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What is the new Mac Pro 2013 made of?

One of the most often asked questions about the Mac Pro is what is it made from? Find out here.

Apple's shiny new Mac Pro has been compared a bin, an air-conditioning unit and the helmets of French robots-in-disguise electro act Daft Punk. From this you might assume that the 2013 Mac Pro's case is made from highly-reflective plastic - but hidden away in the Mac-maker's impressive HTML5 Mac Pro site is that it's made from aluminium. Well, being American, Apple says it's made from aluminum - but as there's some history to why we Brits get an extra 'i' rather than this being some Carribean-style pronunciation difference, we'll let them off.

Apple uses anodised/anodized aluminium/aluminum on the exterior of many of its products - though normally with a silver, more obviously metal appearance. The metal is hard-wearing, scratch-resistant and gets points for being recyclable too.

Apple has arranged all of the components around a central wind tunnel with a single big fan, which it has engineered to keep everything cool while apparently keeping noise to a minimum. The full chassis measures about 25cm tall and 16cm in diameter.

The 2013 Mac Pro features what appears to be a single Intel Xeon processor from Intel's forthcoming line of 'Ivy Bridge'-based workstation-class processors, which offer up to 12 cores. Intel announced in April that it would be releasing this line in Q3 of 2013 (so from July to September). Apple hasn't said when the new Mac Pro is shipping beyond a vague 'later this year', so would fit with this timeframe.

While Apple hasn't said just how much RAM the 2013 Mac Pro can support, it does support 1,866MHz of ECC RAM, while its rivals support RAM no faster than 1,600MHz. Storage-wise, the new Mac Pro features PCIe flash storage, which with a data transfer rate of 1,250MBps is 2.5x faster than the fastest SATA-based flash storage, according to Apple, and over 10x faster than a 7,200rpm SATA drive. We expect these to be very expensive and small in capacity, so you'll likely need to pair these with an external drive for your projects.

For graphics, the 2013 Mac Pro has dual graphics chips from AMD's FirePro range. It hasn't said which cards are included, but from the quoted specs they appear to be the same chips as found in AMD's top-of-the-line FirePro W9000 graphics card - which feature 6GB of graphics RAM (and ECC RAM at that), a 384-bit memory interface and 264GBps memory bandwidth.

Apple says that the cards will allow you to do VFX and editing work on full-res 4K video - and output the three 4K displays at once. Unlike the PC-based FirePro W9000 though, there are no DisplayPorts on the 2013 Mac Pro - instead the three of the six Thunderbolt 2 ports can be used as mini-DisplayPort outputs that output to DisplayPort monitors using an adapter, as with Apple's MacBook Pro and iMac.

There's also an HDMI output on the back of the new Mac Pro, along with four USB 3.0 ports and two gigabit ethernet. The Thunderbolt 2 ports offer up to 20GBps of data transfer, and can also be used to attach devices from PCI arrays to external RAID storage devices. Apple says that the all-black exterior lights up to show you these ports when you rotate the Mac Pro towards you.

Other features include 801.11ac wireless and Bluetooth 4.0.

Apple hasn't said when it's shipping the 2013 Mac Pro or what it costs.


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