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Apple Mac Pro (late 2013) review

Our Rating :
Price when reviewed : £2499
inc VAT

Incredible power, excellent value and a stunning case that's as quiet as it is beautiful - the ultimate workstation


3.7GHz Intel Xeon E5-1620, 12GB RAM, N/A display, OS X 10.9


Our benchmarks us open-source apps that are heavily dependent on the CPU, but this isn’t a particularly fair test of the Mac Pro. One of the advantages that Apple has over the competition is that it can optimise its software to run on its hardware. This is particularly true of the Mac Pro, where Apple has written Final Cut Pro X to take full advantage of the dual GPUs inside.

Most video editing applications are only capable, if at all, of offloading some of the work to a single GPU, using a second GPU for display only. With the Mac Pro, OS X and Final Cut Pro X, Apple can use both GPU’s simultaneously for processing.

What the cards are capable of depend on the models you choose, but getting specs for them is hard, because the GPUs are custom parts made specifically from Apple. A bit of investigation shows that the D300 is a Pitcairn-based GPU, with 1,280 stream processors, and 2GB of RAM. The closest AMD card available is a Firepro W7000, which has 4GB RAM and costs £600. In other words, the entry-level Mac Pro has around £1,200-worth of graphics cards.

The next step up is the Tahiti-based D500, which has 1,525 stream processors, a 384-bit memory bus and 2GB of RAM. There’s no identical AMD model, although the W8000 is the closest, selling for around £1,000 each.

The Tahiti-based D700 is the top-of-the-range choice, with 2,048 stream processors, a 384-bit memory bus and 6GB RAM. It matches the W9000, which costs around £2,500 per card. So, buy the top-spec Apple GPUs and you’re opting for £5,000 of graphics.

So, what are these cards capable of? Using our entry-level Mac Pro, with a quad-core CPU and dual D300 graphics cards, we were deeply impressed. Dragging a 4K clip into Final Cut Pro X, we applied six effects in real-time, with the Mac Pro rendering them all seamlessly with no slow-down. That’s incredibly impressive, as it means that video editors can really work in real-time, without the need for proxy files or having to pre-render anything. Adjusting the effects produced a very slight slow-down in playback temporarily, but nothing to get upset about.

With a fully-fledged D700 system, you can go even further. Final Cut Pro X has a 4K multicam view, which lets you have up to 16 simultaneous streams, so you can pick the shot you want in real-time. We’ve seen it run this many streams, without a single bit of slow down.

In fact, taking our test 12-core Mac Pro and adding multiple 4K and 1080p clips, and applying lots of effects, we didn’t find a reasonable limit to the software: you’ll run out of effects you want to apply before the computer slows down. With the more powerful graphics cards, adjusting effects on the fly produced no noticeable slowdown.


Apple Mac Pro SSD

Helping everything along is the super-fast SSD inside the Mac Pro. This uses a PCIe connector, rather than the SATA connectors inside most computers. The difference is that the PCIe interface is a lot faster, with Apple claiming that its new SSD is capable of throughputs of 1GB/sec. We have to say that the company is telling it straight, with benchmarks proving that this is the case.

As well as making it quicker to load large files and start applications, the fast SSD has a noticeable difference on boot times. In fact, restart the computer and you’ll miss everything if you blink. It’s great to see that Apple has worked on eradicating all potential bottlenecks inside its new PC.


There’s no getting away from the fact that the Mac Pro is expensive, with the base model starting at £2,499, rising to £7,779 for the fully-loaded model (plus, £3,499 per 4K monitor if you buy through Apple). However, compare it to similarly-specced workstations from HP or Lenovo and the Mac Pro comes out cheaper for a single purchase.

With HP or Lenovo, you’re getting a regular desktop computer, rather than the quieter, more practical design of the Mac Pro. On top of that the Mac Pro is a computer that really knows what it’s about: serious power for the professional market. Its combination of stunning raw performance, mixed with OS X and Final Cut Pro X’s ability to use both GPUs, means that this is a computer that can’t be rivalled – real-time 4K editing like this is beyond impressive.

It’s good news to see that there’s now an official Apple Kensington Lock Adaptor. While these locks can be snapped off with enough force, they generally tend to damage the product as well, ruining any chance of a thief selling them later on. With such an expensive computer, having a deterrent is a very useful thing indeed.

On top of all that, it’s the most attractive and desirable desktop computers that we’ve ever seen. If you need a workstation-class computer, the Mac Pro is a landmark computer and our Ultimate choice.

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Basic Specifications

ProcessorIntel Xeon E5-1620
Processor external bus100MHz
Processor multiplierx37
Processor clock speed3.7GHz
Processor socketFCLGA2011
Memory typeDDR3
Maximum memory64GB
MotherboardApple Mac Pro


USB2 ports (front/rear)0/4
eSATA ports (front/rear)0/0
Wired network ports2x 10/100/1000
Wireless networking support802.11ac

Internal Expansion

PCI slots (free)0
PCI-E x1 slots (free)0
PCI-E x16 slots (free)0
Free Serial ATA ports0
Free memory slots0
Free 3.5in drive bays0

Hard Disk

Hard disk model(s)256GB Apple SSD


Graphics card(s)2x AMD FirePro D300
Graphics/video ports6x Thunderbolt, HDMI


Sound outputs3.5mm headset

Removable Drives

Supported memory cardsN/A
Optical drive type(s)N/A


Screen modelN/A
Native resolutionN/A
Screen inputsN/A

Other Hardware



Operating systemOS X 10.9
Operating system restore optionrestore partition

Buying Information

Warrantyone year RTB

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