Mac Pro Buyer's Guide: Comparing the Generations

With the launch of the new Mac Pro, Apple has finally completed the transition to Apple silicon across the entire Mac lineup. Over the past decade, Apple has only released three new Mac Pros and the latest version starts at $6,999 – the highest starting price of any ‌Mac Pro‌ model to date – making it all the more important to consider if now is a good time to upgrade or even if an older model will suffice for your needs.

Mac Pro Three Generations Feature
The 2023 Mac Pro is the first of its kind to feature Apple silicon and all previous models had Intel processors. While the machine loses support for eGPUs, it is around twice as powerful as the previous top-tier ‌Mac Pro‌ while maintaining a mostly modular design with seven PCIe slots. Even so, some first-time ‌Mac Pro‌ customers or users of the 2013 model may be able to obtain a 2019 ‌Mac Pro‌ second-hand or from a third-party retailer for a substantially lower price, so it will be important to weigh up exactly what was added with each new version of the machine.

See the breakdown below for each new feature, change, and improvement that was added with each ‌Mac Pro‌ compared to its direct predecessor:

Mac Pro (Apple silicon Tower, 2023)

  • Apple M2 Ultra chip
  • 24-core CPU
  • Up to 76-core GPU
  • Up to 192GB unified memory
  • Non-upgradeable memory
  • Dedicated media engine for hardware-accelerated H.264, HEVC, ProRes, and ProRes RAW with two video decode engines, four video encode engines, and four ProRes encode and decode engines
  • 32-core Neural Engine
  • Seven PCI Express expansion slots
  • Eight Thunderbolt 4 (USB-C) ports
  • Three USB-A ports
  • 3.5 mm headphone jack with advanced support for high-impedance headphones
  • HDMI 2.1 port with support for multichannel audio output
  • Support for up to eight 4K displays, six 6K displays, or three 8K displays
  • 802.11ax Wi-Fi 6E
  • Bluetooth 5.3
  • Weighs 37.2 pounds (16.86 kg) as tower or 37.9 pounds (17.21 kg) as rack
  • Starts at $6,999

Mac Pro (Intel Tower, 2019)

  • Silver tower design with lattice pattern and three impeller fans
  • Intel Xeon W processor
  • Up to 28-core CPU
  • Up to AMD Radeon Pro W6800X Duo GPU with 120 total compute units
  • Up to 1.5TB memory
  • Up to 8TB storage
  • Eight PCI Express expansion slots
  • Up to 12 Thunderbolt 3 (USB-C) ports
  • Two USB 3 ports
  • Dual 10 Gb Ethernet
  • Up to two HDMI 2.0 ports
  • Support for up to 12 4K displays, six 5K displays, or six Pro Display XDRs
  • Bluetooth 5.0
  • Weighs 39.7 pounds (18.0 kg) as tower or 38.8 pounds (17.6 kg) as rack
  • Started at $5,999

Mac Pro (Intel Cylinder, 2013)

  • Space Black cylindrical design with thermal core, single impeller fan, and illuminated ports
  • Intel Xeon E5 processor
  • Up to 12-core CPU
  • Up to Dual AMD FirePro D700 GPU with 64 total compute units
  • Up to 64GB memory
  • User-upgradeable memory
  • Up to 1TB storage
  • Six Thunderbolt 2 ports
  • Four USB 3 ports
  • Dual Gigabit Ethernet
  • 3.5 mm headphone jack
  • HDMI 1.4 Ultra HD port
  • Support for up to three dual-cable 5K displays or six Thunderbolt displays
  • 802.11ac Wi-Fi 5
  • Bluetooth 4.0
  • Weighs 11 pounds (4.9 kg)
  • Started at $2,999

Upgrade to the 2023 Mac Pro?

In most workflows, the ‌M2‌ Ultra chip should offer a massive performance improvement over the Intel Xeon W processors offered in the 2019 ‌Mac Pro‌, especially in CPU-intensive tasks. Early benchmarks indicate that it delivers around two-times faster overall CPU performance than the fastest Intel-based ‌Mac Pro‌ with a 28-core Xeon W processor.

For machine learning processes, the 2023 ‌Mac Pro‌ has a significant advantage with the ‌M2‌ Ultra's 32-core Neural Engine. Likewise, its dedicated media engine offers considerable benefits in video editing workflows.

The new ‌Mac Pro‌ can support 8K external displays for the first time. It also has newer Wi-Fi and Bluetooth specifications, as well as two USB-A ports and support for high-impedance headphones.

If you're looking for a high-end, future-proof machine that harnesses the best available performance with Apple silicon, as well as its more modern specifications, it will be worth opting for the new ‌Mac Pro‌.

...Or Stick With the 2019 Mac Pro?

Not all 2013 or 2019 ‌Mac Pro‌ users should upgrade to the 2023 model. Most notably, the 2019 ‌Mac Pro‌ features an Intel chip. While support for Apple silicon is now much better in professional workflows than it was upon its launch in 2020, some niche applications and legacy software may still work better on an Intel architecture. Likewise, some users may wish to dual-boot Windows via Boot Camp and this is not possible on the new ‌Mac Pro‌.

If you require support for additional graphics cards, only Intel-based Macs can support this. This means the new ‌Mac Pro‌'s PCIe slots are only useful for things like digital signal processing (DSP) cards, serial digital interface (SDI) I/O cards, additional networking, and built-in storage, so if you need eGPUs, the 2019 ‌Mac Pro‌ is still your best option.

The new ‌Mac Pro‌ maxes out at 192GB of memory. The previous model supported eight times this amount, so if you need vast amounts of memory, the 2019 model is still better for your purposes. Similarly, the 2019 model's memory is user-upgradeable. The 2019 ‌Mac Pro‌ supports four more 4K displays than the 2023 model and it also has four more Thunderbolt ports, which may be important considerations for some users.

