Two Weeks With the New Mac Pro

The Mac Pro has been sent to Marques Brownlee for a review, and he's impressed. This video will show you what you can expect if you're planning on upgrading. 

The specs are insane, and it's the fastest machine he's ever tested. I agree with him: it's not going to make the videos better, but it will make him try new things like shooting in 16K if he can when that happens. I will not be able to get my hands on one of these; it's just out of my league, but if your business can afford it and you're going to use the machine to its full potential, you'll enjoy knowing you've bought the top of the range in the world of personal computers across all operating systems and brands. 

This might not be for photographers alone, as we don't need all this power if we're editing one image at a time. But, I wouldn't say no if someone gave me one, that's for sure. 

The design looks as good as it did on the launch day. Even if the monitor stand costs an additional $1,000, it's well built, does what it says it will, and the investment in the machine justifies it. It's going to be with you for a few years, so you might as well get the best you can get. 

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35 Comments

Johnny Rico's picture

This reads like ad copy, for his video

Alex Herbert's picture

Mr Brownlee is a 'hypebeast' and an Apple fanboy. His opinion isn't one I'd respect in this regard. He bought a motion control camera system for $250,000 and pretty much only uses it to shoot b-roll of mobile phones. I think high earning top YouTubers have skewed the idea of what a professional needs, and can afford. The base level Mac Pro is woefully overpriced, and anything above that tier is WAY more than what most 'Pros' are going to have available to spend. It's a super niche product which Apple will underspec and sell to the zealouts.

Leigh Miller's picture

Agree to a small extent..

In Apple's defence, "THIS" MP is not for professionals. It's for specialists that need the extreme power and those types are not starting with the base machine either.

The iMac Pro is more our jam...

But they won't turn away your money if you want to spend $6K+ to process, edit and output photos for instagram and facebook.

Reginald Walton's picture

I agree, this is truly "pro" level stuff. But like you said, they won't turn away the money if you say you're not a pro. I think a lot of "us" buy these high end/pro level devices (like camera gear and such), way more than we actually need anyway. But you don't want to buy the bare minimum for what you need. And yes I do the same, but if I could afford this beast of a machine, I surely would buy it too.

Leigh Miller's picture

I hear that too.

I can afford it and I have bought (into) it before but I won't this time.

When the L2013 MP came out it was billed as the ultimate workstation level system. The idea wasn't so much that it was fast...but had the build/capacity to operate continuously 24 hours a day. In that regard it's worked out just fine. I haven't had a single down day since purchasing it.

Even at it's age, it's overkill for Adobe software because none of it takes advantage of the processing power (yet).

That base (new) MP is so far in excess of what photographers/Youtubers need that the only reason to buy it is for show. Been there, done that.

Keeping my L2013 MP until it's fully amortized...then i'll bring it out to the cottage and throw away the old cheesegrator to make room. Incidentally, that old thing still works just fine.

Alex Herbert's picture

As I said, a super niche product. the number of people who need what the properly specced machines can do are a niche market.

I see this as the equivalent to Lamborghini making a new hypercar which costs $1.5m (justified for what it is and what it does), but then also bringing out a $150,000 model with the same engine, drivetrain, and interior as a Ford. The body alone ain't worth $150,000.

Daris Fox's picture

Thing is in this niche most users are hardware savvy, if you have the money and the need you can buy and build far better hardware. The Xeon's in this rig is out-matched and out-dated by the latest Threadripper hardware, and it's already being used by Blur Studio and other CGI shops.

Talk to any IT or CGI professional you'll see that they no longer recommend anything Intel, I've said this on previous Apple posts but none point out how badly it's out-gunned for CGI or video work. Threadripper 3000 series just dominates anything Intel has and realistically have no counter for (pretty much every review says this). The hardware is a lot cheaper and Threadripper can use either ECC or non-ECC RAM (just like Ryzen) with proper motherboard support. The added advantage the sTRX4 platform is also compatible with the nextgen Threadripper series and there's already a 64c/128t Threadripper coming in January.

Think of it this way, you can have 32c/64t Threadripper for 2k, and even the most expensive motherboard only comes in at 900 and that'll give you dual 10g ports and four NVMe on board and even more through the PCIe adaptor just look at Aorus Extreme from Gigabyte. Slap as much RAM as you can afford onto it's 8 channels and you're laughing. Only downside? You'll probably have to build it yourself, but let;s be realistic if you can afford the hardware I'm pretty sure you can afford the support or get someone build it for you.

What does Apple bring to the table that's better than that system?

