But why should you upgrade aging technology rather than saving up for the new shiny toy? Simple – It just makes good financial sense to buy the current units and upgrade (or even less just to upgrade your existing 2009-2010 Mac Pro). Pricing has yet to be announced on the new Mac Pro, but I tend to agree with many of the experts out there on this one – the entry level price is probably going to exceed the $2,500 entry-level price tag that Mac Pro owners have gotten used to from Apple. I’m actually expecting it to exceed the $3000 mark.
Add in the cost of adding external components for your storage as there are no internal upgrade bays for your existing data storage, and it’s a bargain to make your existing Mac Pro new again.
The fact remains that today’s Mac Pro models are still very viable workhorses in the professional computing arena. And they offer at least a few advantages over the new Mac Pro that will be released later this year – mainly in the immediate availability of upgrades including the OWC Mercury Accelsior PCIe SSD.
Simply put, an upgraded 2009 or 2010 Mac Pro is by far no slouch when it comes to computing speeds.
Take for example Boot Time.
A stock Mac Pro with a single 7200RPM drive takes roughly 1 minute 40 seconds to fully boot (give or take a few seconds depending on which model Mac Pro you have, which OS you’re booting to, and which items you have loading at startup). Add a single 3G SSD and that time drops to 55 seconds. Install an Accelsior PCIe SSD and watch that time drop by more than half again to a mere 24 seconds.
Ok, so that’s booting – what about actually using the machine?
A similar progression in speeds can be found during usage too. Take, for example, Aperture and open 100 RAW 18-megapixel images and time how long it takes to complete the task. With the stock HDD our test took 69 seconds. With a 3G SSD only 41 seconds – but with the Accelsior PCIe SSD it took less than 20 seconds to complete.
Use Aperture then to create thumbnails out of those same files and on a 3G SSD you’re looking at 45 seconds to complete. Time drops to just under 30 seconds with an Accelsior installed.
As they say, seeing is believing, so if you’d like to watch that test – we filmed it:
But don’t just take our word or our testing on it: According to Leo Laporte of TWiT.tv, the Mercury Accelsior is “the single most important upgrade you can do” and he has no intention of ever removing it from his Mac Pro.
And Peter Cohen of iMore agrees, “Putting in an SSD offers your Mac Pro a new lease on life with a dramatic improvement in performance that will be an eye opener”
And that’s just by using single hard drives. Did you know that setting up certain RAID arrays can make them even faster? Take for example Lloyd Chambers of Mac Performance Guide setup a Striped RAID 0 of three OWC Mercury Accelsior PCIe SSDs and he reached speeds over 1800MB/s. That’s over 500MB/s faster than Thunderbolt is currently capable of. And as far as the new Mac Pro goes, the theoretical maximum speed of Thunderbolt 2.0 is 2560MB/s – and that’s only going to happen once Thunderbolt 2.0-equipped products are actually available in the marketplace.
Lloyd Chamber’s performance testing was done with products that are all available now. And that really is key when you’ve got a job to do.
RAM performance: Let’s take a look at performance and multitasking.
Our company mantra for years has been “More Memory = Faster Mac”. Adding more memory to your Mac Pro gradually boosts performance and allows you to run more processes and programs at once. Going from the stock 6GB to just 12GB of memory shows up to a 76% increase in performance and with 64GB of memory installed, ran the Photoshop action test five times faster than stock.
Want to see exactly how much added performance can be obtained by adding more memory? See our full memory benchmarking results.
With four PCIe slots, the world is your oyster on adding video capture cards, hard drive controller cards, FireWire or USB cards, Fibre Channel connections, Ethernet networking connections, etc. – each with their own throughput options for connecting all the peripherals you already have. And with the release of OS X 10.8.3 came some killer support options for compatible video cards on the Mac Pro as well.
For the majority of current Mac Pro owners, the bottleneck is not the GPU or the processor – it is the data storage performance and the amount of memory installed. Upgrading to an OWC SSD, or far better – an OWC Accelsior_E2 SSD plus upgrading memory to a level to eliminate live app memory page swaps (when the OS swaps from your installed RAM/memory to attached storage) – you won’t believe it’s even the same Mac Pro.
We’re excited as anyone to get our hands on the new Mac Pro to really see what they’re capable of and when the new Mac Pro models do come out, you better believe the OWC Test Lab will be hard at work getting all the numbers you care about. What does more memory do to that system? How fast is the read/write speeds of the internal storage? How do current Thunderbolt-equipped devices fare on a Thunderbolt 2.0 port? And how does it compare to previous models.
The thing is, with as slow as Thunderbolt-equipped devices have been hitting the market and with the limited customization options that the new Mac Pro offers – we’re just not as excited about this release as we have been in years past. But we’re still enamored with our current Mac Pros.