This is how much Apple’s $6,000 Mac Pro would cost as a PC

Afterburner on the new Mac Pro allows video editors to decode up to three streams of 8K ProRes RAW video and 12 streams of 4K ProRes RAW video in real time.
All-new Mac Pro and Pro Display XDR are the most powerful tools Apple has ever put in the hands of pro customers and will change pro workflows forever.

Chuong Nguyen for Digital Trends:

It’s always difficult to compare a Windows PC with an Mac apples-to-apples, especially since we don’t yet know exactly how the Mac Pro’s configurations will price out. But going piece by piece, will you realistically be able to get more power and expandability in a PC you buy or build for far less money?

The base Mac Pro starts at $6,000, and even at this price, it will be priced out reach for most people. Creative professionals, however, will find plenty to love with an Intel Xeon W processor, 32GB RAM, AMD Radeon Pro 580X GPU, a massive 1.4-kilowatt power supply, Apple’s custom Afterburner ASIC card, 256GB SSD encrypted with T2 security chip, and eight available PCIe slots.

Not all of that can be replicated in any one Windows PC…

MacDailyNews Take: “Not all of that can be replicated in any one Windows PC.” Let’s just pause a moment for that to sink into the illogical mush that Windows sufferers call minds. One more time: “Not all of that can be replicated in any one Windows PC.” Okay, let’s continue.

Some have estimated that a fully configured Mac Pro will cost upwards of $35,000 based on parts alone… The Aventum X is one of a few pre-built PCs that can match the quad-GPU support on the Mac Pro, and it comes in at a hefty $36,000 price when configured with a 28-core 3.1GHz Intel Xeon W-3175 processor, 512GB DDR4 memory, 1,600-watt power supply, 4TB solid-state storage divided into two-2TB Samsung 970 EVO M.2 cards, and four Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080 Ti graphics cards with NVLink connector. Even at this price, the Aventum X still can’t match some of the Mac Pro’s specs, falling short on RAM and lacking the ability to add an ASIC card.

DIY PC builders looking to match the Mac Pro’s expandability will need to find both a motherboard and a case that supports that many PCIe slots. One case that can support eight slots is One Stop System’s $3,795 Cube 3. This means that PC builders at home can expect to spend in the area of $5,000 for the case, base Xeon processor, AMD Radeon Pro 580X graphics, and power supply — and that’s not including the fans, memory, Thunderbolt 3 support, or SSD.

Though the Mac Pro promises to be an insanely powerful tool that will satiate the needs of creatives, the base model seems a bit underwhelming — 256GB of storage is paltry, and the performance of AMD’s Radeon Pro 580X graphics doesn’t hold up well for a pro-class desktop — especially for its $6,000 price.

MacDailyNews Take: The Mac Pro’s internal storage is not intended for anything other than the OS, system files, and apps. External storage will of course be used for the massive amounts of digital video and other data storage for which these machines are designed to be used.

On the higher end of the spectrum, it’s difficult to replicate the Mac Pro experience in any PC today. The closest thing you can get is a workstation PC such as Dell’s Precision 7920, with its impressive dual-CPU and quad-GPU architecture, though it’s a system that maxes out at over $150,000.

MacDailyNews Take: Bottom line: Apple’s new Mac Pro is a tremendous value, even without accounting for macOS and the apps that run only on macOS that creative professionals need. That $115,000 difference for an overpriced Dell with an inferior OS and no Final Cut Pro X, no Logic Pro X, etc. can certainly buy a lot of Pro Display XDR stands.

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “Fred Mertz” for the heads up.]

38 Comments

  1. Look how high that monitor sits off the desk. It’s the first display designed for giraffes! And the so-called “height adjustment” only lets you move it up or down a couple inches.

    I’ve always had a problem with how high Apple’s monitors and iMacs sit off the desk, but this new display stand takes it to the next level, literally.

    1. I am looking down at my iMac now, unless you are 5 foot tall or sitting on a milking stool no way is it too high Neither has any previous iMac I have owned for that matter. If anything I would prefer it a little higher. There really is no limit to the griping some people invent it seems to make a dig.

  2. MacDailyNews Take: “The Mac Pro’s internal storage is not intended for anything other than the OS, system files, and apps. External storage will of course be used for the massive amounts of digital video and other data storage for which these machines are designed to be used.”

    WROOOOOOOOOOONNNNGGGGG!

    Let’s just toss out a few prime examples. If you have moved your iTunes library to an external drive, then you live with beach balls and large latency. How about another: certain client and financial files cannot be saved remotely, it has to be kept on a secure local server, using different security protocol from the rest of the system files. To this day, there are still clients that expect their project to be delivered on a physical hard drive. Sure, that drive could be a fancy LaCie external box, but it’s faster and easier and cheaper to just use internal drive bays with raw hard drives.

    Why attach an ugly cable to an external drive? Multiple drive bays are very much important. Every user has stuff that deserves to be stored inside the box. Someday you might get it.

    1. Yeah, MDN argues that the only thing worthy of encryption is the OS, system files and apps. Items I wouldn’t bother to encrypt. Seems like a huge waste of the mighty encryption engine for which you just paid a small fortune.

