Apple’s New Mac Pro: Suitably Stunning and Staggering

| Analysis

Apple's professional and advanced technical users have been, with a half broken heart, pining for Apple to introduce a flagship product, a new Mac Pro that would stun and stagger us. The company has not disappointed. Plus, it was oh, so smart to give us a sneak peek at WWDC, so that developers would see what would soon be in the hands of customers. Now we can start to dream again. The drool factor starts NOW.

As Apple's new website for the Mac Pro says, "Engineered around workstation graphics with dual GPUs, PCI Express-based flash storage, high-performance Thunderbolt 2, new-generation Xeon processors, ultrafast memory, and support for 4K video, the new Mac Pro delivers state-of-the-art performance across the board."  Of course.  Naturally.


Of course, you can read about the tech specs at Apple (use Safari) and TMO has also summarized the news.

A miniature Cray on your desk. 7 teraflops.

The Dream is Alive

What I'd rather discuss that this point, about this 7 teraflop beauty, is something more fundamental. Namely, Apple customers of all kinds have been hoping that Apple wouldn't just give up on the dream of the ultimate desktop Mac.

Over the last few years, I have been a strong proponent of Apple giving us the very best that money can buy in a gorgeous, powerful Mac Pro. Even so, many readers lamented that perhaps Apple would give up on us. Go the jaded consumer route. Not take up the challenge, as car companies do, and give us a high end, racing class, Ferrari-class Mac.

Sure, Apple may not sell as many of them as iPhones, but that's not the point. Just as Lexus proves to us that it knows something about high performance cars with the LFA, Apple proves to us that it knows something about the design of high performance Macs. The product's very existence is its own marketing for Apple.

The spirit and taste of Jonathan Ive is written all over this new Mac Pro, and it's married with the engineering genius of Bob Mansfield's team, and we're loving it. Our faith has been restored in Apple. An untold number of technical professionals will line up for this new Mac Pro because the technology under the hood is so incredible. And it is such an awesome, dark beauty destined to grace our desks.

Matching expansion chassis anyone?

Finally, Apple was smart to give us a preview at WWDC. Even though this Mac won't be ready until "later this year," we don't really care about exactly when. To know that it's coming lifts our spirits and renews our faith in Apple as a visionary company that can take us where no Mac has gone before.

Thanks Apple. We have been suitably stunned and staggered.

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“A miniature Cray on your desk. 7 teraflops.”

So who’s going to design a skirt / stand for this that makes it look like a Cray?  The two Cray supercomputers at the Mountain View Computer History Museum are my favorite part.



Anyone wondering if/when Apple releases new pro displays in matching gloss black?


We’ve got from the Mac Cube to the Mac Tube. :D


The most significant part is that they dropped the big silver monolith. That was a fine design in its day but there was no reason any more. With this design, Thunderbolt2, and an external RAID chassis you can get all the storage you need with far better accessibility.



Not only does this look as if it belongs on the bridge of the Enterprise, it looks as if could power the ship as well.

It’s truly drool-worthy and although I can manage without one just fine, I’m thinking that for our immunological and genomics work, we just might need one of these, which of course, we should keep in my office. The team’s welcome to drop by anytime.


Have you worked out how big/small it is? 9.9” tall, 6.6” diameter according to what I saw… That’s TINY and awesomely beautiful and I want one! (And I’ve never wanted a pro level Mac before - always small is beautiful!)

It has to have matching drool worthy displays to go with it though!

Lee Dronick

Unified thermal core cooled by a high tech fan. 6x9 inches, a wonder of miniaturization.


On a side note, discussing this device gave Phil Schiller no small amount of delight. He (at least) twice exclaimed, “Now that just sound cool!”, as when he introduced the unified thermal core.

One stand out highlight for me was, as the introductory video closed, he gave a riposte to Apple’s critics saying something to the effect of, ‘Out of ideas for further innovation, my ass’.

I think Apple just took the industry back to school, whilst in competitors’ camps, I detect the sound of a myriad copy machines being fired to life.


I don’t even have ANY need for a Mac Pro, and *I’m* excited to see this. I’ll look forward to hearing from the first real-world users in the wild. Here’s hoping it’s a stable release.

Shoot, maybe at 57 I *do* need to take on a new career in some capacity as a high-end user/programmer, just to justify buying one of these wink

“giving us the very best that money can buy”—yeah—that’s gonna be interesting. I doubt they’ll do the iPad descending trick of “Starting at not $1000, not $750 (or whatever it was), but — [BOOM! drops the number] $499!” to wild applause. It just won’t work well to say, “starting NOT at $2995, NOT $3995, but—[gasp]” hmmm

In any case—this does my heart good. Fresh breath, Apple. Thanks.


