Apple Mac Pro Quad-Core/3.7GHz (Late 2013) review

The Mac Pro is Apple's stylish workhorse, a compact and good-looking powerhouse of a workstation Mac. It's design to take on the most compute-hungry tasks, such as video editing and 3D rendering, but it wouldn't look out of place in the most stylish living room.

We've reviewed the Mac Pro before, here testing the eight-core model with Intel Xeon E5-1680 v2 running at 3.0 GHz, and maxed out with 64 GB of memory. In this article we're testing and reviewing the Mac Pro Quad-Core/3.7GHz. This is the entry-level model, with a 3.7GHz Quad-Core Intel Xeon E5 processor, 12GB 1866MHz DDR3 ECC memory, Dual AMD FirePro D300 graphics and 256GB PCIe-based flash storage. It retails for £2,499, which is far from cheap. You can of course add RAM or storage to this basic spec. Wondering when the new Mac Pro will launch? Read our New Mac Pro 2015 release date rumours

Read our Mac Pro reviews:

Mac Pro Quad-Core/3.7GHz (Late 2013) review: build and design

Mac ProWith the Mac Pro you come for the looks, and stay for the performance. The Mac Pro Quad-Core is just 251 mm tall - lean your iPad against it and it will all but cover up the Mac. Just 167 mm round the Mac Pro is like big tin of soup or a small bin. And it looks great.

The design has a purpose, too. Inside the Mac Pro's reflective shell is a central cooling core consisting of a finned triangular-section heatsink, with three facets that run the height of the casework. Two of these are taken up by high-power AMD FirePower professional graphics cards, the third main logic board with CPU completes the third side. There's only one cooling fan - a large turbine-like finned rotor that sits at the top of the chassis drawing in air through a series of vents running the circumference of the base.

That styish cylindrical design aids the flow of air, and thanks to the large size of that single fan, it can move plenty of air while still rotating slowly. This means it is quiet an efficient. Cool air passes up the central heatsinked assembly and warm air drifts out through the chimney-like aperture at top, and noise levels are impercetibly low. You just can't hear it. (See also: a history of Pro Macs.)

Mac Pro Quad-Core/3.7GHz (Late 2013) review: specification explained

Our quad-core Mac Pro sports an Intel Xeon E5 processor, aka Ivy Bridge Extreme. It's the workstation-class version of Intel's Ivy Bridge family, clocked at 3.7 GHz.

It's a 22nm chip that supports Hyper-Threading, and in this case it is paired with 12GB of fast 1,867MHz RAM. This is fault-tolerate error checking and correcting (ECC) memory we'd expect of a professional workstation. There are two AMD FirePro D300 graphics cards.

Even the entry-level Mac Pro has only solid-state flash for storage. And not just any SSD. The 256GB of flash storage here throws out the data-throttling SATA controller and puts fast flash chips more directly in touch with the PCIe bus.

In terms of connectivity this Mac Pro has three Intel Thunderbolt controllers, providing six Thunderbolt 2 ports, and one HDMI 1.4 video port. There are four USB 3.0 I/Os, while built-in audio connectivity comes in the form of two 3.5mm mini-jacks – one a combined stereo analogue line-out with Toslink digital audio output; the other a headset jack for earphones and a mic.

Helping keep down the cable count are the two latest wireless data standards: 802.11ac Wi-Fi with a three-antenna array for best throughput, and Bluetooth 4.0 with its low-power capability for new and upcoming LE peripherals. (See also: new Mac Pro - insanely cool or too cool?)

