Apple Mac Pro 2013: no 10 September launch, but we do have benchmarks

Macworld Australia Staff
14 September, 2013
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Two months after announcing the new Mac Pro 2013, Apple still hasn’t finally announced when’s shipping and what it costs – but we have exclusive benchmarks of how the chip inside performs.

New Mac Pro 2013 price and release date

We were expecting the Mac Pro to be formally launched this week – and possibly even released – and Intel formally announced its ‘Ivy Bridge’-based Xeon E5-2600 V2 processors, which it has just done at the Intel Developer Forum (IDF) event in California. Unlike competing solutions from the likes of Dell and HP, the Mac Pro 2013 is a single chip machine, which allows it to be a lot smaller than its rivals. Buyers will likely a choice of chips including the the eight-core, 3.4GHz Xeon E5-2687W to the 12-core 2.7GHz Xeon E5-2697W.

New Mac Pro 2013 benchmarks

We haven’t seen a Mac Pro in the wild yet, but we have seen another system with a single eight-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 percent 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 percent slower than the 26.78 score that the same Windows workstation with two Xeon E5-2687W chips installed.

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 1866MHz ECC RAM – up from 1333MHz in the previous generation of Mac Pros and up from 1600GHz 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 1250MBps is 2.5x faster than the fastest SATA-based flash storage, according to Apple, and over 10x faster than a 7200rpm 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.

by Neil Bennet, Digital Arts online

One Comment

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  1. Antonio says:

    Agree, it will not outperform Windows workstations and dual Xeon’s. But it’s a great design. They put all of the existing stuff in a small silent cylinder. Noboby tought of that before. If they can bring it at a PC price ($1300-1800)it will succees. If they bring it at previous workstation prices, people will buy faster solution like Dell, HP and IBM Lenovo. PC- Workstation users are waiting more then 3 years now to have a double fast machine. They’ve got Intel processors with 6-15% gain!? Now they complain PC market crashed because of Tablet! No, no, because of a lack of faster processors.

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