Apple Mac Pro Customized for:
Photo and Design

There are so many different models, brands and generations of hardware that choosing the right components for your Mac Pro can be a huge challenge. We've taken the time to perform an in-depth analysis of Photoshop to determine exactly what kind of hardware is needed for the CPU, RAM, and graphics card. This ensures that you will be getting a system that has all the capabilities you need without spending money on components that will not be beneficial.

If you rely on the above photo-editing packages, you want to make sure that whatever you purchase includes a SSD and maximize the amount of RAM. RAW files create a large RAM footprint and opening and saving projects will be accelerated by the speed delivered with an SSD.

Component Recommendations


For many other industries, having the maximum number of cores is ideal. However, for Photoshop, there is a diminishing amount of performance improvement per core above 6-cores. Going from 2-cores to 4-cores and from 4-cores to 6-cores, there is a scaleable improvement. However as we increase to 8-cores and to 12-cores, the improvement nearly flattens.

Another resource that has concluded the following (Puget Systems):

  • Photoshop does not work well with multiple physical CPUs
  • Most actions in Photoshop are either single threaded or lightly threaded.
  • Multi-threaded actions hit a point of diminishing returns after around 6 CPU cores, and most completely stop improving after 8 CPU cores.

Our recommendation when choosing a CPU is to simply go with a model that has a high frequency. For the Mac Pro tower, the fastest CPUs for Photoshop use is the 6-core 3.46GHz. For the Mac Pro cylinder, the fastest speed frequencies is the 6-core 3.5GHz.


Since 6-cores is sufficient for Photoshop, more of the budget can go towards more memory. Unlike processor cores, having a greater amount of memory can improve Photoshop performance. Typically, Photoshop uses 70% of the system memory and leaves 30% for non-Photoshop processes. Thus, having greater memory will allow Photoshop to use more. Photoshop CC has a memory usage setting. Go to the Photoshop CC tab on the top, then preferences, then performance. If you don’t multitask, you can increase the Photoshop CC memory usage. If you run many other applications at the same time, it’s better to leave the Photoshop memory usage at 50% to 70%. (Resource: Petapixel)


With the falling costs associated with SSDs, we almost always recommend using an SSD for the primary drive that will host your OS, Photoshop itself, and any active projects you are working on. The high speed of SSDs allows your system to boot, launch applications, and load files many times faster than any traditional hard drive. However, SSDs are still more expensive than traditional drives per GB - so for long term storage we recommend having a secondary traditional hard drive in addition to a primary SSD. If you can afford it, having multiple SSDs (one for the OS and Photoshop and a second dedicated for active projects) along with a larger traditional drive for storage is even better.

  • Hard Drive = Standard spindle technology @ 7,200rpm
    • Hard Drive Bay = ~175MB/s
  • Solid-State Drive - connectivity via SATA3 controller
    • Hard Drive Bay = ~250MB/s
    • PCIe Slot = ~500MB/s
  • NVMe Storage = connectivity via PCIe controller
    • PCIe Slot = ~1250MB/s


Any professional GPU from NVIDIA or AMD will provide the OpenCL accelerating used in various filters and spending more on a GPU delivers diminishing returns, so even a basic GPU will suit your needs, unless you need exotic display support for higher resolutions or maximum display arrays.

Photoshop CC 2017 NVIDIA GTX GPU Performance


Generation Comparison

Tower (Original)

Production: 2010 to 2013
Model 5,1


Production: 2013 to 2019
Model 6,1

Tower (New)

Production: 2019 to current
Model 7,1

ProcessorsIntel Xeon X5600 series 'Westmere'
Launch Q1 2011
Intel Xeon E5-2600 series 'Ivy Bridge'
Launch Q3 2012
Intel Xeon W-3200 series 'Cascade Lake'
Launch Q2 2019
MemoryDDR3 ECC 1333MHz
Up to 64GB per processor
DDR3 ECC 1866MHz
Up to 128GB per processor
DDR4 ECC 2666MHz / 2933MHz
Up to 768GB / 1.5TB per processor
GraphicsCan upgrade to newer models for macOS support and increased performanceAMD FirePro D300 / D500 / D700
Launch 2013 - Upgrade not possible
Latest AMD Radeon Pro with PCIe 3.0 x16 slots for expansion
StorageCan upgrade to latest SATA and NVMe SSDs for increased performance. SATA SSDs limited to SATA2 speeds and NVMe limited to PCIe 2.0 speedsCan upgrade to latest NVMe SSDs for increased performance.
SATA external expansion
PCIe NVMe SSDs without performance limiting factors.
SATA and NVMe internal expansion
macOSApple support discontinued in 2018
Latest macOS - Mojave 10.14
Apple support estimated until 2024 to 2026
Supports latest macOS
Current generation
Supports latest macOS
USBOnboard USB 2.0
USB 3.0 and 3.1 optional upgrade
Onboard USB 3.0
USB Type-A only
Onboard USB 3.1
Type-A and Type-C - Latest
ThunderboltNot availableThunderbolt 2Thunderbolt 3
PerformanceOutdated technology, but excellent performance considering the cost. Cost effective solution if on a budget and okay with macOS Mojave limitation.Supports latest macOS with considerable performance. Cost effective solution if new Mac Pro is not within budget.Latest technology. Highest performing Mac currently available. Max longevity for macOS support.

Recommended Configurations

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New: Purchased new from an Apple authorized dealer. Never used.

Refurb Grade A: Pre-owned. Inspected, cleaned, tested, and upgraded. Excellent cosmetic condition. Might have a small scratch or scuff, but overall looks great.

Refurb Grade B: Pre-owned. Inspected, cleaned, tested, and upgraded. Good cosmetic condition. No bends, dents, or dings. Will have light scratches and/or scuffs. Nothing severe. We do not purchase units that are in poor cosmetic condition.