Though unmentioned in the WWDC Keynote and all but lost in the Retina display euphoric afterglow, the Mac Pro did get an upgrade in the form of a processor bump and a price drop. Now, the entry-level Mac Pro sports a 3.2GHz Quad-Core processor and 6GB of RAM for around $2500, which is both about 400MHz faster, approximately $500 less expensive, and features twice as much memory than the base option offered previously. Many authorities consider the sweet spot to be the 3.33GHz 6-Core model, which is available as a custom option.
So long as you’re not thinking of it as “new” , but rather a “refresh” of the 2010 model line (which many will say it is), it’s fair to say the base speed/price adjustment represents a better value than the 2010 Mac Pro you could have bought a month ago.
However, that doesn’t change the fact that its been far too long since the last update. Considering how long this Mac Pro configuration has been in service and the technological advances since it was introduced, many Mac Pro users took this lack of an actual hardware upgrade as a slap in the face. These users are often professionals with heavy data processing needs. To them, having an “update” without the speed/expandability of USB 3.0 or Thunderbolt, much less relying on out-of-date processor technology, is ridiculous. As a result, there was a huge outcry by pro users over yet another “snubbing” of the Mac Pro from the upgrade cycle - so much so that even Apple relented and took down the “New” label off of the Mac Pro page.
If your business is in need of new Mac Pros and you were holding out in hopes of a refresh, you have several options. You can upgrade your current machines, buy the latest “refresh” machines, or continue to wait until an all new Mac Pro platform comes along, which Tim Cook has confirmed to be some time in 2013 .
However you decide to proceed, OWC has the upgrades that can help boost an existing or “refreshed” Mac Pro’s performance right now to levels that might just meet your all your needs.
First and foremost, if you want to get the best performance out of your Mac, you’ll want to put as much memory in there as possible. Apple did double the amount RAM in its base configuration. As our benchmarking shows, this can dramatically affect many of your day-to-day tasks in a positive way. You don’t want to upgrade through Apple, though. While there’s nothing wrong with the Apple memory, getting your memory through OWC not only costs less, it lets you install more! Here’s an example.
To “max” out one of the 12-core Mac Pros, Apple will charge you $1,950, and you’ll get 64GB of memory. For that same $1,950, you can get the true maximum 128GB of memory from OWC and still have $130 left over.
Of course, if you only need 64GB, you can do that, too – 64GB for that same model, in the same configuration (eight 8GB modules), is available for as low as $689.99 through OWC. That’s just over a third of the price of what it cost from Apple. Or, for the price Apple is charging for 32GB of RAM in the Quad/6-core models, you can get 32GB and a 240GB OWC Mercury Accelsior PCIe SSD. The different configuration possibilities are nearly endless.
No matter what configuration of RAM you need, it costs a lot less to buy the minimum configuration from Apple and then upgrade through us. Heck, you can even save more money by trading in your old memory for a rebate, and since the base model now has 6GB – up from the 3GB it used to come with – you can get an even bigger rebate.
When it comes to fast data transfer, Solid State Drives (SSDs) are the way to go. The OWC Mercury Accelsior PCIe SSD can deliver 820MB/s read and 763MB/s write speeds, installs easily in a PCIe bay, and is easily upgradable as your storage needs grow.
How much can the Accelsior improve performance? Take a look at this report by Lloyd Chambers of MacPerformanceGuide. When it comes to eking out that last bit of performance from a Mac, diglloyd is one of the premiere authorities. When he says “the Accelsior is a solution for the ultimate in performance in your Mac Pro or PC, without using up any drive bays,” you can take it to the bank.
The really great part is that since it’s PCIe-based and compatible with both Macs and PCs, you can still use your Accelsior if you wind up getting a new machine the future.
Unfortunately, there’s nothing you can do to upgrade the built-in USB ports on the Mac Pro to USB 3.0. However, since the Mac Pro is so easily upgradable, you can easily drop in a USB 3.0 PCIe card. We have a number of cards in stock that will have you connecting with SuperSpeed USB in no time.
Apple has maxed out their processor upgrade options at a one 3.33GHz or two 3.06GHz Intel Xeon processors. Want to go faster? OWC offers up to 3.46GHz processor upgrades through our Turnkey Upgrade Program for Apple Mac Pro.
Thunderbolt No, Other Options, Yes
This one is a little trickier. Thunderbolt cannot be added to a Mac Pro by an expansion card alone due to Thunderbolt needing to be integrated on the motherboard. However, there are other options to add fast data storage and displays. Hooking up external hard drives? Try one of the NewerTech MAXPower 6G cards for data transfer speeds up to 500MB/s. Hooking up multiple displays? You can either go with an extra video card or, if your video needs aren’t as intense, a USB Video adapter may do the trick. Sure, it’s not an all-in-one solution, but at least you’ll get better expandability and connection speeds.
Upgrading an existing or “refreshed” Mac Pro may not offer the same thrill as new hardware, but it is a lot less expensive and makes the wait until 2013 more bearable. Let’s just hope after waiting we don’t find soldered RAM in the Mac Pro too!