Monday, January 6, 2020

Testing the 2019 Mac Pro and Pro Display XDR

Lloyd Chambers:

Thus my updated advice is to buy ONLY a 16-core (or 24/28 core if warranted). An 8-core or 12-core Mac Pro is marginal in terms of CPU performance relative to the 2019 iMac 5K.

My testing shows that for single-threaded stuff, a CPU core in the 16-core 2019 Mac Pro is up to 30% slower per core than the 2019 iMac 5K.


I’m an app developer/designer and recently got a new mac pro for my business and wanted to see how it stacked up with my other machines. The results are interesting; the Mac Pro does not do so hot when making clean compiles, but does deliver consistently faster incremental builds.


It seems the best bang for your buck right now when it comes to compiling projects is the Mac mini. I’m certainly disappointed in the Mac Pro results, especially since it seems that Xcode completely pegs all the 16 cores during a compile, but even at 3.2GHz fails to outperform a 3.0 GHZ i5 with 6 cores.

Note that these tests were performed with Xcode 10.3 rather than Xcode 11.

Juan Salvo:

For folks considering the Apple Pro XDR monitor as a reference screen. Here is it, side by side with a couple of actual reference monitors.


Like the 310K the XDR uses local dimming zones. 576 of them to be exact. So a grid of 32x18. Now there’s a lot of factors to how effectively they zone. But 576 is not very many zones and the result is that you can clearly see the haloing.


Update (2020-01-07): Mike Rundle:

At the XDR display introduction event, Apple did go out of their way to compare it to reference monitors that cost $30-50K, so this is a fair comparison.

Vitaly Ishkulov:

Apple’s 1:1,000,000 contrast ratio on the new Pro Display XDR. It’s just a white line on a black canvas. Also see the glow around the perimeter of the canvas.

Update (2020-01-10): Quinn Nelson:

I’ve only been using the ProDisplay XDR for a day, but I’m getting pretty extreme color and light roll-off in all four corners of the display. Almost like vignetting. When I readjust my head it’s fine, but viewing angles on this monitor are not very good which is disappointing.

I will say however that even though I didn’t opt for the +$1,000 matte option, this “glossy” option is very much not glossy. The glare is unbelievably low and makes my iMac Pro look like a mirror. I hope Apple brings this across the entire Mac lineup. It’s awesome.

Quinn Nelson:

I, for one, am glad that Apple doesn’t include the Pro Stand in the price of the ProDisplay XDR (as many have said Apple should have done) because I don’t think it’s actually a very great stand and anybody buying the monitor should VESA mount it instead.

Quinn Nelson:

Tilt doesn’t lock to perfect 180 deg and the tilt radius is not even. Tilts way more to the left than to the right. No height adjustability in vertical position sucks. No axis control.

Update (2020-02-06): lutaround:

Source is the XDR is exhibiting some serious early signs of... marketing #apple #xdr #display #poor

Quinn Nelson:

Viewing angles are so bad that you get corner vignetting looking head on. That’s the most disappointing part to me. It messes with the light roll off and color even!

Juli Clover:

PCMag this week published its full review of the Pro Display XDR, doing a deep dive into its color accuracy and HDR capabilities.


In a nutshell, PCMag believes that the Pro Display XDR successfully does what it was meant to do, offer up “reference-quality production capabilities” to those who work on Macs. “The Pro Display XDR is a beautifully made, well-designed, hyper-accurate content creation monitor that--say it with me now--‘just works,’” reads the review.

Update (2020-02-14): Oliver Haslam:

Teoh has a great YouTube channel where he reviews displays and TVs, with technical analysis married with more subjective reporting. So when he turned his attention to Pro Display XDR I knew things could get interesting. And that’s exactly what happened when Teoh compared the display with Sony’s $43,000 monitor.

At first, you might think that’s unfair. Pro Display XDR might be costly at $4,999, but it’s a fraction of the cost of Sony’s own reference monitor. But this is the same monitor Apple called out at WWDC when it first announced Pro Display XDR. And it made a big song and dance about the new screen being “the world’s best pro display”. So, is it?

Update (2020-02-26): Craig A. Hunter:

Apple was kind enough to lend me a 28-core Mac Pro, decked out with a 2.5GHz Intel Xeon W (turbo boost to 4.4GHz) having a single 38.5MB L3 cache, 1MB L2 cache per core, 384GB of 2933MHz DDR4 ECC memory, a 4TB SSD, and two AMD Radeon Pro Vega II Duo 2x32GB graphics cards (each with two GPUs, for a total of four GPUs). Priced out on Apple’s website, this configuration goes for an eye-popping $31,199 ($10,800 of that is for the GPUs alone).


Whereas the iMac Pro tops out at 970 gigaflops with all 18 cores, the Mac Pro surpasses that level with just 13 cores and goes on to top out at 1.5 teraflops on 28 cores.


While running this test, all 28 cores were pegged at 100% for the full 42 minutes, but the Mac Pro’s fans never got loud, airflow never got excessive, and temperature stayed comfortable. The Mac Pro operated with a very quiet low frequency whoosh that is leagues ahead of similar workstations I have used, and would be well suited to an office environment.

Update (2020-02-28): Juli Clover:

As pointed out by MKBHD in a review published this morning, those super pricy wheels have no locking mechanism, which could be major problem if a wheel-equipped Mac Pro is placed on a desk or a slick floor.

Update (2020-03-12): Nilay Patel:

Because ultimately, that’s the story with the Mac Pro: the hardware is way, way ahead of software support. When we ran benchmark tests that pushed the GPUs, they turned in solid numbers, but so few apps were optimized to use Apple’s Metal graphics system that we basically never saw that performance in action during our day-to-day work.


In certain situations, the Mac Pro offered a clear speed boost by virtue of having so many more CPU cores than our other Macs, but you need apps that really take advantage of multithreading for that, and, well, Creative Cloud’s multithreaded performance is, at best, controversial. I mean, look, we tried to edit the video for this review on our Mac Pro using the full-res 4K video files in Premiere instead of lower-res proxies, and it dropped frames. That’s exactly the sort of thing Apple promotes the Mac Pro as being designed to overcome… if you’re using Final Cut Pro. You see the problem.


But in terms of bang for the buck, the PC trounced our Mac Pro. In nearly every benchmark save Premiere Pro playback tests, the PC came out ahead, and usually by significant margins. (We were not able to run After Effect benchmarks because the test suite gave us errors on the Mac Pro. Catalina!)

Update (2021-04-15): Sami Fathi:

Apple has adjusted the marketing of its high-end Pro Display XDR in the UK following complaints to the country’s Advertising Standards Authority that it was misleading customers.


Apple previously marketed the Pro Display XDR as featuring P3 wide color gamut without any caveats, however following the complaint, the company has added a footnote to the product page in the UK to indicate it “supports 99% of the P3 wide color gamut.”

1 Comment RSS · Twitter

Those multi core tests are nice, but surely not even remotely impressive. If a user is not tied up to macOS ecosystem there is absolutely no way where the Mac Pro is competitive. AMD has a desktop versions of 32 and 64 core CPUs (apart from an EPYC line) for the fraction of the price. I do like those tests from professionals like Neil Parfitt and Craig Hunter, but saying that Mac Pro is "competitive alternative" is not truly accurate. Without the macOS lock there is no competition for price or performance.

Leave a Comment