Mac Pro

In a first (and by no means last) for the Tame Geek site, we have a video review of Apple’s new Mac Pro.
The new Mac Pro is a very big deal for a relatively small set of users. As Apple celebrates their 30th birthday, the Mac Pro really does show how far things have come.

Apple popularised the ‘all in one’ computer with the Mac and then to massive success with the iMac. With in these years there were powerhouse machines being built and sold as well. These powerhouses were the tools of creative professional. The ‘G’ series of machines drove this for a long time. PowerMacs with IBM made PowerPC processors were commonplace in all creative studios. The massive plastic towers were easy to upgrade and repair and were built to last. How well built to last? How’s about the fact that I only parted with a fully functioning G4 tower at the end of last year.

The G5 brought a new design language of Aluminium and fans. The brushed Aluminium towers cemented Apples place as the ‘pro’s’ machine. That design stayed for a subsequent 10 years. There were internal changes and the addition of an extra optical drive, but for all intents and purposes, the design stayed the same for a decade. Nothing in the tech world stays the same for that long and it’s a testament to the design of the machine that it lasted that long.

With that in mind, when the new Mac Pro was announced in the summer of 2013, there were a lot of questions. Things that professionals need have changed over the year, but one thing remains the same. Power. The new Mac Pro can be specified in a number of versions to test the strongest of budgets. Stand specification machines start at £2,499 for a Quad-Core Xeon E5 processor with 12 GB of RAM, 256GB of Flash Storage and 2 AMD FirePro D300 graphics cards. The second standard spec (and the one reviewed here) has a 6-Core Xeon E5 processor, 16 GB of RAM, the same flash storage but the graphics cards are upped to D500’s with 3GB of RAM each. That’s for the princely sum of £3,299.

If you really want to blow the budget, you can hit the customise button and get a 12-Core Xeon, 64 GB of RAM, 1 TB of Flash Storage and 2x D700 Graphics Cards with 6 GB of RAM each. That’s only £7,779! How reasonable! You’ll also need to add in some money for a Display Port or ThunderBolt monitor as well as Keyboard and mouse.

It would seem the new Mac Pro can produce eye watering prices as well as blinding speed. Just like it’s predecessors.

It would also seem that this new, most powerful Mac has the same ability for me to loose a lot of time. When the G5 came out, I spent about 45 minutes playing with one in the Apple Store. With this new Mac Pro, I was there for over an hour. It show’s how niche the machine is, that no one else even came over while I was using it. The store was quite and there was an iPad class on not far from me.

After the usual benchmark tests ( Geekbench; 32 bit – 3271 Single-core, 18433 Multi-core. Cinebench; OpenGL 79.73 frames pre second, CPU score 961 cb ) I decided to give the Pro a good bit of battering with some 4K video samples in Final Cut.

It became clear very quickly that even this mid spec machine could handle 4K playback like it was standard definition and could throw 4k footage around in Final Cut like an old Mac Pro would work through HD footage.

The video below is a compilation of 4K videos after about 15 minutes of playing and exporting combined. No audio, but given the speed of the Mac Pro, I doubt audio would add in much extra in output time.

The new Mac Pro is monstrously fast and a serious tool for professional. If you just want a quick personal computer, get an iMac or a MacBook Pro retina. If you are a creative professional though, someone who does a lot of 3D modelling and rendering, video editing and composting or you use scientific calculation software that requires a lot of power, this is the machine you you. If you’re thinking that it’s just too expensive and you could build it cheaper, you may want to read this article on BGR.