Mac Pro: All Apologies, Signed Apple Pundits

4 minute read
| Devil's Advocate

God I hate Apple pundits. From Pravda-like arranged podcasts with Apple executives, to the endless cowering “all apologies” elocutions from this sorry band of hindsight rationalists, has there ever been a less critical group? I’m not sure what’s worse, the anti-Apple cast of disingenuous hit-whores, or the lackey Mac pundits.

The New Mac Pro Is Great, But…

Latest case in point: the pundits’ blindness to the new cheese grater Mac Pro ignoring Apple’s core enthusiast users. In most ways, the new Mac Pro is a really great machine. The car sized radiator for cooling. The case accessibility. The super quiet design. The great expandability. The new MPX slots that fix Intel’s failures/inability to get modern memory/chips/PCI 4 architectures working. After pricing things out, you’re roughly paying $2500 extra for macOS and a nice case.

But at $5999 for the base model, Apple wants to charge us a high price for its admitted failure. It (at best) ignores and/or punishes the entire enthusiast market.

Apple’s New Mac Pro Is a Great Machine, But It Leaves a Hole for Enthusiasts

It’s the Enthusiasts, Stupid

In some ways, all Mac enthusiasts are beaten, broken people. We’re so shocked Apple finally fixed the Mac Pro that many accept the dulcet “you’re not worthy of a Mac with slots” tones from pundits. There seem to be few remaining “think different” enthusiast survivors. That’s the group Apple courted with its “Think Different” campaign. Not pros. Enthusiasts that “think different” were the ones who saved Apple from its near bankruptcy in 1997. Enthusiasts are Apple’s spiritual core. And while many pros are enthusiasts, many more enthusiasts are not pros. And many pros couldn’t care less what equipment they use to get work done.

At least Apple has finally noticed pros leaving the Mac because it didn’t have a computer to serve them. But it has yet to realize that it’s the enthusiasts who saved it—and they’re also leaving. Enthusiasts are small business owners, individual developers, power users, users who like to upgrade (over time as funds become available) and push their equipment to cool edge cases.

And often today’s enthusiasts become tomorrow’s pros. Often they are de facto IT for friends and family. As such, enthusiasts are serious influencers having outsized effect on those around them. They are begrudgingly leaving, just as pros were leaving Apple. Instead of helping enthusiasts, pundits have lined up to slap them and say “it’s not for you”. Maybe this should be called the Marie-Antoinette-Let-Them-Eat-Cake Mac Pro.

Critical Thinking Is Lacking

The entirety of the Mac press’ post-WWDC rationalization distortion field is: “the computer for the rest of us”, “it’s not for you.” After receiving Apple’s PR fluffjob, these pundits make straw-man arguments that people think the Mac Pro is bad because it’s too pro, too powerful, or not cheap enough. They ignore what enthusiasts are saying: “Apple please add a lower entry level slot upgradable model that enthusiasts can also afford.”

It doesn’t dawn on the pundits to ask: “Hey, the original Mac Pro cost as little as $2200. There’s an enthusiast segment that really wants and can benefit from having slots. So why isn’t Apple at least trying to serve that market segment?” How about offering an entry model Mac Pro, e.g., with 6 cores and 8GBs of RAM for $3199 (along with its outrageously mediocre Radeon 580 graphics card, Apple could also dispense with its stupendously insufficient 256GB SSD that serious users will ignore anyway as they opt for third party SSDs (up to 15.36 TB) on PCI NVMe cards).

Similarly, pundits are making false dichotomies regarding Apple’s Pro Display XDR. Sure, it’s a great value for people that need reference monitor quality, but what about the vast majority of enthusiasts and pros who don’t? They just want the iMac’s 5k display as a stand alone monitor for $1000 without a ridiculous tone-deaf stand, alone, for $1000.

The reality today is that if you want an Apple branded monitor, your best bet might be using an 2014 iMac in target display mode. Otherwise pundits leave you to believe sound engineers, developers and Mac mini users are animals who don’t deserve an Apple display.