So the argument really comes down to Eco-System, and to be frank if you're working in a high end studio much of the work is done by Linux boxes rather Windows or macOS unless you're using mixed platforms in your studio for Adobe (and to be frank I know a lot of studios are migrating away from Premiere due to it being continually buggy or broken), DaVinci, Houdini and many other applications run better under Linux when it comes to performance. A standard configuration for most people I've worked with have editing stations and a render/storage rig or multiple render nodes connected to a 10Gb copper/fibre backbone to a SAN.

If you're a photographer you're better off using a Ryzen 3800 or better series, as you rarely need a highly threaded CPU rather you need RAM and a fast sub-system for data and AMD has that in spades with PCIe Gen 4 especially for the newer Gen 4 NVMe drives that's already being shipped. In addition you need a reasonably good graphics card for video encoding and, when it's properly supported, GPGPU.

Leigh Miller's picture

All true.

Especially two items on your very extensive list :-)

1) Eco-System **my reason...10 Apple devices in the house **
2) Better choice/cost on the low-end

Martin Peterdamm's picture

you forgot the old argument "but mac ssds are so much faster…" is also obsolete. amd can have pcie 4 nvme with up to 5gb/s, the PCIe adaptor on the gigabyte can take 4 of them and cool them , you can raid them and got insane read and write speeds. even these insane pcie4 2tb ssds are cheaper then apples ssd options…

how needs a fast mac for anything graphics, 3d … is already gone or don't really needs a fast machine, because the last one was 2013 and is slow a.f.
also the software situation on mac is not really amazing for vfx, the stuff is since years windows/linux

and maybe the biggest issue, especially the fees for vfx / 3d / dcc are now so low, that even for freelancers which work on hollywood productions ( a funny argument I read the last days so often from people who never met someone in the idustry) cannot affort a underpowered 24 /28 core mac pro (every cpu below is too slow, especially in time of ryzen 3950x)

Rob G's picture

Even as someone who is happily in both worlds (a high end Windows desktop with a 9700K, 64GB, 5TB of SSD and dual 1080s..., and a brand new 13" MBP, and other older stuff)...

it still blows my mind/rolls my eyes how many Mac afficionados seem to be under the impression that Windows laptops are all using SATA SSDs or barely NVMe...

Alex Herbert's picture

Yeah, I think a lot of people overlook the fact that manufacturers get tied to suppliers so can't actually produce the best system available. However, an individual can go out and buy whatever components ACTUALLY work the best together and build/have built their own system. Apple has put together the best machine they could given the suppliers they are tied into.

Daris Fox's picture

For a company like Apple, who has a past history of playing hardball with suppliers, that's simply not the case, they have a choice just like anyone else. However in Apple's defence, no-one expected the Zen cores to annihilate Intel's products but to be honest they've worked with AMD so it's not a stretch that they could have simple redesigned a board that'd increase their bottom line and be amongst the best on the market. Apple have both the financial strength and the necessary clout to do as they wish, just look at how they treat their mobile phone supplies. Thing is it shouldn't have surprised anyone, Intel has been struggling to move from 14nm for four years and yet to release any meaningful products on 10nm.

More likely in this case Intel threw cash their way in a desperate move to keep the prestige of being in an Apple product. Sadly it will do is speed up Apple's trip down the road to irrelevance, as they've already lost so much mind share in the market that kept them alive for so many years. The Trashcan was a slap in the face to the professionals and whilst the new Mac has returned to it's roots it's arguably too little too late especially to cash conscious studios where every second costs them money.

Marius Pettersen's picture

You're not too familiar with professional workstations, are you? I'm not thinking about a computer used by a professional, but those thoroughly designed to handle workloads way above any consumer needs - like the Lenovo ThinkStation or HP Z-series (used by DreamWorks for animation). PC manufacturers do offer affordable options for people or business that do not need the extreme power, but the reliability and the service/support aspect - like HP's Next Business Day On-Site service. The base Mac Pro is overpriced when compared to the competition, but when you start upping the specifications, the Mac Pro begins to look like a good deal (relatively speaking).
Who do you think about when you mention most pros? The next door family photographer or a production studio working on 4K HDR content for Netflix or the big screen? The first one would probably not need anything more than an iMac, but the latter would probably see the benefits from workstations and not blink at the price.
And regarding the robot at MKBHD's studio, he has stated more than once that he intentionally limits its usage because he doesn't want to overuse it.

Alex Herbert's picture

Read my post. "The base level Mac Pro is woefully overpriced, and anything above that tier is WAY more than what most 'Pros' are going to have available to spend. It's a super niche product which Apple will underspec and sell to the zealouts."

