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Breathing new life into old Mac Pros

James Galbraith | Jan. 10, 2014
As we saw in our first round of benchmarks, the new Mac Pro is more of a specialized workstation than a general purpose computer. In fact, unless you're using a pro app that takes advantage of multiple processing cores, a tricked-out iMac may outperform the new Mac Pro.

The stock Mac Pros took twice as long to render our test Final Cut Pro X project as the CTO iMac. After the upgrades, the 12-core rendered the job 25 percent faster than the CTO iMac, but the quad-core was still 25 percent slower than the CTO iMac.

We substantially increased the Final Cut Pro X project length to see how the new Mac Pro fared under a more sustained load. We took 30 minutes of 4K video and applied a variety of effects to the footage and then rendered the project. The stock 2012 quad-core Mac Pro took over 70 minutes to process the clip. After upgrading, the quad-core Mac Pro knocked 18 minutes off the time. The stock 2012 12-core Mac Pro took just over 64 minutes to finish our longer Final Cut Pro test; after upgrades it took about 39 minutes. The upgraded 12-core rendered the project in about the same amount of time as the CTO iMac. The new Mac Pro finished first yet again, taking just 25 minutes to render the project, 36 percent faster than the upgraded 12-core 2012 Mac Pro.

Several readers asked us to run an Xcode project on the new Mac Pro to see how well it fared. We cloned the code repository for OpenEMU onto our Mac Pros and CTO iMac and used the Xcode command line tools to build the project on each system. The test is CPU-intensive.

The upgrades to the Mac Pros made little difference in the amount of time that it took to build the project. The new Mac Pro took 151 seconds to complete the task, 43 percent faster than the upgraded 2012 12-core Mac Pro and 46 percent faster than the upgraded 2012 quad-core Mac Pro. The 2013 Mac Pro was also faster than our CTO 2013 iMac, but only by 16 percent.


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