Tips and Tools


2013 Mac Pro - Expansion and Connections

When it comes to upgrade-ability, the 2013 Mac Pro has multiple external expansion ports. At release, it will ship with four USB 3.0 Ports, six Thunderbolt 2 ports, two Ethernet ports, and one HDMI port. The memory modules for the machine are user upgradeable, so some modifications are possible. Sadly, that is about the extent of the internal upgrade-ability, which falls short when compared to some of its predecessors. The limit of one SSD internally or not being able to add additional GPUs is a significant down side for some users. The new Mac Pro is essentially trading forward thinking design and the latest technology versus the ability to customize and upgrade your machine after purchase.

Mac Pro Expansion Specs:

2013 Mac Pro 2012 Quad-Core Mac Pro 2012 12-Core Mac Pro
PCI Express Generation 3 Three open full-length PCI Express expansion slots
Up to 40 GB/s of bandwidth One PCI Express 2.0 x16 slot
This is the internal bus open only to memory, storage, and processor. All other expansion appears to be external. Two PCI Express 2.0 x4 slots
All slots provide mechanical support for 16-lane cards
300W combined maximum for all PCI Express slots

Mac Pro Connections and Audio Specs:

2013 Mac Pro 2012 Quad-Core Mac Pro 2012 12-Core Mac Pro
Six Thunderbolt 2 ports Four FireWire 800 ports (two on front panel, two on back panel)
Four USB 3.0 ports Five USB 2.0 ports (two on front panel, three on back panel)
Two USB 2.0 ports on included keyboard
Two Gigabit Ethernet ports Front-panel headphone mini-jack and internal speaker
Optical digital audio input and output TOSLINK ports
One HDMI v. 1.4 port Analog stereo line-level input and output minijacks
Multichannel audio through Mini DisplayPort


By and large, the 2013 Mac Pro offers a complete re-think on PC desktop design. Depending upon your use and the tasks you envision using your machine for, it could be an excellent option. Our biggest concerns with the new Mac Pro are the lack of user upgradeable components (a hallmark of its predecessors,) and the complete dependence on external media could represent hidden additional costs for the machine. Also, users who hoped for a Mac Pro that could be used as a server may be disappointed due to the lack of internal swapping available. However, the underlying technology looks very good. The processor architecture is solid, and the GPU will be readily supported by professional developers (easier updates for drivers.) So all in all, the new Mac Pro is a fair upgrade to a storied line of machines.