Top-notch Windows PC that defeated the greatest Mac Pro VS Superb and cheaper Windows PC

Greetings folks and happy new year!

following my previous post Top-notch Windows PC VS Apple Mac Pro where I’ve contradicted some fuzz around the alleged theory that a Mac Pro with the highest specifications would be cheaper than a Top-notch Windows PC with similar configuration (The New Apple Mac Pro is Here – But Can We Build it Better (and Cheaper) PC DIY Style?), as promised I am bringing here an even more cheaper Windows PC configuration without compromising the good design/form factor, extended functionality and performance.

As the Mac Pro has already been defeated on this challenge, now it’s a challenge between “Top-notch Windows PC that defeated the greatest Mac Pro VS Superb and cheaper Windows PC”, this title might disturb some Apple fanboys but it sounds great to me.

Part 1: Objectives

On my previous post I’ve made a selection of prime hardware components, however from the budget perspective it is not rational to pick up a selection of the most expensive hardware components, this time I want to achieve the best value for money while at the same time keeping the optimal design, functionality and performance.

Here is the list of changes:

– Storage: Don’t need 1TB of high performance PCIe Storage

For 99,999% of people 1TB is designated to store cold data, hot data normally lives at the Operating system and Applications level. Let’s be real, PCIe SSD with Read 2160MB/sec| Write 1980MB/sec has been made for a server machine and not a client/consumer machine, even at the server side only for very specific scenarios you would pay an high price rate to get such performance.

On this rational configuration I will keep the highest performance for the Operating system and Applications with a dedicated SSD PCIe and to Store cold data and file system operations I will designate a SATA3 SSD, so we need 2 SSD’s, one lower capacity PCIe and other higher capacity SATA3.

– Case: Don’t need a case with integrated high resolution LCD

Very few people will desire a case with an integrated high resolution LCD, a PC stands for being connected to an external screen so why I would need to visualize a movie from the PC Box? We never know…

For the rational config I’ve made a case selection where I will keep the same good look and feel, extended functionality for a optimal experience on home/audio media consumption, which means that you can turn on the machine and play media from a remote control.

– PSU: Don’t need the most expensive PSU

Remember the challenge? Saving money, maintain performance and functionality, yeh I know, this corporate bullsh*t approach sucks, to be honest I hate corporate bullsh*t so in real life from my own budget I wouldn’t change the PSU from the Top-Notch configuration (Silverstone Strider Gold Evolution), but again, numbers are numbers and we must achieve our lower budget.

Part 2: Mac Pro Top Specs and Price

Let’s recap the highest configuration and price of the Mac Pro:

Processor: 2.7GHz Xeon 12-core with 30MB of L3 cache
Memory: 64GB (4x16GB) of 1866MHz DDR3 ECC
SSD: 1TB PCIe-based flash storage
Graphics: Dual AMD FirePro D700 GPUs with 6GB of GDDR5 VRAM each

Price: $9,599.00 (does not include Sales Taxes)

Link for Mac Pro setup:


Part 3: Superb and cheaper Windows PC

This time the Windows PC Hardware configuration that I will present here is a rational approach with budget constraints in mind. I really don’t want to be distant from the Top-notch Windows PC and the Apple Mac Pro with top specifications, so apart from the budget challenge I’ve maintained the Performance, functionality and fancy design requirements.

I want to emphasize that when you chose a Mac Pro you don’t know the detailed hardware specifications, that is somehow frustrating for such prime Price. On the Hardware world CPU’s, Memory, GPU’s, SSD’s, Motherboards can perform with higher or lower speed/bandwidth and that can represent a major difference of performance.

I don’t want to leave you with the same frustration so I will be very transparent, for each Hardware component you have the Specifications and a link for the vendor detailed specification, the retail price and a link for the retailer website.

CPU: Intel® Xeon® Processor E5-2697 v2 (30M Cache, 2.70 GHz)

I’m keeping the same Intel Xeon Ivy Bridge E5 with 12 Cores.


Processor Number: E5-2697V2
# of Cores: 12
# of Threads: 24
Clock Speed: 2.7 GHz
Max Turbo Frequency: 3.5 GHz
Cache: 30 MB
Lithography: 22nm
Memory Types: DDR3-800/1066/1333/1600/1866

Full CPU Specs here:

Retail price: 2.376,10€ (23% VAT included)

Motherboard: Asus X79-DELUXE

I am keeping the same Motherboard to maintain the functionality and high quality level.

