Upgrade advice from a Mac Pro (Late 2013)

Hello. I am currently running a Mac Pro (Late 2013) purchased in February 2014. 3.5GHz 6-Core Intel Xenon E5, 64GB RAM and 256GB SSD (I use a G-RAID 2x2TB External HD connected using Thunderbolt 2 for main storage of files and documents and that is pretty quick as it is RAID 0).

I do a mix of Photoshop, Illustrator and InDesign work plus websites. Photoshop files can get quite big 300MB-1.2GB.

My Mac Pro currently runs just fine (perhaps not as ‘snappy’ as it used to be but nothing that bothers me to slows me down). But I am starting to worry a bit as it is now over 6 years old and how long do these things last for…?

My record is 8 years for a previous model MacPro (G4) before that had a CPU failure that came out of the blue and killed the machine instantly. Though my current MacPro Laptop is from 2012 and that still works fine (I added an SSD and that gave it a new lease of life).

However I guess it is probably time to replace from a position of strength, rather than having to panic buy if my current Mac Pro fails.

So what iMac should I replace it with…? I would hate to buy something that will run slower. Or would any modern 27inch iMac wipe the floor with my old Mac Pro?

Any advice would be appreciated.

All the best

Simon (in the UK)

I will admit no experience with your model of Mac Pro but the trash can MacPro a history of parts failing from heat. So replacing it now at your convenience is a good idea.

I think you would be very happy with one of the new iMacs. I am sure the screen will be an upgrade itself. Given your needs I don’t think you need an iMac Pro unless you want a very quiet iMac. The new iMac’s fans will turn on if you push it, the iMac Pro has a cooling system designed to stay very quiet.

Let’s discuss storage. RAID 0 alway makes me feel quesy since if either drive fails you lose everything. I hope that you keep everything backed up on a regular basis. Replacing the RAID 0 with a large SSD with USB-C or a RAID-1 with SSDs should be faster than your current RAID. To continue using your current RAID you will need a Thunderbolt 3 to 2 converter.

Hi Paul

Thanks for the advice. I can see benchmarks that say modern iMacs should be faster, I was just wondering if anyone had any actual experience?

Mac Benchmarks - Geekbench Browser - I can see as single core benchmarks it is well behind, but on multi-core, much much less so.

I have to say my trash can Mac has never put a foot wrong, maybe I am the lucky one. Fingers crossed!

On the storage I also have a Western Digital My Cloud Pro mirrored RAID 1 drive, that I backup the RAID 0 drive to at the end of each day. I also continuously run Backblaze on the RAID 0, RAID 1 and internal SSD. Plus I have an additional WD RAID that is stored offsite and gets plugged in once per week along with a Time Machine HD. And I regularly plus in another external SSD (also store offsite) that Carbon Clone the Mac Pro’s internal SSD to. Hopefully I am covered :slight_smile:

All the best


I have a 10-year-old iMac and my theory is that I’d like to hold out long enough for the replacement to be an Apple Silicon machine. I feel like a period right after Apple has announced a CPU shift and before the new machines are being made/sold is maybe not the best window to purchase a machine if your goal is maximum supported longevity.


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The latest OS my MacBook Pro can run is Snow Leopard, which was released in 2009. It’s so ancient I don’t even remember how long ago I bought it. So it’s probably going on about 15-16 years old. I recently retired, but I when I was working I did have a much newer iMac in the office.

I use it for the same Adobe stuff you do, along with ancient versions of Acrobat Pro, MS Office and Filemaker Pro and Adobe CS 5. It does what I need it to do for personal stuff. But it is really starting to show its advanced age, and the hard disk and fan go into major protest mode when doing something complicated or having a lot of windows open.

Since a subscription to an Adobe bundle would mean scaling back on a vacation, I’ve held off buying a new MacBook Pro. Because I was shut out of OS X when I bought my beloved original Cheese Grater just before it was announced that it would run only on Intel Macs, and I missed on years of upgrades and new apps, I’m waiting for the new ARM Macs. From what I keep reading, it’s anticipated that they will roll like thunder. I suspect the difference between Intel vs. ARM will be significant.

Although Apple says that they will support Intel Macs for five years, I wonder how many app developers will continue to do so. And I’m skeptical about emulation. So I’m waiting to see what they will announce next month, and I’m up for either an ARM MacBook Pro (preferred) or a Mini. And I’ll fire up my current MacBook Pro whenever I need to do anything advanced in Adobe apps. I can probably chug along in Photoshop Elements for personal stuff, and use my husband’s more recent MacBook Pro for anything that needs InDesign, Dreamweaver or the Pro version of Acrobat.

If you have a lot of money, buy whatever you want. If not, don’t buy anything unless your current setup is broken or somehow inadequate for your purposes. Or you really want to.

