Apple gave us a sneak preview of the Mac Pro at this week’s WWDC. At long last, the Mac world was given a glimpse of the future of high powered computing from Apple. Sadly, the amount of criticism of both the design, engineering and realistic practicality of the new Mac Pro was astounding. It’s been nicknamed, laughed at, and discounted by pundits before its even available for sale. As professional Apple users, we have a right to be not only fussy but demanding too – we require high powered equipment to do our jobs and make a living, and it’s up to Apple to provide us with that. Recently, the Mac Pro hasn’t exactly been the best investment as the hardware the previous model contained was 3 years old but Apple never reduced the price despite that fact.
The new Mac Pro is a radical design, much different from the outgoing model. Because of Apple’s glossy-looking composition shots of its new product, many thought it was manufactured using plastic – it’s not, rather it uses metal like all other Apple products. The lack of internal expandability has become a cause for concern for many potential buyers – but I don’t see it as a problem for the Mac Pro’s future. A lot of existing Mac Pros are already hooked up to external RAID storage, devices such as the Drobo and Promise Pegasus. They are also hooked up to external sound cards and other expensive systems. As such, many Mac Pros that are being used in production environments are already being used with a combination of other hardware. So the next logical step is to take advantage of the Thunderbolt technology by moving this area forward. Currently, it’s early days – there are not many good Thunderbolt devices available, and they are costly. Many TB-based RAID enclosures have noisy fans and ugly designs that would never match with the Mac Pro. However, with time, this should improve – we should see companies start to embrace Thunderbolt as the market demand for it increases (because of the new Mac Pro’s dependance on it).
It takes us time to adapt and get used to new products, and the new Mac Pro is no exception. We’re not used to a system that depends so heavily on Thunderbolt to expand its abilities. We’re not used to this type of Mac, and we’re not used to the uncertainty that goes along with it – especially when it will be such a large investment for buyers. Those who buy it will be the early adopters – the beta testers of this new design, essentially. As the market around this new product grows, it’ll become a much more viable option for a greater number of people. The upcoming model that we’ve seen so far, with the 12 core processor and dual GPUs, is likely a candidate best for video content producers/editors rather than photographers or digital designers. But I expect that once things get moving, that will quickly change.
This will ultimately be a much more flexible and adaptable Mac than any before it – I’m excited about Apple’s professional offerings over the next couple years.