Mac Pro Quad-Core/3.7GHz (Late 2013) review: specs

Processor type: Intel Xeon E; Dual AMD FirePro workstation-class GPUs; Solid-State Drive; HDMI; Line Out 1/8; Thunderbolt 2.0; USB 3.0; Ethernet Type: 10/100/1000 Mbps; 802.11a/ac/b/g/n; Bluetooth; DDR3, 1866.0 MHz

Mac Pro Quad-Core/3.7GHz (Late 2013) review: benchmark tests

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Mac Pro'Compared to the previous entry-level Mac Pro, a mid-2012 model with a quad-core Intel Xeon running at 3.2GHz, a 1TB hard drive, 6GB of RAM, and an ATI Radeon HD 5770 video card with 1GB of video RAM, the late 2013 Mac Pro was 77 percent faster, overall. The new Mac Pro was faster across the board, but graphics tests really stood out, with frame rates in the high-resolution Heaven and Valley benchmark 10 times as high as the 2012 Mac Pro.

'The PCIe-connected flash storage was able to copy 6GB of data in less than 25 seconds, while the old Mac Pro took two minutes and 27 seconds. MathematicaMark was 55 percent faster, iPhoto was 34 percent faster, and the PCMark Office suite score on a Parallels Windows 8 virtual machine was 78 percent as high as the 2012 Mac Pro.

'It should come as no surprise that the entry-level Mac Pro didn't perform as well as the high-end stock Mac Pro, which was 11 percent faster overall. Despite the double-digit performance differences, many of the results were nearly identical between the two stock Mac Pros: iTunes import, file copy, zip, unzip, and PCMark Office tests were all within one percent between the two systems. The 6-core system was much faster at tests that could take advantage of the additional processing cores; HandBrake was 23 percent faster than on the quad-core Mac Pro, Cinebench CPU test was 30 percent faster, and MathematicaMark was 36 percent faster.

'As we've said before, for many casual tasks, an iMac might perform better than a Mac Pro. Our 2013 CTO 27-inch iMac with quad core 3.5GHz quad-core Core i7 processor, 3TB Fusion Drive, and Nvidia GeForce GTX 780M graphics posted a 12 percent higher Speedmark 9 score than the new entry-level Mac Pro. The biggest difference was in the iMovie test—Intel's Core i7 processors support quick sync video anbd Xeon processors do not. A task that took the iMac 47 seconds to complete took 3 minutes and 48 seconds on our new Mac Pro.'

Mac Pro Quad-Core/3.7GHz (Late 2013) review: benchmark scores

Speedmark 9 scores

  • Mac Pro quad-core/3.7GHz (Late 2013)291
  • Mac Pro 6-core/3.5GHz (Late 2013)323
  • Mac Pro 8-core/3.0GHz CTO (Late 2013)350
  • Mac Pro 12-core/2.4GHz (Mid 2012)164
  • 27" iMac quad-core/3.5GHz CTO (Late 2013)326

Higher results are better. Reference models in italics

Finder tests

Mac modelCopyZipUnzip
Mac Pro quad-core/3.7GHz (Late 2013) 24.6 309.0 38.7
Mac Pro 6-core/3.5GHz (Late 2013) 24.4 314.2 39.3
Mac Pro 8-core/3.0GHz CTO (Late 2013) 23.5 324.8 39.1
Mac Pro 12-core/2.4GHz (Mid 2012) 147.3 329.7 129.4
27" iMac quad-core/3.5GHz CTO (Late 2013) 40.9 241.3 33.6

Lower results are better. Best result in bold. Reference models in italics.

Final Cut Pro X import

Mac modelResults (seconds)
Mac Pro quad-core/3.7GHz (Late 2013) 17.1
Mac Pro 6-core/3.5GHz (Late 2013) 17.9
Mac Pro 8-core/3.0GHz CTO (Late 2013) 15.8
Mac Pro 12-core/2.4GHz (Mid 2012) 131.0
27" iMac quad-core/3.5GHz CTO (Late 2013) 45.6

Lower results are better. Best result in bold. Reference models in italics.

