Ever since Apple introduced the most recent version of its Mac Pro desktop computer, people have been trying to figure out what it was capable of. Considering that you can get one with a 28-core Intel Xeon W processor, 1.5TB of RAM, 8TB of SSD storage, and dual Radeon Pro Vega II Duos with 64 GB of memory each, it seemed like there wasn't much that could slow it down.

In fact, reviewers have been trying to push their Mac Pros to the max, just to see whether there was a limit to its computing power. It turns out there is, but it might not be what you expect. That's because the Mac Pro easily handles multiple streams of 4K video and doesn't even break a sweat tackling enormous audio projects.

But, the Mac Pro does have its kryptonite: Google Chrome. That's according to a tweet thread from YouTuber Jonathan Morrison, who says he reached the max capabilities with 6,000 Google Chrome tabs

Of course, that's not exactly a real-world scenario. If you find yourself with that many Chrome tabs open, you probably have more pressing issues than whether or not you're about to max out a terabyte and a half of RAM on your supercomputer. At the same time, it is a reasonable test of what it takes to actually take a machine like this to its breaking point.

Google Chrome has long been known as a memory hog. It's wildly inefficient, especially compared with alternatives like Safari, Firefox, or even Microsoft's new Edge browser. Many far-less-capable computers than a souped-up Mac Pro have been crippled by Chrome.

The 2019 Mac Pro drew plenty of curious glances, not because of its design, but because a fully-stocked version can be configured with specs mentioned above at a price tag that exceeds $50,000. Ironically, half of that price is for the 1.5TB of DDR4 ECC memory alone, which is more than the total SSD storage capacity on my 13-inch MacBook Pro I'm writing this on. That's right, $25,000 of memory isn't enough for the crippling weight of Google Chrome.

While Morrison's tweet thread is a humorous adventure, it's interesting that a computer capable of extraordinarily complex tasks like rendering ultra-high-definition video can be brought low by something as common as a web browser. Of course, if you're one of those people who tend to have an entire screen full of Chrome tabs open, you can probably relate. In fact, you might want to start closing those tabs down now that you know what they actually do to your system.

If nothing else, at least we now know that just because you can spend $50,000 on a super-powered desktop, it still can't get the best of Chrome. Now maybe we know why Google is so interested in building a quantum computer.

Published on: Feb 10, 2020
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