Mac Pro Overview Updated January 28, 2020

Mac Pro

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278 'Mac Pro' stories

January 2011 - January 2020


After letting the Mac Pro become stagnant since 2013, Apple has finally unveiled the new version. In early 2017, Apple made a handful of announcements regarding the product. The company explained that it is rethinking its Mac Pro approach and plans to unveil a new modular model sometime in the future.

The company admitted that its 2013 model approach hasn’t been as upgradable in practice as it had hoped.

At some point [Apple] came to the conclusion that the 2013 Mac Pro concept was fundamentally flawed. It was tightly integrated internally, which allowed for some very nice features: it was small and beautiful (a pro machine that demanded placement on your desk, not under your desk) and it could run whisper quietly. But that tight integration made it hard to update regularly. The idea that expansion could be handled almost entirely by external Thunderbolt peripherals sounded good on paper, but hasn’t panned out in practice. And the GPU design was a bad prediction. Apple bet on a dual-GPU design (multiple smaller GPUs, with “pro”-level performance coming from parallel processing) but the industry has gone entirely in the other direction (machines with one big GPU).

Phil Schiller acknowledged that the 2013 Mac Pro had not been well received by many pros, and it was this that had led to the radical rethink.

With regards to the Mac Pro, we are in the process of what we call “completely rethinking the Mac Pro”. We’re working on it. We have a team working hard on it right now, and we want to architect it so that we can keep it fresh with regular improvements, and we’re committed to making it our highest-end, high-throughput desktop system, designed for our demanding pro customers.

As part of doing a new Mac Pro — it is, by definition, a modular system — we will be doing a pro display as well. Now you won’t see any of those products this year; we’re in the process of that. We think it’s really important to create something great for our pro customers who want a Mac Pro modular system, and that’ll take longer than this year to do.

In the interim, we know there are a number of customers who continue to buy our [current Mac Pros]. To be clear, our current Mac Pro has met the needs of some of our customers, and we know clearly not all of our customers. None of this is black and white, it’s a wide variety of customers. Some… it’s the kind of system they wanted; others, it was not.

In the meantime, we’re going to update the configs to make it faster and better for their dollar. This is not a new model, not a new design, we’re just going to update the configs. We’re doing that this week. We can give you the specifics on that.

The CPUs, we’re moving them down the line. The GPUs, down the line, to get more performance per dollar for customers who DO need to continue to buy them on the interim until we get to a newly architected system.

At WWDC 2019 Apple offered the first look at its new Mac Pro. The new version is a return of the cheese grater design from a generation previous.

Apple says the new Mac Pro was designed with easy access to its components. There are stainless steel handles for modularity, all internal components mount to the frame with 360-degree components.

Mac Pro Specs

  • 300 watts of power, runs fully unconstrained
  • 2933MHz ECC memory, 12 DIMM slots
  • 8 internal PCI slots, four double-wide slots, three single side slots
  • Half-length slot populated with two TB3 ports, audio jack, two USB A ports, two 10Gb Ethernet ports
  • Up to 1.5 terabytes of RAM
  • Intel Xeon processor with up to 28 cores
  • Apple designed a PCI connector with a second PCIe connector and power
  • Multiple graphics options; can configure with options such as Radeon Pro Vega II
  • Two GPUs connected via Infinity Fabric Link, 5X faster than PCI bust
  • Apple built a brand new card called Afterburner for video editing, 6 billion pixels per second. 3 streams of 8K, 12 streams of 4K

Mac Pro Pricing

The new Mac Pro starts at $5999 for 8-core, 32GB of RAM, and a 256GB SSD. If you include all of the upgrade options, it can reach a $50,000 price point.

Mac Pro Release Date

The Mac Pro was released in December of 2019.

Mac Pro Stories Today

Last week, we got our first glimpse of the rack mount Mac Pro in the wild following its release earlier this month. Now, music professional Neil Parfitt has taken a deeper look at the new machine in an over 37-minute unboxing and hands-on video.

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One of the great things about the Mac Pro, and the primary reason why I’ve been anticipating it so much, is its ability to accommodate PCIe expansion. With the Mac Pro we finally have a modern Mac that can be expanded, not only via external Thunderbolt 3 peripherals, but via internal PCIe cards like the OWC Accelsior 4M2 PCIe SSD.

OWC’s newest Mac Pro-friendly accessory allows users to add a significant amount of fast solid state storage to their machines in just a few minutes. But the Accelsior 4M2 may also a viable option for MacBook Pro users looking to add external external storage to their laptops via a simple Thunderbolt 3 enclosure. expand full story

Mac Pro Stories January 20

Apple made the rack-mountable version of the Mac Pro available last week, and now the first orders are arriving to customers. As expected, the folks at MacStadium are planning to host the new Mac Pro in their data centers, and they’ve gotten their hands on the new rack-mountable machine today.

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Mac Pro Stories January 16

The Pro Display XDR landed on my desktop a few days ago, and I’ve spent enough time with it to gather some early first thoughts about Apple’s high-end monitor. As a former 27-inch Thunderbolt Display owner, I’ve been pining for a modern replacement for it for years, but is this the answer?

Watch our unboxing and overview as I consider the Pro Display XDR top features in our hands-on video walkthrough. expand full story

Mac Pro Stories January 14

Today Apple made the rack-mountable Mac Pro available for purchase, starting at $6499. The unit, which features the same build to order components as the regular Mac Pro, features rack mounting rails that ship in a separate box. expand full story

Mac Pro Stories January 13

As I alluded to in my initial Mac Pro top features overview, I don’t need a Mac Pro to get my day-to-day work done, but the benefit I receive from its expandability makes it a very appealing machine for me.

In this latest episode of Back to the Mac I discuss why I purchased the Mac Pro, my Mac Pro setup, how I currently use it, and talk about some of the upgrades: a 24TB SSD and 384GB of RAM. Watch the full video for the details. expand full story

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