Out of gas, for now.
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Like many Mac-based creative professionals, I followed this year's WWDC keynote anxiously, awaiting the "one more thing" that never came: an E5 Xeon refresh of the Mac Pro line. Its absence was brutally disappointing; thankfully, Tim Cook broke his vow of secrecy to reassure us that a new Mac Pro will arrive in 2013. But for filmmakers compressing hours of 4K footage or school labs in need of new Maya machines, that’s a long time to wait—perhaps too long. Since I was also in the market for a machine to help out with my V-Ray renders, I decided that the time had come to evaluate my alternatives. The current Westmere-based Mac Pro line is definitely out of sync with what’s available elsewhere, and it is no longer competitive from a price-to-power standpoint.
I have heard it said that Dell, HP, and Apple split the workstation market pretty much three ways; whether or not this is true, it did seem worth taking a look at how the other big boys’ hot-rods rolled. The HP Z820 and Dell Precision T5600 are both monstrous dual-socket Intel E5-2665 Xeons clocked at 2.4GHz and, if I had to guess, I’d say that they are much like what would have replaced the dual Westmere Xeon 2.66GHz Mac Pro that I reviewed in 2010.
Of course, you can still build your own workstation, but I’m writing this for an audience who needs top-tier support and doesn’t want to chase six different companies when something goes wrong. I have my own overclocked 3930K gaming rig dual-booting Linux and Windows, but as I’ve pointed out countless times in the comments section of my Mac Pro reviews, a workstation needs to do one thing: keep working. Vendor support remains key to making this happen.
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