I t’s easy to fall in love with the Apple Mac Pro’s dinky cylindrical chassis, which will sit happily next to your monitor without spoiling your working environment. Yet its attractive exterior hides a surprisingly powerful set of components: it can be specified up to a 12-core Intel Xeon processor, 64GB of RAM, 1TB of flash storage and dual graphics cards. Our sample was the mid-range eight-core model, using an Intel Xeon E5-1680 v2, offering 16 virtual cores. The native clock speed is 3GHz, and with a top Turbo Boost frequency of 3.9GHz, it’s good for raw speed as well as parallel processing.
It’s from the Ivy Bridge era, so it supports only DDR3 rather than the latest DDR4 memory, but Apple has supplied 32GB of fast 1,866MHz DIMMs. These occupy all four slots, so there’s no room for upgrade.
Graphics provision is exceptional. The Mac Pro incorporates two AMD FirePro D700 graphics cards, each with 6GB of GDDR5 memory running at 5.5GHz and 2,048 stream processors. This offers hefty acceleration for 3D and OpenCL applications. On the downside, the proprietary case means that you can’t upgrade them with off-the-shelf cards.
The Mac Pro opts for PCI Express-connected solid-state storage, with a 512GB drive included. This provides outstanding peak throughput of more than 1GB/sec, but there’s no secondary storage option inside. The Mac Pro is intended for use with a Bluetooth keyboard and mouse, so all four USB 3 ports are free. There are six Thunderbolt 2 ports, as well as HDMI, so it isn’t lacking expansion in connectivity.
While the Mac Pro is powerful for its size, performance is disappointing. Its Real World Benchmark result of 1.21 is average.
Its Sony Vegas 4K video export was also mediocre, and while the dual D700 graphics are great for OpenCL, they produced the lowest Maxon Cinebench R15 OpenGL score of 85fps. A strong DxO OpticsPro result of 41 seconds implies that the Mac Pro’s forte is 2D design rather than 3D content creation.
In light of these results, the price is hard to justify. All the same, the sheer elegance of the Mac Pro makes it a machine impossible to dislike.