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Apple Mac Pro (late 2013)
Silence at last!
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Apple Mac Pro

Apple Mac Pro (late 2013, about 10"/250mm tall by 6.5"/165mm diameter). You can order yours at Adorama or order it at B&H. This free website's biggest source of support is when you use those or any of these links to approved sources when you get anything, regardless of the country in which you live.


Bottom, Apple Mac Pro

Bottom, Apple Mac Pro (late 2013). enlarge.


Top, Apple Mac Pro

Top, Bottom, Apple Mac Pro (late 2013).


February 2014   Apple Reviews   All Reviews


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I use these stores. I can't vouch for ads below.

I just got a new Mac Pro. It's a silent black orb that hovers over your desk and just became available after a long wait at the beginning of 2014. It's an entirely new all-electronic way of computing; it is all solid-state memory with no mechanical drives like hard drives and optical drives. It's got more in common with an iPad than an old-style mechanical PC; you can't hurt it by moving it around as it works.

I'll have a lot more to say, but for now, I'm impressed that it's silent and about six times faster than my previous 2010 hex-core 3.33 GHz Mac Pro!

Specifically, the only thing my previous Mac Pros didn't do fast is wake up from sleep or boot up all my programs. Even my year 2000 Power Mac dual 450 MHz G4 had no problem crunching 100 megabyte files (16-bit scans from 4x5" film) 14 years ago in Photoshop. If you want fast image processing, just get enough RAM and work on reasonably sized images. I had 2 GB RAM in my Mac Pro in 2000, and it always worked super fast once all booted up, duh.

The real limitation to speed is how fast they boot up and load all my programs. Once they are ready to go they all run super fast, but why has the hot rod Mac always taken longer to wake up than my 12" iBook laptop from 2004? (my 12" iBook is exactly 10 years old today and still works perfectly, even the battery!)

Well, with the new Mac Pro, waiting for things to happen is history. The new Mac Pro is the first pro desktop computer that no longer uses any mechanical memory. DVDs, Blu-Ray, CDs, hard drives, floppies and tape are all mechanical. Even optical discs get dirty, you can't move the computer around while they are working, and they are very mechanical, with servo motor systems working in at least three axes all the time. They make noise and break.

We can order the new Mac Pro with a terabyte of bulletproof memory, no problem. Imagine a PC that you can shake around and move around your desk while it's on and working, and it just doesn't care because the only moving part is one big, barely moving rotary fan.

With nothing but electronic memory for the first time, the new Mac Pro makes no noise. There is a slow fan for cooling that you can't hear more than a few inches away. Do you know why I bought my 2010 Mac Pro? 90% because my 2007 Quad G5 made so much fan noise that it sounded like a helicopter on takeoff!

I value silence. I work in a studio, not in an office. Now the loudest thing in my studio is the clock ticking. Silence is golden: time to get a new clock!

Speed? Well, I run so much complex software that my 2010 Mac Pro takes about 6 minutes to load it all up. Once my 2010 Mac Pro wakes up and/or boots the OS, I come back and click all my apps in my dock. I run about a dozen apps at a time: Photoshop, Dreamweaver, Mail, Safari, Font-Management programs, Phase One Media Pro and etc. I'd click them in my dock, leave, and when I came back at least 6 minutes later they'd all be ready to go.

The new Mac Pro? It completely boots up from power-off in less then 30 seconds. Here's the awesome part: I click all my apps, and they are all loaded, stable and ready to go in just 30 more seconds. Whoa! This is the difference between getting right to work, or having to come back later. Whoo hoo! Yes, any PC can load basic programs quickly, but not the huge suite of pro applications I run.

I can get from full power-off to all my software loaded and ready to work in just 60 seconds. Wow!

But wait — if I click the "Reopen windows when logging back in" option as I close down, I can turn off and unplug the Mac Pro, and when I turn it on again, everything is up and running just 45 seconds from pressing the ON button.

For about 20 years I've been asking Adobe why it always takes so long for Photoshop to boot up. As the decade pass, why does it always take so long for my hard drive to crunch for so long before it's ready to go, regardless of what decade this is? Apple has finally solved Adobe's problem; Photoshop now pops right up.

The new Mac Pro is also the first to just wake up immediately when you nudge it, just like everything else from Apple. My earlier Power Macs and Mac Pros all took about 15 seconds groggily to wake from sleep, and when your time is your money, that has always driven me up the wall.

Rear, Apple Mac Pro

Rear, Apple Mac Pro.

I'm also impressed at how all my old peripherals work with the crazy new interfaces. I was scared at first of only having Thunderbolt and USB 3 ports. Want Firewire 800? No problem, just get a $29 Apple Firewire adapter. Want Firewire 400? Just use the right cable from the Firewire 800 output, or a $3 adapter.

My two 30" Cinema displays use Dual-Link DVI, but the new Mac Pro only has Thunderbolt outputs. No problem: I use two Dual-Link DVI adapters, and they plug right into the Thunderbolt sockets.

