A recent post to the Primate Labs blog by founder John Poole compares the Geekbench benchmark results of all the Macs released in 2012, from iMacs to Mac Pros and the MacBook Pros, including the Retina Display model. It's a great big chart.
The first thing that pops out from the Geekbench results is that the Mac Pro speed-bump offered in mid-2012 is still about twice as fast as the next non-Pro model, the 27-inch iMac released this month.
However, Poole (like most professional content-creation users of Macs) is eager for a real upgrade to the Mac Pro line.
Even though the Mac Pro hasn't had a significant update in over two years, the 6- and 12-core Mac Pros are still the fastest Macs available. However, the Mac Pro processor architecture is starting to show its age. Both the 4-core and 8-core Mac Pros have been eclipsed by Apple's latest 4-core laptops and desktops.
As I mentioned in a December post, there's hope that Tim Cook's promise that "something really great" will come in the new year for professional customers of the Mac. Some expect that this will be a new machine and could well be built in Apple's new U.S. manufacturing operation.
Meanwhile in the benchmark tests, Poole notes that there's little performance gains with the Core i7 iMacs and MacBook Pros.
There's only a minor performance difference between the quad-core Core i7 desktops and the quad-core Core i7 laptops. You no longer need a large Mac (or, for that matter, a desktop Mac) to have a fast Mac.
Apple appears to taken some time figuring out what will be the qualities necessary for its future highest-performing machines. Perhaps the Thunderbolt port — introduced on the 2011 MacBook Pro and now integrated across the lines — was a complication? Thunderbolt lets users expand their iMacs or MacBook Pros with big displays, fast storage and PCIe cards, all without needing a big enclosure.
We can only hope that Apple sorts out its high-performance line. As we can see, there's still a serious performance hit in the all-in-ones and laptops vs. the "real" performance machines, the Mac Pro. While offering terrific performance, the Pro is the pro machine.