Five months after announcing the new Mac Pro 2013, Apple is finally shipping its ultra-small professional workstation - and we have exclusive benchmarks of how the chip inside performs.
We saw a Mac Pro for the first time at a briefing back in October and Apple managed to surprise us with just how small it was. We'd seen the photos and read the specs - and it was still smaller than we expected, having about the same circumference as one of those big tins of instant coffee you probably have in your studio's kitchen (at least for when the filter stuff runs out).
New Mac Pro 2013 price and release date
The base Mac Pro has a 3.7 GHz quad-core Intel Xeon E5 processor, dual AMD FirePro D300 GPUs with 2GB of VRAM each, 12GB of memory, and 256GB of PCIe-based flash storage for £2,082.50 plus VAT. £2,749 plus VAT gets you a Mac Pro with a 3.5 GHz 6-core Intel Xeon E5 processor with dual AMD FirePro D500 GPUs with 3GB of VRAM each, 16GB of memory, and 256GB of PCIe-based flash storage.
Build-to-order options include faster 8-core or 12-core Intel Xeon E5 processors, AMD FirePro D700 GPUs with 6GB of VRAM, up to 64GB of memory, and up to 1TB of PCIe-based flash storage. No pricing info has been released for these, but we suspect it'll be between 'ouch' and 'how much!'.
New Mac Pro 2013 benchmarks
We haven't had a chance to test a Mac Pro yet, but we have seen another system with a single 8-core, 3.4GHz Xeon E5-2687W processor. This is a Windows-based workstation, but we've seen comparable scores between Macs and Windows PCs in the past using the Cinebench benchmark - which is based on Maxon's Cinema 4D 3D animation suite.
Running Cinebench's 3D rendering test - which is almost exclusively a measure of CPU performance - we saw a score of 14.04 points (a measurement that only applies to Cinebench scores and has no wider context). This is actually 6.8% slower than the 12-core Mac Pro we reviewed back in 2010, which obtained a score of 15.07- though we expect the 12-core Mac Pro to be significantly faster. It's also 47.5% slower than the 26.78 score that the same Windows workstation with two Xeon E5-2687W chips installed.
However, Apple expects that many pro-grade applications will perform much faster, as they'll be pushing a lot of its heavy-duty processing on thw two FirePro graphics cards using OpenCL (which is like OpenGL, but for non-3D computing such as video effects rendering). However, applications will have to be written to take advantage of this - and perhaps significantly if they want to push computing tasks onto one of graphics cards and use the other for real-time 3D and sending what's on your screen to your monitor/s.
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