I’m using a 2011 imac i7 (2428) that I bought a few years ago for $500 at Mac of All Trades. Near perfect condition except for some smudges. I’m running Sierra and have no plans to upgrade to any other Mac OS. The only problem I have is that Sierra broke the spell checker in Pages, and Apple refused to fix it until High Sierra, which is notoriously buggy, so I’m sticking with Sierra. These aluminum imacs give off a lot of heat. I use Macs Fan Control, and I encourage everyone to do the same.

I’m sure you know the drawbacks of imacs. They are almost impossible to upgrade on your own unless you are a skilled technician or brain surgeon. These machines were not meant to be opened. The web site iFixit ranks computers on their ability to be fixed. That might help you. For buying advice I have turned to YouTube: Linus Sebastian at Linus’s Tech Tips, Louis Rossman, and Dave Lee. They are knowledgable and will give their honest opinions. Rossman is a Mac repair guy who dislikes nearly all Apple products. The other two only occasionally comment on Macs. But they are still worth a look.

If I had the money and the patience, I might consider building a hackintosh, but that’s a lot of risk. Peter Paul Chato on YouTube comments on that subject and other Apple related subjects. The main web site on hackintoshes is tonymac86.com

I run a small design consultancy so the main thing I require is a Mac that works reasonably fast and reliably. I know I will have to replace my Mac Pro at some point, I was just trying to get a feel if a modern iMac is as fast (or faster) than my now quite old, but in it’s day very powerful, Mac Pro. I am in the lucky position that I can afford a new iMac (if / as required).

Well, my 2019 iMac is a thing of joy, the Geekbench results if they matter to you, I didn’t exactly maximise the performance, I just ran it with everything up and running on my Mac.

Single-Core Score
Multi-Core Score

I did want a decent graphics card, the Radeon Pro 48 and went for the i9, I’ve added more memory direct from Crucial so that’s up at 48Gb and it has a 1Tb SSD internal drive.

A solid machine, fast and reliable, I use it to edit with Capture One, and of late 100 megapixel photographs which it handles effortlessly, the monitor is, just to say it, very good indeed.

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I replaced a 2013 Mac Pro with a 2018 Mac Mini. Apart from a few multi-threaded tasks the Mini is faster and better in every way.

@tommy Thanks for the info and spec advice. Appreciated. My photographer runs Capture One so I am familiar with that and again, interesting to know (though I am personally Photoshop based).

@Timo That is very interesting info that even a modern Mac Mini can give the Mac Pro a run for its money! Thank you for the info.

How important is color calibration for you. We have two stations that need to use Kodak Insite with special monitors with built in calibration. Buying a Mac mini or a Windows computer were the only options since the iMac monitor wouldn’t do and we didn’t have room for iMacs with 2nd monitors.

@pchernoff Good question! Calibration is important, but it can be “good enough” rather than 100% light booth standard. Currently I use an Xrite iProfiler calibrator though I have yet to upgrade to Catalina on my Mac Pro (due to the Apple Mail issues Titbits have highlighted) and I think that upgrade may “kill” the software so I would have to look into a newer model or an alternative method.

Then you should be fine. Some people, such as two Macs in my office, require a super high level of calibration because they are soft proofing their documents against a printing press.

While most of the comments are focused on the iMac I am not generally in favor of them as they are not only quite limited in hardware updates but if a component fails out of warranty, you are in for an very expensive, often not cost effective repair or having to replace both the computer an the monitor. That said, if you are considering an iMac I would suggest one of the ARM models for the longest useful life as I am of the opinion that Apple is likely to abandon support and software updates for Intel units in 5 years or so from now.

Your machine is already old and obsolete by Apple standards so I feel that sinking any money into into with hardware upgrades would not be cost effective in the long run as all you would be doing is buying time till you really must replace it. One of the biggest questions I would be asking myself is will PCIE slots make your work more productive (GPU’S, multiple internal SSD’s, etc.) and how much RAM would really be helpful. The other question do you already have or do you wish to have a separate monitor of your choice? If the answer is ‘yes’ I would strongly consider the MacPro 7.1 with minimal extras. This is what I did for my mid 2010 MacPro replacement as I needed a lot of extra USB ports for accessories and hubs just would not do it for me. A unit with 8 core, 48MB Ram, 1TB SSD (From Apple), W5700X graphics, and the internal Promise HD cage w/ 8TB drive costs me ~8K. The 27" LG 5K monitor was another $1300. I also added my own wheels with brakes that saved me ~$300. OWC now has add-on wheels to the existing MacPro feet for $200 instead of from $400-$700. To this I got a $50 SSD card and added the 2 SATA 2.5" Drives to it which I use one as a primary drive as I do not wish to prematurely wear out the overpriced Apple SSD drive and I generally do not need the improved performance of it for my work.