Final Cut Pro X render

Mac modelResults (seconds)
Mac Pro quad-core/3.7GHz (Late 2013) 64.2
Mac Pro 6-core/3.5GHz (Late 2013) 46.9
Mac Pro 8-core/3.0GHz CTO (Late 2013) 39.1
Mac Pro 12-core/2.4GHz (Mid 2012) 138.0
27" iMac quad-core/3.5GHz CTO (Late 2013) 68.9

Lower results are better. Best result in bold. Reference models in italics.

iMovie 10.0.1 enhance/export

Mac modelResults (seconds)
Mac Pro quad-core/3.7GHz (Late 2013) 227.7
Mac Pro 6-core/3.5GHz (Late 2013) 186.3
Mac Pro 8-core/3.0GHz CTO (Late 2013) 170.0
Mac Pro 12-core/2.4GHz (Mid 2012) 290.3
27" iMac quad-core/3.5GHz CTO (Late 2013) 47.3

Lower results are better. Best result in bold. Reference models in italics.

iPhoto 9.5.1 import

Mac modelResults (seconds)
Mac Pro quad-core/3.7GHz (Late 2013) 66.7
Mac Pro 6-core/3.5GHz (Late 2013) 49.3
Mac Pro 8-core/3.0GHz CTO (Late 2013) 43.0
Mac Pro 12-core/2.4GHz (Mid 2012) 101.0
27" iMac quad-core/3.5GHz CTO (Late 2013) 70.3

Lower results are better. Best result in bold. Reference models in italics.

iTunes 11.1 AAC to MP3 encode

Mac modelResults (seconds)
Mac Pro quad-core/3.7GHz (Late 2013) 59.0
Mac Pro 6-core/3.5GHz (Late 2013) 59.3
Mac Pro 8-core/3.0GHz CTO (Late 2013) 60.3
Mac Pro 12-core/2.4GHz (Mid 2012) 78.0
27" iMac quad-core/3.5GHz CTO (Late 2013) 56.0

Lower results are better. Best result in bold. Reference models in italics.

HandBrake 0.9.5 encode

Mac modelResults (seconds)
Mac Pro quad-core/3.7GHz (Late 2013) 90.0
Mac Pro 6-core/3.5GHz (Late 2013) 69.3
Mac Pro 8-core/3.0GHz CTO (Late 2013) 63.7
Mac Pro 12-core/2.4GHz (Mid 2012) 119.7
27" iMac quad-core/3.5GHz CTO (Late 2013) 82.7

Lower results are better. Best result in bold. Reference models in italics.

Photoshop CC action script

Mac modelResults (seconds)
Mac Pro quad-core/3.7GHz (Late 2013) 91.0
Mac Pro 6-core/3.5GHz (Late 2013) 84.7
Mac Pro 8-core/3.0GHz CTO (Late 2013) 81.3
Mac Pro 12-core/2.4GHz (Mid 2012) 116.3
27" iMac quad-core/3.5GHz CTO (Late 2013) 94.0

Lower results are better. Best result in bold. Reference models in italics.

Photoshop CC OpenCL

Mac modelResults (seconds)
Mac Pro quad-core/3.7GHz (Late 2013) 170
Mac Pro 6-core/3.5GHz (Late 2013) 160
Mac Pro 8-core/3.0GHz CTO (Late 2013) 162
Mac Pro 12-core/2.4GHz (Mid 2012) 310
27" iMac quad-core/3.5GHz CTO (Late 2013) 233

Lower results are better. Best result in bold. Reference models in italics.

Aperture 3.5.1 import/process

Mac modelResults (seconds)
Mac Pro quad-core/3.7GHz (Late 2013) 75.0
Mac Pro 6-core/3.5GHz (Late 2013) 72.0
Mac Pro 8-core/3.0GHz CTO (Late 2013) 72.0
Mac Pro 12-core/2.4GHz (Mid 2012) 112.0
27" iMac quad-core/3.5GHz CTO (Late 2013) 70.7

Lower results are better. Best result in bold. Reference models in italics.

Cinebench R15 CPU

Mac modelResults (seconds)
Mac Pro quad-core/3.7GHz (Late 2013) 64.7
Mac Pro 6-core/3.5GHz (Late 2013) 45.3
Mac Pro 8-core/3.0GHz CTO (Late 2013) 37.0
Mac Pro 12-core/2.4GHz (Mid 2012) 83.0
27" iMac quad-core/3.5GHz CTO (Late 2013) 61.0

Lower results are better. Best result in bold. Reference models in italics.

