Mac Pro Early Review Roundup

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It’s still very early in the life of the new Mac Pro (shipping dates have already slipped to February), but the first review unit reports are starting to seep out — and they’re positive.

A review titled “small, fast and in a league of its own” sets the positive tone at Engadget, with Dana Wollman writing that:

“There isn’t another computer we know of that’s this powerful and also this compact. With a starting price of $2,999, going all the way up to nearly $10,000, it’s quite pricey, but for videographers, photographers, animators and other creative professionals, it could be well worth the investment.”

With this in mind, it is interesting to hop over to the Verge, where the video team put the Mac Pro through its paces as a next-gen video editing machine (complete with 4K test footage). The team praises the machine’s size — noting that, “you can fit four Mac Pros in the space previously occupied by one”. Ultimately the conclusion is that much will depend on the availability and performance of Mac Pro-optimized software — making the Mac Pro “[m]aybe not a must-buy for now, but almost certainly one soon”.

In many ways, the Mac Pro is the fastest and most powerful Mac ever made. But today, as it stands, it’s not a drop-in improvement that will instantly make any and every setup faster — its greatest tricks are enabled when software is specifically tuned to this hardware. Because this Mac Pro is now the de facto professional computer for Apple users, most important apps are virtually certain to be upgraded to support its particulars. There’s clearly plenty of power here for almost any use case, but while we wait for software updates this machine isn’t a particularly notable upgrade from the last-generation Pro, or the latest iMac. Or even, in some ways, the most recent MacBook Pro with Retina display.”

TechCrunch has yet to post its full review, but did post first impressions, which describe the Mac Pro as a machine which:

“absolutely leaves any other current Macs in the dust in terms of loading, rendering and processing speed. It’s also extremely quiet, and actually produces a small amount of updraft from that exhaust port in the top, which is funneling air from its ‘unified thermal core.’”

In a 4.5 star review for PCMag.com, Brian Westover meanwhile praises the Mac Pro’s “dramatic departure from boring, boxy designs” as well as its “powerful performance thanks to Intel Xeon E5 processor and dual AMD FirePro graphics.” Listing its only real downsides as price (it’s “expensive, even for an Apple product”), lack of internal access to processor and graphics cards, and relatively short warranty period — Westover nonetheless notes that the machine is the Editors’ Choice for single processor workstation desktops, and one of “the best premium desktops period”. He ultimately concludes that the Mac Pro:

“is a powerhouse in a surprisingly small package, leveraging innovative design and extreme connectivity to completely re-imagine the professional desktop workstation.”

Very positive reports, then, but ones which also depend on optimized software to take full advantage.

No doubt users will have a better idea by February when the machine begins shipping to the rest of us mortals…

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About the author

Luke DormehlLuke Dormehl is a UK-based journalist and author, with a background working in documentary film for Channel 4 and the BBC. He is the author of The Apple Revolution, published by Random House, and is currently writing a book about algorithms for Random House/Penguin to be published in 2014. He also covers the digital humanities for Fast Company. He'd like you a lot if you followed him on Twitter.

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