What We’d Like To See From A New Mac Pro



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Heaven knows what's on Apple's mind with the Mac Pro. They certainly haven't shown these workhorse machines much love in the Age of iThings Ascendant.

Since Intel says that the Sandy Bridge-E Xeon chips are further delayed, and they are awfully vague about the release date, it could be that we might reasonably expect a Mac Pro Update in the Spring of 2012. Apple may get early shipments from Intel, it's happened before, but I am not betting the mortgage money. But Apple will be happy to have them, then they can EOL the 27" LCD for the Thunderbolt 27" Display.

So calm your frothing and coax a little more life out of your system.

What's interesting is what other features or support may come and go in the a revised Mac Pro form factor. I know that the Mac Pro(fessional) community is really interested in eSATA, SATA3, USB 3 (come ON, Apple) and truly muscular standard graphics cards. But there hasn't been much interest from the mothership. On the other hand, Apple has made no secret that they feel Optical media is done. We may very well see not only optical drives go away, but also the bays. Like blu-ray, if pro users want optical so bad, they can go external.

What may also a point of concern is the future of Firewire on the mac. Apple has been pitching Thunderbolt as the "everything" high speed connection, and Firewire may be next on the kill list. But will future Mac Pros ONLY have thunderbolt parts? Probably not, the Xeon chips do not have built in graphics, being designed for heavy lifting. So the Mac Pros must sport third party graphics cards, and those are likely to have more traditional video output options. But you never know with the Apple of the 2010's.

"we’ll propose the decidedly crazy theory that Apple might choose instead to phase out the Mac Pro altogether... but it certainly wouldn’t be the first time Apple has stuck it to the pro user, would it?"

No. No, it wouldn't.

It could happen. Apple has certainly been pitching the 29" i7 iMac as "the Mac Pro for most of us." In the Apple Stores, MPs don't have their own section with the big wall graphics, but typically one lonely box sitting neglected in the corner. The MPs portion of Apples revenue is a fraction of their desktop revenue, which is already the smallest segment - even at Apple's MP tear-inducing pricing. For many of us in Design and Publishing, the iMac is becoming the financially responsible choice, glossy screen not withstanding, even though many of us desire the expandability, configurability and stoutness of a tower, even if we don't need max performance.

"Max out the processor and graphics on the current high-end 27-inch iMac Core i7 and you’ll only be spending a cool $2,299 -- a price that’s still $200 less than an entry-level quad-core Mac Pro 2.8GHz. Max out the current Mac Pro with two 2.93GHz six-core Intel Xeon processors and two ATI Radeon HD 5770 graphics cards and you’re breaking the bank at $6,449 before tax."

And that's before you pop a display on it - built into an iMac. Add an 27" LCD or Thunderbolt display, you're looking at a cool $7,548. Ouch. That definitely limits the market to users with serious need and serious resources. So Apple is hardly motivated to devote much attention to their heaviest iron. But after the Final Cut Pro X debacle, professional users are understandably nervous.

Still, was a day when Apple's Mac towers got the shiny, and bragging rights first. As a Graphic and Web Designer, I do rather miss that. Now were second class citizens in Apple's consumer utopia.



Tired look? Sure. Slow? Hardly.

Your Sandy Bridge i5's and i7's are fast, but it doesn't carry the same weight as the Xeon's. Those Xeon's are built for sheer power. Try running multiple services simultaneously on your iMac and watch it crap out. The Mac Pro? It'll run it beautifully. Also, Mac Pro's have ECC and buffered DRAM, so you don't suffer from data corruption. Sure, I think that the line needs to be updated, but the current line-up is nothing to scoff at.



How about a dedicated soundcard with a minimum of 5.1 and preferably a 7.1 surround sound capability. I am not asking for much. While they are at it, make that soundcard reverse-compatible for the current MPs.
That's not asking for much. Is it?



I've also been sitting on a pile of savings waiting to pounce, but every morning I wake up and refresh the Mac Pro line up; its the same old antiquated machines staring back at me on the Apple online store.

Then I go through my on the fence, off the fence mental routine... "let's see, if I buy a PCIe eSata card for $200, I can have 6gbs of bandwidth for my SSDs, and if I spend even more I can do one or two OCZ PCIe SSD cards. I use virtual instruments and really need the fastest options possible. If only there was just a simple update of adding SATA 3 and Thunderbolt! I could part with my cash much easier!

Then theres the whole waiting for the IVY-Bridge processor dilemma. Wait, or not wait?

I think I could take the current processors and the same old box design, if we were just allowed to have SATA 3!
I'm not even going there on the USB 3 subject, that's just a weird Apple decision altogether.

Maybe since Best Buy appears to have dropped their Mac Pro prices a tiny bit, its a hint that we'll be thrown a bone on the next Apple event in September. Yes, I know its silly rationalization, but man, c'mon already with an update!

It seems like a lot of MP users out there are freaking out, speculating that the end of the Mac Pro is just a matter of time, but I just can't see this happening anytime soon. The iMacs just get too hot for 3d, video, and pro audio use for serious studios, even with Thunderbolt. The processors get too hot for anything more than light audio and video work, but are awesome for desktop publishing or web development.
So, I think we're at least one or two MP updates before we'll see it go away.

My wife is nudging me to just go ahead and order one of the 2010 Mac Pros, but I think she's just exhausted from listening to me whine about no update.
Maybe Tim Cook will nudge a new MP out the door.



I was waiting for someone to even write an article about the Mac Pro! I've been sitting on a pile of funding waiting and waiting for an upgrade to the Mac Pro! The original rumor said it was coming out in early to mid August. Now it's nearly September. I'm hoping for some big changes and for them to come very, very soon!

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