Reviews agree: the new Mac Pro is a dream desktop with some serious oomph for pros


Apple’s radical new Mac Pro went on sale last week and despite critics slamming it for Apple’s high asking price (although it isn’t more than you’d pay for a similarly configured Windows PC), shipping estimates for the re-engineered pro desktop slipped to February 2014 just hours after release, indicating pent-up demand among creative professionals.

Though baseline configurations of the Texas-built machine started shipping to first customers yesterday, those who purchased built-to-order machines will have to wait a month or so. Meanwhile, first Mac Pro reviews have hit the web and the verdict is unanimous: this is every video editor/creative pro’s dream machine…

Starting out at $2,999 for the baseline model and with a more powerful $3,999 configuration available, the new Mac Pro is clearly not a consumer machine that you’d buy to surf the web and check your email.

This monster of a desktop can be hooked up to three external monitors simultaneously while driving each in glorious 4K resolution (3,840 pixels-by-2,160 lines). Performance-wise, this is the ultimate desktop: the new Mac Pro crunches with ease through raw 4K footage in Final Cut Pro without as much as dropping a frame, even when you add a bunch of real-time effects.

But don’t take my word for it, here’s a video showing off real-time video effects rendering on a RED 4K clip, not a single frame dropped whatsoever.

As for the reviews, the articles praise the machine’s unique and sexy design, incredibly small footprint, thermal core internal design and of course raw power that really puts the new Mac Pro in a league of its own.

Here’s a roundup of the best Mac Pro review quotes.

Starting off with a nice 4.5-star review by Brian Westover of who praised the Mac Pro’s “dramatic departure from boring, boxy designs” and called it one of “the best premium desktops period”.

The author was sufficiently impressed by its “powerful performance thanks to Intel Xeon E5 processor and dual AMD FirePro graphics” and somewhat let down by the price point – “it’s expensive, even for an Apple product”.

Beneath the blank, inscrutable surface of the Apple Mac Pro (2013), there’s a lot going on, from the potent processor and graphics hardware, to the completely new approach to hardware expansion. The Mac Pro isn’t quite perfect.

It’s expensive, even given the usual premium for Apple products, and the one-year warranty and 90-day tech support is short and lackluster. Whether or not the lack of internal expansion is a detriment is yet to be seen, but at the very least it’s a drastic change, that will force many professionals to change how they approach their work.

The publication made the machine its Editors’ Choice for single-CPU workstation desktops.

David Pierce of The Verge cautioned early adopters to think twice because popular non-Apple pro apps have yet to be updated with support for the machine’s hardware.

Mac Pro (The Verge 001)

The article notes:

The Mac Pro’s most impressive performance may be currently reserved for Final Cut Pro X, but it won’t be long before other apps catch up. If Apple’s guessed right and stays committed to its ideas, there’s almost certainly going to be a renewed interest in both the Thunderbolt ecosystem and in building and optimizing apps that take advantage of the device’s two GPUs.

Apple built the Pro not just to give developers the tools they want, but to encourage them to build other ones too — if they do, the Pro could quickly turn from subtle speed bump to an actual rethinking of what desktop PCs do and what we can do with them. Not to mention what it all looks like sitting on our desks.

And here’s The Verge’s video review.

He stress-tested the Mac Pro by layering four streams of RED 4K footage in Final Cut Pro X, with color correction on each clip. The machine played the composite back without stuttering or dropping frames.

“If you enjoy using FCP X, the Mac Pro is a fantastically responsive machine to edit on,” The Verge concluded.

Dan Ackerman of CNET called the new Mac Pro “a powerhouse performer” that’s especially appealing to pro-level graphics and video work.

The new Mac Pro is a professional workhorse dressed up in a very appealing high-design package. It’s a stretch to say this is a computer for casual consumers, but the starting price isn’t more than you’d pay for a similarly configured Windows PC and the radically different look and feel is cool enough to appeal to any design enthusiast who wants nothing but the best-looking, best-performing products.

Apple on its part has released timely updates to its pro apps such as Motion, Final Cut Pro, Logic Pro and others that brought out 4K monitoring support via Thunderbolt 2 and HDMI, 4K content and other tweaks that take advantage of the Mac Pro’s hardware.