Can’t fit a cube in cylinder to play with an old axiom. This new design surely would look nice in many places besides an office. But it has way more power than I could use. :(

The comments are running all over the positive/negative spectrum. That is a good sign that Apple has done something unusual.


From looking at Apple’s site, it would appear that you can only have a single Flash module internally?  So that would mean that if I want more than say, probably 1TB of storage internally (or maybe 2TB at launch will be max?), I MUST get an external storage device?  That’s lame IMHO…I have 8TB internally on my 2008 MacPro at the moment.  What’s the point of having this awesome looking device and then needing to litter your workspace with crappy, noisy external storage devices?  At the very least this system should handle 2 flash storage devices so you can run a RAID 0/1 internally, or take the internal storage into the 2-4TB range before needing additional devices.

Oh, and only four RAM slots?  Hmmmm….can’t use an “expansion chassis” to add RAM ever…8 slots would be mo ‘betta.  This is a “Pro” machine, right?

Lastly, what if I don’t want/need 3-4K displays and would rather just roll with one GPU card?  Why can’t I use that space for a different PCI card, or a card that holds up to 4 additional flash modules, or…lots of other potential scenarios one can imagine?

Personally, I would have preferred a slimdown in the ballpark of 50% of the current MacPro size while keeping to the awesome expansion ideology of the current MacPro (but of course scaled back to accommodate a smaller chassis/footprint).  This design feels like it has one foot in the G4 Cube world and one foot in the “Pro” world…



Home run.


Home run indeed.

I think the idea of internal expandability was nice back in the 1990’s and through the 2000’s. However, as it stands now, I am not really interested in expanding my individual devices all that much.

I have been built more than 120 machines over the last 2 decades. It was always nice to have expandability and swap out cards and add memory, but I find that currently I am not that interested in this feature anymore.

The current trend towards a more modular approach seems more powerful to me at this point.


Totally agree, John.  Awesome and almost shocking.  I am longtime Mac Pro user and can’t wait to get one.  It does force Mac Pro users like myself to view things differently (something about an ad campaign slogan springs to mind there).  I will be looking at lots of Thunderbolt Raid enclosures.  Apple has done it again - lol!

John Dingler, artist

It’s not a pro computer without a pro monitor.

Scott B in DC

Technically, I don’t need that kind of power, but it looks so good that I hope it’s not that expensive because I want one!!


My needs put me right at the cusp of a topline iMac and bottom end Mac Pro.  Had a G5 Pro, currently a top end (when I bought it) iMac, and if Apple holds the line on price, I’m tempted to go back to the Pro when the time comes in about two years.  Deciions, decisions.


“To know that it’s coming lifts our spirits and renews our faith in Apple as a visionary company that can take us where no Mac has gone before.”

Or as Schiller (?) put it, “Can’t innovate, my ass!”


This is about what I was expecting, though I must say it’s an attractive case. I wonder what they will cost. Will they be able to charge almost $4000 for something the size of a two-liter soda bottle with no drive bays, no optical drives and no PCI slots? The existing Mac Pro essentially came with an “expansion chassis” (whether you needed it or not). Now we have to buy this as an add-on.

Larry Towers

I find it instructive That most of you drooling over thsi are not Pros. As a Pro supporting literally hundreds of macs at my facility this is a huge disappointment. Difference without function.

Thunderbolt 2.0 is NOT fast enough to replace PCI e.

Form factor is pretty to look at but useless. it has to be on the desktop. What if you are space constrained? What about the jumble of cables and wall warts from all of those external devices that used to live inside the chassis? Why in heck are all connections in the back? Why is the power button in the back?
Why non standard internal video cards. This means even fewer upgrade options in the future.

John Martellaro

Mr. Towers: Some might consider the Apple logo, power button and ports to be the front, not the back. grin 

That said, given that most would like to hide the wires and power cord on the “back,” I’m curious as to why the Apple logo isn’t smack in the middle of the “front.”

Ammar Alani

I love this “Boldness” when Apple decide to innovate, but in a pro market, there is another factor called TCO = total cost of ownership.
Example: we invested $8000 in a fiber channel storage, $5000 in Red rocket card and $3000 in Quadro Cuda GPU not to mention the Black Magic Design Multibridge pro card
Now comes the time to upgrade our aging machine with a new CPU and thunderbolt… But no!! Apple wants to impress, so they take out PCIe and there goes our $20000 investment.
When they decided to “innovate” with FCPX, the TCO toll on us came to tenths of thousands, including what we invested in our staff of editors to learn a new software, redesign the pipeline, solving the issue of years of archive in a now obsolete format….
if Apple needs to do their thing, fine.. No, it’s actually great, but we are paying big money in the Eco-system, so they have to consider continuity and investment return.. In the end of the day, this is the pro market.. industries.. Not the fan base of Philip Stark.

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