Apr 4 2017
I’ve never been so happy to hear Apple is rethinking a change they did in 2013.
I have a 2010 Mac Pro and when Apple decided to change the design in 2013, I was not very impressed. We went from a design that allowed me to easily add and change drives, memory and video cards to a solution that encourages plugging in and all of my needs using a USB 3 or Thunderbolt cable. The new design was dubbed the trashcan and, up to this point, has not been updated with new specs until today where Apple very silently bumped the baseline model from four-core to six-core processor and the dual AMD G300 video card to dual G500s.
Going this direction and this long without refreshing their Mac Pro models has left a lot of creative professionals wondering what to do. I myself have been teetering on what I would do when my Mac Pro 2010 doesn’t cut mustard anymore and would need to be replaced. Would an iMac fit my needs or would I explore other options out there? I won’t lie, Microsoft’s Surface Studio is a 28-inch screen I can draw on and has been really tempting me – I keep wondering why an iMac can’t do the same thing.
What Uncle Phil has to say
Well, the wait is not over but it is getting closer, Apple announced they are working on a radically rethought design for the Mac Pro and plan to say more about in in 2018. It’s going to be hard for some to wait another year, but it’s a little refreshing to hear Apple say they heard the Pro Users and redesign the Mac. This is what Phil Schiller had to say to some of the journalists covering the closed-doors announcement:
With regards to the Mac Pro, we are in the process of what we call “completely rethinking the Mac Pro”. We’re working on it. We have a team working hard on it right now, and we want to architect it so that we can keep it fresh with regular improvements, and we’re committed to making it our highest-end, high-throughput desktop system, designed for our demanding pro customers.
As part of doing a new Mac Pro — it is, by definition, a modular system — we will be doing a pro display as well. Now you won’t see any of those products this year; we’re in the process of that. We think it’s really important to create something great for our pro customers who want a Mac Pro modular system, and that’ll take longer than this year to do.
In the interim, we know there are a number of customers who continue to buy our [current Mac Pros]. To be clear, our current Mac Pro has met the needs of some of our customers, and we know clearly not all of our customers. None of this is black and white, it’s a wide variety of customers. Some… it’s the kind of system they wanted; others, it was not.
In the meantime, we’re going to update the configs to make it faster and better for their dollar. This is not a new model, not a new design, we’re just going to update the configs. We’re doing that this week. We can give you the specifics on that.
The CPUs, we’re moving them down the line. The GPUs, down the line, to get more performance per dollar for customers who DO need to continue to buy them on the interim until we get to a newly architected system.
Let’s get modular
What gets me giddy from what Phil said was that it would be a modular system. At this point, when you buy a traditional desktop, aka a box that you plug your monitors, keyboard, and mouse into, you really don’t end up replacing it until the processors and connections don’t match what you need to do. If Apple could figure out a modular system that allowed for swapping CPUs, video cards, hard drives and more – they may be on to something here. That kind of system where you just upgrade what is not fitting your needs without having to throw the whole thing out is an interesting concept to me.
What I would REALLY love to see happen is Apple coming up with a modular design and allowing other hardware makes to make things that can modularly be added to the system. Specially design add-ons like video cards or inputs for those that work in the video industry or equipment for those that mix audio and have specialized equipment would be a very nice touch. I’m not going to hold my breath that this will happen, but it would be a nice change. While my Mac Pro fits my needs, support from video card manufacturers has always been a challenge. Seeing something that encourages ease of use to add and upgrade might give nVidia and AMD incentive to make and support a Mac Pro 2018 model.
Apple also announced that they are working on new monitors. I’m interested to see which direction they take as extra-wide and curved screens are popular right now and I am curious to see if Apple plans to work with any of these screens or if they may brush them off as popular now but not ideal for use with their Pro apps or use with a new iMac design. It’s going to tough waiting until 2018 for more news, but at least we know now that Apple still has plans for Mac Pr, displays, and the iMac and that they are listening to us. Now if we could only get them to make a Mac nano…