Dana Wollman of Engadget thinks the radically reimagined Mac Pro is “in a league of its own” even if it’s appearance resembles a gorgeously designed trash can. She also reflected on the machine’s price point:

I debated even putting the word “expensive” in the cons list of that review card you seen down there. It’s hard to say if the Mac Pro is pricey, per se, given that there’s nothing else quite like it. There are plenty of Windows-based workstations, certainly, but none are quite this small or quite this portable (many aren’t quite this quiet, either).

And if you’re a creative professional already hooked into Mac-only apps like Final Cut Pro, this is really your only choice: The new Mac Pro is a serious improvement over the old model in every way, and is likely worth the upgrade. So, while $2,999 (let alone $10,000) is indeed a big investment, it’s well worth it for people who live and die by their workstation, and for whom (rendering) time is money.

Molly Wood wrote in her review over at The New York Times that the Mac Pro’s lack of internal expandability and current paucity of Thunderbolt peripherals may prompt some pros to pass on it, at least initially, adding:

In car terms, the new Mac Pro is like a Ferrari or a Maserati. It’s gorgeous, sexy and powerful, and a few rich people will probably buy one in order to go fast. But that doesn’t mean it could cut it in Formula One.

Dan Frakes of MacWorld:

A souped-up iMac has just as much horsepower as a new Mac Pro when it comes to many of the things nonprofessional users do on a daily basis. It’s not until you get to specialized applications that the Mac Pro really shines.

Which means that this Mac Pro really is a Mac Pro: It’s a computer for professional users who need multiprocessing capabilities and the kind of high-bandwidth capability that only a high-end computer can provide. If you need this kind of performance, the new Mac Pro is for you.

Stuff was surprised how “astonishingly quiet” it is, thanks to the single fan + thermal core combo versus using multiple fans and heat sinks to keep the machine cool.

We’ve put the computer through its paces with some real time 3D rendering, and the results are astonishing; complex scenes are rendered almost instantly, many of which would take several minutes on current high-end kits.

Stuff calls the machine “a glimpse at the future of the desktop PC” that should be a no-brainer for everyone who needs the extra power.

TechRadar is just as impressed and doesn’t mind the asking price:

If you’re thinking this Mac is too expensive, you’re thinking about it in the wrong way. It’s a completely different proposition than an iMac or Mac mini. This is a high end workstation for serious power computing and applications such as media processing and editng. It’s one of the reasons why the future of the Mac is a safe one. It’s superbly designed and has all the panache you expect from Apple. What a machine.

T3 called the Mac Pro a “hugely ambitious overhaul” with some serious oomph under the hood and design “that’s hard to ignore”. But despite the eye-catching looks, this is a pro machine inside out, the publication remarked, adding:

The new Mac Pro is the kind of product that’s invented to wow. Exceptionally powerful technology, an almost eye-watering price and a strikingly bold design that looks a bit like Darth Vader – it’s what tech fetishists live for. Not since our first “eyes on” experience with Google Glass earlier this year has the entire T3 office crowded round just to catch sight of a piece of technology. People were gawping before we’d even turned it on.

The Mac Pro’s remarkable enclosure is being produced in an Austin, Texas plant.

While existing non-optimized applications from the likes of Adobe may not enable the kind of smooth real-time performance offered by Apple’s updated software, expect major creative apps and suites to receive their Mac Pro-focused updates in the coming weeks and months.

WWDC 2013 (Mac Pro, you could be this guy)

The company has also posted the first Mac Pro firmware update just hours after the machine became available at the online Apple Store.

Apple told Forbes that “demand for the all new Mac Pro is great and it will take time before supply catches up with demand” and 9to5Mac heard from customers “with shipping quotes all the way in March”.

For those wondering: a fully maxed out Mac Pro with all of the top upgrades, accessories, software and AppleCare listed as build-to-order options on the Online Apple Store will set you back a little over $20,000.

But hey, free shipping included!

Last but not least, those in the market for a brand spanking new Mac Pro could save themselves a few hundred bucks on RAM, courtesy of Other World Computing.

iPad Air vs. Mac Pro size comparison top of post via MacWorld.

The publication published a series of photographs comparing the new Mac Pro to every day objects so check out their gallery for additional interesting shots.