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

  • OreoCookie - Thursday, January 2, 2014 - link

    You link to a $2000 workstation without graphics cards and just 8 GB RAM. How does that invalidate Anand's claim? Reply
  • DukeN - Thursday, January 2, 2014 - link

    I paid $144 for the extra RAM and re-used my old workstation cards.

    Hardly double the price.
  • zsquared - Thursday, January 2, 2014 - link

    So you are not counting the original cost of the workstation cards but you think you proved you point.

    And you're telling Anand "Shame"?
  • Ppietra - Friday, January 3, 2014 - link

    memory: 1600 MHz vs 1866 MHz
    SSD: SATA600 vs PCIe
    no thunderbolt
    no graphics
    clearly the same specs
  • DukeN - Friday, January 3, 2014 - link

    Even with a decent card it's something like $1500 less.This is a fact that isn't acknowledged by Anand, of course because not cozying up to Apple is potentially bad for business.

    Oh well I'll never be able to convince the Apple fanboys writing or reading here.
  • Ppietra - Friday, January 3, 2014 - link

    the comparison wasn’t about what you can get with the same processor, but how much does it cost to have the same specs, and your comparison doesn’t do that, and you certainly don’t get a machine with the same performance since memory and storage are slower.
    How do you get it for $1500 less when your machine base price is 1000$ less. If you add 2 decent graphic cards (with comparable performance) and the extra memory to match you quickly get at the Mac Pro price and still you would probably get worse performance!
  • Liquidmark - Friday, January 3, 2014 - link

    Where's your graphics card?
    8GB of ram?

    Here's what I got so far from lenovo's site...

    Intel Xeon E5-1620 v2 Processor (10MB Cache, 3.70GHz)
    Windows 8 Pro 64 Downgrade Windows 7 Professional 64 English
    Tower 5x6 Mechanical Shell with low inrush current power supply
    Windows 8 Pro 64 RDVD English
    16GB ECC 2Rx4 PC3 1600MHz RDIMM
    NVIDIA® Quadro K2000D (2GB Dual link DVI+DVI, Mini DP) - (For Windows 7 ME8.0)
    NVIDIA® Quadro K2000D (2GB Dual link DVI+DVI, Mini DP) - (For Windows 7 ME8.0)
    DVI to VGA Dongle
    Integrated Audio
    Intel SATA HDD support (1-3 HDDs)
    Internal RAID - Not Enabled
    2.5" 256GB SATA SolidState Drive
    29-in-1 Media Card Reader - (For Windows 7 ME8.0)
    DVD Burner/CD-RW Rambo Drive (SATA) - Win7 ME8.0
    Integrated Ethernet
    USB Preferred Pro FullSize Win8 US Euro English 103P
    Lenovo USB Optical Wheel Mouse
    LineCord - US
    Publication - English


    Mac Pro with 16 gb instead of 12 for ram...


    Come on man...
  • Liquidmark - Friday, January 3, 2014 - link

    Oop, I forgot the Applecare!

    Ok, Mac Pro= $3,348.00
    Lenovo Lenovo S30= $4,128.00
  • RollingCamel - Thursday, January 2, 2014 - link

    No engineering software performance review? Reply
  • wheelhot - Saturday, January 4, 2014 - link

    I wonder why as well, I don't see anything wrong to do some windows engineering software tests Reply

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