MathematicaMark 9

Mac modelResults (scores)
Mac Pro quad-core/3.7GHz (Late 2013) 4.3
Mac Pro 6-core/3.5GHz (Late 2013) 5.8
Mac Pro 8-core/3.0GHz CTO (Late 2013) 8.1
Mac Pro 12-core/2.4GHz (Mid 2012) 2.8
27" iMac quad-core/3.5GHz CTO (Late 2013) 3.7

Higher results are better. Best result in bold. Reference models in italics.

Parallels 9-PCMark 8 Office

Mac modelResults (scores)
Mac Pro quad-core/3.7GHz (Late 2013) 3415.7
Mac Pro 6-core/3.5GHz (Late 2013) 3408.0
Mac Pro 8-core/3.0GHz CTO (Late 2013) 3338.0
Mac Pro 12-core/2.4GHz (Mid 2012) 1917.3
27" iMac quad-core/3.5GHz CTO (Late 2013) 3511.7

Higher results are better. Best result in bold. Reference models in italics.

Unigine Heaven and Valley 1280-by-720

Mac modelHeaven 1280-by-720Valley 1280-by-720
Mac Pro quad-core/3.7GHz (Late 2013) 91.7 74.4
Mac Pro 6-core/3.5GHz (Late 2013) 86.8 72.9
Mac Pro 8-core/3.0GHz CTO (Late 2013) 103.7 80.3
Mac Pro 12-core/2.4GHz (Mid 2012) 43.0 43.4
27" iMac quad-core/3.5GHz CTO (Late 2013) 90.5 80.8

Results are frames per second; higher results are better. Best result in bold. Reference models in italics.

Unigine Heaven and Valley 1920-by-1080

Mac modelHeaven 1920-by-1080Valley 1920-by-1080
Mac Pro quad-core/3.7GHz (Late 2013) 25.4 26.1
Mac Pro 6-core/3.5GHz (Late 2013) 25.9 25.6
Mac Pro 8-core/3.0GHz CTO (Late 2013) 31.5 31.7
Mac Pro 12-core/2.4GHz (Mid 2012) 10.2 13.2
27" iMac quad-core/3.5GHz CTO (Late 2013) 24.6 27.0

Results are frames per second; higher results are better. Best result in bold. Reference models in italics.

Unigine Heaven and Valley 2560-by-1600

Mac modelHeaven 2560-by-1600Valley 2560-by-1600
Mac Pro quad-core/3.7GHz (Late 2013) 11.2 14.8
Mac Pro 6-core/3.5GHz (Late 2013) 11.5 14.1
Mac Pro 8-core/3.0GHz CTO (Late 2013) 14.4 18.2
Mac Pro 12-core/2.4GHz (Mid 2012) 1.1 1.2

Results are frames per second; higher results are better. Best result in bold. Reference models in italics.

Cinebench R15 OpenGL

Mac modelResults (fps)
Mac Pro quad-core/3.7GHz (Late 2013) 25.4
Mac Pro 6-core/3.5GHz (Late 2013) 25.9
Mac Pro 8-core/3.0GHz CTO (Late 2013) 31.5
Mac Pro 12-core/2.4GHz (Mid 2012) 10.2
27" iMac quad-core/3.5GHz CTO (Late 2013) 24.6

Higher results are better. Best result in bold. Reference models in italics.

Read: Mac Pro versus iMac

OUR VERDICT

The quad-core Mac Pro offers impressive multi-core performance, and dual workstation-class GPUs. We applaud the fast internal storage and love the fact there are plenty of external-expansion options. It has a compact, attractive design, keeps quiet and cool, and if you need more performance their are plenty of upgrade options. However, we found that the single-core performance is not substantially better - and is sometimes worse - than that of other current Macs.

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