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

  • Ryan Smith - Tuesday, December 31, 2013 - link

    Yes. 1 and 3 are on the same TB controller. Reply
  • JlHADJOE - Tuesday, December 31, 2013 - link

    You, sir, are a very hardworking man.
    Thanks very much for the review, and a happy new year to you.
  • scribblemonger - Tuesday, December 31, 2013 - link

    "The part I haven’t quite figured out yet is how Apple handles DisplayPort functionality. All six Thunderbolt 2 ports are capable of outputting to a display, which means that there’s either a path from the FirePro to each Thunderbolt 2 controller or the PEX 8723 switch also handles DisplayPort switching. It doesn’t really matter from an end user perspective as you can plug a monitor into any port and have it work, it’s more of me wanting to know how it all works."

    The former is correct.
  • funwithstuff - Tuesday, December 31, 2013 - link

    Could you please share more details of your FCP X benchmarks? I'd like to analyse where the pain points are in for different Macs. Reply
  • funwithstuff - Tuesday, December 31, 2013 - link

    And also, a quick typo fix. In the article you say you're testing the iMac 2013 i5-3.4GHz, but the charts all say i7-3.4GHz. Reply
  • macgeeky - Tuesday, June 3, 2014 - link

    Anand, which is it: are you testing the iMac Late 2013 i5 or i7?

  • AnTech - Tuesday, December 31, 2013 - link

    Apple should bring these to match the Mac Pro:

    - Thunderbolt 2 matte display (24-inch) 4K and 3D with USB 3 and SD card reader.
    - Wired extended keyboard with USB 3 hub built-in.
  • miahshodan - Tuesday, December 31, 2013 - link

    Doesn't having external storage kind of negate the entire clean and small design? I would rather have a larger case with my extra drives in it and no messy cables all over my desk. Reply
  • Gigaplex - Wednesday, January 1, 2014 - link

    Yes. Yes it does. Reply
  • nedjinski - Tuesday, December 31, 2013 - link

    I guess you're using FCP as the reference for benchmarks because it is mac exclusive. Since most really serious video editor pros have migrated to Premiere it would be interesting to see if the numbers were different or better using that as your reference. Reply

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