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

  • funwithstuff - Wednesday, January 1, 2014 - link

    FCP X has been optimised for the Mac Pro and other NLEs haven't — Premiere doesn't make use of twin GPUs yet. Still, to say that "most serious video editor pros have migrated to Premiere" without any numbers or evidence would be a mistake; noise on forums doesn't necessarily translate to real numbers (e.g:

    Even though I prefer FCP X myself, most features and large-scale TV shows are still cut on Avid, not either of the others.
  • CalaverasGrande - Wednesday, January 1, 2014 - link

    indeed, at our network we are all on Avid (or Dalet).
    Most Pros I know are on Avid or FCP.
  • Bill Thompson - Wednesday, January 1, 2014 - link

    Final Cut Pro 7 numbers are irrelevant. Reply
  • nedjinski - Wednesday, January 1, 2014 - link

    These serious editors love FCP -
  • Bill Thompson - Thursday, January 2, 2014 - link

    They liked Premiere Pro 1.0 too. Reply
  • Bill Thompson - Wednesday, January 1, 2014 - link

    The biggest issue is CUDA. There are many pro apps that see a huge speed increase with a CUDA compatible GPU (nVidia).

    Check out Octane, which extends CUDA to lots of apps including Cinema 4D (which makes the cinebench numbers look silly).

    If you are using apps that utilize CUDA, a windows PC with nVidia or an iMac would be much faster than the new Mac Pro.
  • Dug - Monday, January 13, 2014 - link

    I would really like to see this. A compilation of new workstations including the Mac Pro, with popular CUDA enhanced apps, non enhanced apps, all benchmarked. Reply
  • newrigel - Wednesday, March 1, 2017 - link

    That's pure bullshit I haven't migrated I'll put my shit up against anybody's!!!!! Reply
  • Meaker10 - Tuesday, December 31, 2013 - link

    High end notebooks (like the alien ware 17/18) can upgrade the graphics card quite happily. Reply
  • akdj - Wednesday, January 1, 2014 - link

    Did you take a wrong turn? Reply

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