreground. That stated, I discovered that I might play different 4K clips whereas exporting a challenge, although at one level I hit a clip that included a 4K image-in-image overlay, which triggered a quick slowdown.

Apple Mac Pro review (2013): small, fast and in a league of its own

I will not dwell an excessive amount of on benchmark scores right here, for the straightforward cause that the majority exams haven’t but been optimized to benefit from twin GPUs. As you’ll be able to see within the above desk, for example, the numbers are on par with a current iMac, regardless that the actual-world efficiency right here is way superior, particularly in apps like Ultimate Minimize Professional X, which have been designed to leverage each graphics playing cards. In the meantime, our check system ran the Cinebench R15 Open GL check at seventy four frames per second — that, too, is an effective displaying, however nonetheless not as quick as you’d anticipate of a twin-GPU machine.

It is a comparable story with gaming: I ran Batman: Arkham Metropolis (the Recreation of the Yr Version), however suspect it was utilizing simply one of many GPUs. With decision set to 2,560 x 1,440, particulars on excessive and anti-aliasing at its highest setting (8x), the Mac Professional managed a mean of fifty six frames per second, with body charges operating the gamut from 28 to eighty three fps. It wasn’t till I dropped the anti-aliasing and element ranges to medium that I noticed charges climb to 60 frames per second, with a peak of 88 fps. Even then, that was solely a modest enchancment. Within the Mac Professional’s protection, although, gameplay is clean, particularly for those who disable V Sync, which caps body charges. The efficiency simply is not fairly as strong as you’d anticipate on a machine this highly effective.

With out belaboring the purpose, this brings me to one in every of my few considerations concerning the Mac Professional, which is that proper now, a minimum of, most packages will not absolutely harness its graphics capabilities. One of many causes I spent a lot time in Last Minimize Professional is that it is one of many few packages designed particularly to run properly on a brand new Mac Professional. It jogs my memory a little bit of how Retina show MacBook Execs have been initially brief on suitable software program. If that analogy holds true, we should always see extra apps retooled to play good with the Mac Professional’s twin-GPU setup. Simply be ready for some slim pickings in case you purchase one this week.

Learn speeds Write speeds 1GB 912.5 MB/s 764.7 MB/s 2GB 919.three MB/s 753.three MB/s 3GB MB/s 758.three MB/s 4GB MB/s 761.2 MB/s 5GB 918.three MB/s 768.three MB/s

As for duties that are not GPU-intensive, begin-up persistently took round forty six seconds — a moot level for those who’re a type of individuals who by no means shuts down earlier than leaving the workplace. (In case you do shut down recurrently, you may discover the boot-up sequence barely tedious, although you will in fact make up for it in rendering time.) Copying an almost 10GB file from the downloads folder to the desktop was principally instantaneous. Most apps launched with nearly zero wait time. Even Last Reduce Professional, a reasonably heavy-obligation program, was up and operating in underneath three seconds.

Proper now, no less than, most packages will not absolutely harness the Mac Professional’s graphics capabilities.

All through, the Mac Professional will get a bit heat, nevertheless it’s not often scorching, and it is all the time quiet. For lack of a greater phrase, you’d should provoke the machine to actually be bothered by the warmth: The warmest space is on the prime of the chassis, and even then, you’d should be sticking your hand close to the vents to really feel it. In any other case, the chassis does get a tad heat — and may take some time to chill down — nevertheless it’s a lot cooler than the air blowing out of the highest. Keep away from sticking your fist into the opening on the prime and you will be fantastic. As for noise, I attempted onerous to get the followers spinning, however they stayed quiet. Truly, for those who put your ear as much as the opening on the prime, you’ll hear a faint purring, however once more, you’d should be the type of sensible man prepared to place your ear subsequent to the most well liked a part of the machine (not beneficial).

It is no shock that with a excessive-performing machine like this, Apple went with SSDs constructed on the PCI Categorical normal. (Actually, all of its new machines, laptop computer and desktop alike, use PCIe.) On this case, although, the speeds are rated for 1.2GB per second, versus 800 MB/s on, say, the MacBook Air or the entry-degree Retina show MacBook Professional. So, whereas the disk speeds are good on Apple’s different machines, they’re positively screaming right here. As you’ll be able to see within the above desk, our learn speeds averaged 918.6 MB/s throughout totally different stress masses, with write speeds popping out to 761.2 MB/s. To place that in perspective, the most recent iMac managed 667.88 MB/s on the learn check, and simply 318.14 MB/s when it got here to write down speeds. Massive distinction, would not you say?

