Apple Mac Pro Review: New Mac Pro Is a Pricey Aluminum Winner

by Brad Moon | January 7, 2014 6:00 am

Apple Mac Pro Review: New Mac Pro Is a Pricey Aluminum Winner

When the first Mac Pro review came out, it was a given that Apple’s (AAPL[1]) new Mac desktop for the professional crowd was going to be a significant upgrade over the previous version. But the performance of the 2013 Mac Pro is exceeding expectations.

MAC185 Apple Mac Pro Review: New Mac Pro Is a Pricey Aluminum Winner[2]It’s not just the raw power of the new Apple Mac Pro that’s impressing. The polished black aluminum cylinder design made this model not only the most futuristic looking of AAPL’s Mac computers (a considerable achievement considering the aluminum and glass iMac), but it’s also the most easily repairable and upgradable. That comes as a surprise since the sleek black desktop Mac unveiled at Apple’s last World Wide Developer Conference[3] looked as though it would be a nightmare to open up. However tear down site iFixit just completed its Mac Pro review[4] and says the new machine is much easier to tinker with than most Mac computers.

The price for the new Mac Pro is lofty, starting at $3,000[5] and topping out at nearly $10,000 (without a display or accessories) — still, that’s for a Mac desktop that’s a workstation capable of driving three 4K monitors at once with up to 7 Teraflops of processing power. And even the loaded version is a bargain compared to the $977,000 a customized Product RED Mac Pro recently sold for[6] at auction.

Apple Mac Pro Review: Design

Mac Pro 2 Apple Mac Pro Review: New Mac Pro Is a Pricey Aluminum Winner[7]Apple’s Jonathan Ive has a reputation for delivering cutting-edge industrial design products that look like nothing else out there. He’s fond of aluminum, and he sweats the details. It’s clear that the new Mac Pro had his full attention.

In a TechCrunch Apple Mac Pro review[8], the new Mac desktop was compared to a jet engine, with the look equated to being “like having an exhibit from an industrial design museum in your house.”

The aluminum cylinder is only 9.9-inches tall and weighs just 11 pounds, looking like no other computer on the market. Its radial core means whisper quiet cooling while an impressive array of expansion ports are auto-illuminated to reduce cable confusion. As Tech Radar says in its 2013 Apple Mac Pro review[9], Apple’s new aluminum beast is “either something of an oddity or a triumph in concise design depending on your view.”

Besides the design aesthetics, this Mac desktop is made in the USA and boasts serious green cred. It uses 84% lighter packaging than the previous model, 74% less aluminum and 68% less power. Besides the electricity savings for Apple Mac Pro owners, Apple says this translates into being able to fit three times more units into an airline shipping container[10] — further reducing its environmental impact.

Apple Mac Pro Review: Raw Power and Expandability

Mac Pro 3 Apple Mac Pro Review: New Mac Pro Is a Pricey Aluminum Winner[11]The 2013 Mac Pro comes standard with an Intel (INTC[12]) quad-core Xeon E5 processor and 12GB or RAM. It can be upgraded to an 8-core CPU with 64 GB or RAM and dual AMD (AMD[13]) video cards for a resulting 7 Teraflops of processing power. It’s capable of driving three 4K displays simultaneously, or 6 Thunderbolt displays. And as pointed out in Digital Trends’ comparison Apple Mac Pro review, all this power actually comes at a $800 cheaper entry price than the 2012 model[14].

That being said, the 2013 Mac Pro is still a pricey machine.

That compact form factor doesn’t come at the cost of expandability, although it does mean expansion is largely external. More storage space? Aside from the single SSD, you’ll need to hook up a ThunderBolt drive. However, AAPL has included enough of those ports that professionals looking for a workstation-class Mac Pro should be satisfied.

When AAPL revealed its new professional Mac desktop, there was immediate concern that the ultra-compact PC was going down the path of the iPad and MacBook Pro –becoming virtually impossible for users to open up for repairs or upgrades. So the iFixit Apple Mac Pro review showing the opposite was welcome news for Mac fans. In fact, virtually everything can be replaced or upgraded in this PC, including the CPU.