I called it a super niche product, just like a Lenovo ThinkStation or HP Z-series, But HP do not make underspec'd Z-series computers. The $6,000 Mac Pro is useless for anyone who actually needs a Mac Pro, it's a pretty machine made purely for bragging rights for the richest Apple customers.

Marius Pettersen's picture

I've read it, but I don't agree fully with it. Apple had to set the base somewhere, and as Apple goes, the base is silly. However, raising the specs to $10,000 or more makes the Mac Pro a decent workstation for that tier - which most photographers do not need - the same with a Phase One camera, or an Arri Alexa. Professional equipment are in a niche themselves, and high-end products are even more rare to see, but that doesn't mean that they're not needed.

Alex Herbert's picture

And if you don't want to overuse a £250,000 motion control system then don't buy one. Rent it when you NEED to use it like professional film makers do!

Rob G's picture

Not to mention, annoyingly... almost every single one of these videos has "failed to disclose" that it was either a loan or a 'pre-order' or whatever.

I watched several "launch day" videos. Almost all of them had the same $26K model, 28 core Xeon with 384GB, Vega II and 4TB SSD.

What are the odds that they all independently ordered that configuration?

Leigh Miller's picture

This same guy...said similar things about the Late 2013 Mac Pro way back when....just watch, 4 years out there will be talk about how Apple made too many fatal mistakes about the new machine....

and on and on...the crisis continues lol

Man, I want to grate some cheese on that thing.

Spy Black's picture

At least they rounded the corners off so you won't fracture you knuckles, knees, or chins when you accidentally bang into them like the old aluminum Gs...

"you'll enjoy knowing you've bought the top of the range in the world of personal computers across all operating systems and brands."

You'll maybe enjoy thinking that but you haven't. There's nothing magic about a Mac Pro, it's just running parts made by AMD and Intel and is not any more capable than any other computer running those parts which can be bought off the rack a lot more cheaply than they will cost you in an Apple box. If you're spending $50k on a super highend system then you might like the peace of mind of buying a branded system. I think anyone who buys anything like a base level system though is nuts. Those are quite poorly speecced and you could easily build something way better for way cheaper.

Spy Black's picture

Dude, don't waste your breath. Mac lemmings will always be Mac lemmings. Just enjoy your rig and let them waste their money on the illusion of something bigger than life. They're happy in their illusion.

J. W.'s picture

Why it bothers me. Apple sells products as a luxury brand, at one time luxury meant use of rare materials, quality and craftsmanship. But other than the nice case which happens to be made with the most abundant metal on earth, these are just (middling) off-the-self parts encased in proprietary boxes to look luxurious.

With the price gauging these companies do, they could manufacture these domestically with good paying jobs and still make a huge profit. USA in this case since Apple is an American Company. But no, it is all made in China with people working inhumane 84-hour workweeks. And no, I have nothing against China making stuff because they can manufacture cheap stuff all the way to the best in the world. But if going the China route, at least price it accordingly and force the manufacturing company to give the poor Chinese workers more time off and better wages.

Spy Black's picture

The whole China thing can be pretty much said about any tech and other products as well, so while I agree there's a lot of bad labor practices around the world, I'm simply concentrating on the Apple concept. It's essentially function following form, sold as a pseudo-luxury brand. Someone once told me Jobs was the son of a salesman. That makes total sense when you look at the above concept. The one truly brilliant thing Jobs did was marketing, making a sub-par product appear superior. The momentum rolls on...

I wish someone would get their hands on the just above base version and run some tests. I'm getting killed by 3 hour renders on 3 minute videos (on a 12 core trashcan with 128gb RAM and 2x D700), but these $25k versions sent to everyone to test would be out of my small company's budget. I don't know how to build a PC and the options are endless and confusing. I'd love to see how an attainable version of this MP ranks.

Daris Fox's picture

Find a PC Builder locally or consider something like this, as I'm pretty sure you could cut that time by 50%....

https://www.pugetsystems.com/recommended/Recommended-Systems-for-DaVinci...

Leigh Miller's picture

Weird...I have a lower spec L2013 and it doesn't take that long to render similar video projects with effects and titling.

I had some denoiser and skin smoothing effects on. Turned those off and rendered much faster. Also some of it might have been the old BRAW plugin, the new one seems to have sped things up a bit.

Leigh Miller's picture

That's the point...it's not the current level of hardware. It's the software.

Motti Bembaron's picture

I don't think this guy ever said a bad word about Apple. His "reviews" are the definition of subjective opinions (or paid ones).

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