Mac Pro Setup Guide: The Bests are All In

What happens if you stumble upon a million dollars. How would you spec your Mac Pro? This is the ultimate guide to making the best Mac Pro setup ever. Posted by erwinkarim on 3:31 PM, January 4, 2022 Last updated on 6:58 PM, January 30, 2022 Filed in: mac pro, mac mini, setup guide, how-tos, mac,

One of the most anticipated Mac transitions from Intel to Apple Silicon would be Apple’s ultimate expression of the Mac: the Mac Pro. Since the introduction in WWDC 2019 to its release in late 2019 to today, there are many supporters and detractors of the Mac Pro. Some say that it is unnecessary, expensive and over engineered. Others lauded for its expandability and usefulness.


Rack mounted Mac Pro

We are here to support the notion that while the Mac Pro is a niche and expensive product, it is a necessary tool for professionals to do the work. We will also show you that despite that it can go up to $50,000, that price tag is quite a bargain for the tools that actual professionals would use.

How to spec the Mac Pro

At first glance, nothing in the $5,000 entry level Mac Pro gives you something to shout about. That $5,000 entry level Mac Pro is just a stepping stone to where you wanted. Most professionals that bought the Mac Pro would specify it to their needs like adding a fiber-optic network card for SAN or fiber connection, a custom sound card, upgrading the RAM and processor down the road. Usually, if you intend to use a Mac Pro, we recommend upgrading the RAM, then the processor and finally the graphic cards

Base, Recommended and Top Specs for the Mac Pro
Spec Base Recommended Max
CPU 8-core Xeon-W 16-core Xeon-W 28-core Xeon-W
RAM 32 GB 192 GB 1,536 GB
Internal Storage 256 GB 2048 GB 8192 GB
Grahpics AMD Radeon Pro 580X AMD Radeon Pro 6900X 2x AMD Radeon Pro 6900X Duo

Additional Items

In your production, the Mac Pro might be the star in the show, but do not discount the supporting cast. Just like in a play, the main star will usually interact with the supporting cast which in the end, elevates the quality of the main character. Things like external storage array, tape backup, a network switch that have power-over-ethernet to helps connect you to other devices in your production.

Also, don’t forget the peripherals like your custom keyboard and mouse. Although the Mac Pro comes with a sleek space gray Magic Keyboard and Magic Mouse, the custom keyboard game is definitely something next level. Furthermore, getting a good monitor to show what power of that graphic card is also a must. This might not sound obvious, but do consider investing in a very good desk and chair combo. Paying extra for a good chair today will save you thousands of dollars in chiropractor fees in the future. We will not always be in our 20s with a good body, so it’s best to invest in the future now.


If you are working as a movie editor or music producer and dealing with a lot of equipment, it might be a good idea to put them into racks like these to make it organized.
Configuration Low High
Chair Herman Miller Embody ($1,200) Herman Miller Aeron Chair ($1,200)
Monitors Screen + Arm 32" Apple Pro Display XDR ($5,894) + Apple VESA Mount ($209) + Ergotron Arm (single) ($335) 2x 32" Apple Pro Display XDR - $5,849 + Apple VESA Mount + Ergotron – LX Dual Monitor Arm ($375)
USB-C Dock SanDisk Professional - PRO-Dock 4 ($500) Anker Docking Station ($260)
Keyboard + Mouse Keychron Q1 + Logitech MX Master 3 ($99) Drop CTRL High-Profile Mechanical Keyboard ($295) + Logitech MX Master 3 ($99)
External Storage HPE StoreEasy 1460 32TB SATA Storage ($8,309) Lenovo ThinkSystem DE4000H ($5,099) + 24x Samsung MZ7LH7T6HMLA 7.68 TB ($1,302)
Tape Backup HPE MSL2024 ($2,365) + HPE Storeever MSL 30750 Drive ($3,750)
Network Switch CISCO DESIGNED Business CBS350-24XS ($2,169) Cisco SX350X-52 52-port POE switch ($4,999)

Video Production

In making videos, there are a lot of steps to make high quality content. The videos need to be edited to form the story, effects might later add in to add the realism and color might be corrected to put the mood of the video. Each step of the way has slightly different equipment that is specialized for that step.

