The Mac Pro has long held a place apart from the rest of Apple's product line. While most Macs can do double duty as professional workstations and personal computers, the Mac Pro is squarely a professional Mac — aimed at performance-hungry content creators, scientists, number crunchers and anyone else that need the most extreme Mac hardware available.
When it first debuted in 2006, the Mac Pro looked only superficially different than its predecessor, the Power Mac G5. A towering desktop computer crafted from aluminum, the forbidding Mac Pro appeared hulking and menacing — the very definition of heavy iron.
It would be upgraded many times over the years with processor and graphics card improvements, tweaks to the motherboard and improvements in connectivity, but the Mac Pro always maintained its Brutalist "cheese grater" profile.
Faced with a machine that no longer offered a huge performance difference than other Macs like the iMac, and faced with a changing regulatory environment in Europe that outlawed the Mac Pro's charging circuitry, Apple quietly discontinued the behemoth, and it looked like the Mac Pro was done.
But in June of 2013, Apple took the wraps off a completely redesigned Mac Pro that could not have been imagined to be more different than its predecessor. The new Mac Pro was barely one-eight the size, but packed a lot more wallop for the same money.
The new Mac Pro includes up to a 12-core Intel Xeon E5 processor - Intel's workstation and server-class hardware, along with twin AMD FirePro graphics processors with up to 6 TB of dedicated video memory — again, designed for a workstation, rather than a personal computer. The Mac Pro can drive up to three 4K displays at a time.
The Mac Pro accommodates up to 64 GB of DDR3 memory connected to the Mac using a four-channel memory controller with 60 GB/s bandwidth, twice its predecessors'. The Error Correcting Code (ECC) memory is another nod to this Mac's position as a workstation, not a run-of-the-mill computer.
Even the storage of this compact processing powerhouse is designed for speed. Pokey, slow SATA hard disk drives are eschewed in favor of PCIe-based flash storage which works 10 times faster, making even disk-intensive operations lickety-split fast.
All of the Mac Pro's componentry is consolidated into a central thermal core that radiates heat up and out through the top (hence the turbine shape), and despite the tremendous power, it generates a fraction of the heat (and uses a fraction of the electricity) of its predecessor.
Despite a lack of internal card slots, the Mac Pro has plenty of expansion unmatched by any other Mac model. The backplane incorporates four USB 3.0 ports, six Thunderbolt 2 ports, dual Gigabit Ethernet ports, HDMI, and digital audio input and output. What's more, it works wirelessly using 802.11 ac — "Gigabit Wi-Fi" — and also supports Bluetooth 4.0.
If you're looking for absolutely the fastest, no-holds barred Macintosh for really data intensive work, you're in the right place. The Mac Pro is optimized from the ground up to make your work go fast, regardless of whether you're rendering 3D imagery, retouching photos, editing video, recording multitrack audio, folding protein or crunching weather data. The Mac Pro can do it all.