Mac Pro Buyer's Guide: Which Model to Choose

Discussion in 'Guides, How Tos and Reviews' started by MacRumors, Feb 20, 2015.

  1. MacRumors macrumors bot


    Apr 12, 2001

    Apple's Mac Pro is quite an impressive machine. It doesn't look like any other computer; it's a work of art with its sleek, cylindrical body. It's fast, fast, fast. And it's expensive.

    The Mac Pro isn't for everybody, and not just because it's Apple's highest-priced computer. It is made to excel with a certain type of app: professional software that uses multiple processing cores, like software commonly used by videographers, photographers, animators, designers, scientists, and musicians. If that describes what you do on a daily basis, then you'll benefit from a Mac Pro -- you'll make your money back in time saved.

    This guide takes a look at the Mac Pro's specifications, design, and performance. If you're in the market for a Mac Pro and you're not sure which model to buy, this guide will help you sort it all out.


    Apple offers two standard configurations. You can pick one of the standard configurations, but the Mac Pro is all about custom configurations. Think of the standard configurations as a starting point, and you can then customize your order to better suit your needs.

    The $2999 Mac Pro:

    3.7GHz Quad-Core Intel Xeon E5 processor
    12GB 1866MHz DDR3 ECC memory
    Dual 2GB AMD FirePro D300 graphics cards
    256GB PCIe-based flash storage

    The $3999 Mac Pro:

    3.5GHz 6-Core Intel Xeon E5 processor
    16GB 1866MHz DDR3 ECC memory
    Dual 3GB AMD FirePro D500 graphics cards
    256GB PCIe-based flash storage

    Apple offers the following upgrades for the Mac Pro:

    3.0GHz 8-core processor or 2.7GHz 12-core processor ($500 to $3,500 extra)
    16GB, 32GB, or 64GB of RAM ($100 to $1,300 extra)
    512GB or 1TB of flash storage ($300 to $800 extra)
    Dual 6GB AMD FirePro D700 graphics cards ($1000 extra)

    As you can see, building a fully-loaded top-of-the-line Mac Pro can get expensive. Based on the add-ons you choose, your Mac Pro could cost up to $9,599.

    Click here to

    Article Link: Mac Pro Buyer's Guide: Which Model to Choose
  2. Steve121178 macrumors 601


    Apr 13, 2010
    Bedfordshire, UK
    Yes, it's expensive but you are getting a lot for your money.
  3. jtrauscht macrumors regular


    Sep 6, 2010
    Nashville, TN
    I got the 5k Retina iMac (after moving on from a 2008 Mac Pro), and it performed great for most things, but it choked on my large Photoshop files (file size over 1GB with many layers). The display is beautiful, BUT it's almost too many pixels. The thing is almost print resolution (about 218 ppi), so any standard web graphics look tiny.

    I ended up bringing it back and getting the 6-core Mac Pro using a Thunderbolt Display. Really glad that I did.
  4. dmodo macrumors newbie

    Feb 18, 2015
    Why are they doing a buyers guide for the 2013 nMP? God I hope it's to push the last stock before a refresh.
  5. prowlmedia Suspended

    Jan 26, 2010
    It's really cheap for a professional tool... It's expensive hobby machine if you are not making money from it.

    No one would think you crazy for spending 100k on a truck if you were a truck driver or even 25k if you were a taxi driver. But spend 10k on a computer and it spawns more comment and anger than anything,


    Or wait for Mac pro 7,1...

    2 months I reckon.


    I have to ask is "bringing it back" normal use where you are? Not having a go at you just sounds very odd to my ears. I'd say 'taking it back' or 'I'll bring it round'. Just interested :)
  6. bitserf macrumors newbie

    Mar 3, 2011
    Waiting for the refresh, which will hopefully have TB3 and DisplayPort 1.3 so it can drive a 5k external display at 60Hz, when those arrive.

    Hard to wait but I'll give it a few more months..,
  7. nozebleed macrumors 6502

    Jul 30, 2008
    It is made to excel with a certain type of app: professional software that uses multiple processing cores, like software commonly used by videographers, photographers, animators, designers, scientists, and musicians. If that describes what you do on a daily basis, then you already know about mac pros and dont need a "buyer's guide"
  8. OriginalMacRat macrumors 6502

    Mar 9, 2007
    The title really isn't correct.

    There is really only ONE Mac Pro, but with many OPTIONS to select which the body of the article correctly addresses.
  9. PowerBook-G5 macrumors 65816


    Jul 30, 2013
    The United States of America
    Not really related, but has anyone noticed that they have been using Mac Pros as prizes on The Price is Right? What (average) contestant on that show needs a Pro desktop computer?
  10. ZZ Bottom macrumors 6502a

    Apr 14, 2010
    They've been doing that for years. The old towers were frequently featured.
  11. puckhead193 macrumors G3


    May 25, 2004
    a little too late for this buyers guides article, no?

    I think an 8 core, 32 GBRAM, 1TB, D700's is the sweet spot if you can afford it. If not then the 6 core with same specs.

