Mac Pro vs. Consumer Macs

For my final set of CPU performance charts I put the new Mac Pro through the same set of tests I do all new Macs. There are definitely multithreaded components to these tests (some are indeed highly threaded), but the suite also values good single threaded performance. Here we'll get an idea of how the new Mac Pro, in its most expensive configuration, fares as a normal Mac.

I've already gone through Cinebench 11.5 results, but the following graphs should put in perspective the Mac Pro's performance relative to all consumer Macs:

3D Rendering - Cinebench 11.5 (1 thread)

If there's one graph that tells the story of why Intel's workstation roadmap is ridiculous, it's this one. The Mac Pro follows Intel's workstation roadmap, which ends up being cut down versions of Intel's server silicon, which happens to be a generation behind what you can get on the desktop. So while the latest iMac and MacBook Pro ship with Intel's latest Haswell cores, the Mac Pro uses what those machines had a year ago: Ivy Bridge. Granted everything else around the CPU cores is beefed up (there's more cache, many more PCIe lanes, etc...), but single threaded performance does suffer as a result.

Now part of this is exaggerated by the fact that I'm reviewing the 2.7GHz 12-core Mac Pro configuration. Single core turbo tops out at 3.5GHz vs. 3.9GHz for the rest of the parts. I suspect if you had one of the 8-core models you'd see peak single threaded performance similar to what the 2012 27-inch iMac delivers. The 2013 27-inch iMac with its fastest CPU should still be quicker though. We're not talking about huge margins of victory here, a matter of a handful of percent, but as a much more expensive machine it's frustrating to not see huge performance leadership in all areas.

The Mac Pro is designed to offer competitive single threaded performance, but really deliver for everyone who depends on great multithreaded performance:

3D Rendering - Cinebench 11.5 (multithreaded)

If you need more cores, the Mac Pro is literally the only solution Apple offers that can deliver. We're talking about multiple times the performance offered by anything else in Apple's lineup with a Pro suffix.

I'm slowly but surely amassing Cinebench 15 results. The story doesn't really change here, I just thought I'd publish the numbers in case anyone wants data using this new test:

3D Rendering - Cinebench 15 (1 thread)

3D Rendering - Cinebench 15 (multithreaded)

The latest versions of iPhoto and iMovie break comparisons to my older benchmarks so I've had to drop them here. I still have our Photoshop CS5 and Lightroom 3 tests though:

Adobe Photoshop Performance

As I mentioned earlier, threading seems to have improved on newer versions of Photoshop. In CS5 our benchmark looks more like a lightly threaded test by comparison. Out of curiosity I ran the test under Photoshop CS6 and came away with a completion time of around 6 seconds.

Adobe Lightroom Export Performance

Our Lightroom 3 export test tells a very similar story. Anyone with lighter workloads looking for a huge performance increase thanks to the Mac Pro will have to look elsewhere. The Mac Pro is at least performance competitive, but in these lightly threaded workloads you won't see a huge uplift.

Putting Mac Pro Performance in Perspective: Professional Apps The PCIe Layout


View All Comments

  • tipoo - Thursday, January 2, 2014 - link

    But can you use them as Firepros when dual booting Windows? Reply
  • hoboville - Thursday, January 2, 2014 - link

    Nvidia GPUs run those applications faster, the Mac Pro GPUs, while having more RAM, are underclocked to meet temps because of the small form factor. If you don't need ECC, and aren't using more than 3 GB of RAM, build a PC with R9 280Xs. If you want a serious workstation, buy Nvidia. Reply
  • HydraMac - Tuesday, December 31, 2013 - link

    @Ananad - Hey interesting results with that power virus and throttling but what would happen doing the same thing to the older more conventional MP running 2xGPU cards as well? I'd be curious how the old school machine handled the same type of thrashing. It would give a frame of reference as opposed to the results being shown in a vacuum i.e. unified core vs. conventional machine cooling. Reply
  • justizin - Tuesday, December 31, 2013 - link

    "All of that being said, I don’t expect there to be a lot of cross shopping between DIY builders and those looking for a Mac Pro."

    Actually, everyone I've ever known who worked at Apple was a hackintosh enthusiast and had a home-build machine faster than a Mac Pro at a far lower price. I assume since Apple has curtailed its' employee discounts in recent years, this trend will only continue to grow.
  • Kevin G - Wednesday, January 1, 2014 - link

    For consumer systems, yes.

    For professional level systems, there indeed will be little overlap. The professional level DIY market is quiet small as it is preferred that companies order from an OEM like Dell or HP to get a centralized warranty, support and service. There is a price premium there from the OEM's but they do tend to follow through on their support contracts. This saves time instead of having to go through multiple vendors for support and RMA's equipment. The prices of professional level equipment on the PC side (Xeons, ECC memory, and graphics) don't offer the same mass market price benefits as consumer parts.
  • darkcrayon - Wednesday, January 1, 2014 - link

    Exactly. If the DIY market were so large for Pro systems, there's no way HP or Lenovo could justify having them in their product line- and a DIY Windows machine doesn't even need a hacked OS. Reply
  • newrigel - Wednesday, March 1, 2017 - link

    You're full of BS man... They are hassle to maintain and if you want to get work done that's the wrong machine to have.... buy cheap and be cheap because that's what you are... ghetto productions!!!! Reply
  • wkw - Tuesday, December 31, 2013 - link

    10 USB 2 ports on the Lenovo. Sweeeeeeet Reply
  • newrigel - Wednesday, March 1, 2017 - link

    Ever heard of a USB hub????? Reply
  • El Aura - Tuesday, December 31, 2013 - link

    Is the preferred order of TB port usage really 1, 2, 5 and not 1, 3, 5? Reply

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