Over the years, Apple slipped into the idea that there is not much separation between the iMac and the Mac Pro in terms of overall performance. Now, with the new Mac Pro, we're seeing a renewed commitment to the pro philosophy for professionals in video, photography, music and even science. It truly is the super Mac in the style of Lamborghini super cars. But it will also cost you.
Contrary to my prediction of a starting price of US$2499, the new Mac Pro starts at $2999. That's the low end model with a 3.7 GHz E5 Xeon quad core processor, 12 GB of RAM, dual D300 FirePros and 256 GB of PCIe-based flash storage. There will also be options for 6, 8 and 12 core models which will be considerably more expensive, but happily paid for by professionals who aren't spending their personal money.
Image Credit: TMO/Dave Hamilton
For example, according to Apple, there is "a 3.5 GHz 6-core Intel Xeon E5 processor with Turbo Boost speeds up to 3.9 GHz, dual AMD FirePro D500 GPUs with 3GB of VRAM each, 16GB of memory, and 256GB of PCIe-based flash storage starting at $3,999." One can easily imagine where it goes from there, especially with a terabyte of internal storage.
As Apple's press release says, "Apple today redefined pro computing with the launch of the all-new Mac Pro."
All of a sudden, the idea that if you have a little bit of extra money, you can have the fastest Mac goes out the window. In practice, you're going to have to have a real commercial need for this Mac, and that could be viewed by some as a risky proposition. Or sour grapes.
Image credit: TMO/Dave Hamilton
However, recall all the articles that I and others wrote about how when a car company builds a halo car, a super car, price is not a big consideration. The idea is to build the very best, and that puts the super car beyond the price of most customers. On the other hand, it's a testament to what can be done and the company's vision to build the very best.
These super cars are flagship cars that confer prestige on the maker, and that will be the same with the Mac Pro. That's what we hoped Apple would do -- instead of sinking into total consumerism.
But I think there's more than building a high end UNIX workstation class desktop computer. I think it's hidden in plain sight by Phil Schiller's comment:
[This is our] Vision: The future of the pro desktop.
I can't help but think about how that makes every other PC on the planet right now not up to snuff and a second rate product. We may be in the post-PC era, but PCs are still being sold. Why not take a big bite out of the high end of the PCs, leverage Apple's enormous manufacturing expertise, capture all the PC market profits, and leave the botton of the no-profit market to others. I think that will offset concerns about this being a low volume product because no other PC company has the will or the means to compete with this Mac Pro.
My view is that the new flagship Mac Pro is everything we wanted it to be and designed for the right kinds of customers. You can't ask for more than that.