Socket: LGA2011 – Intel® Socket 2011 Core™ i7 Extreme Edition/Core™ i7 Processors


8 x DIMM, Max. 64GB, DDR3 2800(O.C.)/2400(O.C.)/2133(O.C.)/1866/1600/1333/1066 MHz Non-ECC, Un-buffered Memory
Quad Channel Memory Architecture

Multi-GPU Support: Supports NVIDIA® 3-Way SLI™ Technology | Supports AMD Quad-GPU CrossFireX™ Technology

Expansion Slots:
3 x PCIe 3.0/2.0 x16 (dual x16 or x16/x8/x8) *1
1 x PCIe 3.0/2.0 x16 (x4 mode)
2 x PCIe x1

Intel® X79 chipset:
2 x SATA 6Gb/s port(s), black
4 x SATA 3Gb/s port(s), black
Support Raid 0, 1, 5, 10
Marvell® PCIe 9230 controller:
4 x SATA 6Gb/s port(s), dark brown
ASMedia® ASM1061 controller:
2 x SATA 6Gb/s port(s), dark brown
2 x Power eSATA 6Gb/s port(s), green

Intel® 82579V, 1 x Gigabit LAN Controller(s)
Realtek® 8111GR, 1 x Gigabit LAN Controller(s)
Dual Gigabit LAN controllers- 802.3az Energy Efficient Ethernet (EEE) appliance
Intel® LAN- Dual interconnect between the Integrated LAN controller and Physical Layer (PHY)

Wireless Data Network:
Wi-Fi 802.11a/b/g/n/ac
Supports dual band frequency 2.4/5 GHz

Bluetooth: Bluetooth V4.0

Realtek® ALC1150 8-Channel High Definition Audio CODEC
– Supports : Jack-detection, Multi-streaming, Front Panel Jack-retasking
Audio Feature :
– Absolute Pitch 192kHz/ 24-bit True BD Lossless Sound
– DTS Ultra PC II
– DTS Connect
– Optical S/PDIF out port(s) at back panel
– BD Audio Layer Content Protection

USB Ports:
Intel® X79 chipset:
12 x USB 2.0/1.1 port(s) (4 at back panel, black, 8 at mid-board)
ASMedia® ASM1042 controller:
8 x USB 3.0/2.0 port(s) (6 at back panel, blue, 2 at mid-board)

Full Motherboard Specs here:

Retail price: 343,96€ (23% VAT included)

SSD1 – Base OS install: OCZ SSD Revodrive3 120GB PCI-E 975/875Mbs

For a rational computer setup it makes sense that I would build it with multi-tier storage.

I am designating a small sized PCIe SSD for the OS and Apps installation, user profiles and memory swap file, normally on a client computer this is the hot data.

120GB is enough for all of this and I’ve downgraded one level on the performance lineup which makes a lot of sense in value for money.


Capacity: 120GB
Interface: PCIe Gen. 2 x4
Sequential Reads: 975MB/s
Sequential Writes: 875MB/s
Random 4k Read IOPS2: 30,000 IOPS
Random 4k Write IOPS2: 120,000 IOPS

Full SSD Specs here:

Retail price: 299,00€ (23% VAT included)

SSD2 – Store data: SAMSUNG SSD 750GB SATA III Serie 840 EVO Basic

As mentioned on the above SSD1 this computer setup is built with multi-tier storage.

For cold data and typical file system operations we don’t really need the ultimate performance of a PCIe storage with large capacity. As for hot data we already have a small sized and top performance PCIe SSD for Storage needs of cold data we can decrease the capacity to 750GB and use the regular SATA III SSD.

This multi-tier approach saves a lot of money and keeps the highest performance and storage needs in a way that makes more sense.


Capacity: 750GB
Interface: 2.5″ SATA III
Series: 840 EVO
Sequential Reads: 540MB/s
Sequential Writes: 520MB/s
Random Read Speed: 98k
Random Write Speed: 90k

Full SSD Specs here:

Retail price: 438,50€ (23% VAT included)

Graphics Card: AMD Radeon™ HD 7990 950M BOOST 1000M 6GB DDR5 4XmDP DVI PCI-E

On the Top-notch Windows PC I’ve selected the XFX 7990 which is more expensive than MSI. Both graphics cards are wonderful but this time the challenge is about saving money so I’ll select the dual MSI 7990.

The Mac Pro D700 Graphics Card supports 3.5 teraflops.
The matching GPU for D700 on the Windows PC is AMD Radeon HD 7990 and it can even perform better with it’s 4,0 Teraflops. I believe that the difference should be in the GPU Clock as it can go from 950mhz to 1000mhz.

five_pictures4_2803_20130418162136_mGPU Clock : 950MHz Boost 1000MHz
Memory Bus : 384 bit x 2
Memory Bandwidth: 576
Memory Clock : 6.0 GHz
Memory Size : 6 GB
Memory Type : DDR5
Number of Stream Processing Units: 4096

Full Graphics Specs here:
AMD Official Website:

MSI Official Website:

MSI Retail price: 989,00€ (23% VAT included)—R7990-6GD5_MSIHD79906GBDDR5.htm

Memory: 64GB DDR3 GSkill RipjawsZ F3-1866C10Q2-64GZM

From my previous configuration nothing changes on the memory side.

