Not to be confused with the Macbook Pro, the Mac Pro is Apple’s high-end desktop model built for power and performance. It’s in the big brother to both the Mac Mini and the iMac but aims for a different and specific audience. If you’ve thought of buying a Mac Pro, you may want to reconsider.
Let’s take a look at what it offers and whether or not you would benefit from it.
Mac Pro Overview & Specs
There are a lot of customizations available to tailor-fit the Mac Pro’s configuration to your needs. The absolute lowest-end model starts at $2,999 and comes with the following specifications:
- 3.7GHz Quad-Core Intel Xeon E5 CPU
- 12GB 1866MHz DDR3 ECC RAM
- Dual AMD FirePro D300 GPUs w/ 2GB GDDR5 VRAM each
- 256GB PCIe-based flash storage
There’s also the six-core model for $3,999 that offers some more punch:
- 3.5GHz 6-Core Intel Xeon E5 CPU
- 16GB 1866MHz DDR3 ECC RAM
- Dual AMD FirePro D300 GPUs w/ 3GB GDDR5 VRAM each
- 256GB PCIe-based flash storage
Those are just the base configurations, so to speak. By upgrading the individual components, you can end up with a massive powerhouse of a machine, but be prepared to take a $9,599 hit to your wallet:
- 2.7GHz 12-Core Intel Xeon E5 CPU
- 64GB 1866MHz DDR3 ECC RAM
- Dual AMD FirePro D700 GPUs w/ 6GB GDDR5 VRAM each
- 1TB PCIe-based flash storage
These prices don’t include monitors, keyboards, mice, accessories, protection plans or pre-installed software. If you throw all of those into the mix, you could easily end up spending over $15,000 USD. Is it really worth it?
Reasons To Buy A Mac Pro
The price tag for this machine is comparable to buying yourself a car. By comparison, you could instead spend:
- $1,099 for a low-end Macbook Pro, or $3,199 for the best Macbook Pro available right now
- $1,099 for a low-end iMac, or $3,949 for the best iMac available right now
It’s hard to justify spending so much money on a machine, especially if all you’re going to do is browse the web and send a few emails. So why does the Mac Pro exist? Who is it meant for? Do you fall into the target audience? Here are some things to consider.
World-Class Image & Video Editing
If you’re working with raw footage that takes up hundreds of thousands of gigabytes in hard drive space, then you won’t find better performance outside of the Mac Pro’s PCIe-based flash storage; it’s a much faster type of solid-state drive with tangible speed gains.
While you currently can’t enjoy the Retina 5K display (only for iMacs), the Mac Pro’s graphical capabilities are powerful enough to support the Sharp 4K display to full effect. For normal users, the extra screen space will be nothing more than a luxury, but for graphics-heavy workers, it’s a godsend.
Incredible Graphical Performance
For those who work with demanding 3D applications, the Mac Pro will calculate and render scenes much faster than a Macbook Pro or iMac. Keep in mind that we’re talking about professional-grade software here; if you’re more of a hobbyist or prosumer, you may not actually end up making full use of the Mac Pro’s potential.
In addition to everything mentioned so far, potential avenues where the Mac Pro can really shine include: computer-aided design, architecture, medical imaging, and RAM-intensive image editing that involves concurrent editing of many ultra-high-resolution files.
Gaming & Development
Macs aren’t known for being high-end gaming machines, but it’s entirely possible to use a Mac Pro for gaming in tandem with Bootcamp. Along the same lines, Mac Pros could potentially be used as game development workstations for high-end 3D gaming – they’ve certainly got the hardware required to run many of today’s most demanding games.
Be Smart & Settle For Less
To put it bluntly, if you need to ask whether or not you’d benefit from a Mac Pro, then there’s a high chance that you wouldn’t. It truly is a computer built for professionals. To be absolutely clear, you don’t need a Mac Pro unless you are a professional in the fields of video editing, image editing, or 3D rendering.
So if not the Mac Pro, which Apple offering is best for you?
- For lightweight portability, get the Macbook Air.
- For high-performance portability, get the Macbook Pro.
- If you want a basic desktop, get the Mac Mini.
- If you want a high-performance desktop, get the iMac. For an absolutely luxurious experience, fit it with the recently-released Retina 5K display and boost the specs – it will still work out cheaper than a Mac Pro.
If you need more help deciding on a Mac, check out our guide that compares the most powerful Macs.
Image Credit: Mac Laptop & Desktop Via Shutterstock
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