    But it all comes down to use. If your apps can make use of all of it (FCPX) then go all out :p)
  12. Jimmy James macrumors 601

    Jimmy James

    Oct 26, 2008
  13. AlecZ macrumors 65816


    Sep 11, 2014
    Berkeley, CA
    Well it would certainly be more portable than my 2008 Mac Pro for a LAN party.
  14. ikramerica macrumors 6502

    Apr 10, 2009
    Many comment on the high price but back in 1991 when I entered college a fully optioned IIfx ran well over $12k, or $20k adjusted for inflation, and I don't believe that included any video card. That makes this a steal by comparison.
  15. bart4u macrumors member

    Sep 9, 2008
    I just bought a new Mac Pro 6 core, 32gb, with 1tb HD. I was using a 2008 Mac Pro. I process 2000-3000 RAW photos per day using Lightroom 5 and Photoshop shot with 2 Canon 5D Mark lll cameras. Depends what job I work on and how many days I am shooting. My processing times have been cut by close to 60-70%. Lightroom and Photoshop open in a few seconds which I love. I personally am not a big fan of computer work and now I can spend less time behind my computer. I use 2 OWC Thunderbay Raid storage boxes to store my photos. The only thing that bothers me is this computer cannot play computer games or run flight simulators well. The graphics cards are not designed for game play. My older 2008 computer had a graphics card that can run my flight simulator better than my expensive new computer You would think with the kind of money these computers cost Apple would have a super fancy graphics card but they don't. Still a PC beats Apple by a long shot and I don't think the computer is compatible with the newer 5K monitors. It took me about 5 days to get everything running correctly. I use a NEC graphics monitor and love the color balance of my monitor. It matches to my Epson 3880 printer perfectly and I save money on test runs. It was very hard to find a Display port To Thunderbolt cable to run my NEC monitor with my new Mac Pro. B&H was the only place that sold it so that was another reason for a slower set up time. Overall I love my new computer.
  16. Laptopdog78 macrumors member

    Mar 24, 2014
    Would the top spec machine run angry birds while playing an iTunes song? If so im on it!!
  17. thekeyring macrumors 68040

    Jan 5, 2012
    My mac pretty much handles my animation needs, as I don't do anything very graphics intensive.

    To drop £2,500 on a Mac pro would be out of the question right now - a rMBP would be a better fit.
  18. foobarbaz macrumors 6502a

    Nov 29, 2007
    It's a Germanism.
  19. lincolntran macrumors 6502a


    Jan 18, 2010
    I need to see proof of how a 2008 graphic card is performing better than the new ones in the Mac pro. I know it doesn't have the best but to say it's not better than a 5 years old card is impossible. Could it be that the old software is not taking advantage of the new hardware features?
  20. prowlmedia Suspended

    Jan 26, 2010
    A top of the range 5 year old card would probably beat a D300. But not the D700.

    The OP doesn't state what cards he is comparing though.
  21. prowlmedia Suspended

    Jan 26, 2010
    Depends what card you have. The D300 is not great. The D700 is insane. Also depends if the flight sim (which one?) is compatible 100% / takes full advantage of the card?

    But it's certainly cheaper to build a great gaming PC Than a Mac Pro. But well I'd happily do that for games. I certainly wouldn't want to work in windows.

    Well it might be compatible with 5k monitors - people have tested them an the current ones cheat. They require 2 thunderbolt cables direct from a machine as the monitors have 2 controllers and create a dual screen on a single if that makes sense. The retina iMac has a special controller they built as no single fast controller existed.

    I suspect the 2015 Mac pros will be 5k compatible and there will be some 5k screens... Hopefully 30" !
  22. kwikdeth macrumors 65816

    Feb 25, 2003
    Tempe, AZ
    D700s are nothing more than a HD7970 with ECC memory. You can get HD7970s off eBay for well under $200.

    The internals were already getting long in the tooth when this machine was released. PC world has already moved on to DDR4 and LGA2011-3 CPUs.

    I do appreciate that the machine looks amazing and is whisper quiet, but its far from a good deal in 2015, and good looks dont pay the bills when i can get a far more powerful pc build for the same price or even lower. Hopefully they can put some more pep in the refresh and keep these machines competitive for the coming years. Really don't want to see another wait like we did between 5,1-6,1 Mac pros.
  23. freeskier93 macrumors 6502

    Jul 13, 2008
    Flight Sims are pretty cpu dependent, not GPU. If you're using Microsoft Flight Simulator that's your issue. It's 9 year old code, a low clock milti core Xeon is going to struggle. You really want something with strong single core performance. Even Prepar3D doesn't have proper multi core support. The only multi core use you get with these sims is from tweaking affinity mask settings.
  24. guzhogi macrumors 68030


    Aug 31, 2003
    Wherever my feet take me…
    While not 256 GB, you can buy up to 128 GB RAM here.

    You can also get SSD upgrades for the new Mac Pro.

    Something I've wondered: are there any monitors out there that are above 60Hz? I've seen TVs that have 120, 240, even 480Hz refresh rates. Or is that something totally different? I've been wrong before.

    Aren't the D300 & D700 cards meant for workstation computers, not gaming? Just curious. If it is, I wonder if/how someone could get 3rd party upgrades?
  25. lincolntran macrumors 6502a


    Jan 18, 2010
    I remember a few tech site tried to build a comparable pc with the Mac pro when it came out and they concluded that the Mac pro is cheaper for the same performance. Did that change?


    I remember a few tech site tried to build a comparable pc with the Mac pro when it came out and they concluded that the Mac pro is cheaper for the same performance. Did that change?

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