The Mac Pro 64Gb configuration has ECC memory, the vast majority of memory available is unbuffered (non-ECC), I was not able to find ECC memory for a 64Gb setup and the MotherBoard also does not mention ECC memory support.

To respect the MotherBoard and Intel Xeon E5 compatibility I’ve opted for Non-Buffered memory with a good latency, 1,5Voltage, DDR3 1866Mhz – PC3-14900. Again we don’t know the Mac Pro memory specs to evaluate the memory Latency.


Clock Speed: DDR3-1866 (PC3-14900)
Kit: 64GB (8GBx8)
Latency: CL10-11-10-30
Voltage: 1.5 Volt
Compatible: Intel Core i7 processor family for socket LGA-2011(Ivy Bridge-E)

Full Graphics Specs here:

Retail price: 582,49€ (23% VAT included)

Case: Silverstone CW02 Black

On my previous configuration I’ve opted for the top selection of cases, they had an integrated High-resolution LCD, turns out that such fancy HTPC is very expensive and only very few people would spend a bunch of money for that.

Once again I don’t want to leave you embarrassed with your Windows PC against the Mac Pro Cylinder, the Silverstone CW02 has a Prime aluminum finish, a small and integrated LCD and also a remote control which gives you a wonderful Home Audio/Cinema experience.

You also have the hidden front USB 3.0, Firewire and 3.5mm jack for a flexible connection and computer interaction. With the external 5.25” bay you can mount a Blueray drive if you want, the interior housing capabilities with has 6 3.5” bays give you the flexibility to extend the multi-tier to a 3rd-level of storage with SATA 3.0 HDD of 3TB/4TB on each available bay.

On this computer configuration if you are already occupying one 3.5” internal bay with the SSD2 Samsung 750GB, you have 5 more 3.5” internal bays, so in theory you can have more 20TB of Storage (5 bays X 4TB SATA3 HDD’s).

This is a clear demonstration of the advantages of a Windows PC, extensibility and flexibility. 🙂


Color: black

Format: ATX

Use: HTPC Case

Dimensions (WxHxD): 435 mm x 225 mm x 440 mm

Weight without packaging: 8.2 kg

PSU: incorporatable format ATX

-5.25 inch, externally 1
-3.5-inch internal 6

Case Fans:
-92 mm 2 x mountable
-120 mm: 1 x available

Material: Aluminum

Housing characteristics:
-Quality and very thick aluminum walls
-Vibration-absorbing drive cage
-High-end HTPC system
-Two large knobs for volume and navigation

-ATX panel
-Power adapter port
-120-mm fan
-7 x slot openings (Main Board)

-VF display
-Power button
-LEDs (power, HDD)
-Card reader
-Knobs to control
-2 x USB 3.0
-1 x FireWire
-2 x 3.5 mm jack

Card Reader: Yes

-MCE IR receiver
-MCE remote control
-Remote control and multimedia pack

Full Case Specs here:

Retail price: 350,65€ (23% VAT included)

PSU: Silverstone Technology SST-ST1000-P 1000W

The minimum requirement for a double AMD Radeon 7990 is 1000W.

On this computer configuration we have budget constraints so to save a few € I’ve downgraded PSU from 80 Plus Gold standard to 80 Plus Silver.

Per Silverstone recommendation the minimum requirement for a double 7990 configuration is 1000W. Like the top Silverstone Strider Gold Evolution the Strider Plus series PSU’s have interesting features, such as the modular cables that you can attach and detach (space free inside the case = better air flow and temperature), 2200uF capacitors for the PCIe connectors to reduce the electric noise and supports 80A on 12V+ and a lot of protection functions.


Color: black
Watts: 1000W
Combined Power: 3.3 V/5V 180 watts
Combined 12V: 960W/80A (Peak 85A)
Efficiency: 85-88%  at 20%~100% loading

1 x 24 / 20-Pin motherboard connector(550mm)
1 x 8 / 4-Pin EPS / ATX 12V connector(750mm)
1 x 8 / 4-Pin EPS / ATX 12V connector(550mm)
4 x 8/6-Pin PCIE connector(550mm)
2 x 6-Pin PCIE connector(550mm / 150mm)
6 x SATA connector(500mm / 250mm / 250mm)
6 x 4-Pin Peripheral connector (500mm / 250mm / 250mm)
2 x 4-Pin Floppy connector(500mm / 250mm / 250mm / 150mm)