The iMac (2014) in Target Display Mode might be the cheapest way to have an Apple branded display

Apologists Hurt Apple and Its Users

Today we have the same old familiar goose-step of beaten housewife pundits telling us how much Apple really cares about the Mac, about us. How it’s doing what’s best for us. How they know what we really need. How this time, it will be different. They’ve changed. Apple won’t beat us as much anymore. It will update Macs regularly from now on, honest. Never mind the MacBook and iMac Pro still haven’t been updated in about 2 years. “Look at the silly monkey.”

It took Apple 6 years to correct its last mistake, the trashcan Mac Pro. Part of the reason for Apple taking so long to correct mistakes is so many apologists uncritically support them. The pundits don’t get how outrageously insulting it is to drown out and ignore what enthusiast/users say they want (e.g., Macs with upgradable slots) and instead decree what pundits think you need and should be happy with. That level of uncritical support helps Apple ignore problems. The pundits are sure they know best. Remember, they declared how the trashcan Mac was also for pros, rather than being critical about how it served neither pros nor enthusiasts. Despite being wrong then, they’re happy to reassert the same now. The pundits can’t seem to think beyond wanting to curry Apple favor.

Apple Carrots and Sticks

Being an Apple sycophant has its privileges after all. Maybe they’ll get to interview some Apple exec where they’ll ask banal questions and incessantly fluff Apple plastic talking points. And if they don’t play ball and choose to call Apple out on mistakes, maybe they wont get the next Apple event invite.

But maybe, if more pundits could think for themselves, and more of them would speak up for enthusiasts and users, then just maybe, Apple would be motivated to do a better job.

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quakerotis

Typing this from a Hackintosh, the machine you wanted. It’s two years old and as fast as anything apple makes.

Enthusiasts can roll their own. It’s trivially easy these days. cost less than a mid price Mac mini

I will only buy Apple laptops from here on out (until a reliable mackintosh method emerges).

ctopher
Member
ctopher

I think the Macalope nailed it. This article is a whine. Like being angry that Apple doesn’t make a mobile phone with a swappable battery. Yes lots of people agree, but most people (aka the market) thinks Apple has what they need, and if they don’t, there’s probably a manufacturer out there that makes something that fits their needs better. I’ve read a lot of articles about the Mac Pro. Sure, some are puff pieces written by sycophants, but most are detailed examinations of the specs, comparing and contrasting to what is already available to what is needed by the… Read more »

gGrant
Member
gGrant

The lone voice in the world of “journalists” looking for that Apple exclusive interview. Where would we be without you John? This is not your cheese grater of old, this is the cylinder of cheese graters, as John rightly points out. Designed for rarified clients, it won’t have the thermal corner, but it won’t service the arguably bigger and more influential enthusiast market either. If only enthusiasts had deeper pockets, Apple might have listened to them. Maybe Apple has designed in a Price-corner. We shall see how it plays out. I’m hoping another year of failed LG 5k displays will… Read more »

mjtomlin
Member
mjtomlin

I’ve listened to a lot of pundits and not one of them has said that Apple should not make the Mac you seem to want. What they all have said is that what Apple released is exactly what they needed to get the Pro users back on board. That’s who this system is for, Pro users, not “enthusiasts”. Without this system, all those developers of higher end software that Apple splashed across the keynote screen would have NEVER ported their software to the Mac. APPLE NEEDED THIS SYSTEM – and so did all Mac users, whether you like it or… Read more »

leicaman
Member
leicaman

And what makes you think that kind of machine might not make the cut in the future? What Apple most lacked in their lineup is the new Mac Pro. That was a massive hole they had to fill as fast as they could. They were losing the professionals who were not happy with the current Mac Pro (I’ve had two, now I’m rocking the new MacBook Pro, wish I could have waited for the updated model, but hey, it’s a killer machine). Nothing stopping you from buying a MacBook pro and building a system from there. Or a Mac Mini… Read more »

