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2013 Apple Mac Pro: Reader Comments

2013 Apple Mac Pro

See 2013 Apple Mac Pro: Faster or Slower, Elegant but Klunky, Promise vs Reality, Video Oriented.

Somehow I’m half expecting apes screeching and stomping around a giant black cylinder, complete with the usual music (think 2010 Space Odyssey).

Steven K writes:

I think your initial response is dead on. This new Mac Pro will have very little to offer Photographers and all of us will be forced to buy a 4-5 bay noisy Thunder Bolt inclosure.

What was Apple thinking? I guess they just wanted to address the Video market and as I understand it there are a lot of editors moving away from FCP.

Like you mentioned our only hope is that this does not come in at a very high price for a "entry" level box, i.e one 6 core processor, 256GB Flash drive, and 16GB of RAM ( 2 *GB Sticks) which will have to tossed in favor of 4 16GB modules, and if you have the money 4 32GB modules. Yikes….

MPG: Apple was thinking form over function: “ how smart we are!”.

All most Mac Pro users needed was a big box with USB3 and Thunderbolt and the new CPUs. This did not require a new design that compromises the basics like installing even a single hard drive, and limiting the memory slots.

Even the video market is compromised by having only four memory slots for a max of 64GB (unconfirmed, but the Apple images imply it—perhaps 12-core models find space in that tight case somewhere to have 8 slots, but Apple doesn’t address this critical fact).

OWC 8GB DDR3 1333 MHz memory module

We might see improved (lower noise) Thunderbolt external boxes, or perhaps (cost is a problem) single-drive Thunderbolt boxes. That’s good, but it doesn’t solve the PCIe issue; that might require still more boxes (and fans).

As for price, you can bet that Xeon E5 CPUs and dual GPUs and SSD only for the boot drive won’t come cheap.

Jon M writes:

Thanks for the excellent analysis, Lloyd.

I have no intention of buying one of these - ever.

I feel really fortunate that you have been our guide in the past and that thanks to you I now have a 2012 six core, with a SSD system drive, 24 gigs ram, three HD in a raid 0 array, hooked up to a 30" Nec monitor.

I don't see anything the new unit would offer me except great expense, and a desk strewn with peripherals instead of the elegant aluminum box I have now.

I think I will just stick with Mountain Lion, PS CS6, and my Mac Pro, all of work just fine, (except for the bugs in CS6), and just worry about doing my work, not my computer.

Should work for at least five years, after which, I'll be probably slowing down a bit. Thanks for everything you do.

MPG: Captures the core issue: getting work done without fuss.

Martin D writes:

So, to answer the question: yes. The new Mac Pro is clearly—despite being a cylindrical, not rectangular solid—the “Mac Mini Pro” scenario previously discussed.

MPG: I was hoping for a dodecahedron myself, but Jony wasn’t up to speed on skeumorphic leather-covered graphene designs apparently. Judging by his video shown with WWDC, he might be being held in a private cell somewhere and told to speak Great Truths to the masses.

The MacMini and the iMac both allow at least one internal hard drive (two for the Mini, though they are 2.5-inch). So we have a Bigger Mac Mini (BMM), without any hard drive storage, but with more memory and a much faster CPU and GPU.

More to the point, I’m getting tired of hearng the glowing deification about great design when it fails at the basics: I’ve given up on reading web pages on the iPhone (too small for my eyes and pinch-to-read gets old fast), and now the Mac Pro design from 2010 Space Odyssey. The thing sits under my desk (why would I want to waste space on my desktop), so as along as it

Michael C writes:

I can’t quite believe how arrogant Apple appears to be with this announcement.

They’ve singlehandedly created a huge market for used previous-version Mac Pros on EBay. That’s where I’ll be going if my trusty Snow Leopard Mac Pro ever gives up the ghost.

What a junk show!

Thanks for your quick and timely analysis.

MPG: Arrogance is not how I see it— more like intransigence in terms of what most pro users want and need. And it shows tremendous engineering prowess for the goals they seem to have had in mind. But I don’t want to attach a passenger trailer to my one-seater car in order to carry passengers: great design, wrong target.

Charles W writes:

As one of your clients, I continue to enjoy my Mac Pro for photo editing. My only regret is that my 2009 model cannot be upgraded to dual 6-core processors, as I am sure that would carry me through the next 10 years.

The sneek peek at the 2013 Mac Pro, while interesting, does not incline me to upgrade. The idea that all expansion is to be external is not at all appealing. I continue to marvel at the mechanical design of my current Mac Pro. I think that future upgrades for desk top computers are probably going to be iMacs and serious photo editing will be done on MacBook Pros with retina displays. Add a Cintique tablet, and that may be all one would need. A real downer at the WWDC!

