We’ve all been waiting a long time for the new Mac Pro to be announced, and this week Apple finally delivered one. And while it certainly impressed many of us (myself included), there was also the inevitable pushback from those who felt the new machine was just too rich for their blood.
The new system features an entirely new design that pays homage to the original PowerMac G5. At the same time, it somehow also feels like it’s from the future. It’s significantly larger than the previous MacPro model (which I’m currently running), allowing for incredible amounts of power, speed, and expandability.
Maxed out, the system can utilize a 28 core processor, 1.5TB of memory, 4 AMD GPUs, and an Afterburner ProRes card that will play back 12 streams of 4K raw simultaneously. It’s an absolute beast.
The tower is designed to be paired with Apple’s new Pro Display XDR – A 32” Retina display with 6K resolution, and up to 1600 nits of brightness, which is almost unheard of.
The Mac Pro starts at $6000 for a base model and the display will run you another $6000 – at least once you include the $1000 stand that it’s sold with.
There’s no denying that both products are priced high, as you might imagine given their quality and Apple’s pricing structure overall.
For some, the cost is entirely justified – I would very much fall into that category. But many others criticize the system for being overpriced, and ultimately reject it entirely on that basis.
I’ve heard more praise than criticism overall, but have encountered at least a few people who seem almost furious about the pricing.
Their argument is centered around an assessment of price vs. specs, in particular on the base model Mac Pro.
On paper, the $6000 entry level Mac Pro doesn’t make sense to them. They don’t like that it (only) has an 8 core processor or an AMD 580x graphics card. They feel they could build a “better computer” for $2000… And maybe they could, for their purposes at least.
But for others, the $6000 price is completely reasonable. After all, if raw specs were the only considerations when purchasing a product, many companies in the tech space would be out of business.
Who would buy a $10,000 Leica camera when they could buy a $500 camera from Best Buy with more megapixels? Many would, apparently.
Particularly those who find value in the build quality of the camera, the color reproduction, the customer care, and the experience that it gives them in the field. That’s why companies like Leica or Apple can thrive. They don’t have to appeal to everyone, just to those people who share their values.
Personally, I am someone who values my time tremendously. Apple products have proven to save me time both by operating incredibly reliably, and by requiring virtually no service for many years. That alone often justifies the cost premium for me when purchasing their products.
They also enhance my ability to make a living. My (now 5 year old) Mac Pro continues to power through project after project with no signs of slowing down. It has singularity processed thousands of hours of content for my clients, and in turn generated a constant revenue stream for myself and my production company.
Could I have done all of this on a Hackintosh or a PC? Maybe… But for me, it wouldn’t be worth risking reliability to save a few bucks up front.
But with respect to the new Mac Pro, it’s not just reliability that warrants the $6000 starting price. The physical build of the machine, its modularity, expandability, design, and real world performance all play a big part too.
Each of these variables will have a huge impact on the user experience while running the machine, not to mention raw performance.
I would wager that even a base model Mac Pro (with 8 cores) will easily outperform its PC equivalent. Its thermal system alone would likely push it over the edge – it’s unlike anything I’ve ever seen before.
That said, in the real world I don’t think we’ll find a ton of new 8 core Mac pros. They will exist as an entry level option, but most professionals who can afford to spend $6K on the tower will likely be happy to spend more for additional processing and graphics power.
Post-houses, large facilities, and freelancers working on higher end projects will likely pony up the extra $$$ for a 16-core, or maybe even a 28-core machine. To working professionals who actually need that power, the extra cost will be a non-issue. It will allow them to blaze through projects and potentially take on more volume and scale.
Prosumers on the other hand will likely find any variation of the Mac Pro too expensive, and will probably be better served with an iMac Pro or similar. Corporate production companies, wedding videographers, or independent filmmakers don’t necessarily need the power the new Mac Pro offers. It would certainly help their workflows in some way, but perhaps not enough to justify making such a big spend.
The same logic applies to Apple’s Pro Display XDR. Consumers and (some) prosumers will find it overpriced, while professionals who can truly benefit from the technology will be happy to pay for it. That’s kind of how it’s always been with Apple.
From where I stand, I think the new Mac Pro is not only an incredible technical achievement in and of itself, but also represents a positive step for Apple as a whole.
Over the years Apple has been criticized for forgetting the professionals – a market that they served so effectively for so many years. But in light of what we’re seeing with the new Mac Pro, I’d say that argument is dead in the water.
The same people who were upset at Apple for not releasing a new pro-level computer, are now just as upset that it has arrived… They wanted a pro-level machine but didn’t want to pay professional prices. Some people will never be satisfied.
But meanwhile, the rest of us are happy to see Apple moving in such a great direction. Not all of us will need the new Mac Pro or even be able to afford one, but at least we have the option. And who knows, maybe we’ll see a more affordable version down the line – a Mac Pro Mini perhaps.
In the future, I’ll be sure to share some follow up thoughts once I’ve had time to test out the machine in the real world. For now, let me know what you think of the new Mac Pro in the comments below.