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The new Mac Pro: What we wanted, what we're actually getting

Dan Frakes | June 18, 2013
Now that we've gotten a peek at the long-awaited new Mac Pro, how does it stack up against our wish-list?

More power to it
Of course, I—and everyone else—still wanted the next Mac Pro to be powerful enough to reclaim its spot as the undisputed top of the Mac line. Specifically, I said I wanted the latest high-end desktop CPU and a minimum of 8GB or 16GB of RAM. (I actually wrote "up to 16GB," but that was an error—we corrected it for the print version of the article.) I also wanted an upgradeable graphics card, so that down the road I could swap it out for the latest and greatest.

In this department, the new Mac Pro gets top marks, with one (potentially major) caveat. It will indeed include the latest high-end desktop CPU—in fact, it appears that much of the delay in getting the new Mac Pro out the door is due to Apple waiting for Intel to ship its latest chips. That processor line, the upcoming Xeon E5, looks to be plenty fast: The new Mac Pro will be available with up to 12 cores, providing CPU performance that's up to twice as fast as the current model, according to Apple.

The new Mac Pro also gets significantly faster memory—up to a whopping 128GB of it—and offers up to 60 GBps of memory bandwidth, twice as much as the current Mac Pro. (I think it's a safe bet that the base model will start out with at least 8GB or 16GB, given the computer's other specs.) Storage also gets a performance boost thanks to PCIe flash storage that Apple claims is 2.5 times faster than the fastest SATA-based solid-state drives and 10 times faster than the current Mac Pro's hard drive. Expansion ports get dramatically faster thanks to Thunderbolt 2 and USB 3, and even Wi-Fi and Bluetooth have been upgraded.

Finally, when it comes to graphics, you get two workstation-class GPUs, each with up to 6GB of dedicated VRAM. Apple boasts that the new Mac Pro will provide over 2.5 the graphics performance of the current models, and it will be able to drive three4K displays (and, presumably, even more sub—4K displays) simultaneously.

Compact and expand
Some of the other items on Mac Pro wish lists focused on storage and expandability: I expected the new model to have Thunderbolt and USB 3, and I'd personally hoped for "two drive bays that could accept either traditional hard drives or SSDs; and an upgradeable graphics card." With respect to traditional PCI slots, I thought one or two would be nice, but I suggested that they might not be as vital these days for some pro users. That last comment generated some passionate responses, but many readers agreed with the gist of it.


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