USB? The new Mac Pro's USB 3 ports are the same as USB and USB 2; they work great with my USB 3 Lexar card reader, and all my regular USB 2 devices, like the 10-year old Belkin hub I've used since I bought my 12" iBook 10 years ago.

TOSLINK audio output? It's inside the 3.5mm audio output jack. A $3 adapter makes it into TOSLINK if you don't already have a mini-TOSLINK cable.

Apple's Migration tool brought over everything on my old OS 10.6 Mac Pro just swell. Even Photoshop and Dreamweaver and all my plugins came over all by themselves. It was an easy migration from three generations of OS ago!

I'll have a lot more to write, but this black orb from outer space that's marked "Assembled in the USA" clearly is of exterrestrial origin. While its outer covering looks and feels like shiny dark gray aluminum, fingerprints don't stick to it and it stays perfectly clean, clearly made of something that landed in Roswell in 1947!

There's so much more. Copying and moving loads of files and making backups is now about twice as fast as before. My daily backups now take 12 minutes instead of 24, and gigabyte files just fly back and forth even in and out of external hard drives.

Of course anything that takes a moment to process in CPU, like cataloging files in Phase One Media Pro that I do all day, zips right along faster than ever before. We always expect that with faster computers.

Know what else is much faster? Uploading these files you're reading right now! I have no idea why, but on my new Mac Pro, when I hit PUT in Dreamweaver, it just flies up immediately. That's also a huge timesaver.

This crazy new Mac Pro is a complete change to how we used to work on a desktop. Imagine the future where computers are silent, files just move around and programs just open. One day our kids are going to laugh when we try to tell them that even as of last week that I had to wait for programs to load, for files to copy, or that computers made noise. Ha! It's not just the fans that used to be in old-style PCs, it's the hard drives. Hard drives are always crunching around, sounding like there's a rat in a can inside your PC. It's astonishing to use a computer and have not a sound, not even a hard drive clicking, as you do your work.

The new Mac Pro comes in a boggling array of versions. I have the 1 TB version and have loads of files to fill it. 1 TB isn't very expensive as an upgrade, so I'd suggest that over the 250 GB or 500 GB versions. For me, I'm all about quiet and fast booting, and I suspect even the most basic version will do that as well as the well-optioned octuple 3 GHz processor version I have. As computers go, Photoshop for still images isn't very taxing; it's motion picture special effects and video editing that bogs down computers and may need hotter processors. I suspect the reason everything is flying so fast for me is that it's a solid-state memory that doesn't have to wait for a mechanical head to go running all over the place trying to find things, as well as an OS optimized from the ground up to take advantage of this new paradigm. This is probably the first time since hand-stitched core memory of the 1950s and 1960s where a professional personal computer once again works without any mechanical memory.

Know why all this impresses me so much? Maybe you're perfect, but I'm always forgetting that one last thing after I turn it off or put it to sleep. Now I can get it back up and do what I have to do, instead of putting it off until tomorrow when I bring the whole system back up again. Doing all this, and doing it silently without even so much as a hard drive crunching, is astonishing.


Power Consumption

The Mac Pro runs very calmly. No matter how much I throw at it, it won't run hard or hot. It's like a V-12 Mercedes: silent no matter how hard you try to drive it.

I measure about 96 - 147 watts as it's running, usually around 120 watts. It draws 96 watts waiting for me to log in, and draws147 watts while booting up.

Even if I try to load it up chewing on a huge Photoshop file, it won't draw more than 150 watts.

Activity monitor's CPU bars show that I'm not able to get the Mac Pro to work very hard in Photoshop CS6; it won't peg the processors and works at whatever speed it feels like if I give it something foolish to choke on.

It draws 5.75 watts when asleep, and 0.0 watts turned off.

At 96 watts at silent idle, for the first time I might consider actually letting the Mac Pro run 24/7 for tasks like a home media server or remote video monitor controller, things I'd never consider with the older Mac Pros loaded with fans and hard drives.


Automatic Power Control for Peripherals

I use a smart power strip to control the power to my desktop audio system.


iTunes 11: CD Importing

The speed at which CDs import is now dependant on the speed of your external drive. it will be faster or slower than your last computer depending on your choice of external drive.

I was disappointed at first, as I was only seeing 4x to 5x indicated import speeds when using my external professional LaCie 300786 Firewire DVD/CD drive (rated 40x CD read and write speed) connected via the Apple Firewire adapter. It was much slower than the 20x to which I was accustomed on my 2010 Hexcore 3.33 GHz Mac Pro from its optical internal drive.

I fired up my dedicated professional LaCie 300566 Firewire 52x CD/CDR drive via the same Apple Firewire adapter, and I now have import speeds reading to 48x and above. I was able to import a full 75 minute 14 track CD in under 2.5 minutes and most CD suck in in 2 minutes or less — almost as fast as I can pull my CDs in and out of their boxes! A long 5:35 song imports in just 8 seconds, but of course my CD drive now sounds like a helicopter about to take off because the disc is spinning so fast!

Album art capture usually works great.

My keyboard's eject button is ignored, but the eject button in iTunes works fine.




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Mr. & Mrs. Ken Rockwell, Ryan and Katie.


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