ToneWilliamsUSA
Member
ToneWilliamsUSA

Kheit, you nailed it. Tim Cook has utterly upended everything that Apple spent decades cultivating, lead mainly by Steve Jobs. The amount of goodwill that Apple generated during this period grew fierce passion among a loyal swath of the market, enthusiasts and prosumers that drank the Kool-Aid supported the company through thick and thin even when it was not popular to do so. Why? Because they got it. I was among that camp. The passion only grew when Jobs’ returned because his leadership brought a renewed focus to Apple that simplified its product line and strove for nothing short of… Read more »

jezebean
Member
jezebean

What kind of computer do you think Apple should make, and who would buy it? The Mac mini is a more affordable non-all-in-one desktop, with upgradable RAM, and which can be used with thunderbolt GPUs. It satisfies the actual needs of the small percentage of Mac customers who don’t need or want a laptop, iMac, iMac Pro, or Mac Pro. I understand that some segment of Mac nerds have always wanted the xMac: a mid-tower Mac with PCIe slots, easily upgradable RAM and storage. But on the PC side, such computers are only used in market segments that make little… Read more »

fazalmajid
Member
fazalmajid

I mostly agree with this article. I’ve owned the PowerMac G5, 2008 Mac Pro and the 2013 Mac Pro (and I like the latter). Solid machines, if pricey, but they last 5 years so the cost is amortized over a longer lifetime, even if they are superseded by other models in the MacBook Pro or iMac line after about 2 years. Part of the issue is that Intel is price-gouging on its CPUs, which is curious because a resurgent AMD offers twice the value for money and with the new Ryzen 9 3500X is poised to grab the performance crown… Read more »

vuckovic75
Member
vuckovic75

Finally! You couldn’t be more right. I have a graveyard back home which Im kinda proud off. Its like history, you know. Going back to old powerbook 5300. I really think that at that time, laptops and desktops were cheaper than they are now ! I cant find justification for these ‘inflation like’ steps, like we had here in the old Yugoslavia. You wake up in the morning , and there is another zero on your currency bill. They are just probing the field to see how far they can go. And these religious Apple believers are just helping them.… Read more »

eddychik
Member
eddychik

Excellent Article. I think the problem is ( I hope not ) Apple has data where their Mac user base is growing. While many of those very old enthusiast that saved Apple in the first place are leaving. The world is moving to iPadOS and iOS, the Mac is only left with Pros and Enthusiast. There is no need to make the Mac like an Appliance for everyone like they used to. And majority of the world are buying Notebook, which isn’t upgradable anyway. Why not just ship a $1999 Mac Pro for enthusiast, with no Xeon and no ECC… Read more »

animill
Member
animill

This is an excellent article and I agree with many points. However I disagree with the differentiations between “enthusiasts” and “pros,” and this is where the disconnect occurs. The Trashcan Mac Pro was purchased/used by many pros I know in the film/vide post industry, and yes they were pissed that it wasn’t upgradeable – hell, it wasn’t even sidegradeable. But it worked, and the pros made money using it. So now in the 2019 Mac Pro we have a perfect foundation to build what each specialty pro needs: Apple is doing us a favor of NOT outfitting it with too… Read more »

Realist20
Member
Realist20

I have owned Mac Pros since the old G3 days. I switched to an iMac 27″ in 2015. at the time I purchased it with a 256GB SSD and used external Thunderbolt case to house my hard drives. It was speedy and worked fine but no upgrade path as SSDs got cheaper. I waited for a revamped Mac Pro and then the trashcan arrived. Not worth the jump for me and being an IT consultant my graphic design clients were moving to iMacs. I yearned for the day when I could buy my Display and not be stuck with Apple’s… Read more »

animill
Member
animill

Yeah, this. But I think there is a viable enthusiast/pro in between – the new Mac Mini is a great alternative to the iMac Pro/Mac Pro. I calculated building one out (versus a high-line iMac 5k), using an external GPU, SSDs, and 2x LG 4K monitors, and it’s quite competitive and powerful…and portable. To your point, I’m one of the video/film industry users of all this $$$ crap, so I can justify the $$$.

