When the reinvented Mac Pro was unveiled, the jokes came immediately, along with a mixed reaction among pro users. There was plenty of skepticism (akin to the Final Cut Pro X announcement), which largely proved to be justified after the new Mac Pro landed on users’ desks.
Of course, it was fast and did some things really well but it was not an improvement in design over its predecessor. The ridiculous amount of cables needed for basic connectivity and extending funcationality was a nightmare.
Like the new iPhones and MacBook Pros, Apple is pushing “features” in the Mac Pro that are revolutionary technical achievements that serve no practical purpose – especially for professional users.
Apple has promised that a reinvisioned Mac Pro is coming in 2019 and that it will be “modular.” While this sounds great and what we’ve been asking for since the trash can surfaced, I can’t help but think Apple is going to mess this up too.
As it continues to raise prices, Apple’s iPhone unit sales numbers are down. On the “pro” side of things, Apple starts its iMac Pro at $5000. Whatever Apple does to its upcoming Mac Pro, expect the starting price to dwarf all prior models, which will put it out of reach for all but high-end professional customers.
If Apple had any idea of the pulse of the middle-class pro, it would produce mild (if any) design upgrades to the Mac Pro tower we last saw in 2012. The only thing we asked for in the upgrade to the Mac Pro tower was an upgraded logic board with modern I/O. At the time, that was faster SATA channels, USB 3.0 and Thunderbolt. Basically, just give us the equivalent of a modern PC workstation with relevant I/O for 2019.
The Mac Pro tower is already an industrial work of art. The swappable hard drive bays were such a beautiful touch. Keep those – or even make them 2.5″ for the continually decreasing prices of SSD drives. Instead of soldering the storage drive to the logic board, go with swappable NVME drives. We also need to be able to upgrade GPUs with off-the-shelf options by ourselves. We need to be able to replace RAM ourselves. If you want pro users to be Apple fans again, you’ve got to meet us half way.
Look, I don’t want to switch my work computers to Windows but Apple is making it really hard to keep using computers that I can’t upgrade. I’ve still got a 2010 Mac Pro and a 2011 MacBook Pro kicking along, which is awesome – it really is a testament to the quality and the ecosystem. I’ve got Windows 10 computers in my house that are okay and I’ll buy or build a pro system to use if I need to – but I’d rather not.
While many long-time Mac users jumped ship after that 2013 trash can fiasco, I stuck around for another generation. If Apple gets too cute with the next Mac Pro, that’s likely it for me though. Lately, I’ve been eyeing notebooks from Lenovo as I start to think beyond this limited, clicky MacBook Pro with 4 USB-C ports. And HP’s Z series workstations make a compelling case for the creative pro. Give me a reason to stick around for the next generation, Apple.
Put the “pro” back in the Mac Pro.