+3.3 V 30 A
+5 Vsb 3.5 A
+5 V 30 A
+12 V1 80 A
-12V 0.3 A

Over current protection
Over power protection
Over voltage protection
Under voltage protection
Over temperature protection
Short circuit protection
No load protection

Properties: Active PFC
Features: ATX12V 2.3, Modular cable management, 80 PLUS Silver

Form Factor: ATX  PS/2
Power Supply Fan: 1 x 135mm silent fan
Weight without packaging: 3,0 kg

Dimensions (WxHxD): 150 mm x 86 mm x 180 mm

Full PSU Specs here:

Retail price: 178,01€ (23% VAT included)

OS: Microsoft Windows 8.1 64bit PT OEM

Retail price: 106,00€ (23% VAT included)

Part 4: Wrap up – Top-notch Windows PC, Superb and cheaper Windows PC and Mac Pro Price comparison

Top-notch Windows PC:

Component Description

Price (Incl. 23% Vat)


Total (Incl. 23% Vat)

CPU Intel Xeon E5 2697V2 2011

2 376,10 €


2 376,10 €

Motherboard ASUS P9X79 DELUXE

327,00 €


327,00 €

Memory G.Skill 64GB 1866-10 RipjawsZ

582,49 €


582,49 €

SSD Mushkin 960GB 2150/1950 ScorpionDX PCIe

1 200,77 €


1 200,77 €

Graphics XFX Radeon HD7990 6GB GDDR5 PCI-E

1 049,00 €


2 098,00 €

Case Origen AE S16T

610,88 €


610,88 €

PSU Silverstone ST1000-G Evolution 2.0 1000W

203,97 €


203,97 €

OS Microsoft Windows 8.1 64bit PT OEM

106,00 €


106,00 €

7 505,21 €

Superb cheaper Windows PC:

Component Description Price (Incl. 23% Vat) Units Total (Incl. 23% Vat)
CPU Intel Xeon E5 2697V2 2011

2 376,10 €


2 376,10 €

Motherboard ASUS P9X79 DELUXE

327,00 €


327,00 €

Memory G.Skill 64GB 1866-10 RipjawsZ

582,49 €


582,49 €

SSD1 OCZ SSD Revodrive3 120GB PCI-E 975/875Mbs

299,00 €


299,00 €


438,50 €


438,50 €

Graphics MSI ATI HD7990 6GB DDR5 PCI-E – R7990-6GD5

989,00 €


1 978,00 €

Case Silverstone CW02 Black

350,65 €


350,65 €

PSU Silverstone Technology SST-ST1000-P 1000W

178,01 €


178,01 €

OS Microsoft Windows 8.1 64bit PT OEM

106,00 €


106,00 €

6 635,75 €

Mac Pro:

Component Description


(no Tax)




(w/ Tax)

Total €

(w/ Tax)

Processor: 2.7GHz Xeon 12-core with 30MB of L3 cache

$9 599,00


$10 558,90

7 643,59€

Motherboard Wireless AC+Bluetooth 4.0, 4 USB 3.0, 6 Thunderbolt, Dual Gigabit LAN, HDMI 1.4
Memory Memory: 64GB (4x16GB) of 1866MHz DDR3 ECC
SSD SSD: 1TB PCIe-based flash storage
Graphics Dual AMD FirePro D700 GPUs with 6GB of GDDR5 VRAM each
Case Cylinder 9,9″Height, 6.6″ Diameter and 11lb weight
PSU 450W
OS OSX Mavericks 10.9

For the price analysis on the Windows PC components from Portuguese retailers I’ve included the Portuguese VAT 23% (which is a complete robbery…) and for the Mac Pro on the Apple US online Store I’ve included the sales Tax (they don’t use VAT but use Sales tax) which is different from state to state so I’ve used an average of 10%.

For the currency conversion between USD and EUS I’ve used today’s post rate of 1 USD = 0.723900 EUR.

Part 5: Conclusion

It’s never been my intent to contradict the Mac Pro superior design, can’t talk about the hw engineering without seeing one from the inside, obviously the Cylinder form factor for the majority of people is much more attractive than a Standard Windows PC form factor, but for something below or on top of the desk you probably want something more than a Cylinder.

The Top-notch Windows PC was 138,38€ cheaper than the Mac Pro and the Superb and cheaper Windows PC was 1 007,84€ cheaper than the Mac Pro, now we are talking about an huge budget difference and pushing the value for Money of a Windows PC even higher.

Keep in mind that the hw specifications I’ve used on the Windows PC are superior to the Mac Pro and I’ve always managed to get a cheaper PC, basically after this two posts I just wanted to make proof that there’s no such thing of a Mac Pro being cheaper than a Windows PC.

R-Tape Loading error,
Luís Rato


~ por Luis Rato em 1 de Janeiro de 2014.

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