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.
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Apple has covered all segments.
hobbyist – iMac / Mac mini
prosumer / indie film maker – iMac pro / MacBook Pro ( new 16″ )
big post houses and studios – Mac Pro
As someone who built PCs for 20 years, I can say that upgradability of PC is a myth. Motherboard socket changes every two or three years. you can’t upgrade to latest processor, or memory. Only component that can be upgraded is graphics card, which is covered by eGPU on Mac side.
Apple quality is awesome . I have a 10 year old MacBook still working, and a Mac mini too. Can’t say the same thing about PCs.
100% agree. Thank you!
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Apple product designers may have the additional pressure of knowing that several previous Apple products are already displayed in The Museum of Modern Art in New York along side art works worth millions.
Haha, so true!
I feel this is heading the way the pro industry is not.
To me the only thing to applaud is they are still aware they have a place in the pro market – but this misguided R & D effort is for the the bling fanboy market – not us nimble, very high quality, boutique agencies.
The market has superior more affordable powerful, scalable and modular options.
PC gamers that demand the most power for the buck and recently they have shown us two things:
1. Thunderbolt 3 us a beast of a bus.
2. The modular e-GPU is the future.
I hate to say ‘no’ to anyone who asks about their next new idea but i predict the new MacBook Pros, iMacs, and Mac Mini’s coupled with easily expandable far more affordable e-GPU’s wil be the death knell for these shiny new toys.
( As an Adobe developer correctly said ” The sting might have been a little less bad if they hadn’t released the thousand dollar stand to hang the bling on – at the same time”)
You could be 100% correct. It’s hard to tell where the industry is going as it’s expanding so rapidly. There’s definitely more of a market for prosumer/modular systems than ever before… But there’s also more high end content being produced as well. While it may never be ubiquitous, I do see this machine making it’s way into many edit suites running broadcast and theatrical shows.
You’re right, independent filmmakers don’t necessarily need the power the new Mac Pro offers, but I also want a modular upgradeable desktop mac. Apple should offer a Mac Pro basic configuration about $4000 maybe. They can do that. And I’ll spend more money in the future on this computer, thats for sure, but if you start at 6000 for the base model, I’m out now and forever. (like a lot of people).
Agreed. I cant understand how so many defend the lousy base spec for 6k. That is way over the top considering that the old one was 3k in todays inflation. Now apple dont have one desktop computer! Not one. For 4k max with good specs i would buy one (and keep it for a long long time), for 6k im out. So is basically 99% of their customer base, considering they r venturing into a market they really have been lacking in. No nvidia support too, i and most other consumers will probably just buy pcs now. For 3.5k i can build a 8 core xeon, thunderbolt3, 32g ecc, quadro rtx4000, with 2tb raid 1 vroc drives. The value of macos isnt 2.5k. Not for anyone buying this themselfes, regardless of a better experience and reability. It just doesnt make sense – for the price that is!
Fair enough! What are you switching to?
It seems that I, like many others, am not Apple’s target market for the new Mac Pro and Pro Display XDR. I was excited leading up to the WWDC opening keynote with my wallet open and ready for a decent base model, user-upgradeable Mac Pro up to $5k and a consumer-level 6k Apple display between $2-3k.
I am a computer programmer by trade. I do primarily .Net and iOS development along with some mobile, web, and ML work. I’m also a computer “enthusiast”, so I always want more than I need, and I like the idea of having the option to upgrade at least ram and storage. Around a year and a half ago, I had the need to do more iOS development for work, so I decided to replace my aging iOS-development only 13″ MacBook Pro and go all-in on Apple’s ecosystem. I purchased a new iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch, and an iMac Pro. Honestly, it’s been good. I spend 50% of my time doing .Net development, but even this works well with a Parallels VM and Bootcamp when I need bare-metal performance.
Here’s the thing about Apple …
My non-user-upgradeable iMac Pro does meet my needs rather well currently, and it would likely continue to do so for several years, but I need a computer manufacturer to produce what I want not a parent to tell me what I need. I am NOT beholden to Apple or their ecosystem. I’ll take my money and my skills elsewhere if they refuse to produce the type of system I want. Perhaps Apple has run the numbers on this already and isn’t concerned. If that’s the case, we can go our separate ways in peace.
Thanks for sharing this, Shane. Interesting perspective all around. It’s so hard to know where Apple will go next in terms of their pro-level machines, but let’s hope they move in the right direction for you.
Back in 2006, one of the reasons why I switch from PC to apple computer was speed, reliability and expandability. Price was not a concern, but the long run investment was worth it.
This is a really interesting analysis, and I agree with many of your points. If people have the money and need the sort of performance these machines offer, the peace of mind and reliability that a Mac offers might be worth the extra money. But it’s also true that Apple have massively lost ground with pros and have been dragging their heels, and have basically said they don’t want the pro market. So the negativity from the public is earned, in my opinion, and many many “pros” will feel left out by this version of the Mac Pro because the “affordable” versions are under spec’d.
Very fair point. Thanks as always for your two cents, Toby.
Tolani Brendan Mosweuat