Now there is also a production that is very taxing and time is literally money: live production. It used to be big game shows and live comedy shows, today everybody with a camera can do a livestream and a podcast. A big live action production which involves several colorful characters will require a good setup in order to capture the moment in a crisp and vibrant manner.

Streaming setup


A successful streamer setup. Credit: Reddit.
Configuration Low High
Camera Panasonic AW-UE4KG - $889.95 - Amazon USA Panasonic X1500 - $1,697.00 - Amazon USA
Capture Card Blackmagic Design Web Presenter HD - $495.00 - Amazon USA Matrox Monarch HDX - $1,295.00 - Amazon USA
Switchers Roland V8-HD - $1,395 - Amazon USA Blackmagic Design ATEM Television Studio Pro HD - $2,295.00 - Amazon USA
Audio Control Zoom LiveTrak L-8 Podcast Recorder - $449 - Amazon USA Rode RODECaster Pro - $598 - Amazon USA
Microphone Rode NT1 Condenser Microphone - $349 - Amazon USA Shure KSM32/SL - $549 - Amazon USA

Editing Setup


Colorist Station.
Configuration Low High
Monitor BenQ SW271 27 Inch 4K HDR - $1,099 - Amazon ASUS ProArt PA329C 32” 4K - $1,385 - Amazon
Reference Monitor Sony BVM-X1800 Sony BVM-HX310
Console Panel Blackmagic Design Davinci Resolve Mini Panel - $2,049 - Amazon USA Blackmagic Design DaVinci Resolve Advanced Panel - $29,995
Keyboard KeyChron K2 Custom + FCP Keycaps - $100 - Amazon USA
Speakers, Monitor Adam Audio A7X - $750 - Amazon USA Genelec 8050B - $xxx - Amazon USA
DAC Universal Audio Apollo Twin X DUO - $1,099 - Amazon USA Universal Audio Apollo x4 Heritage Edition - $2,299 - Amazon USA

A streamer setup guide.

Music Production

With the advent of Digital Audio Workstation (DAW), many people would think having a laptop and punch some numbers, music would come out. In a way that is true, but to get the sound that is as unique as you, you do have to invest in a number of equipment to get the best sound from you. In some studios, the equipment can go from several thousands to tens of millions of dollars, so a $50,000 Mac Pro to manage all the amplifiers, mixers, sound effects generator, synthesizers and equalizers is just a drop of the bucket.

Music Producer


Music Production Setup.

Music production setup with dedicated effects racks and other equipment.
Configuration Low High
Midi Console Dave Smith Instruments OB-6 - $3,099 - Amazon USA Moog One - $8,000 - Amazon USA
Audio Interface Avid Pro Tools MTRX - $4,999 - Amazon USA Universal Audio Apollo x16 Heritage Edition - $4,499 - Amazon USA
Mixer Console Soundcraft Si Expression 3 - $2,600 - Amazon Allen & Heath SQ-6 Digital Mixer - $4,799 - Amazon
Recorder Zoom F8 MultiTrack Field Recorder - $999 - Amazon USA TASCAM DA-6400 - $3,499 - Amazon USA
Studio Monitor ADAM Audio S3V - $3,899 - Amazon USA Neumann KH 420 - $4,995 - Amazon USA
Effects Gamechanger Audio Plasma Rack High Voltage Distortion Module - $1,499 - Amazon USA Moog Vocoder 16-Channel Vocoder - $X - Amazon USA
Amplifier Martin Audio iKON iK81 - $X - Amazon USA Yamaha PC412-DI 4-Channel 1200 Watts Power Amplifier - $4,935 - Amazon USA

A multi-million dollar setup making the best music in the world. And there’s a Mac Pro somewhere there.

