nMP review from a 3,1 owner

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by Lumpydog, Jan 11, 2014.

  1. Lumpydog macrumors 6502

    Aug 3, 2007
    Hey all. Thought I would share a review I posted on Amazon. Like most reviews here, some will agree, some will argue and some will give it the royal flush. I'm not a "Pro" per se, but I can push my Mac very hard. I value longevity and investment vs immediate gratification/results. I'm a computer hobbyist that loves to tinker. My first Mac was a 512k enhanced that I took ownership of in 1986 - it's still running. These are great machines.... Here is my review:

    By design (pun intended), this is an Apple product that will be controversial. It has to be, because it's well.... different. But from Apple, are you really surprised? I took delivery of my stock six-core on Jan 2nd. It's a typical Apple unboxing experience - purposeful, sturdy, minimalist packaging, enjoyable.

    Here are some of the things you'll experience when you pull your late 2013 Mac Pro out of the box:
    - it's way smaller than expected
    - it's way heavier than expected
    - it's a lot more reflective/metallic than expected
    - it's an incredible piece of engineering and industrial design

    Take the cover off and spin the Mac Pro around - this is a staggering amount of tech in a very small space. The cover in-and-of-itself is impressive. A single extrusion of aluminum that has been highly refined and polished - it's form and function - it's cooling genius. The aluminum cover is great, but really only the beginning of the fun here. You're looking at the future of power computing - no more spinning hard drives, giant DVD ROM drives or massive/multiple cooling fans. This is a stealth piece of hardware that was designed to maximize cooling and minimize space, noise and power consumption - without compromising CPU and GPU power. It's about time.

    Detractors will be quick to say it looks like a trash can. But they got it wrong... A trash can is closed at one end - the analogy is more convenient than it is accurate. The Mac Pro is more like an engine - a circulatory system with a heart, a brain and a neural system capable of moving information at a blinding pace (Thunderbolt 2 and USB 3). It breaths in and silenty exhales barely warmed air. I moved to this new Mac Pro from a late 2008 3,1 Mac Pro with dual quad-core processors. There is a very noticeable difference. I'm not talking about the software that tests processor and GPU prowess via meaningless bar graphs. I'm talking about things that normal people can see and experience. Sure, Apps load quickly on the new Mac Pro. Yes, the new Mac Pro starts in a blink. But what this is about, is heavy lifting. Rendering. Numbers crunching. Creating. When you need to convert a video to a new format, add effects to a picture, move data. This thing hums. It's subtle but ubiquitous. Each thing you do is quicker. Everything. Sometimes WAY faster - you'll notice that part and smile. I have.... today I opened some older .mov files that needed to be converted. Used to take minutes... Today, less than a second.

    What's in the box:
    - New Mac Pro
    - Power Cable
    - Manuals
    - Apple logo stickers (black, not white - different)

    Other things you should know:

    Windows: The new Mac Pro does Boot Camp. But only Windows 8.x - NOT, officially, Win 7 or earlier. You can run Win 8.x from an external Thunderbolt drive if you want, but not a USB drive. I had to install Win 8.1 on the internal PCIe SSD drive and then use Winclone 4.x to move it to the TB external drive (in my case an SSD).

    Storage: With the small internal PCIe drive (even at 1TB), you're going to need external storage. I won't sugar coat this part. It's expensive and it involves a lot of wires. It's not pretty. I have, hanging off my new Mac Pro, an Apple USB SuperDrive, a Western Digital 6 TB thunderbolt drive (Raid 0 which is the default), a Thunderbolt SSD drive in an enclosure (Windows 8.1) and a Kingston USB 3 card reader for my multiple camera storage media transfers. Why I think this is not a big deal: The future of storage is the cloud. Apple knows this. Local storage will be less and less necessary during this product's full life cycle. We early adapters will feel the pain but it's worth it - and, if you're like me, it's fun to tinker and design your own storage solution.

    Upgrading and field maintenance: As of this writing, professional reviews have stated that memory, PCIe SSD storage and processors are all upgradable. Given the Mac Pro's history, this is the way it should be, period - good job Apple. The compromise so far seems to be GPU upgrade-ability. The form factor here is proprietary. Not great, and another cold, hard truth about the new Mac Pro. Whether or not third parties (or Apple) will come up with GPU upgrades remains to be seen. Companies like iFixit agree that the new Mac Pro is very easily maintained and upgraded in the field (IFixit scored it an 8 out of 10, which is off-the-charts for an Apple product).