Hence, for the right price, the 2019 ‌Mac Pro‌ may still be better for some users. That being said, it is important to bear in mind that Apple has now moved away from Intel-based machines entirely. At some point in the future, Intel-based Macs are likely to lose support for the latest version of macOS, so if you are a user that specifically needs 2019 ‌Mac Pro‌ features like eGPU support or an Intel architecture, the 2019 ‌Mac Pro‌ may only be able to help out for so long and it may be important to look at bigger changes to support your workflow in the long term.

The 2013 ‌Mac Pro‌ only supports updates up to macOS 12 Monterey, meaning it misses out on all of the new features added in macOS Ventura and macOS Sonoma. Those still using the 2013 ‌Mac Pro‌ should definitely consider upgrading, and both the 2019 or 2023 ‌Mac Pro‌ models are viable options. Alternatively, if you have got used to the 2013 ‌Mac Pro‌'s lack of PCIe slots and reliance on wired peripherals, the Mac Studio may be a better option, starting at just $1,999.

Related Roundup: Mac Pro
Buyer's Guide: Mac Pro (Neutral)
Related Forum: Mac Pro

Popular Stories

iPhone SE 4 Vertical Camera Feature

iPhone SE 4 Rumored to Use Same Rear Chassis as iPhone 16

Friday July 19, 2024 7:16 am PDT by
Apple will adopt the same rear chassis manufacturing process for the iPhone SE 4 that it is using for the upcoming standard iPhone 16, claims a new rumor coming out of China. According to the Weibo-based leaker "Fixed Focus Digital," the backplate manufacturing process for the iPhone SE 4 is "exactly the same" as the standard model in Apple's upcoming iPhone 16 lineup, which is expected to...
iPhone 16 Pro Sizes Feature

iPhone 16 Series Is Just Two Months Away: Everything We Know

Monday July 15, 2024 4:44 am PDT by
Apple typically releases its new iPhone series around mid-September, which means we are about two months out from the launch of the iPhone 16. Like the iPhone 15 series, this year's lineup is expected to stick with four models – iPhone 16, iPhone 16 Plus, iPhone 16 Pro, and iPhone 16 Pro Max – although there are plenty of design differences and new features to take into account. To bring ...

Crowdstrike Says Global IT Outage Impacting Windows PCs, But Mac and Linux Hosts Not Affected

Friday July 19, 2024 3:12 am PDT by
A widespread system failure is currently affecting numerous Windows devices globally, causing critical boot failures across various industries, including banks, rail networks, airlines, retailers, broadcasters, healthcare, and many more sectors. The issue, manifesting as a Blue Screen of Death (BSOD), is preventing computers from starting up properly and forcing them into continuous recovery...
iphone 14 lineup

Cellebrite Unable to Unlock iPhones on iOS 17.4 or Later, Leak Reveals

Thursday July 18, 2024 4:18 am PDT by
Israel-based mobile forensics company Cellebrite is unable to unlock iPhones running iOS 17.4 or later, according to leaked documents verified by 404 Media. The documents provide a rare glimpse into the capabilities of the company's mobile forensics tools and highlight the ongoing security improvements in Apple's latest devices. The leaked "Cellebrite iOS Support Matrix" obtained by 404 Media...
Apple Watch Series 9

2024 Apple Watch Lineup: Key Changes We're Expecting

Tuesday July 16, 2024 7:59 am PDT by
Apple is seemingly planning a rework of the Apple Watch lineup for 2024, according to a range of reports from over the past year. Here's everything we know so far. Apple is expected to continue to offer three different Apple Watch models in five casing sizes, but the various display sizes will allegedly grow by up to 12% and the casings will get taller. Based on all of the latest rumors,...
tinypod apple watch

TinyPod Turns Your Apple Watch Into an iPod

Wednesday July 17, 2024 3:18 pm PDT by
If you have an old Apple Watch and you're not sure what to do with it, a new product called TinyPod might be the answer. Priced at $79, the TinyPod is a silicone case with a built-in scroll wheel that houses the Apple Watch chassis. When an Apple Watch is placed inside the TinyPod, the click wheel on the case is able to be used to scroll through the Apple Watch interface. The feature works...

Top Rated Comments

blazerunner Avatar
15 months ago
You used to get a lot of value out of a Mac Pro. Now you pay as much as you would for a car and you can't even add a dedicated GPU into it. Apple has the balls to charge $3,000 more for the Mac Pro over the Studio just to give you PCIe slots.

Ridiculously overpriced.
Score: 31 Votes (Like | Disagree)
JackLeBoul Avatar
15 months ago

Still loving my 2010 Mac Pro 5,1 with :

- 2 x 6-core 3.46 Xenon
- 96 GB Ram (triple channel)
- 10Gbe Network card
- 4TB NvMe blades
- 24 TB internal storage
- Ventura 13.4

An absolute beast that has worked nonstop for 13 years!

Attachment Image

Attachment Image

Attachment Image
Score: 20 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Apple Fan 2008 Avatar
15 months ago
5,1 is the 2nd best Mac Pro.
Score: 13 Votes (Like | Disagree)
TheYayAreaLiving ?️ Avatar
15 months ago
Beautiful yet the set up is extremely expensive!

Attachment Image
Score: 9 Votes (Like | Disagree)
rpmurray Avatar
15 months ago
Could we please stop calling the 2023 a "Mac Pro"? It's a Mac Studio Pro at best. And way overpriced for just the addition of some PCIe slots.
Score: 9 Votes (Like | Disagree)
3xBoom Avatar
15 months ago
A pretty poor job at organizing information in the review. A table view with columns and rows of related values would have been helpful. Duh...
Score: 8 Votes (Like | Disagree)