Photography

For most, having a decent laptop like the MacBook Pro with the M1 Pro or M1 Max is enough to do the job right, but for the top tier professionals who demand the best, who’s prop budget per session is equal to a starting Mac Pro, having a Mac Pro is an essential tool for the job. If you are covering a live sports event with streaming multiple photographers to sell to news organizations, then the Mac Pro is simply a tool in an array of tools for the job.


Basic tethering setup for Lightroom. For larger organization covering a live event like a sporting match, it will be far, far more complicated than this.
Configuration Low High
Camera Body Fujifilm GFX 100 - $8,295 - Amazon Hasselblad 907X 50C - $6,399 - Amazon USA
Lens Fujinon XF50mmF1.0 R - $999 - Amazon USA Hasselblad XCD 65mm f/2.8 - $2,750 - Amazon USA
Trigger Profoto Air Remote - $439 - Amazon USA
Studio Strobe Profoto D2 Duo 500/500 - $3,895 - Amazon Profoto B10X Plus Off Camera Flash Duo Kit - $4,545 - Amazon USA
Tripod Manfrotto MT057C4-G - $1,154 - Amazon Manfrotto 806 Mini Salon 190 Camera Stand - $1,399 - Amazon
Wall mounted backdrop LB 4-Roller - $360 - Amazon Fotoconic 3 Roller Motorized Electric Wall Ceiling Mount - $300 - Amazon
SoftBox 2x Profoto 25471 - $459 - Amazon USA 2x Profoto 254705 - $599 - Amazon USA

A typical well-equipped studio setup.

Developer


A good developer station would have a large monitor to see everything, very comfortable keyboard / mouse combo, and a very decent headphones for focusing

Let’s not forget the developers, the programmers and the architect. The people who are behind the scene build tools and programs for creators. They are they creator’s creators, the one who could make things happen. For this, they need to be in focus, being one with the Mac Pro. The best chair to support the body and a good pair of headphones to seal the world so the mind can focus. Of course, nothing but the best tools to manipulate the computer: the best keyboard, mouse and monitor combo.

Configuration Low High
Table Herman Miller Nelson Swag Desk ($3,000) Hermen Miller Distil Desk ($3,400)
Chair Herman Miller Classic Aeron Chair ($779) Herman Miller Aeron Ergonomic Chair ($1,450)
Monitor(s) ASUS ROG Strix 43” 4K HDR DSC Gaming Monitor ($1,299) SAMSUNG 49-inch Odyssey G9 Gaming Monitor ($1,265)
Keyboard Keychron Q1 (knob version) ($179) KBDfans mountain ergo keyboard kit ($462)
Mouse Logitech MX Master 3 ($99) + Apple Magic Trackpad ($112)
Webcam Logitech Brio 4K Webcam ($156) Sony FDRAX53/B ($1,098)
Mic Shure MV7 ($249) Shure SM7B ($399)
Speakers KEF Q350 Bookshelf Speakers ($499) Yamaha HS8 Studio Monitors ($749)
Headphones SENNHEISER HD 800S ($1,599) SENNHEISER HD 820 ($1,999)
DAC Universal Audio Apollo Twin X QUAD ($1530) Universal Audio Apollo x4 Heritage Edition ($2,199)
USB-C Hub / Dock Anker 577 ThunderBolt Docking station ($299) Anker 777 ThunderBolt Docking Station ($329)

Conclusion

There you have it. Mac Pro is the most versatile tool Apple ever made. It is priced so high because i) Mac Pro is a tool; ii) Mac Pro customers has a budget for their tools and willing to spend money to get the best tool; iii) When time is literally money, most customers that bought the Mac Pro can recover financially within months, if not weeks from getting the Mac Pro. iv) it will last: Even when Apple is still selling the trash can 2013 Mac Pro in 2018, people are still getting it for work stuff.

This setup guide will be updated from time to time when we expand with what people do with their Mac Pros, so watch this space regularly.

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