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Friday, January 03, 2014, 01:41 pm PT (04:41 pm ET)

New Mac Pro's processor reportedly user-upgradeable

Following its teardown of Apple's new Mac Pro, Other World Computing has supposedly confirmed the cylindrical desktop's processor is user-upgradeable, meaning owners may have the option to keep their machine up to date as new CPUs hit the market.

Mac Pro

Geekbench results from stock (left) and user-upgraded Mac Pros. | Source: OWC


In a post to its blog, the team at OWC said it was able to replace the Mac Pro's stock Intel Xeon 6-core 3.5GHz chip with a Xeon E5-2667 V2 8-core unit clocked at 3.30GHz with 25MB of cache. The aftermarket parts firm discovered the Apple-installed CPU was removable in December, but did not attempt to replace the silicon until Friday.

As expected, an ensuing Geekbench benchmark test resulted in a single-core score of 3,715 and a multi-core score of 27,005, a fairly substantial gain compared to the stock configuration, which managed single- and multiple-core scores of 3,638 and 20,777, respectively. All testing was conducted with 64GB of OWC-branded memory installed.

The numbers come out to a 30-percent speed boost for the particular metrics Geekbench tests. The upgraded machine also outperform the previous generation Mac Pro's 12-core configuration.

Currently, Apple offers the following Mac Pro configurations:

  • Intel Xeon E5 3.5GHz 6-core with 12MB of L3 cache — stock
  • Intel Xeon E5 3.0GHz 8-core with 25MB of L3 cache — additional $1,500.00
  • Intel Xeon E5 2.7GHz 12-core with 30MB of L3 cache — additional $3,000.00

The Intel Xeon chip OWC used in its user-upgrade is priced at around $2000.

While the CPU may technically be replaceable, it is unclear how such a modification would affect Apple's hardware warranty. Aside from the processor, current user-upgradeable options are limited to system memory. The Mac Pro's dual graphics cards have been designed to fit in the cramped aluminum chassis, while the SSD hooks up via a proprietary interface.

Instead of focusing on internal part swapping for expandability — one of the main draws of legacy Mac Pros — Apple has decided to include a bevy of ports to its latest pro desktop. These include six Thunderbolt 2 ports, four USB 3.0 ports, two Gigabit Ethernet jacks and an HDMI 1.4 slot.