If you don’t need PCIE slots, I would strongly consider a high end Mac Mini. It should have the performance you need and likely enough GPU power to meet the needs of your current monitor and possibly a higher end unit. While a bit tricky to install OWC does offer RAM upgrades for them so you can save some money that way. You can get 32MB of RAM from them with installation instructions for $120. You can also use your existing keyboard and mouse/trackball. Overall you are likely to save money in the long term as when Apple obsoletes your Mac Mini, all you will need to purchase is a new Mac Mini instead of a new monitor with it in the form of an iMac.

@jweil Thanks for your advice / info. I cannot justify the cost of a new Mac Pro (unless that lottery win comes along!) and I think it would probably be overkill for my normal work. I had not thought about a MacMini… Is a top of the range one really going to be faster than my current Mac Pro?

Since you don’t need a new Mac immediately, I think it might be worthwhile to see how the new ARM Macs measure up. I think it’s a safe bet to assume they will be a whole lot faster.

Another consideration is that when Macs are released, prices on older models will drop, As I mentioned in my earlier post, the recently released G3 9600 I bought about a month before a new G4 version was released that would run OS X. And Apple dropped the price of my G3 very significantly. My advice is to wait a few weeks till whatever ARM Macs are announced.

Well, let’s compare the specs between your Mac Pro and a high-end 2018 Mac mini:

  • CPU
    • Pro:
      • 3.5 GHz 6 core Xeon E5, 12 MB cache
      • Geekbench score: 815 single-core, 4619 multi-core
    • Mini:
      • 3.2 GHz 6 core i7 (8th generation), 12 MB cache
      • Geekbench score: 1121 single-core, 5649 multi-core
  • RAM
    • Pro: 64 GB (Apple’s published maximum, but it will go up to 128 GB)
    • Mini: 64 GB (Maximum configuration)
  • Storage
    • Pro: 256 GB
    • Mini: 512 GB (base configuration for the i7 model)
  • GPU
    • Pro: Not mentioned. May be one of:
      • Dual AMD FirePro D300, 2 GB RAM
      • Dual AMD FirePro D500, 3 GB RAM
      • Dual AMD FirePro D700, 6 GB RAM
    • Mini: Intel UHD Graphics 630 (integrated), up to 1.5 GB shared RAM
  • Video output
    • Pro:
      • 1 port HDMI 1.4
      • Thunderbolt/DisplayPort displays (up to 6 at 4K or 3 at 5K)
    • Mini:
      • 1 port HDMI 2.0
      • Thunderbolt/DisplayPort displays (up to 2 at 4K or 1 at 5K)
  • Connectivity
    • Pro
      • Wi-Fi: 802.11ac
      • Bluetooth 4.0
      • Ethernet: 2 ports Gigabit
      • USB: 4 ports USB 3.0
      • Thunderbolt: 6 ports, Thunderbolt 2
      • Video: 1 HDMI 1.4
      • Audio output: 1 port analog, 1 port analog/optical
    • Mini
      • Wi-Fi: 802.11ac
      • Bluetooth 5.0
      • Ethernet: 1 port Gigabit ($100 BTO option for 10G)
      • USB: 2 ports USB 3.0 (plus 4 USB 3.1 10 Gbps ports via Thunderbolt 3)
      • Thunderbolt: 4 ports, Thunderbolt 3
      • Video: 1 HDMI 2.0
      • Audio output: 1 port analog

The price for this mini’s configuration is $2,300 from Apple’s web site.

Comparing the specs, I think the mini will work for you. The only potential drawbacks I can think of will be the GPU (I don’t know how integrated graphics on a 2018 mini will compare against the AMD FirePro GPU in a 2013 Mac Pro) and the number of ports (Mini has fewer, but they’re faster).

I would expect your Thunderbolt storage array to work with the mini if you get a TB2-TB3 adapter.


I’m a big fan of minis. They do have an achilles heel though - they tend to overheat, and if you expect to run it hard all day that could be a problem.

You can improve airflow quite a bit by standing it on edge. I prefer to have the ports on top so I can get at them easily. Vacuum the vents somewhat more often than you think is needed especially if you have pets.

As a coincidence, the gadget that comes with some 3-1/2" hard drive enclosures to hold them vertically such as the OWC Mercury and some of the Newegg Rosewills is the right size to hold the mini, though you might need use a bit of padding to get a tight fit. Maybe OWC would be willing to sell you one without the enclosure if you don’t have any in your drawer of odds and ends.

Another advantage of the mini just now is that you can still install Mojave. If you wait for a hardware refresh you’ll be stuck with Catalina or later. Choice is good.


Thanks for the comparison. My Mac Pro has a Dual AMD FirePro D500, 3 GB RAM card. It is an interesting idea. If they released a Mac Mini soon with an Arm processor then that might be very interesting!

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Thanks for the advice. I am running Catalina so I not to worried about back-grading the OS.