So the Mac Pro was announced, and as feared by some, it turned out to be a small sealed box. Well, the cylinder part came out of nowhere. But since Apple just teased it we’re still in the dark about everything but price and a few top end spec details. The CPU appears to be a Xeon E5-2697 v2 (going by this Geekbench result), a $3,000 part, and the dual GPUs seem to match up closely to dual FirePro W9000s, which are around $3,600 each…or the consumer equivalent, Radeon 7970s at around $400 each. Whatever the case, the top end will be expensive as hell. Everything below that is still a big question mark, but here’s some wild hopeful guesses!

Assuming they use an LGA 2011 socket board across the line, the possible options are the E5-1600 and 2600 v2 (Ivy Bridge) lines. 1600 specs haven’t been leaked yet, but here are the current models for reference:

Model Cores Frequency L3 Price
Xeon E5-1620 4 3.6 GHz 10 MB $294
Xeon E5-1650 6 3.2 GHz 12 MB $583
Xeon E5-1660 6 3.3 GHz 15 MB $1,080

I highlighted the 1650 there because it seems like the best option for a low end part. From a basic appearance standpoint, it’s clocked about as high as the highest end iMac but has two more cores, and pricing wise it’s reasonable (albeit pricing will go up a bit for v2). I used those same criteria to select a few from the leaked 2600 v2 lineup (provided by CPU World):

Model Cores Frequency L3 Price
Xeon E5-2603 v2 4 1.8 GHz 10 MB $231.62
Xeon E5-2609 v2 4 2.5 GHz 10 MB $337.03
Xeon E5-2637 v2 4 3.5 GHz 15 MB $1,140.99
Xeon E5-2620 v2 6 2.1 GHz 15 MB $464.48
Xeon E5-2630 v2 6 2.6 GHz 15 MB $660?
Xeon E5-2630L v2 6 2.4 GHz 15 MB $701.01
Xeon E5-2643 v2 6 3.5 GHz 25 MB $1,013?
Xeon E5-2640 v2 8 2.0 GHz 20 MB $1,013.54
Xeon E5-2650 v2 8 2.6 GHz 20 MB $1,335.85
Xeon E5-2667 v2 8 3.3 GHz 25 MB $2,320.64
Xeon E5-2687W v2 8 3.4 GHz 20 MB $2,414.35
Xeon E5-2650L v2 10 1.7 GHz 25 MB $1,395.91
Xeon E5-2660 v2 10 2.2 GHz 25 MB $1,590.78
Xeon E5-2670 v2 10 2.5 GHz 25 MB $1,780?
Xeon E5-2680 v2 10 2.8 GHz 25 MB $1,943.93
Xeon E5-2690 v2 10 3.0 GHz 25 MB $2,355.52
Xeon E5-2695 v2 12 2.4 GHz 30 MB $2,675.39
Xeon E5-2697 v2 12 2.7 GHz 30 MB $2,949.69

Took a few guesses at the blank prices based on current model prices and relative increases for other parts. Anyway if they don’t use a 1600 series chip, the 2630 seems like a reasonable low end, even though the clock will be lower than the iMac. Either way the 2643 could be a BTO upgrade from that.

Everything else gets a bit murky as you go up in price with the tradeoffs and differences lessen between each. If there’s an 8 core model, the 2650 at $1335 seems like the only reasonable one due to the price and speed. Then if that’s in the lineup, if they want to keep a similar price spread going up, the next model up would be a 10 core, either the 2.5 or 2.8 GHz parts (2670, 2680) around $1,700-2,000, with perhaps the 3 GHz 2690 as a BTO upgrade. Then at the very top would be the 12 core parts at the $texas price point.

As for the GPUs, if there’s not much crazy customization involved, the likely candidates are the FirePro W series. From what Apple has said, the Mac Pro has six outputs and supports 4K resolution, and the W series is the only one that fits those criteria (albeit with dual GPUs in most cases). A little price/performance comparison chart, and for reference, the Radeons they’re based on:

FirePro Price TFLOPs
Single Precision
GFLOPs
Double Precision
Radeon Price
W600 $550 ? ? HD 7750 ~$100
W5000 $450 1.3 79 HD 7850 ~$200
W7000 $770 2.4 152 HD 7870 ~$250
W8000 $1,500 3.23 806 HD 7950 ~$300
W9000 $3,600 4.0 998 HD 7970 ~$400

Specs from AMD, Wikipedia; Pricing from Newegg

The W600 doesn’t seem likely, if only because performance is apparently low enough that AMD doesn’t even bother publishing them, it’s essentially just meant to be used for multi display digital signage. On the other end of the spectrum, the W8000 and W9000 appear to be shoo-ins, particularly because the equivalent Radeons happen to show up as those FirePros in OS X Mavericks.

It’s the W5000 and W7000 that are the biggest question marks, I don’t think anyone has tested the equivalent Radeons in Mavericks, so the closest thing to a clue is the extra Radeon drivers that showed up in 10.8.3, which has the HD 7870 (W7000) but not 7850 (W5000)…albeit strangely enough it has the 7750 (W600), go figure. There are some Mac retail cards so the 10.8.3 support may be related to that rather than any real clues.

They’re low or midrange cards I guess, especially in light of the double precision performance, but they’re significantly more affordable (at least in FirePro form) and appear decent performers otherwise. Plus doubling them up gives more leeway in performance, although OS X doesn’t have CrossFire support so hell if I know what’s happening there. Hopefully Mavericks or the Mac Pro itself has it some implementation to take advantage of all the power.

Anyway now that the data is out of the way, my hope for the low end is a Xeon E5-1650 v2 (6 core, ~3.2 GHz, ~12MB L3), and dual FirePro W7000s…assuming they have good deal with AMD to get something more akin to Radeon pricing. Not that Apple will pass on that savings, but I’m calling it “my hope” for a reason.

The rest, who knows. Here’s a BS semi hopeful (and perhaps loosely realistic?) table for the hell of it:

Config CPU Cores Frequency GPU RAM SSD Price
Light Speed E5-1650 v2 6 3.2 GHz W7000 8 GB 256 GB $2,499
Ridiculous Speed E5-2670 v2 10 2.5 GHz W8000 16 GB 512 GB $3,999
Ludicrous Speed E5-2695 v2 12 2.4 GHz W8000 32 GB 768 GB $5,499

And don’t forget the ample CPU, GPU, RAM, and SSD upgrade options for each model!