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2013 Mac Pro: Memory Configuration

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

The 2013 Mac Pro has four memory slots, which means a 64GB memory limit as 4 X 16GB. If and when 32GB memory modules become available (and the firmware is proven to work properly with them), a configuration of 4 X 32GB = 128GB should be possible.

Update: 128GB memory in the 2013 Mac Pro is possible as of March 2014.

Memory is quad-channel and 1866 MHz with claimed bandwidth of up to 60GB/sec.

NOTE: the memory latches in the 2013 Mac Pro are easily bent (personal experience). In one machine it operated well, but the other latch was sticky right from the start, so it needed more force, and it was bent in the process. It’s an awful design compared to the 2010 Mac Pro. Exercise care. Also, if a module does not show up, it probably is not seated fully (again, happened to your author, several times).

UPDATE: OWC supplies a plastic tool that completely avoids any risk to bending the latches.

OWC Easy SSD Upgrade Guide
MacBook Pro and MacBook Air
iMac, Mac Pro, MacMini, more!

How much memory?

The OWC 64GB OWC memory kit is what your author purchased for his own Mac Pro and what was used for all the performance tests.

Given the total system cost*, MPG recommends 64GB. This recommendation is based on experience, but also measured Photoshop CC performance.

Remember that upgrading later to 64GB means removing the existing modules—yet another downside of four (full) memory slots instead of eight.

* The base model starts at $2999, and that’s before external storage, backup drives, AppleCare, display, etc. In short, a base configuration with display and storage is likely to approach $5000, with higher end configurations likely to approach $11,000.

16GB ECC memory modules at 1866 MHz for 2013 Mac Pro

Apple’s discussion

That includes a four-channel DDR3 memory controller running at 1866MHz. It delivers up to 60GB/s of memory bandwidth, which means you can fly through even the most compute-intensive tasks in no time. And since it’s ECC memory, your render job, video export, or simulation won’t be stopped by transient memory errors.

The choice of 4 memory slots limiting memory capacity to 64GB is a troublesome de-optimization for users with needs for 80GB or more memory. This deficit might be mitigated to some extent by the compressed virtual memory feature of OS X Mavericks.


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