About the new Mac Pro

Posted by Pierre Igot in: Macintosh
June 11th, 2013 • 8:40 am

I am ambivalent about the upcoming new Mac Pro unveiled by Apple yesterday at the WWDC. Of course, I am relieved that Apple has finally given us something tangible to look forward to.

I am also glad that the new model is a radical rethink and that heavy emphasis has apparently been put on keeping the machine as quiet as possible (although of course how quiet it really will be remains to be seen, or rather heard).

I am happy that it will have lots of raw power. While my current machine (a 2009 Mac Pro) is no slouch, I am always looking for ways to increase my productivity. I am not one of those apparently numerous (if you believe the pundits) Mac users who feel that their current machine is fast enough. If you have ever tried to type text in a textbox in a Microsoft Word 2011 document or to resize a document window in Adobe InDesign, you know that there is still plenty of room for improvement. Since Microsoft’s and Adobe’s engineers obviously feel that their own software is “good enough”, we have no choice but to rely on the raw power of the underlying hardware to improve real-life performance in those applications.

I also appreciate the focus on raw graphics power. While I am not a videographer, I have lots of screen real estate (two 30-inch displays) and I wouldn’t mind having even more. A large Retina display is still probably several years away, but I might be tempted by a larger screen at some point, even if Apple itself does not seem interested in producing such screens anymore.

(I suppose that, when the time comes to buy one of these new Mac Pros, I’ll also have to spend some extra money on adapters for my current DVI displays.)

On the other hand, I too, like some other current Mac Pro owners, am worried about the lack of internal expandability. My current Mac Pro has four internal hard drive bays and two internal optical drive bays. And they are all full. I suppose I can live with external optical drives (although that will be yet another expense). But no internal bays for hard drives? Given that the new Mac Pro will come with an SSD, unless Apple has managed to perform an astounding miracle and make a 4 TB SSD that is actually affordable, there will obviously be a need for more storage, and that will mean that we’ll all be forced to purchase external Thunderbolt drives, again at additional cost.

I don’t have any problems with Apple adopting the new Thunderbolt 2 interface as long as it’s fully backward-compatible. But even Thunderbolt 1 offerings are still very limited today. It’s possible that, once the new Mac Pro has been on the market for a while, there will be a wider range of offerings at more affordable prices, but until then… In addition, if one of the key features of the new Mac Pro will be how quiet it is, how will this work in the real world if one is forced to have several external hard drives made by third party vendors who don’t necessarily put that much emphasis on noise reduction? (LaCie, I am looking at you.) It’s all well and good to have a quiet, superfast Mac Pro, but how quiet will the whole setup be once you’ve added a couple of external hard drives?

The current information provided by Apple is very short on details, technical specifications, etc. I guess we’ll have to be more patient. But it also looks like I might have to wait a while even after the new Mac Pro starts shipping, simply because the new computer is unlikely to be cheap and, with the additional expenses associated with the transitions (video adapters, external drives), it could turn out to be a very expensive proposition indeed.

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