      1. Yeah, MDN argues that the only thing worthy of encryption is the OS, system files and apps

        Which clearly means that MDN’s fanboy-ism needs a medical intervention, for they’ve obviously has never heard of HIPAA regulations…

        …or many other similar use case realities.

        And the reality is that while one may have fast network storage in a larger (wealthier) Enterprise setting, the reality is that for SMB, the workstation will also be its own internal data storage station, which is why the four internal 3.5″ bays of the cMP was so beloved – – and the ‘trash can’ so rightfully loathed.

    2. So you’re the dumba$$ that keeps using spinning hard disks for external storage and wonders why the beach ball spins? External SSDs are cheap. Stop being a cheap skate

      1. If you’re going thunderbolt you won’t notice a difference between a standard internal hard drive and the external one (and in reading a file anything smaller than a feature length 4k movie is going to have virtually no load time anyway). If you go usb both devices would saturate or near saturate the bus. Stop being an elitist, you give Mac owners a toxic reputation .

        1. True, you won’t notice any difference… except for its cost. The Promise R4 RAID is roughly 33% more expensive than bare enterprise class disks, which works out to an extra $100-$125 per spindle.

    1. That’s obviously intentionally a clickbait link. In fact, if I wanted to create a clickbait story that’s guaranteed to have people linking to it for years to come, this is exactly the kind of story I’d write. 🙂

      You don’t have to look any further than storage to get the gist of what they’re doing. They wrote that you can have the storage for $40. And, while I’m sure you can find storage for that price, the real benefit of SSD storage is the speed, and speed varies WIDELY. I don’t think you’re going to get anywhere near the read/write speeds of Apple’s solution for $40. The writer knows that, but ALSO knows that, to the majority of people, 256G is 256G.

      If you want to read an article that’s providing a more thoroughly researched and realistic comparison, always look at how they compare storage. If they try to pretend that all 256G solid state drives are the same, then they’ve likely used erroneous assumptions elsewhere. (Like, oh, I can’t find a motherboard that has the features the custom designed motherboard on the MacPro does, so RATHER than saying that there’s no equivalent, I’ll just pick an expensive one annnd, done.)

      1. Right. What’s the speed of the Mac Pro’s ssd storage solution?

        Oh, they haven’t provided it? Roger that.

        My point is not that the ZDNet article is right — there are no specs — but MDN is providing the linked article as evidence that the new MP is a reasonable value, and it’s definitely not.

        1. But the MDN linked article is at least trying to be genuine in its assessment. Even without knowing the specs, I would NEVER assume bargain basement cheapest price. I would assume at LEAST iMac speed if I want trying to be clickbait 🙂

          My point is that the ZDnet article isn’t even trying. BUT, that’s the point and purpose of clickbait.

    1. That’s what we’re all trying to get to the bottom of. Determining whether it’s a good value.

      How else do you determine if something is “too expensive?”

    2. No, I don’t really want to pay $100 for deep-dish, custom chrome wheels on a Mac Pro despite them being a must have item for the Apple elitist. Why no custom pull handle to make it easier to move from room to room?
      /s

  3. Strange how much PC manufacturers charge for their boxes and other required add-ons then, if the components only cost that. I would complain if I were you after all you don’t want appear to be a PC Apologist surely.

    On another note this is not an MDN article so maybe if you truly object you should just send them a list of those ‘independent articles’ you would like them to publish, probably all from zdnet perhaps that others might think rarely come across as a beacon of objectivity in such matters due to their perceived audience and advertising income. So lets agree a range of articles giving a wide range of opinions is probably best for potential buyers, neutrals and Apple critics alike to make their own judgements … well at least those who aren’t prejudging matters anyway. One thing is for certain mind, few potential buyers will be thinking so ‘do I buy this or scrabble around finding all the bits to make a PC from scratch’ as the only options. They tend to have work to do and a life to live.

  4. Doing a build your own is not a fair comparison unless you factor in the cost of time it takes to build they system. That includes: all the time in researching and ordering the parts; assembling the machine; they time troubleshooting shooting; and a year of fixing problems. You need to use what the person gets paid at their job or at least minimum wage. To not include this makes your price a lie. With the professionals this is targeted to don’t do DYI. Their time is more valuable doing their job.

    1. It’s better just to use the price of the components to make Apple look as though they’re ripping off customers. Besides, most 15-year-old children can throw together a Windows PC between breakfast and lunch and that’s including overclocking all the processors and full RGB lighting for the case. The new Mac Pro doesn’t stand a chance of competing with a DIY Windows PC for half the price. Everyone knows this because I hear it said each time Apple introduces a new computer.
      /s

  5. Apple’s been notorious (in my mind at least) in underspeccing their base level machines for decades. It seems to be part of their DNA or something.

    It’s like the designers, engineers and production people envision and then deliver Ferraris, but at the last stage of development, the marketing department delivers it to the public with cheap tires and a five gallon gas tank.

