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Mac Pro vs. Macintosh 128K: How much more powerful is the new Mac Pro than Apple's first Mac?

Lou Hattersley | Feb. 16, 2015
It's a case of old against new as we pit Apple's classic Macintosh 128K against the modern Mac Pro.

Ever wondered how Apple's classic Macintosh 128K from 1984 compares to the brand new Mac Pro? We have, so we decided to take a closer look. How does the computer that defined Apple compare to today's premium powerhouse?

The Mac Pro is the most powerful Mac ever made. With up to 12-Cores, 128GB of RAM and ultra-fast PCIe-based flash storage it whips through the most demanding of tasks.

Obviously it's faster than the Macintosh 128K, but just how much faster? And is the new Mac Pro a better computer for today than the Macintosh 128K was in its day?

See also:

Macintosh 128K Hands-on test

Macintosh 128K unboxing

iPhone 5s vs. Original Mac

The Mac revolutions: from the Macintosh 128k to the iMac and the MacBook Air

New Mac Pro vs Macintosh 128K: the basics

The new Mac Pro is Apple current premium computer. Launched in late 2013 it represents a radical new direction for Apple's Intel-based workstation. The new Mac Pro eschews a classic tower case in favour of a small circular base designed to house a thermal core and single fan. Inside the new Masc Pro a single CPU, but it's a whopper: up to 12-core Intel Xeon E5 with Turbo Boost speeds up to 3.9GHz.

The Macintosh 128K is the original Mac. The computer that was released initially as just "Apple Macintosh". A labour of love started at Apple by Jef Raskin and championed by Steve Jobs. It's possibly the most important computer ever made, and Apple itself claims that it: "reinvented the personal computer in the 1980s with the Macintosh."

Macintosh 128K vs Mac Pro: Design and build

One thing that sticks out is the design similarities. The Macintosh 128K unit did not rely on a fan, instead it relied on convection cooling which made it quiet. This was at the insistence of Steve Jobs. A fan was introduced in later models to prevent component failures. The new Mac Pro features a fan, but only a single one, and it mostly consists of a thermodynamic cooling design that sucks air in at the bottom and ejects hot air from the top.

The Macintosh 128K features a built-in screen, so it is more like the iMac in that respect (it also shipped with a keyboard and mouse, both of which are absent in a new Mac Pro).

There are notable differences between the ethos of the Mac Pro and the Macintosh 128K. The original Macintosh 128K was not conceived to be a particularly powerful computer: instead it was mostly designed to offer decent graphics performance at a dramatically lower price than other computers (most computers with GUI's cost well over $100,000). A teardown by iFixIt shows the Macintosh 128K's innards in all its glory.


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