The Mac Pro is the high-end computer that Apple sells. It is an extremely powerful machine with a breathtaking price.
But what is the Mac Pro actually used for and who needs a Mac Pro? Let's take a look at what the device offers and find out why Apple makes such a powerful desktop computer.
What is the Mac Pro?
The Mac Pro is an Apple desktop computer for professional work. Do not confuse the name with the similar MacBook Pro or iMac Pro, which are different computers. We will come back to this later.
Apple has released three generations of Mac Pro. The first model to use a typical “tower” look was introduced in 2006. 2013 was followed by the cylindrical Mac Pro, which had several problems, including poor upgradeability.
The latest Mac Pro was launched in December 2019 and is returning to the standard desktop setup. This is the Mac Pro that we're going to look at here because the old models are too dated to recommend them today.
Mac Pro specifications and upgrade options
In contrast to the 2013 Mac Pro, the current version of Apple allows a variety of adjustments (even after the purchase itself). When you go to the Apple Mac Pro purchase page, two configurations appear. One is the standard tower setup, which starts at $ 5,999. You can also purchase it for use in a rack starting at $ 6,499, primarily for business purposes.
If you stick to the cheapest Mac Pro ($ 5,999), the following specs are included:
- 8-core Intel Xeon W processor with 3.5 GHz and Turbo Boost up to 4.0 GHz
- 32 GB (4 x 8 GB) DDR4 ECC memory
- Radeon Pro 580X with 8 GB GDDR5 memory
- 256 GB SSD storage
Each Mac Pro also comes with a Magic Mouse 2, a magic keyboard with a numeric keypad, and a USB-C to Lightning cable. A monitor is not included.
You can update the CPU, memory, graphics hardware, and memory if the base does not meet your needs. There are too many upgrade options to list here, but some examples to give you an idea are:
- Another $ 1,000 to upgrade to a 12-core Intel Xeon W processor at 3.3 GHz and Turbo Boost at 4.4 GHz.
- $ 1,000 more to upgrade to 96 GB (6 x 16 GB) storage.
- Another $ 1,600 for two Radeon Pro W5700X cards, each with 16 GB of GDDR6 memory.
- Another $ 800 for 2TB SSD storage.
- $ 2,000 more for an Apple Afterburner card that helps with extremely demanding video editing.
- An additional $ 400 to replace the feet of the computer with wheels so you can move it easily.
Additional Mac Pro accessories
Apple offers a few additional accessories before checking out. The Pro Display XDR is a 32-inch 6K screen that is available in either standard glass or Apple's “nano-texture” glass. The standard model costs $ 4,999, while the nano-textured glass costs $ 5,999.
The monitor does not include a stand, so you'll have to pay another $ 999 for the pro stand. In this way, you can adjust the viewing angle of the monitor as you wish and simply disconnect the magnetic connection to change the orientation or remove the display. If you want, you can buy a VESA mount adapter instead for $ 199.
If you have money to spend, you can of course put a lot of power into the Mac Pro. Just for fun, once you've updated everything in Mac Pro to the absolute maximum, here is the setup you have (along with the cost of fully updating each item):
- 2.5 GHz Intel Xeon W processor with 28 cores and Turbo Boost up to 4.4 GHz ($ 7,000).
- 1.5 TB (12 x 128 GB) DDR4 ECC memory ($ 25,000).
- Two Radeon Pro Vega II Duo, each with 2 x 32 GB HBM2 memory ($ 10,800).
- 8 TB SSD storage ($ 2,600).
- Apple Afterburner card ($ 2,000)
- Frame wheels ($ 400)
This all adds up to an astonishing $ 53,799. Adding the Pro Display XDR would cost an additional $ 4,999 or $ 5,999 for the nano-texture glass model. This does not apply to AppleCare + or pre-installed software such as Final Cut Pro X, which are available at an additional cost.
What is the use of a Mac Pro?
Of course, the Mac Pro offer exceeds the needs of 99% of people. This can make you wonder what using a Mac Pro is. Let's take a look.
