When Apple announced the Mac Pro, one thing that they said was it would be released “Fall 2019”, and in terms of cutting it short, Apple sure did that. releasing it literally at the end of Fall. What Apple have released though is a very controversially priced machine. However, whilst, sure, you can spec out a Mac Pro to the eye-watering stats of £43,000, the fact of the matter is, nobody will, and it’s not meant to be, and that’s the biggest point to make.
In terms of what Apple have delivered, and they have, what you have is one of the most ergonomic PC towers you can buy. One of the most surprising factors of the Mac Pro, is the fact that in terms of cooling, you pretty much only have 3 main fans at the front, but somehow you can run more or less everything on max and not even hear the thing doing anything, which is a massive testament to how Apple have controlled the air flow of this thing.
Where’s the Threadripper option…
As is typical with a Mac Pro, Apple have not opted for consumer grade chips, but gone with Intel’s Xeon line of CPUs, for which you can go all the way up to a 28-Core Processor, for which is of course overkill for what anyone would ever need to use, and that’s the main point in relation to price really, but there’s definitely an elephant in the room… where’s the AMD options.
Over the last couple of years, AMD has just being on a consistent run of incredible performance gains, and even before AMD announce their next generation Zen-based Ryzen CPUs, you can already get better performance out of AMD’s already existing 3rd gen Threadripper processors than what you can get on the Mac Pro’s highest option, and if you were looking at AMD’s Epyc Processor, it’s not even funny! This isn’t a fault of the Mac Pro, this is Intel, Intel have just been completely slacking, though it does beg the question why Apple wouldn’t allow AMD processors, considering the fact that Apple work heavily with AMD with their Metal framework for GPUs, but frustratingly Apple are sticking with Intel, but for the moment that’s not a major problem as these are still overkill CPUs.
But it’s £40odd thousand!!
You can make it £50,000 if you add the newly added 8TB option for SSD and software, but the fact of the matter is, even progressions should NOT buy these configs. These are the halo possibilities that the Mac Pro offers, the fact of the matter is, the realistic purchase is one far less than this, which gets built on as the machine goes forward. In fact the configuration most would be going for, would be more in line of being £10,000 – £18,000 rather than that amount.
One thing that is rather hilarious about the criticism of the price of the Mac Pro, is that it’s ironically a lot cheaper than workstation towers from Dell, HP, Lenovo etc … no really, go on their websites and try making comparable comparisons, and you’ll end up with a much uglier plastic shell as well.
There’s a few things to keep in mind, however, before you get configuring;
- Apple’s SSD + T2 – Whilst Apple charge quite the hefty amount for their SSDs, and it’s still a joke that this starts with 256GB of it, one thing to keep in mind, whilst the Mac Pro can be configured with additional Storage, and Apple’s SSD is removable, it is configured to a Motherboard level with the SSD using Apple’s T2 Security Chip, meaning this simply will not boot if you use a replacement SSD (not supplied by Apple), so it’s recommended that you do consider this when configuring. Thankfully, Apple’s pricing aren’t too unreasonable for the performance speeds.
- Do not buy Apple RAM – The opposite of the above point is true about the RAM options in the Mac Pro. The base model starts with 32GB of RAM, which, for many, is plenty, for the Pros it is certainly not, but do not pay Apple’s RAM pricing. You can buy the exact RAM Apple use, or comparable, and use that with the Mac Pro. This alone can save you literally THOUSANDS on the price, for no reason.
Just how good is the AMD Vega II? Expectedly overkill
Whilst AMD is now focused on Navi with their RDNA architecture in their GPUs, much has been questioned upon the performance of the AMD Vega II, though the question of the performance naturally enters the area that was never intended with the Mac Pro, gaming.
The important point to keep in mind, is that the AMD Vega II, alongside the Afterburner Card, is built for productivity, it’s built for outputting high grade Video, Imagery and Audio, as well as so much more, so asking whether it’s decent for Gaming, is a bit wrong. If you wish to Game on the Mac Pro, you’d probably be better just simply purchasing a Radeon RX 5700 XT and putting that in one of the PCI slots, rather than one of these, for the price.
For those wondering, however, performance of a single Vega II in Gaming, what they were not built for, perform better than an Nvidia RTX 2080, and a Duo, will be around a 2080Ti, or if you really spent out and bought the 4 GPU option, with the 2X Vega II Duo, you will then have what Apple and AMD can brand, the worlds most powerful GPU, but for a near £10,000 premium over the abysmal RX580 default, it should be.
Workstation variants of the 5700 XT coming soon
One thing that will allow a great saving when it comes to GPU performance on the Mac Pro, will be the finally introduction of Navi options for the Mac Pro. AMD’s 5700 series of GPUs have been very popular as a best bang for buck 1440p Gaming Card versus Nvidia’s 2060 and 2070 series of GPUs, but the variant Apple will be offering soon for the Mac Pro, will be one built for productivity, the W5700X with 16GB of GDRR6 or the option to buy 2 of them. Performance is not likely to be as good as the Vega II, likely due to not using the more expensive HMB2 memory, as well as having half the GB of VRAM too, but will be a massively lower amount for those who need it.
The wheels … just don’t.
The Mac Pro has some stupid configuration options, we’ve mentioned not touching Apple’s RAM prices, but when it comes to paying ~£400 for a pair of wheels is just stupid. Whilst it will make it easier to move, for sure, just lift the thing up, seriously.
Summary of the Mac Pro
The Mac Pro is Apple’s fastest Mac ever … shocker, right. However, it’s also Apple’s most misunderstood Mac, mostly because the media like to make headlines. Apple, of course like to be renowned as the luxury brand, but with the Mac Pro, it’s sure nice to see Apple finally make a Mac, which you can literally build up from purchase. Even if you bought the 8-Core base model, you could upgrade the CPU down the line, which is quite frankly unheard of in the Mac of recent times.
Of course, this brings up the question, the request, the want, for Apple to build a Mac Pro mini, but we highly doubt Apple will do this. The problem with the Mac Pro, almost, is how it is now so comparable to the iMac Pro, which we personally think is a much better buy for the 80% of people looking for a high end Mac. To be fair, if Apple updated the iMac Pro with Navi graphic options, let’s say replacing the Vega 56 base with the 5700, with an 5700 XT option, then maybe a custom AMD + Apple higher end option, or just AMD releases a 2080Ti style GPU, that iMac Pro would be perfect. But, for now, that’s a dream, but this Mac Pro sure ain’t bad, but you’ll probably need a loan … though, then again, if you do need a loan to get this, it’s probably not for you anyway.