Other World Computing and iFixit recently did teardowns of the new Mac Pro, revealing that the system's processor is socketed. That led to conjecture that the Mac Pro could be upgraded with a new processor, and now OWC has proved it.
The company took a stock Apple 6-core Mac Pro - the second tier, $3,999 system, and acquired an Intel E5-2667 V2 8-core processor clocked at 3.30 GHz. The system had already been upgraded with 64 GB of RAM (OWC sells such kits).
According to the test results of Geekbench, a benchmarking utility, the upgraded Mac Pro yielded a 30 percent improvement in multi-processor performance.
Upgrading the processor isn't trivial - it requires a major disassembly of the Mac Pro and is sure to void your warranty. And the processor is just one component in a system that's also dependent on the compute power of dual workstation-class GPUs, which, to the best of my knowledge right now, aren't upgradable.
Upgrading the processor isn't cheap, either - that part is over $2,000 from online vendors right now - significantly more than Apple charges for the upgrade. That price is bound to drop over time as it becomes a more commonly-used part and as production increases. But if you're curious about how upgradable the Mac Pro is after purchase, this is another data point to consider.
Does being able to upgrade the Mac Pro's processor sway your decision on buying one, or does it affect which model you're likely to get? Let me know in the comments.
Update: 23 percent changed to 30 percent