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
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  • zephonic - Tuesday, December 31, 2013 - link

    Thanks for the first thorough review of the MacPro, and on the last day of 2013!

    Happy New Year!
    Reply
  • solipsism - Tuesday, December 31, 2013 - link

    I'm surprised that you can't have 3x4K displays all off the TB ports since the one HDMI port is connected to TB Bus 0. Reply
  • lilo777 - Tuesday, December 31, 2013 - link

    The review is very disappointing. Normally workstation review would contain performance comparisons with other workstations not with all-in-one consumer computers equipped with mobile parts. How about comparing MP with real workstations? Perhaps that would put its size shrink into proper perspective. Reply
  • darkcrayon - Wednesday, January 1, 2014 - link

    From the review, there's no reason to believe the Windows performance would be much different from other similarly configured workstations (which we know are of similar cost), with similar CPUs and GPUs. And of course if you need to work in Final Cut Pro, there wouldn't be an exact comparison available anyway. Reply
  • hoboville - Thursday, January 2, 2014 - link

    "No reason to believe performance would be different".

    Interesting to hear you say that, as these GPUs are underclocked to meet the thermal headroom. For raw performance metrics, the gaming shows how CFX D700 compares to its consumer twin the 7970 GHz / R9 280X, it's slower. More RAM, sure, but it's not ECC which is what real workstations use. And if you're not using more than 3 GB...you're wasting money.

    This is a Final Cut Pro computer or a computer for those who only use Mac software. Too bad for them, as they have to pay more for less power.
    Reply
  • akdj - Wednesday, January 1, 2014 - link

    Did you read page one? There really isn't anything to 'compare' it TOO! No one else is offering different chipsets in their workstations. PCIe SSDs are rare and thunderbolt is all but non existent so far in Windows land Reply
  • wiz329 - Tuesday, December 31, 2013 - link

    @Ananad, does the fact that there are only 8 PCIe lanes available to the IO mean that we could see some bottlenecks if there are a large number of external devices attached/in use? Reply
  • wiz329 - Tuesday, December 31, 2013 - link

    *Anand Reply
  • tipoo - Tuesday, December 31, 2013 - link

    So you can't get the cards to be Firepros under Windows? I suspected something like that would be the case with the cost of actual firepros, since apple writes much of the graphics driver there's less of a difference in osx, while they seem like bog standard radeons with somewhat odd configs in Windows. That may take some value away for pros who work with high end apps in both. Reply
  • tipoo - Wednesday, January 1, 2014 - link

    There were also reports of 7900 series Radeons showing up as D*** series FirePros in OSX. It appears Apple is just eliminating the distinction between them, just calling standard Radeons FirePros. Reply

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