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2013 Mac Pro: CPU Upgrades

Last updated 2014-01-06 - Send Feedback
Related: Macs, how-to, Mac Pro, Mac

Get Mac Pro at B&H Photo. See also MPG’s computer gear wishlist as well as diglloyd-recommended performance packages for Mac Pro.

See the general CPU performance discussion as well as 2013 Mac Pro: How Many Cores for Your Workflow?.

Here at MPG, primary use of a Mac Pro is for intensive digital photography work. For such work, an 8-core running at 3.3 GHz (Turbo Boost 4.0 GHz) is better than even a 6-core at 3.7 GHz, because there are a variety of tasks that use more than 6 cores, including things like sharpening that makes heavy use of all 12 CPU cores in a 2010 Mac Pro.

And yet the 3.3 GHz 8-core CPU is just as fast for lightly-threaded tasks as the 6-core options (the 3.7 GHz 6-core edges it out barely for the 4/5/6 cores case, but the 8-core adds two more CPU cores over the 6-core).

The all-around merit of the 8-core 3.3 GHz CPU can be visualized below via the green line at top: for 1-3 cores used, it offers at least as good a performance as the 4/6-core CPUs, and then extends that performance out to 8 cores at a level well above the 10 core or 12 core CPUs. It also has 25MB of CPU cache memory which might further aid it with some tasks over the 4/6-core options.

Sometimes 10 or 12 cores can be used, but those situations are sporadic, and the usage scenarios there often involve the GPU (e.g., intensive video work). Hence the 8-core looks to be an ideal choice for a wide array of high-end tasks, especially if the high-end GPUs are also chosen to address video intensive work.

Discussion continues below.

Turbo Boost Speeds with 2013 Mac Pro Intel Xeon CPUs

When does it make sense to upgrade?

Discussion here is premised on two key ideas:

  • That OWC will in fact offer CPU upgrades for the 2013 Mac Pro. As this was written, that confirmation has yet to be officially stated.
  • That the incremental gains are of value to the user; there really is no point to upgrading for mainstream use; know your own particulars or consult with me to discuss the value (or lack thereof).

Recommendation

Shown below is the MPG recommendation for the Mac Pro configuration to order for upgrade purposes. Recommendation is premised on a realistic need for the highest performance! It is not necessary for most mainstream uses.

Bottom line: the CPU upgrade will be expensive*, so skimping on the other components makes little sense in the context of the total system cost and a real need for high compute power. If your own usage can benefit from a modestly faster CPU, then top-end versions of the other components should also come along.

* OWC does not have CPU purchase pricing power like Apple does. Discounted CPU prices are highly unlikely.

B&H Photo has a similar model Mac Pro with 512GB flash.

Recommended configuration if upgrading to a high-end CPU
Rigorously lab tested and OWC certified.
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