Along with the SSD, the Thunderbolt 2 ports convey some critical velocity of their very own. Because of their bandwidth of 20 Gbps, you possibly can daisy-chain as much as six peripherals per port, or 36 for the entire machine. Or, you’ll be able to join as much as three 4K screens. I want I might’ve examined that final bit, however alas, our evaluations price range does not stretch far sufficient to incorporate three of these dangerous boys. One can be candy sufficient.

Configuration choices

Apple Mac Pro review (2013): small, fast and in a league of its own

And right here we arrive at what’s truly one of many extra necessary sections of this evaluate: the half the place we inform you all of the methods you possibly can trick out your new beast of a workstation. On Apple’s website, you will see two prepared-made fashions, each of that are scheduled to ship in February. The bottom model goes for $2,999 with a quad-core three.7GHz Intel Xeon E5 processor, twin AMD FirePro D300 GPUs with 2GB of VRAM every, 12GB of reminiscence and a 256GB PCIe SSD. In different phrases, it is principally the identical unit I examined, besides ours had sixteen gigs of RAM as an alternative of 12. In any other case, similar specs.

The opposite mannequin listed on Apple’s website is a six-core unit with twin FirePro D500 GPUs. As a better-finish machine, this has 3GB of video reminiscence per GPU, not two. Moreover, it comes with 16GB of RAM and a 256GB SSD, identical to the bottom mannequin.

However do not be fooled by the simplicity of Apple’s buying web page. Click on “choose” for both and you will be opening up a wide selection of customization choices. And actually, that is what you are most interested by, proper? Let’s unpack all the alternatives right here. For starters, in the event you’re configuring the decrease-finish quad-core mannequin, you’ll be able to step as much as a six-core CPU ($500), an eight-core one ($2,000) or a 12-core chip ($three,500). From there, you possibly can improve to 16GB ($one hundred), 32GB ($500) or 64GB ($1,300) of RAM. As for storage, there are bigger 512GB and 1TB SSDs out there for $300 and $800, respectively. Lastly, there’s graphics. Along with the bottom choice, which incorporates two 2GB FirePro D300 GPUs, you possibly can go for two 3GB D500s ($four hundred) or two 6GB D700s ($1,000).

Clearly, the improve costs are totally different for those who begin with the upper-finish mannequin. Regardless, the Mac Professional all the time comes with twin GPUs, as I stated, together with different facilities like 802.11ac WiFi and Bluetooth, neither of which was included on the final-gen Mac Professional.

When you nonetheless have room in your price range, Apple can also be promoting a $three,595, 32-inch 4K Sharp monitor on its website, in case you do not have already got a display for viewing and enjoying again extremely-excessive-res media. Apple can also be promoting the keyboard and mouse individually, because it has up to now. Already, we have seen some commentary on the web criticizing Apple for being stingy, however needless to say most of the people shopping for this may nicely be companies that have already got keyboards and mice mendacity round, so they may not truly be lacking these equipment as a lot as you assume they’re.


Apple Mac Pro review (2013): small, fast and in a league of its own

I debated even placing the phrase “costly” within the cons listing of that assessment card you see down there. It is arduous to say if the Mac Professional is expensive, per se, given that there is nothing else fairly prefer it. There are many Home windows-based mostly workstations, definitely, however none are fairly this small or fairly this moveable (many aren’t fairly this quiet, both). And for those who’re a artistic skilled already hooked into Mac-solely apps like Remaining Minimize Professional, that is actually your solely selection: The brand new Mac Professional is a critical enchancment over the previous mannequin in each means, and is probably going well worth the improve. So, whereas $2,999 (not to mention $10,000) is certainly an enormous funding, it is nicely value it for individuals who reside and die by their workstation, and for whom (rendering) time is cash.

Zach Honig and Todd Thoenig contributed to this assessment.

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<a href=””> Apple Mac Professional (mid 2013) </a>

  • Key specs
  • <a href=”” title=”Apple Mac Professional (mid 2013) critiques” goal=”_blank”> Evaluations three </a>
  • Costs
  • Discussions
  • Sort Desktop
  • Bundled OS Mac OS (Mavericks [10.9])
  • CPU household Xeon
  • Processor velocity three.7 GHz
  • System RAM 12 GB
  • Arduous drive(s) 256 GB&#one hundred sixty;(complete)SSD
  • Video outputs HDMI (v1.four)
  • Launched 2013-12-19

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9.7common consumer score
  • Velocity and options 10
  • Design and type issue 10
  • Expandability eight
  • Noise 10
  • Measurement and weight 10
  • Energy consumption 9.three

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