The MacPro Workstation


Standing at just 25 cm tall and weighing 5kg, the Mac Pro’s design, beautiful as it may be, completely redefines Apple’s ultimate Pro machine. It comes with the same amount of internal flash storage as a laptop and no available PCI slots for video capture cards, RAID cards, or the like. The new Mac Pro is really meant to be configured at the time of purchase, with any additional storage or cards added externally through the six Thunderbolt 2 ports or four USB 3.0 ports. The new Mac Pro also comes with dual gigabit ethernet ports and 802.11AC wireless networking.

Speedmark 9 scores

  • Mac Pro 6-core/3.5GHz (Late 2013)323
  • Mac Pro 8-core/3.0GHz CTO (Late 2013)350
  • Mac Pro 12-core/2.4GHz (Mid 2012)196
  • 27" iMac quad-core/3.5GHz CTO (Late 2013)326

Higher results are better. Reference models in italics.—Macworld Lab testing by James Galbraith and Albert Filice

In terms of overall performance, the 6-core Mac Pro was an impressive 65 percent faster that the previous high-end stock Mac Pro, the 2012 12-core Mac Pro with two 6-core Intel Xeon processors running at 2.4GHz. The new Mac Pro was faster in every test except the Cinebench CPU test, which was 10 percent faster on the 12-core system. The file copy test was more than 4 times as fast on the new Mac Pro’s PCI-connected flash storage than on the 12-core system’s 7200 rpm drives. PCMark Office tests were twice as fast on the new stock Mac Pro and graphics tests showed the dual AMD FirePro D500 GPUs in the new Mac Pro pushing twice as many frames per second in the Heaven graphics benchmark at 1280 by 720 resolutions than the 12-core Mac Pro with its Radeon HD 5770 graphics. Cranking the resolution to 2560 by 1600, the new Mac Pro was able to display 10 times as many frames per second as the 2012 Mac Pro.

The Mac Pro was much faster at Final Cut Pro import and rendering, as well as Photoshop, especially the OpenCL action script, and also MathematicaMark and Cinebench CPU tests.

Compact and quiet despite a huge helping of horsepower, the Mac Pro’s revolutionary design is set to turn the workstation market on its head. When Apple puts its mind to a task, it’s a safe bet that the end product will be something special – but the new Mac Pro is out of this world.


After years of research and design work at Apple’s labs, what has emerged is radically different from any desktop PC – a high-end workstation system, crammed with cutting-edge components, which looks more like a beautiful hi-tech bin than a computer.


In keeping with Apple’s wider design ethos, the Mac Pro is a minimalist affair. Its unusual cylindrical shape, finished in a dark, polished gunmetal grey, is blemished by not a single mark – not even an Apple logo – until you reach the “rear” of the device, where all the connections are elegantly arranged on a single panel.


Even this has been meticulously designed, with all Thunderbolt, USB and Ethernet ports stacked in two columns. Cleverly, the labels and lines surrounding each individual group are backlit, illuminating when the system fires up, or whenever movement is detected. If you happen to have your Mac Pro stowed under a desk, those backlit labels make it easier to locate the port you’re looking for.


The Mac Pro’s big party trick is how easy it is to open up. Flip the single catch at the top of the chassis next to the port panel, and (assuming all cables have been disconnected) it’s possible to pull the entire exterior sheath up and off, with a satisfying, Star Trek-esque whoosh. It reveals a suitably exotic interior, with four RAM sockets sitting in two spring-loaded banks on either side, and the rear of the two graphics cards between them, one of which has the system’s single PCI Express-based SSD mounted on it.

 

Internal design
The Mac Pro is certainly eye-catching, but what’s really clever about the design is the way that Apple has completely deconstructed the traditional desktop. Instead of everything sprouting from a single, monolithic motherboard, Apple has opted for a modular approach, with each major component mounted on a separate board.


This explains how Apple has crammed so much into so little space (it really is compact, rising a mere 251mm from the desk and measuring 167mm in diameter). What it doesn’t explain, though, is how the Mac Pro gets rid of the heat generated by all of its powerful components.


In more traditional high-end workstations and PCs, there’s usually an assortment of fans and heatsinks, all working together to cool the system. They draw air into the chassis, distribute it to the graphics cards, CPU, power supply and other components, and push it back out of the box again. Inevitably, under load, such an arrangement can make a lot of noise. The smaller the chassis, the harder those fans have to work, and the louder they become.


In the comparatively tiny Mac Pro, the main heat-generating parts – the CPU and graphics cards – are attached to a single, Toblerone-shaped heatsink that runs up the centre of the tubular case, with one component on each side. Apple calls this the “thermal core”, and it requires only a single fan to keep things cool, which is mounted at the bottom of the heatsink. This sucks air in from outside, pushes it across the surface of the heatsink and vents it out of the hole you see at the top.


Bottom line

The new Mac Pro redefines Apple’s highest-end system. Lacking the internal expansion that once drew advanced hobbyists to the line, the new Mac Pro is truly a workstation-class computer designed to shave minutes and hours off projects that wedding video production pros run day-in and day-out.

Specs

Processor
Mac Pro is powered by the latest Intel Xeon E5 processors. Built using Intel’s advanced 22-nanometre process technology, Intel Xeon E5 processors feature:

 3.5GHz 6-core with 12MB of L3 cache

Memory

32GB (4 x 8GB) of 1866MHz DDR3 ECC

Storage

512GB PCIe-based flash storage


Camera setups - Studio, Theatre and Concerts

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