Apple Mac Pro 2013: full specs, UK price and release date (tomorrow)

Digital Arts | 18 December 13

Five months after announcing the new Mac Pro 2013, Apple is finally shipping its ultra-small professional workstation tomorrow – 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.

We'll give the Mac Pro 2013 a full review when we get our hands on a review sample.

New Mac Pro 2013 specs

Being from Intel's 'Ivy Bridge' processor line, the Xeon E5 V2 chips give support for up to an as-yet unknown amount of 1,866MHz ECC RAM – up from 1,333MHz in the previous generation of Mac Pros and up from 1,600GHz on the previous generation of PC workstations. ECC RAM uses error correction to be more stable that the RAM used by consumer PCs and Macs – which is important for longer processes such as video encoding and 3D rendering.

Storage-wise, the new Mac Pro features PCIe flash storage, which with a data transfer rate of 1,250MBps is 2.5x faster than the fastest SATA-based flash storage, according to Apple, and over 10x faster than a 7,200rpm SATA drive. We expect these to be very expensive and small in capacity, so you'll likely need to pair these with an external drive for your projects.

For graphics, the 2013 Mac Pro has dual graphics chips from AMD's FirePro range. It hasn't said which cards are included, but from the quoted specs they appear to be the same chips as found in AMD's top-of-the-line FirePro W9000 graphics card – which feature 6GB of graphics RAM (and ECC RAM at that), a 384-bit memory interface and 264GBps memory bandwidth.

Apple says that the cards will allow you to do VFX and editing work on full-res 4K video – and output the three 4K displays at once. Unlike the PC-based FirePro W9000 though, there are no DisplayPorts on the 2013 Mac Pro – instead the three of the six Thunderbolt 2 ports can be used as mini-DisplayPort outputs that output to DisplayPort monitors using an adapter, as with Apple's MacBook Pro and iMac.

There's also an HDMI output on the back of the new Mac Pro, along with four USB 3.0 ports and two gigabit ethernet. The Thunderbolt 2 ports offer up to 20GBps of data transfer, and can also be used to attach devices from PCI arrays to external RAID storage devices. Apple says that the all-black exterior lights up to show you these ports when you rotate the Mac Pro towards you.

Other features include 801.11ac wireless and Bluetooth 4.0.

New Mac Pro 2013 design

Apple's completely redesigned Mac Pro workstation is about an eighth of the size of previous model and features a design that has already been compared to a bin (or Dusty Bin in a Daft Punk helmet, according to Jonathan Barnbrook on Twitter), something Dyson would create, and to an air-conditioning unit. This last comparison is more accurate, as the design of the new Mac Pro is all about getting airflow through to its top-spec components.

For the new Mac Pro, Apple has arranged all of the components around a central wind tunnel with a single big fan, which it has engineered to keep everything cool while apparently keeping noise to a minimum. The full chassis measures about 25cm tall and 16cm in diameter.


Nathan Hamman said: What is strange is when i tried to configure a windows machine on newegg with the same specs it actually cost more there, why not use external hard drives?

Jools said: This is one of those things that you purchase if money is really no object , as stated by other users the new apple offering lacks important things : ( But with the AMD firepro's & ability to output not one but four 4K screens sounds very interesting & exciting .. I look forward to a full review & the music creation side & how that transcends : ) Due in UK December 2013 .. Just so we know

Ron Tyler said: The retarded looking new Mac Pro looks like a trash can or a ash tray that you see in office buildings or hospitals. Very crappy looking! How the hell are you going to rack mount that damn thing?

simon1956 said: Been a mac user for longer than I can remember, as a photographer I fell that the current mac pro runs photoshop etc as fast as I need to go, in fact some of the slower filters etc probably need to catch up with the machine (ie use multi cores etc) however I am frustrated by the transfer speeds of data through the system, apple would seem to have addressed that, I do now do a significant amount of video and there again these new machines seem to be faster, multitasking is also an issue, ie downloading files from a shoot, and backing up, answering emails and a bit of photoshop work at the same time, is a problem, which I hope the new machines will resolve. Not being a geek, and getting on in years frankly I find the prospect of using windows as an OS frankly frightening, so maybe paying a couple of thousand pounds extra to upgrade and maybe add a separate storage system seems a minimal cost

Eirik said: In Norway we call it a trashcan.

amigaguru said: iMac Pro Mini

beaztie said: some help from me :) (3DWS Windows Workstation... With Xeon E5 2697v2 cocked to 3,3 GHz)

Bob said: There is a software developer version..It's called the iMac.

11thIndian said: No. 2 GPUs come standard- you just get to choose how beefy they are. And there is no firm information to support the idea that the GPUs won't be able to be removed and replaced later. So let's not start burning a straw man yet.

