Color me something of a Mac power user. Our household has five Macs. An a not quite aging MacBook Pro. An aging Mac Pro. An aging iMac. A very aging Mac mini. And an even older iMac that still runs macOS Sierra (so maybe not that old).
See the problem here? All our Macs are aging.
What I want is a Mac with power. A pro Mac. What Apple has been doing in recent years is obvious. Professional level Mac users are changing and Apple is going with the professional flow. These days, a quad core with 32GB of RAM is considered Pro. Even the Mac Pro is not so much of a pro these days because it’s been three years without an upgrade and it’s not all that upgradeable anyway.
Alright, let’s see if we can define what a professional Mac means to Mac pros.
First up, expandability– as in ports and connectivity. Second up, user installable– and upgradeable– RAM. Thirdly, user upgradeable storage; SSDs, of course. Finally, and with a nod to yesteryear, a way to upgrade CPUs and GPUs, although that’s less of a deal breaker these days.
Apple’s previous Mac Pro was the so-called cheese grater model which was a behemoth with all kinds of storage options, RAM upgrade options, and more fans than a beach bar in the Caribbean before a hurricane. That monster of a Mac, beloved by many of the professional crowd, was replaced three years ago with a new Mac Pro that more resembles a stylish aluminum trash can on your desk.
It’s the new Mac Pro and how Apple treats customers with so-called Professional level requirements that has my hair on fire.
The cylinder Mac Pro is somewhat flexible in that you can connect almost anything to it. USB, FireWire, HDMI, Thunderbolt, et al. That means lots of cables, but flexible it is. The Mac Pro has upgradeable RAM. That’s good. Add up to 128GB. That should satisfy just about any graphics, media, or programmer types with ease. Storage is an issue, especially if you want it to be fast. MacSales has plenty of internal SSD storage up to 4TB; again, that should be sufficient for most Mac users who don the professional monicker and are willing to get a second mortgage on the home to pay for it all.
A Mac Pro from Apple– with 12 core CPU, dual AMD FirePro 6GB GPUs, 1TB of PCIe-based SSD storage, and a mere 64GB of RAM– can just about hit $9,400. Without a mouse or a keyboard.
Yep. With one exception, that’s a professional level Mac. Hey, it can even drive multiple Retina 5k displays. If only Apple had a branded model to sell.
What’s left? CPUs. Therein lies a huge problem for Apple. The company has missed Intel’s last two Xeon processor upgrades and there’s no way to upgrade the CPU yourself (v2 vs. v4).
Mac Pro is powered by the latest Intel Xeon E5 processors. Built using Intel’s advanced 22-nanometer process technology, Intel Xeon E5 processors feature up to 12 processing cores and up to 30MB of shared L3 cache on a single chip.
RAM, CPUs, GPUs, and other technology components have improved since the Mac Pro was introduced, but Apple seems to have missed the boat on those upgrades. Maybe they thought the Mac Pro would sell more– it’s manufactured (or, in the alternative, assembled) in the U.S.– , it didn’t, so they have a very large inventory of older components.
Whatever it is, professional level Mac users are screaming that the new MacBook Pro models are anything but professional because expandability, RAM, and pretty much everything else has finite limits that are more prosumer or pro-wannabe levels, and do not cater to the increasingly smaller percentage of Mac users who claim to have professional needs.
For the high end pro, simply upgrading the trash can-like Mac Pro with new CPUs and GPUs each year would have been sufficient to quell part of the storm. But the new MacBook Pros are something of slap in the face to those we want to differentiate their hardware from the run-of-the-mill prosumer pro wannabe.