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An overview of Apple’s Mac Pro and Pro Display XDR technology

Apple’s Mac Pro and Pro Display XDR have been out in the world, but Apple is just releasing its white papers for both new devices that go into much more detail about the high-end hardware.

The reality that Apple has been waiting for months to offer this information is odd, given that there are some essential details about the two products, including caveats for compatibility with third parties and explanations for some of Apple’s design and spec choices made here. It’s the sort of information you’d probably need to know before spending $6,000-plus on a new computer or screen, so it’s nice to see that Apple is delivering it right now.

As one should expect from a technical overview produced in-house by Apple, the two documents read primarily like a laundry list of Apple congratulating itself for all its innovation and impressive specs. Still, they reveal some new small details about the Mac Pro and Pro Display XDR that were not announced before.

If you don’t have sufficient time to read lots of technical documentation about both new devices, we’ve taken the effort to point out the most interesting new details on the Mac Pro and Pro Display XDR below for you.


  • Although many third-party sites have performed speed tests to compare Apple’s old and new Mac Pro models, Apple provides the complex numbers themselves: the processor of the new model is up to 6.5 times faster than the old 12-core Mac Pro (depending on what you’re doing and the processor you’re choosing). At the same time, the GPU can achieve up to 6.8 times the performance compared to the 2013 model’s dual FirePro D700.
  • Technically, 24 and 28 core processors can support up to 2TB RAM option, far beyond the 1.5 TB at which Apple maxes out. The reason is that proposing 2TB of RAM would require unstable DIMM configurations (where you have a different amount of RAM on different sticks), which Apple is looking to avoid.
  • Apple’s I / O card (the component with the headphone jack, USB-A, and Thunderbolt 3 ports) has’ a unique connector that links it to the DisplayPort connections routed from the MPX modules, allowing video over its Thunderbolt 3 ports. ‘
  • The Mac Pro has an internal USB-A port designed for pro software license keys. The goal here is twofold: to keep out of the way those license key drives and make sure they have fewer chances to steal.
  • All Mac Pro configurations (at least from Apple) work through Boot Camp entirely with Windows apart from the Afterburner card from Apple.
  • Apple points out that its pricier, higher core count Xeon processors deliver “increased multithreaded performance” at the cost of “decreased base clock.” Specifically, the white paper tells buyers that “it is important to know if your primary applications can scale to higher core counts to get maximum performance from top-end Xeon processors.” to achieve maximum performance from top-end Xeon processors.”
  • Apple supports third-party AMD GPUs and SATA storage, but there are some significant limitations for both. SATA storage is handled from a macOS perspective like an external drive, which means that Apple’s T2 co-processor won’t encrypt it, unlike the main drive. And while some other GPUs can be used, they will need separately sold AUX cables and prevent video usage of the Mac Pro Thunderbolt 3 ports: “an Apple MPX Module is required to provide video support over Mac Pro Thunderbolt 3 ports; without one, Thunderbolt 3 ports become data only and are unable to light a display.”
  • Apple notes that the Mac Pro can draw so much power that “facility power sources should be considered carefully to avoid overloading a given circuit, particularly for a fully configured system with displays and accessories, or multiple Mac Pro systems.”

Check out: How To Keep Secure Your Mac Devices From Cyber Attacks


  • The Pro Display XDR is equipped with two ambient light sensors, one on the front and one on the back, which adjust the backlight brightness, content level black, and white point (if True Tone is enabled) for your lighting setup. Apple reports here that to avoid confusing the sensors. You should avoid having any bright lights on your desk by the back of the display (like, say, a desk lamp).
  • Another strange caveat: Apple said the Pro Display XDR could “sustain 1000 nits of brightness over the entire screen indefinitely in environments up to 25 ° C (77 ° F).” Crank the brightness up past 1,000 nits or the temperature 77F, and the brightness might go down.

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