Dale DiMassi
Member
Dale DiMassi

The Mac Mini, iMac and MacBook lines all overheat and thermal throttle. Even if you can “afford” it, why would you give up 20%+ in performance to bad thermals? Why should the minimum cost for an Apple PC that doesn’t combust be set at $6000??

danielfgom
Member
danielfgom

What an excellent write up!! At last, a journalist with balls! You’ve said exactly what all of us enthusiasts were thinking, in such a perfect and succinct way. Well done! I wish this article could be printed out, laminated and hung in every office inside Apple and that every hour the staff would have to stop and read it, starting with Tim Cook and Phil Schiller! The Apple pundits are infuriating. Weak, cowardly, mindless, imbecile yellow bellies. And when you confront them on their asinine opinions they gang up and belittle. What a bunch of yellow bellies! Makes me sick… Read more »

Tom Abbott
Member
Tom Abbott

O.K. I’m an enthusiast, an ‘old faithful’ Apple die-hardly.… have been for about 35 years. But apple has not been making anything that appeals to me for several years. My dream / requisite Mac sounds like this: a 13″ laptop that I can open-up and easily add memory, speed, be able to drive an inexpensive 24-30″ external monitor. It would be rugged, too (I think this feature would be highly valued world-wide). It should probably go for about $1,000 -$1,200 plus whatever accessories I eventually acquire. Variation on this would be a similarly open iMac. Apple’s Developer tools are impressive,… Read more »

mike stephens
Member
mike stephens

Can you really make an equivalent machine, with 8 slots and in which all cores can run full speed all the time, for $3500?

I don’t believe you when you say you can do this.

archimedes
Member
archimedes

I thought John was pointing out that Apple used to make more affordable modular Macs (like the 2006 Mac Pro which was ~$2200 in its cheapest, dual-core form.) Seems like Apple could build *something* in this space if it wanted to.

Dale DiMassi
Member
Dale DiMassi

I personally have spec’d out the parts and the assertion that it would cost $3500 to build is 100% accurate. You could try looking it up yourself.

Add to that the fact that the motherboard has NO I/O other than PCI-E you start to realize that the standard I/O that EVERY motherboard has will take a couple slots away, it seems like less of a marvel and more of a gimmick at the buyer’s expense.

femme_artiste
Member
femme_artiste

The problem is the pundits THINK they are channeling Steve Jobs, but the pundits clearly ARE NOT succeeding!

Unlike the pundits, Steve Jobs actually knew what he was doing when he explained to people why his products would change their lives, even though they had never seen them before.

(PS I think that NEW cheese grater us UGLY!)

archimedes
Member
archimedes

I like the idea of a midrange modular Mac like the old cheese grater Mac Pro.

Apple seems to have shown zero interest in building such a machine for the past few years… at least until they surprise us and do exactly that.

Regarding Mac pundits, even AppleInsider has suggested Apple could make a midrange modular “xMac.”

Macsee
Member
Macsee

Desktop headless Macs like Mac mini and Mac Pro are ecological, whereas all-in-one desktops like iMac are anti-ecological, since a CPU may last seven years, but a display lasts more more than 20 years. Apple should put emphasis on making brand new headless Macs and brand new displays.

archimedes
Member
archimedes

I really wish Apple would bring back target display mode on the iMac!

JonGl
Member
JonGl

Three years ago, I needed a new laptop. Apple didn’t make what I wanted or needed, so I compromised a little, and bought a Surface Pro. Three years later, Apple still doesn’t make what I need, so I bought an LG Gram 17. I was able to immediately add a _second_ NVMe SSD inside (both RAM and storage are upgradeable), and I’m loving the featherlight, slim, compact computer with the huge monitor, and almost zero bezels. Why Apple? And as an enthusiast, who needed expandability, two years ago, I built my first Hackintosh. I still buy Macs for everybody else… Read more »

archimedes
Member
archimedes

A Surface Pro seems like a massive compromise, but if a Windows tablet-laptop is your thing then Microsoft has you covered.

The LG gram is a bit closer to the 17″ MacBook Pro that Apple doesn’t actually make, but sadly it’s Windows.

I also recommend skipping the dreadful butterfly keyboard and trackpad with faulty palm rejection. Both of them are inferior to the prior designs that actually worked properly.