I recently upgraded my primary PC, which I use for a wide range of purposes, including productivity, collaboration, software development, photo editing, virtual labs, gaming and game development.
The full specification can be found below:
- MSI MAG X570 Tomahawk WiFi
- AMD Ryzen 9 3950X 3.5GHz Base / 4.7GHz Boost (16C/32T)
- Noctua NH-D15 CPU Cooler
- 64GB Corsair Vengeance LPX DDR4 PC4-28800C18 3600MHz RAM
- 1TB Samsung 980 Pro M.2 PCI-e 4.0 NVM-e SSD
- 1TB Samsung PM981 M.2 PCI-e 3.0 NVM-e SSD
- Nvidia GeForce RTX 3090 FE 24GB GDDR6X
- EVGA SuperNova P2 1000W ‘80 Plus Platinum’ PSU
- Phanteks Enthoo Evolv ATX Mid Tower Case
At the time of writing, the total cost for this specification would be approximately £3500 (I paid £2500 for my upgrade). Although not cheap, this combination of a Processor, Memory, Storage and Graphics delivers exceptional performance across a range of workloads (e.g. gaming, development, video editing, machine learning, etc.)
For example, the Nvidia GeForce RTX 3090 is the highest rated graphics card on the market today, powered by the Ampere architecture, delivering market-leading ray tracing and AI performance with enhanced Ray Tracing (RT) Cores, Tensor Cores, and new streaming multiprocessors.
The 3DMark result below highlights the relative global performance of my PC, which outperforms 99% of systems when targeting graphics-intensive workloads. This result indicates that spending more than £3500 on a PC would achieve diminishing returns.
In 2019, Apple released the third generation Mac Pro, which replaced the infamous 2013 cylindrical (trash can) Mac Pro. The 2019 Mac Pro emphasised performance and flexibility, compromising size and power efficiency, which was a positive direction for “pro” users.
Unfortunately, the Mac Pro commands a very premium price point, costing up to £53,448 with all “build to order” options added. Therefore, I was interested to understand how the Mac Pro (equivalent specification) would compare to my PC.
Unfortunately, due to existing commercial partnerships, Apple continues to use Intel processors and AMD graphics across the “pro-line” of systems, which are both outperformed by their primary rivals (AMD processors and Nvidia graphics).
The Intel Xeon W processor remains “stuck” on the legacy 14nm process, which simply can not compete with the 7nm process used by the AMD Ryzen 3000/5000 series.
The same can be said for the AMD Radeon Pro Vega II, which gets annihilated by the Nvidia Geforce RTX 3090, especially with modern workloads focused on ray-tracing, artificial intelligence, etc.
With these limitations, the Mac Pro (specification outlined above) is thoroughly outperformed by my PC, but also significantly more expensive.
The Mac Pro would cost an additional £10,299, which is ridiculous. To put this price into perspective, you could build four equivalent Windows/Linux-based systems for the price of one Mac Pro.
The only “unique” hardware capability exclusive to the Mac Pro is the Apple Afterburner PCI-e card, which accelerates the decoding of ProRes and ProRes RAW video codecs. However, this card is a “build to order” extra, costing £2,000.
I love the Mac, macOS and the Mac ecosystem, but it is impossible to recommend the Mac Pro. I see a lot of creatives (mostly on YouTube) using a Mac Pro, which for 99.99% of use cases makes no sense.
Even if the workload demands Apple proprietary software, such as Final Cut Pro or Logic Pro X, the return on investment of a Mac Pro could only be realised in very specific scenarios, where extreme performance against time-sensitive deadlines are a requirement. All other Mac-specific workloads would likely be better serviced by an iMac and/or the new Mac mini (powered by Apple Silicon).
With this in mind, I would recommend (even die-hard Mac fans) explore transitioning common workloads to leverage open-source and/or cross-platform software (e.g. Windows, Linux, macOS). This approach ensures maximum flexibility and delivers an unbeatable return on investment.