Craig A. Hunter reviews a $31,199 Mac Pro (28-core): Worth the money

Apple lent Craig A. Hunter a new 28-core Mac Pro for him to review. He found it to be quite impressive, not only visually, but in terms of performance and also in how quietly it performed when really pushed.

Mac Pro review: 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.
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.
Craig A. Hunter:

Apple was kind enough to lend me a 28-core Mac Pro, decked out with a 2.5GHz Intel Xeon W (turbo boost to 4.4GHz) having a single 38.5MB L3 cache, 1MB L2 cache per core, 384GB of 2933MHz DDR4 ECC memory, a 4TB SSD, and two AMD Radeon Pro Vega II Duo 2x32GB graphics cards (each with two GPUs, for a total of four GPUs). Priced out on Apple’s website, this configuration goes for an eye-popping $31,199 ($10,800 of that is for the GPUs alone).

In the fields of architectural aerodynamics and wind engineering, we study the effects of wind on buildings and structures, often looking at loads and effects on designs, materials, and even fasteners. One particular study I did a few years ago involved analyzing the uplift loads due to hurricane-force winds acting on different types of open roof structures… Now, ordinarily these computations are run on a supercomputer and cost thousands of dollars per solution, or you’d need to build a cluster for $15-20K or more. But with 28 cores and the ability to handle up to 1.5TB of memory, the Mac Pro is a competitive alternative. To test that, I ran a wind simulation case on the Mac Pro and was able to obtain a converged solution in just 42 minutes, which puts the Mac Pro in a very productive club and justifies the high cost of the machine. A $20-30K Mac Pro doesn’t make sense for very many computer users, but an engineering firm would get their money’s worth out of the machine in short order.

While running this test, all 28 cores were pegged at 100% for the full 42 minutes, but the Mac Pro’s fans never got loud, airflow never got excessive, and temperature stayed comfortable. The Mac Pro operated with a very quiet low frequency whoosh that is leagues ahead of similar workstations I have used, and would be well suited to an office environment. I can remember running similar cases many years ago on a quartet of 2012 Mac Pro machines that were insanely loud and required a window air conditioner to keep my office temperature below 85°F, in winter no less!

MacDailyNews Take: Apple’s Mac Pro is very competitively priced. For that matter, Apple’s $5,999 (even with its $999 stand) is beyond competitively-priced as you simply cannot get that type of display quality and capacity anywhere near Apple’s price.

5 Comments

  1. Hunter never said “Worth the money”.

    Hunter wrote, “A $20-30K Mac Pro doesn’t make sense for very many computer users, but an engineering firm would get their money’s worth out of the machine in short order.”

    MOREOVER, this prognostication was offered without regard to software, workflows, competiton, ….

    The new Mac Pro is worth the money only if you align with very specific conditions, and you aren’t already locked into Windows workflows, which is where 95% of engineering and science has gone while Apple dithered the last 15 years.

  2. I purchased two MacPros and two displays with stands. One MacPro was for a recording studio, running Avid ProTools HDX2. I had to call Avid tech support to bypass software blockers that prevented my HD cards from working. Some plugs are not working right yet, likely because they are 32 bit and not 64 bit. The system works better than any system I ever used. With a session, running 50 tracks with plugs, the CPU usage stayed between 0% and 1%. It wasn’t even coming close to taxing the system. I could track sessions at 64 on the playback engine, reducing latency to next to zero. Very impressive.

    The 2nd MacPro, with after-burner card to edit 4K video RAW Canon C200 files, started up and asked for a software update. It killed the MacPro dead. To the point, after a hour with Apple tech, had to ship the unit to California.. and they had to make me a new $15,000 MacPro. First time that has ever happened to me.

    Couple take-aways so far.
    1 – The unit is REALLY fast. More than expected.
    2 – I do not suggest using the ‘transfer from an old mac” to set it up. It didn’t work well and missed too many things.
    3 – I wished it had a chime, so zapping the PRAM would be easy to know the counts. (7 times fully zaps it)
    4 – I wished the monitor has a LED light to let you know it’s getting power. I wish it was able to be adjusted lower than the stand allows.
    5 – I think the stand should come with the monitor. 99% of users will need the stand.
    6 – I wish they has a USB A on the top, like the 2 USB C’s

    One question for the group. If there is a Thunderbolt 1/2 external HD hooked up the unit in a separate input jack, will it slow down the USB C / Thunderbolt 3 speed?

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