Say cheese! The end of Macs with storage and expansion slots is proving very unsettling to some. If it’s not unsettling to everyone, well, blame how much better at making music laptops and cheaper desktops have gotten. Photo (CC-BY...
Say cheese! The end of Macs with storage and expansion slots is proving very unsettling to some. If it’s not unsettling to everyone, well, blame how much better at making music laptops and cheaper desktops have gotten. Photo (CC-BY) Paul Hudson.
For all this debate over the new Mac Pro, you really need to know only two things:
1. The current Mac Pro is not a good value at the moment.
2. We have no idea how much the new Mac Pro will cost.
And so, everything else (minis, iMacs, MacBooks, and yes, even PCs) rule the roost. That’s good for music, because (as a couple of commenters observed), they’re all working just fine. The Mac Pro I thought was newsworthy last week in that it demonstrated that more internal horsepower is coming to high-end desktops, and that those machines can (whether you like it or not) rely on external devices – meaning Apple can make them really small.
The response to last week’s editorial, though, revealed just how divisive this machine can be. Boy, did readers complain – shouting at me, shouting at each other. It’s also like a walk down memory lane. Mac users and Windows users are fighting again. People are complaining that a new computer from Apple will completely destroy professional workflows because of an absence of expandability, that Apple doesn’t understand the pro market. Ah, memories.
For other good analysis, veteran Apple watcher Peter Cohen has a great story:
A closer look at the new Mac Pro [iMore]
Take note: upsides include fast internal storage, dual Ethernet, loads of Thunderbolt ports, lots of I/O bandwidth, 4K displays. Likely a quiet studio machine. Loads of power. The downside: we don’t know how much it will cost or exactly when it will be available. (It’s really, really tough to overstate how important that is.)
To be fair, if you’re heavily invested in internal hardware, this is still really bad news. And Mac users may feel the situation is out of their control, because unlike Windows users, Apple is their only vendor. (That’s true of some of you, anyway; some of you are happily building Hackintosh machines.)
But what I think is missing from the online debates (on CDM and elsewhere) is one cold, harsh reality: the current Mac Pro seems a waste of money, 2010 technology at premium prices:
On the US Apple Store, the base model will set you back US$2500. To get the higher-end Intel chip, you need to shell out $3800.
That’d all be find if you got performance to match. But have a look at Macworld’s Speedmark scores. The 12-core Mac Pro (the one that costs as much as a used car) isn’t only outrun by a fancy new Retina MacBook Pro. It’s also slower than an iMac, or even the top-of-the-range Mac mini.
Switching to Thunderbolt and USB might well be pricey if you have a big investment in internal hardware. And buying one internal hard drive is definitely cheaper than buying one in a case with a cable.
But you simply can’t say the current Mac Pro status quo is a good value situation. It’s an expensive, slow machine.
And economizing by buying internal hardware is not always an advantage in an age when more and more pro users run laptops (or minis, or iMacs). Yes, external hardware generally costs more. It’s also easier to move and easier to swap with other computers, which can ultimately be a better value.
Also, it seems a small Mac Pro could be useful to audio users, who often move machines for everything from audio installations to stage setups. It’ll also be great news if this machine is quieter. We’ll know more later this year; it’s just too soon to say for sure.
Upgradeable, yes. But the cost of the machine itself is very high – and GPU and CPU upgrade options often aren’t the best buys for a Mac tower, either. Photo (CC-BY) Glenn Batuyong.
What is uncertain about the new Mac Pro
I think there are other concerns here that have more weight, though.