    Who should upgrade: 2009 or earlier Mac Pro owners will see noticeable improvements and will save a measurable amount of time when producing processor-heavy results. More current Mac Pro users (2010+)... It's a tougher call. On the one hand, this new Mac Pro is slick and smaller and runs cooler on a lot less power and will last longer. But, it's not going to produce blatant, differentiated results over more current Mac Pros. You may be better off watching from the side lines.... Anyone that knows Apple, gets that the next generation "new Mac Pro" will offer some nice refinements over the current edition. If you can afford to upgrade? Why not do it? There is a lot here. PCIe SSD, USB 3, Thunderbolt 2, Wireless 802.11ac, and more...

    Finally, my Mac Pro is a "stock configuration". I have the six-core, FirePro D500, 16GB memory, 256 GB storage new Mac Pro. There are a lot of different configurations that can be built to order. I'm not going to to go through all the different permutations - plenty of other sites have done that. You can spend hours freaking out over which configuration works for you.... If you're in that camp, just get one and start enjoying it. My 2008 Mac Pro lasted me 6 years (almost to the day) and was no wallflower when I retired it. That's a lot of bang for your buck.
  2. LongSticks, Jan 11, 2014
    Last edited: Jan 11, 2014

    LongSticks macrumors 6502

    Jul 22, 2012
    Kent, UK
    Really nice piece and very close to the set up I'm going to be looking at re- windows in TB external! And so as always for all us milking you lucky early receivers for info; a couple of questions kind sir????

    What size and make of external SSD? What sort of speeds are you getting - assuming its a TB1 device?

    I take it your are keeping Wind OS & software only on SSD? If so are you using your raid 0 for Windows related data storage? How well does that work?, speed wise?

    Thanks for any help! I'm not ordering until late summer, as I want to see what's happening with Autodesk and Bentley software over multi core support in the next software updates - there are rumours of MC support coming - before I decide on my CPU requirements. It's killing me not ordering now!!!!
  3. VirtualRain macrumors 603


    Aug 1, 2008
    Vancouver, BC
    Nicely written!

    Quoted for truth!
  4. Lumpydog thread starter macrumors 6502

    Aug 3, 2007
    I purchased this SSD and this TB sled/adapter. Works great as an external SSD for my Win 8.x install. As far as speeds, I have not run any formal read/write tests.

    Yes - that SSD is dedicated to Windows 8. I wanted the internal PCIe SSD to be dedicated to the Mac OS and associated applications.

    The external TB/spindle-based hard drives are this model Western Digital Thunderbolt enclosure/drives, setup in RAID 0. I use this storage space for all my music, video and pictures. No formal testing speed-wise, but I'm not noticing any meaningful latency in accessing my data stored here.

    The USB3 Card reader that I mentioned is this Kingston Model

    The external superdrive is this one made by Apple

    Also, I am upgrading the memory to 32GB with this memory.
  5. m4v3r1ck macrumors 68020


    Nov 2, 2011
    The Netherlands
    Thanks for sharing!
  6. cast128, Jan 12, 2014
    Last edited: Jan 12, 2014

    cast128 macrumors regular


    Jul 24, 2003
    Very nice review. Thanks for posting.

    For others looking for a nice thunderbolt external SSD drive and want a solution that is a little more elegant than a seagate thunderbolt adapter should check out the lacie outlet page


    For 30 dollars more than a $99 thunderbolt adapter you can pick up a $129 refurbished 1TB rugged thunderbolt/USB 3 drive. Plus you get a nice black thunderbolt cable included with the drive, which basically accounts for the extra $30 dollars. I have bought 3 of these, and the drives in them are always the "refurbished" part, but the enclosures are excellent. I just trade out the drives and put in samsung evo ssd's. I get read/write speeds of close to 400. Sorry to clog up this review thread but thought it might be of interest to those considering an external ssd.
  7. Lumpydog thread starter macrumors 6502

    Aug 3, 2007
    Nice find/suggestion! The SSD adapter/sled that I linked to did not include a TB cable. The Western Digital 6TB drive DID (an nice black one).
  8. LongSticks macrumors 6502

    Jul 22, 2012
    Kent, UK

    Thanks for that LD.

    Have the same sled and M4 SSD that I use as a scratch disk/photo library and it is a great system! That will save me some money as I'm gonna use the internal PCIe as OSX and scratch disk and this means I don't have to accommodate windows as well!

    Nice to know that the workflow system hoped would work 2 months ago for my nMP OSX/Win workflow is working! :D

    Have fun

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