Mad Dog said: I want a tower with space for hard drives - Apple have lost the plot. I'll buy the Windows machine with the same spec for less money and run it as a Hackintosh with Snow Leopard.

JP said: Clearly that should have read 64GB Ram ;)

JP said: A similarly specced Windows system will likely cost just as much...try costing up a new HP Z620 or Z820 with dual Xeon E5 v2, 4GB Ram, SSD and K6000 it's circa £9000 ($14,000).

mackey said: i think cost around 7999-9999$

Jimmy Druiow said: Agreed. There should be a software developer version with a single graphics chip and dual Xeon processors :-)

TWK said: I think this is one of those replacement computers. When the graphics cards, motherboard and HI-Speed connectors make a significant jump in performance compared to to this model, then this MacPro would be totally replaced by a newer and significantly better performing MacPro. Why compromise? Computer components tend to gradually improve over time, so why buy something in 18 months that is only 10 percent faster when in 4 years something 5x faster is available? Usually software lags behind new hardware features, in regards to performance and stability. Whats the rush to upgrade for 20 percent improvement if it crashes or has bugs that slow down ones workflow?How much of that high-end computational software runs on Mac OS X? How big is that market? I think that tiny slice of the pie is already owned by other players. Would it be profitable for Apple to spend tons of resources to make a Workstation that only 1000-5000 people buy when there is a much bigger prosumer market for what the new MacPro will offer? The MacPro is evolving and Apple wants to profit in the process, as usual.By the way, the only two things I upgraded in my last 2 MacPros were the lowly GPUs and RAM. The GPUs were always lackluster under-performers, and the the RAM Apple put in was never enough and it has always been cheaper to buy third-party RAM and easily install myself. So, as I see it, I will no longer paying for all the hardware to house 3 PCI cards that I will never use. I get space back in the office and I can put those noisy hard disks away in a closet, on a shelf or attach to the underside of the desk. But the MacPro can quietly sit on a small corner of my desk for easy access. My current MacPro already has several cables hanging out the back, so that will not change (still a mess of cables).There seems to be a lot of discussion about external Hard Drives and GPU in special external chassis. What are the numbers for TB2 vs connected hardware? Potential/theoretical bottlenecks in performance vs. actual bottlenecks in performance? I have a hard time believing that TB2 will not provide enough bandwidth for even todays fastest SSDs. How much information/data is sent directly to and from a GPU to the CPU at any given moment? Can the CPUs handle that much data from the GPUs all at once anyways? I haven't seen a single article that addresses any of these issues yet. Maybe, I'm out of touch and am too tired to think straight due to work related sleep deprivation, but none of these technical issues have been discussed at length. Good Night, all.

Ian said: @Zach. Your on the money.Mac Pro is no longer a 'workstation'. I've already switched to the HP z820, there is nothing really innovative aside from the chassis here :(Even that fast super storage they boasted has been exceeded (HP has been shipping fusion IO for years - we run those boards in our servers) z820 has more DIMM slots than you can shake a stick, 512GB, dual socket. A friend of mine is a data scientist and runs his with a stack of Tesla's for CUDA, your stuck with non-upgrade AMD/ATI cards here. This will be a very expensive looking dustbin 18 months after you bought it :(

faloc said: looks more like a luxury hotel ashtray...

Zach said: Those are the compromises you make when choosing form over function in a machine that should only be about function.

Zach said: The Lenovo D30 is a Dual E5-Xeon system, so no comparison here to the Mac Pro's single Xeon.

CM Harrington said: A few clarifications… The system can hold 2 GPUs, although Schiller stated at one point "up to two", meaning expect an entry level with just 1 (the card without the flash storage riser attached to its back will be removed). They may or may not be in Crossfire (AMD's tech to have multiple cards act as one), so it's possible some apps won't see a speed boost over a single card.What happens in 2 years when the GPUs get lapped by better things? Those cards are proprietary, so don't expect to replace them.The CPU will probably be, as you suggest, the E5-26XX part, as that's the only one with 12 cores, and 4-channel DDR3. It's not available to the general public until late autumn, but Apple probably has 'first dibs' on the part, so they'll have them earlier than anyone else (which they've done before). What's unfortunate is that it's an Ivy Bridge part, not a Haswell part, which means the z820 (and similar) workstations will come out, roughly at the same time as the new Mac Pro and be able to have 2 CPUs (24+ cores, 48+ threads), 8 DIMM slots, 3+ real PCIe slots, and multiple bays for storage — all for roughly the same cost.

Neil Bennett said: The next generation will include 12-core chips:

DeeL said: Macpro R.I.P :(

Eric said: Well, current Xeon E5s have 8 cores with hyperThreading - which gives you 16 threads.