Apple Mac Pro Review: Specs

Mac Pro 4 Apple Mac Pro Review: New Mac Pro Is a Pricey Aluminum Winner[15]Note: As in a standard Apple Mac Pro review, the specs listed below are for the base model configuration.

*Base configuration is capable of driving three 4K monitors, but Mac Rumors is reporting an Apple Mac Pro review finds support for 4K monitors from different manufacturers varies[16].

Apple Mac Pro Review: Conclusion

Mac Pro Apple Mac Pro Review: New Mac Pro Is a Pricey Aluminum Winner[17]If looking for a powerful new Mac, most people would do very well with one of Apple’s iMacs. However, if you’re a current Mac Pro owner, a video editing professional or someone who needs serious firepower (the kind of power this Mac Pro review calls “almost absurd”[18]),  then the 2013 Mac Pro is a no-brainer.

Apple is also likely to sell more than a few of these sleek Mac desktop PCs to the type of users who care about status and would likely never use a fraction of the machine’s capabilities. The polished black aluminum cylinder definitely makes a visual statement and the $3,000 point of entry means you have to be relatively well-heeled to afford it. At the same time, for a workstation-class PC capable of pumping out 7 Teraflops of processing power, the Mac Pro isn’t wildly over-priced.

Will it succeed? If early sales are any indication (Apple says its American made Mac desktop is in such demand that it won’t have stock for its stores until March[19]), AAPL has made professional Mac buyers happy. In a glowing Apple Mac Pro review, ZDNet predicts[20] Apple’s aluminum monster “will be a surprise hit this year, beating sales expectations.” If that turns out to be the case, AAPL stock investors should be happy, too.

As of this writing, Brad Moon did not hold a position in any of the aforementioned securities.

Endnotes:
  1. AAPL: http://studio-5.financialcontent.com/investplace/quote?Symbol=AAPL
  2. [Image]: http://investorplace.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/10/MAC185.jpg
  3. unveiled at Apple’s last World Wide Developer Conference: http://investorplace.com/2013/06/apple-unveils-ios-7-new-macbooks-more/#.UsbTXXkTuOE
  4. just completed its Mac Pro review: http://www.ifixit.com/Teardown/Mac+Pro+Late+2013+Teardown/20778
  5. starting at $3,000: http://store.apple.com/us/buy-mac/mac-pro
  6. $977,000 a customized Product RED Mac Pro recently sold for: http://www.electronista.com/articles/13/11/24/first.official.new.mac.pro.to.be.sold.sets.record.for.most.expensive.personal.computer/
  7. [Image]: http://investorplace.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/Mac-Pro-2.jpg
  8. Mac Pro review: http://techcrunch.com/2013/12/27/apple-mac-pro-review/
  9. its 2013 Apple Mac Pro review: http://www.techradar.com/reviews/pc-mac/pc-mac-desktops/mac-pro-1191682/review
  10. being able to fit three times more units into an airline shipping container: http://images.apple.com/environment/reports/docs/MacPro_PER_Dec2013.pdf
  11. [Image]: http://investorplace.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/Mac-Pro-3.jpg
  12. INTC: http://studio-5.financialcontent.com/investplace/quote?Symbol=INTC
  13. AMD: http://studio-5.financialcontent.com/investplace/quote?Symbol=AMD
  14. $800 cheaper entry price than the 2012 model: http://www.digitaltrends.com/computing/apple-mac-pro-2013-vs-mac-pro-2012/
  15. [Image]: http://investorplace.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/Mac-Pro-4.jpg
  16. support for 4K monitors from different manufacturers varies: http://www.macrumors.com/2013/12/31/mac-proos-x-4k-display-compatibility-like-the-wild-west-some-4k-monitors-unsupported/
  17. [Image]: http://investorplace.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/Mac-Pro.jpg
  18. the kind of power this Mac Pro review calls “almost absurd”: http://techcrunch.com/2013/12/27/apple-mac-pro-review/
  19. in such demand that it won’t have stock for its stores until March: http://appleinsider.com/articles/14/01/02/apple-not-expecting-new-mac-pro-to-be-available-in-store-until-at-least-march
  20. ZDNet predicts: http://www.zdnet.com/first-looks-and-teardowns-of-apples-new-mac-pro-7000024706/

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