Late 2013 Mac Pro Real World Usage

By now you’ve likely heard of the new Mac Pro — whether you’ve heard to it referred to as a trash can or Darth Vader, you’ve likely heard of it.  If not, it looks like this:

Late 2013 Mac Pro

Late 2013 Mac Pro

That’s actually mine, from the unboxing photos that were taken.

According to Apple’s original specs — and many of the reviews you may read online — it’s a powerhouse of a machine.  The specs on this outdo my previous generation (from late 2009) Mac Pro by oodles and oodles. Yes, that’s a technical term.

Here’s the model I went with:

  • 3.5 GHz 6-Core Intel Xeon X5 (the upgraded model)
  • 16 GB 1867 DDR3 ECC RAM
  • Dual AMD FirePro D500 3072MB graphics cards
  • 256GB Flash Storage (I added a 2TB external drive, via Thunderbolt, as well.)

Leaps and bounds above and beyond the last generation’s computer.

Many of the reviews I’ve been seeing online focus on how quickly the new Mac Pro can output, compress, or process video — which is kind of what it’s intended for.  I don’t do any real video work — mostly web development, web browsing, email, etc — so this machine is complete overkill for my needs.  But, if you know me, I always like to have the biggest, best, newest and shiniest.

Here are some of the things that you may be interested in, in a real world environment for the new Mac Pro.  Every day tasks that can be done faster with a machine of this caliber.

  • Startup time: 5.1 seconds.  That’s the amount of time between pressing the power button, all of my start up applications opening, and being able to do stuff.
  • Opening Photoshop CC: 3.1 seconds.  In fact, here’s a video I made this morning of me opening Photoshop CC
  • Reading and writing data:
    • Reading data to the internal Flash drive is pretty fast.  According to Blackmagic’s Disk Speed Test (a widely used application to benchmark drive speeds), the write speed averages 775 MB/s and the read speed averages 950 MB/s
    • For the external drive (over Thunderbolt), it’s a bit slower, but still pretty quick: Write: 335 MB/s. Read: 390 MB/s (averages)
  • That means that you could copy a 4.7 gig movie file from the internal drive to the external drive in about 12 seconds. Give or take.  Impressive.

I picked my machine (named Pennyworth, as its predecessor was named Alfred.  I like Batman, sue me) on January 3rd after a bit of a snafu at the Apple Store I had it shipped to.  From what I’ve been seeing on Twitter, I’m one of the few every day people that has one of these.  Most of the other people I’ve seen with them are either people who work for tech companies who wanted to review them, video production companies, recording studios, or other industry professionals.  I’m just some guy with good taste, so I guess that’s good for me.

You’ve likely seen (or heard) people complaining about how expensive the machine is.  And you’re right, it is costly.  But if you’re complaining that $4000 is a lot of money, you’re not the target audience for this computer.  This isn’t a $400 Dell that you can keep for a year and not care if it dies.  This is a high end, professional, and extremely powerful machine.  It’s not for the faint of heart, nor the faint of wallet.  That said, you get every penny’s worth of your money.  I haven’t had a single issue in the 3 weeks I’ve had this machine (not that I had any issues with the previous Mac Pro, either), and have been very glad that I spent the money.

I haven’t upgraded my monitors yet for two reasons:

  1. Apple hasn’t released a new monitor in a while and their current monitor doesn’t support 4K, UltraHD or Retina resolutions.  Nor does it support USB 3.0 or Thunderbolt 2, both of which are important to me.
  2. There’s nothing wrong with the screens I have now.  I’m still working with a 30″ Apple Cinema Display (from 2009) and a 24″ Dell display as my secondary (in portrait mode) to my left.

Once a newer display becomes available from Apple, I’ll likely upgrade to get the new toys.  But for now, I’m a-okay with what I’ve got.

Why does this post exist? No real reason.  I love my new computer and wanted to help answer any questions about the performance of a machine so high end that anyone considering buying one may have had.  Hopefully this helps in some way.

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