First-class image and video editing
People who work with terabytes of high-definition video need a powerful computer to handle everything smoothly and prevent hanging. The powerful graphics cards of the Mac Pro, the enormous RAM and the fast SSD storage are designed for such tasks.
While you may be balking at the extreme price of the Pro Display XDR, accurate color display is vital for graphic designers and other creatives. You need a clear representation of what your off-screen work will look like. Premium displays like this shine here.
High performance graphic performance
Demanding 3D apps like construction software require a lot of video resources. Professional software is much more difficult to run smoothly than apps at the consumer level. That's why specialized industries need a powerful computer like the Mac Pro.
This means that computer-aided design, medical imaging, simultaneous emulation of multiple instances of an app, and similar tasks require much more power than a standard computer can offer.
Games and game development
While Macs aren't primarily known as slot machines, the Mac Pro has enough power to run most MacOS compatible games. Of course, you can always use BootCamp to install Windows on your Mac and get access to the many games on this platform.
Game developers who prefer Macs can also take advantage of the power of the Mac Pro to work on their titles.
Mac Pro alternatives
Honestly, if you're wondering if you need a Mac Pro, you almost certainly don't. The machine is designed for a specific niche by professionals who need a computer powerhouse. If you're not a professional in video editing, image editing, or 3D rendering, you most likely don't need a Mac Pro.
If you know that, which Mac should you get instead? Let's look at a few options based on your use case.
If you often work on the go, a MacBook is obviously the best choice.
The MacBook Air is a great all-rounder for light work like surfing the web and word processing. It starts at $ 999 and goes up to $ 2,249 if you make the most of everything.
If you need portable power, check out the MacBook Pro. The 13-inch model costs from $ 1,299, the 16-inch model from $ 2,399. When you get the most out of a 13-inch MacBook Pro, you'll get a price of $ 3,599 or $ 6,099 for the 16-inch model.
The MacBook Pro cannot perform extreme editing tasks like the Mac Pro. However, if you want to do some light video editing or app development on the go, it's definitely suitable for these tasks.
For more information, see our MacBook model comparison.
You have more options on the desktop Mac front. The most direct comparison to the Mac Pro is the iMac Pro, which starts at $ 5,000.
It's still way too much for most people, but it contains more in the box. You get a 1TB SSD and a 27-inch 5K display, which gives you four times the base memory of the Mac Pro and a ready-to-use monitor. If you plan to upgrade, an iMac Pro will cost a maximum of $ 14,299. We compared the most powerful Mac models
Is the iMac Pro Right for You? The most powerful Macs in comparison
if you are interested in details.
For a more modest requirement, consider a standard iMac. The 21.5-inch model costs from $ 1,099, while the 27-inch iMac is available from $ 1,799. Unfortunately, iMac's base models do not include a solid-state drive. We therefore strongly recommend upgrading to an SSD if you choose this computer.
Finally, you could choose a Mac mini. This tiny computer lets you connect your own peripherals, including a monitor. It starts at $ 799 and is great if you want a desktop Mac experience on a budget.
Read our iMac vs. MacBook guide
MacBook vs. iMac: A comparison guide to help you make a decision
if you’re not sure which to choose.
Consider building a Windows PC
If you're interested in a Mac Pro, you're probably not a Windows fan. However, if your main interest is to have a powerful PC for heavy work or games, you can make a lot of money for your money by building your own PC.
Read our guide to choosing the right PC components
How to choose the right components for building your next PC
for help with that. You can build a reputable computer for much less than comparable Mac costs. This option obviously affects the MacOS experience, so you have to decide whether it's worth it.
The Mac Pro is only suitable for serious professionals
We have seen that the Mac Pro certainly has uses, but is not for the average consumer. Between the extreme hardware upgrades available and sky-high prices, there is a chance that you won't get enough value from the Mac Pro to justify the cost.
Instead, stick to one of Apple's end-user computers, and you'll have enough for your needs. On the Apple website, we showed how you can create the perfect Mac for you
How to build your perfect Mac on the Apple website