    I’d rather they’d averaged a few percent higher and delivered a better experience to the less savvy they’re trying to reach via marketing, because so many only order what’s presented right in front of them – and feel the constraints of not having the machine the technology people intended. And so in experiencing running out of memory or not having close to the performance the platform was designed to deliver, e.g., they’re frustrated and don’t deliver the kind of word-of-mouth that would burnish Apple’s reputation down at ground level.

    It bothers me on nearly everything they sell, but feels especially egregious on a machine that’s only aimed at pros.

    (But maybe we should be counting our blessings that the base here doesn’t come with a 5400 RPM spinner.)

      1. Unfortunately, there’s been ‘tech’ companies who have tried to sell us on ‘base’ requirements that aren’t actually adequate to run the OS … and its not been only Microsoft.

  6. “The Mac Pro’s internal storage is not intended for anything other than the OS, system files, and apps.”

    Yeah, not good advice. Anybody who uses or maintains a video production suite knows that even if you’ve got a couple of 50-100TB RAID 5/6/10 bays hanging off the back of the Mac Pro, you still want as much internal swap/working space as possible (and 4TB across 2 SSDs doesn’t cut it). Until you’ve juggled a couple hundred TB’s of footage and audio across 6 or 8 external RAIDs and slinging it around, you wouldn’t understand the necessity of internal storage for the process of digitizing, organizing, moving and sorting media, much less working with it.

    The 2012 Mac Pro suites I maintain for one vid producer has all the internal bays, and one of the optical drive bays filled with hard drives. RAID 0, mirrors, etc. depending on the current need. It would have been great to see an internal bay in the new MP where you could plug in 6-8 SSDs for these sorts of purposes, or even 2 1/2″ HDs. But I get that would be too much for most pro users other than vid producers. Server farms would love it too.

    Maybe we’ll get a custom PCIe card with the ability to attach 2-4 more SSDs internally. And for those who think that Thunderbolt 3 is the bee’s knees, a lot of external bays still run off eSATA or mini-SAS (speaking of which, what are those empty internal eSATA connectors in the new MP purposed for???). So we’ll have to see what sort of legacy PCIe cards will run in the new Pro, and which developers are willing to build new cards, or develop drivers for older ones. Having to move to all new external storage isn’t the preferred forward migration when moving to the new Pro, could easily double or triple the cost (slowing adoption). So hopefully there will be some backwards compatibility available. Time will tell…

    1. I have three words for you: Third. Party. Solution.

      If you don’t think companies like Promise Technology will be offering internal storage arrays for the new MacPro on day one, then you aren’t thinking.

  7. Regarding the XDR display and stand. During the keynote, they mentioned that the Mac Pro could support up to 6 of these monitors. It would be nice if the stand could support a 2×3 grid of these monitors. Or do you think it’d be cheaper/easier to build a wall and incorporate 6 VESA mounts? You’d lose the maneuverability but it’d work.

    1. There are stands out there that handle two displays, one above the other. Then a pair to the left and a pair to the right. Stock brokers have these setups. Six displays to a desk.

  8. It’s not just the hard specs you need to look at. You can build your own high end PC but it likely will be a noisy beast when it’s chugging along. The Mac Pro aluminum case itself is a heat sink that draws heat away from the electronics, not to mention the engineering design of multiple fans and airflow design for quiet operation. Plastic cases are insulators so typically DIY’s usually overcompensate with big fans to force cool.

    1. Naw… Every bad-ass Windows PC builder uses water-cooling nowadays when building beastly gaming machines. JayzTwoCents swears by it. Water blocks for CPU, GPU, VRMs, SSDs, you name it. A high-end gaming Windows PC flows more water than the Hoover Dam. I’m sure most PC builders will say the new Mac Pro is based on stone-age cooling tech.
      /s

      1. Yes liquid coolers are the top option for heat dissipation on PCs and a top option in general, but it also reveals most PC cases are not designed as coolers by themselves. PC cases have a more generic design purpose and that is also a compelling reason to have efficient and dedicated cooling systems.

        The new Mac Pro chassis and case are designed to operate as a unit and this is a great advantage. And this time Apple did not opted for slim or light, or appearance first design. However I will wait and find out how cool these loaded machines run all day. Apple says they developed the new MP to run as silent as an iMac. If you add the convenience of not having possible spills it may not be the most advanced option but it will save on simplicity and convenience for maintenance. Another point in case the new MP is not a gigantic workstation so Apple created design efficiencies in other areas.

        Also Noctua, a leader in cooler design for the PC, just released a gigantic passive CPU cooler, and this one is a top notch device taking around 3 year of development. It is pricey and huge but also on the top of the cooling design and a true silent option.

        So. Apple may get away designing a very advance machine not having to use all the top tricks. Lets find out.

    2. It’s not just the hard specs you need to look at. You can build your own high end PC but it likely will be a noisy beast when it’s chugging along.

      Sure, but you can buy a lot of soundproofing, even if you’re not going to move the box into the next room. For example, they still sell the old “daisywheel printer” acoustic boxes for a couple hundred bucks, which will attenuate 20dB, and $200 will buy a portable air conditioner that you can duct through that box. It may not look pretty, but its half the price of Apple’s newest Monitor stand.

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