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

  • damianrobertjones - Thursday, January 2, 2014 - link

    "I like the new Mac Pro’s chassis a lot. It’s a risk, but one that absolutely must be taken if the desktop is to continue to exist and thrive."

    Absolute rubbish... Sorry. We simply DO NOT have to change the case. Sure, of course, the option of having a case like this is fantastic but simply changing the case DOES NOT enable this to 'thrive'.
  • AnnonymousCoward - Sunday, January 5, 2014 - link

    Agreed Reply
  • platinumjsi - Thursday, January 2, 2014 - link

    What are you using to monitor the GPU usage? I have been looking for a app for OSX for a while without any joy? Reply
  • hoboville - Thursday, January 2, 2014 - link

    Sigh, lots of fanboyism in the comments, without recognition that this is just a slower, more expensive PC, the only difference is that it can run OSX only programs. Here's some hardware facts:

    This machine is basically a dual-GPU Xeon workstation with 2x 7970 in Crossfire (D700). Nothing special. Ok, so each 7970 has 6 GB of RAM. Well, each 7970 is also underclocked...and the RAM isn't ECC, so if you want one of these workstations for serious GPU compute, you're going to be eating bit errors, and your data is going to be suspect. Real GPGPUs use ECC RAM, period. If ECC doesn't matter, then dual/triple/quad AMD GPUs of any stripe will do you fine. Even better now that R9 290(X) are out, and they have 4 GB of RAM.
    What if I need more local storage than 200 GB? Most raw video is bigger than that. So your files are stored on a NAS, but this machine only has gigabit NICs. If you want to take advantage of RAID throughput for massive files, you'll need 10 Gbit. But this machine can't use 10 Gbit NICs, as there's no place to put them.

    This workstation, then, isn't for serious compute, those who have big files, and it isn't for those who want to use the most powerful GPUs for rendering / modeling. That belongs to Nvidia, there are plenty of benchmarks out there attesting to that fact. You can't get Nvidia on this workstation, so what then? I guess you buy this machine for Mac-specific applications.

    And that's what this machine is for--Mac OS. If you want more power, UNIX/Linux/Windows boxes are where you go (not Apple-restricted Unix either). Are they bigger? Yes. Hotter? Yes. In fashion because small = sexy? Nope. And that's what this comes down to, looks, style, sleekness, and other metrics not relevant to performance. Sure, there's a niche for those who use Mac only software, but what if you want to do more? Apple has convinced people that style and a walled garden of software is more value than function, stop wasting your money and drop OSX!
  • pmhparis - Thursday, January 2, 2014 - link

    Snort, the ignorant NVidia hobo fanboy complains of Mac fanboys...

    Professionals don't store video projects on internal storage, they use DAS devices like Thunderbolt or USB3 disk enclosures.
  • Houston1 - Thursday, January 2, 2014 - link

    Incorrect. Reply
  • Chirpie - Friday, January 3, 2014 - link

    No, it's pretty spot on. Every video environment I've worked in does not keep the project files and assets on the machine. It's a very normal/typical way of doing business with many terabytes worth of files. I'll go one step further though and say that it's not just USB and Thunderbolt but even duplexed gigabit ethernet or optical, or a number of other flavors as well. Reply
  • FunBunny2 - Saturday, January 4, 2014 - link

    Steve was always the best snake oil salesman since Barnum. How Apple can contend that it spends billions and billions of dollars on R&D is baffling. It can't have cost that much to devise a square cornered rectangle, or single cornered Cube. The parts, 99.44% are off the shelf from suppliers. Reply
  • DotFab - Thursday, January 2, 2014 - link

    Many thanks for this impressive review of the MacPro 2013!!
    You treat every point and more I had in mind!
    A huge and fine work, I really feel like I know what's the MP 2013 now.

    Happy new year to AnandTech and to everyone !
  • HisDivineOrder - Thursday, January 2, 2014 - link

    I love that Anand is discussing his well-known Apple addiction and the subsequent fanboyism he engages in. It is good. Admitting he has a problem means he can perhaps one day overcome it.

    One day. Today is not the day.

    How can anyone in their right mind suggest buying such a limited-expandability computer for anything NOT a low-power HTPC? If you pay this much money, you really ought to be able to easily change out the GPU(s).

    When you're so hooked on a company's products you're rubbing them like Gollum rubbing the Ring of Power, I think you've got to stop and take stock.

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