Apple is known to charge exorbitant memory rates, and the Mac Pro that has just been launched is no exception. For example, in a 4×8 GB configuration, the Mac Pro comes with a base amount of 32 GB of RAM, but upgrading to 48 GB costs $300 and quickly balloons to $1000 for 96 GB of RAM.
The RAM, which Apple sells separately, is even worse. In that case, a mere 16 GB of RAM would cost you $400 in a 2×8 GB config, while a whopping $1200 would cost you 64 GB in a 2×32 GB config. Would you like 256 GB? Get ready to pay $6,000.
But in all this, there may be good news. It may be possible to use third party RAM, as has been the case for many years, which comes at a much more reasonable price. This 64 GB kit, for example, costs less than $200 in a 2×32 GB configuration from NEMIX RAM, a $1000 savings over the Apple kit.
The expandability of the Mac Pro is one of the great things about it. Pound for pound, I think it’s a much better buy than an iMac Pro even without the built-in 5 K display, even in its base configuration. More about that in a post later.
Featuring 12 DIMM slots that can house up to 1.5 TB of RAM, that’s terabytes with a’ t’ when using top-end CPU configurations, the Mac Pro simply can not beat for RAM expansion.
Looking at Apple’s memory kits or Mac Pro tech specs, you’ll see that depending on chip density, Apple uses DDR4 ECC 2933MHz R-DIMMs or LR-DIMMs. This is two 32 GB DDR4 ECC 2933MHz R-DIMM modules for $1200 in the case of a 64 GB memory kit.
The 64 GB kit of Nemix features DDR4 ECC 2933MHz-rated R-DIMM modules in a configuration of less than $200.
Is it worth the substantial savings? Without trying it, I can’t say 100% for sure, but these memory modules will work just as well. Needless to say, I will soon try this out to find it out.
Registered DIMM (R-DIMM) vs Load Reduced DIMM (LR-DIMM)
LR-DIMM modules have several advantages, with higher chip density being a key benefit. For example, LR-DIMM modules are all of the 64 GB and higher DIMM modules that Apple sells. The 32 GB and lesser density modules are R-DIMM modules.
Keep in mind that R-DIMM and LR-DIMM modules can not be combined. So if you want to replace the memory currently being installed in your Mac Pro with RAM after the fact, you’ll need to make sure it suits the RAM form currently in your machine.
With this in mind, R-DIMM modules are the 32 GB chip density used in these Nemix kits. Due to their lesser density, if you filled all 12 DIMM slots with these kits in the Mac Pro, you’d be “only” up to 384 GB.
Like Apple, Nemix also sells higher density LR-DIMM kits. For instance, their upgrade kit for 256 GB RAM features 4×64 GB modules and costs less than $1200. Sure, you can get a 256 GB upgrade kit for the cost of an Apple 64 GB upgrade kit.
Granted, the 256 GB kit from Apple features a much denser 2×128 GB configuration, allowing you to use 10 available DIMM slots if required. This would allow up to the aforementioned 1.5 TB of RAM in combination with the top-end CPU offerings.
It is possible to take a few ideas from this. Second, if you have long-term plans to upgrade your memory, it makes more sense to use LR-DIMM modules because they pack more memory per chip, enabling you to add more DIMM modules to your Mac Pro.
Second, it’s cheaper to buy the memory during the build-to-order process if you want to use Apple memory. For example, 384 GB of RAM in a 6×64 GB build-to-order configuration would cost $6000, while Apple’s purchased the same configuration after the event would cost $8800. It’s not exactly oranges to oranges, because from the initial build you would still have the RAM left over, but it makes sense to order RAM upfront if you’re okay with paying Apple’s premium.
The point is, purchasing your RAM upgrades from a reliable third party is likely to make more sense.
As mentioned, I’m not recommending this update until I try it myself, but I’m going to do so soon, and I’m going to follow up on my results.
We’re going to be back early with a lot more on the Mac Pro, including unboxing, looking at its best features, updates, feedback and more. Hold tuned.