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It’s About Time for a New Mac Pro

Seem my April 8 status update.

The question keeps arising whether to invest in a Mac Pro now, or whether to wait.

Mac Pro schematic  
What will it be?

Here we are in mid-March with new Intel chips on the near horizon (end of March or early April), and the rumor mill is as dry as winter in California this year. With some luck, that will change like the monsoon-like rains we had this past week.

Or maybe not. In 2010, Apple delayed a new Mac Pro until August. Might we see a repeat this year? I don’t want to contemplate the worse alternative (discontinued).

After all, Apple is selling so many iPads and iPhones, the Mac Pro is just a grain of sand in the iP* sandbox, so it makes absolutely no difference to profits, at least in the short term bean-counter sense.

My advice to professionals remains the same: if your current Mac (any flavor) is impeding your work (and your time is valuable), get a new Mac Pro soon, outfitted as an MPG Pro Workstation. It won’t hurt to wait another 2 weeks, but if no new model emerges soon, get on with getting work done.

As I wrote back in December, Apple shows a disregard for its professional users in the way it arbitrarily changes programs like Final Cut, and when it also provides no guidance as to whether a crucial product might continue. When there is credible speculation of the Mac Pro being discontinued, Apple’s silence speaks volumes. Professionals need to know they have a path forward, any vague guidance in the affirmative would address the issue.

Why a Mac Pro?

My recommended Mac Pro systems are found on my gear page.

Fast enough

The existing 3.33 GHz Mac Pro meets my needs, which are relatively demanding. Sure, a faster CPU would be nice, but would it actually improve my productivity in a significant way? No. One can also upgrade any 2010 Mac Pro to as much as a 12-core 3.46 GHz model.

In short, fast enough is fast enough, and beyond that, it’s nice, but not crucial.

On the other hand, if efficiency is suffering from an unreliable or slow system, moving to a Mac Pro system now (with appropriate drives and memory) is likely to save you more time even in the short run than the difference between a current Mac Pro and a new one. Fast enough is fast enough.

Upgrades

Your existing system might actually be fast enough, but it might be that the drives are slow, or your work demands more memory than is available. Investigate memory usage and pay attention to disk speed; it might be that a modest upgrade is enough to deliver satisfaction.

Especially with a laptop, a slow drive and/or a measly 4GB of memory can be like a wet blanket on a cold day, you can shiver and bear it, or fix the problem.

On the other hand, if all CPU cores are fully utilized, then only more or faster CPU cores are going to help. You can upgrade the CPU in 2010 Mac Pros. For those with a slow 4-core , moving to a faster 4-core CPU or 6-core CPU is a relatively good deal (upgrading from a single CPU to dual CPUs is much more expensive, due to the parts involved).

Fault tolerance

Another reason to get a Mac Pro are the options it offers for expansion, backup and fault-tolerance (via RAID mirroring for example). Or something as simple as the ability to swap a bad drive in a few minutes (crucial for “production” systems).

All those things with high performance too. If your work depends on uptime, then a system that puts you at risk from even a gray-swan failure is grounds for a high priority upgrade.

Buyer’s remorse

Skip the buyer's remorse.

Computers get a little better every 6 months. But until then, a system that meets your needs, even it lacks full sex appeal, has nonetheless given you the benefits for a significant period of time. That aspect is often overlooked; skip the buyer’s remorse and realize that “killer” breakthroughs in performance are rare, and that a balanced system (CPU, ample memory, fast drives, solid backup) is what matters.

Where to Buy a Mac Pro, MacBook Pro, iMac?

Looking for an in-stock Mac Pro or other Mac at a great price?

How about a price substantially lower on AppleCare than Apple?

Check out B&H Photo. See my gear page for links to my recommended Mac systems and AppleCare.

See also my Where to Buy a Mac Pro page, Where to Buy a MacBook Pro, Where to Buy an iMac pages.

Need help deciding what is right for your needs, or how to backup reliably? I offer consulting.


Max Your Mac Pro at OWC

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