MPG: eventually it will all sort out, but it won’t change the fact that internal drive bays are exceptionally elegant the way they are done in the existing model. The new model makes no provision for another basic elegance: stackability; so now you have a cylinder with a rectangular next to it, both occupying floor or desk space. Who in their right mind thinks that is elegant.

For anyone who just wants to establish a good solid workstation now, I’d go with the 6-core 3.33 GHz model as-is (see recommended Mac Pro models), outfitting it as per my MPG Pro Workstation features. Video users should go with the 12-core of course. Undecided, that’s what consulting is for.

Joseph M writes:

I don't understand how a "pro" computer can get away without any drive bays or card slots.

People who didn't mind external expansion bought an iMac. Isn't the whole point of the Pro to keep all your storage and expansion under one roof for the sake of convenience?

MPG: Seems like “believing” is the issue, not understanding.

Jamie L writes:

Comment 1: You suggest a CPU upgrade for the low-end 2010 to a 3.46ghz cpu, however I wouldn't suggest investing in a computer that will probably be left out of the Maverick OS.

Comment 2: Will those two videocards in the NEW mac pro be suitable for gaming?

MPG: The suggestion seems to be that all existing Mac Pros as well as those being sold right now (the 2010 model) won’t run OS X 9. Seems to be some misunderstanding here.

The video cards appear to be fairly “bad ass”, so presumably gamers will like the new model.

William H writes:

Let's call it the 2013 "Trash-Can" Mac Pro. I expect to see Oscar leap out and grumble about everything...

I see where Apple is coming from, however (not just from a $ point of view either). As we expected, what we have is a "Pro" Mac Mini and Apple may be going through their 'vertical phase' judging by "The all-new AirPort Time Capsule" with "Up to 3TB of storage". But let's think about this...

TBolt does what I need it to do. I also LIKE being able to select/switch whichever storage device/s I need. It means I don't have all my hard drives spinning away all day using power, being noisy and wear-and-tear where I don't need access to them. I think this is a significant consideration.

[MPG: you can do this already with the existing model, just unmount the drives and they will spin down.]

Transfer of files is quick over TB and so I often bring Aperture libraries (and working docs) onto my onboard SSD and then transfer off again. My file management has changed too. I have learnt to be more disciplined by managing my Aperture libraries differently and restricting their size where possible (in practice the speed difference between my TB Raid external and the SSD with Aperture is rarely perceptible).

[MPG: sounds like inventing extra steps to work around limitations to me.]

Don't get me wrong - I HATE CABLES AND EXTRA POWER SUPPLIES EVEN MORE!!!!! - but we've always had to live with them. Apple was NEVER going to give me a box with 8-bays (still not enough) that we could switch on and off as we liked.

[MPG: 4 is a reasonable number].

What's more I DO see some logic to the new Apple construction and would expect to see developers making look-alike housings for multiple hard drives that may be quieter and more thermally efficient.

[MPG: developers don’t have Apple R&D budgets.]

OK, so it will look like we now have 2 or 3 expensive trash cans sitting on our desks sucking in dust ! I don't know about you, but I can just see dust falling in the top and being sucked up from my desk by the ton - OMG I could NEVER put it anywhere near the floor !

[MPG: My presumption is that air exits the top and thus prevents ingress from the top while the machine is one.]

Also, I noted the position of the flash-drive and noticed only one of them attached to the graphics card. Was that it? If so there was clearly space to another one over the other graphics card. I'm certain OWC or the like will make a facility to add another and they ought to be easily swapped for more capacity ones anyway.

[MPG: Apparently there are two slots for flash drives with unspecified specs which we can hope will be open to 3rd parties. One slot will presumably be occupied by an Apple SSD that must be purchased with the unit.]

We DO tend to resent being forced by new technology always, especially when it appears so underwhelming. But I'm old enough to know how eventually we adapt and find new ways. MAYBE this new step will be better in it's later iteration/model.

Whether I swap or augment my laptop option I don't know yet (I never leap into new technology anyway) and it isn't always practical to run 2 "main" computers. So I have to stick with just one and the occasional portability of the MacBook Pro is nice. Mind you, the new "trash-can" version MacPro looks fairly portable too... lol

MPG: Another point of view that is fair enough.

But as I’ve noted, nothing beats installing a hard drive into an existing internal bay at no extra expense or noise (other than the drive itself). That is elegant as it gets.

Austin W writes:

Also, something to consider:

If the new dual GPU comes standard, it certainly won't come cheap.

These match the specs of the AMD W9000 cards released last year at an MSRP of $3,999 each.

Additionally, with a TDP of over 500W just for the GPUs, you're looking at a lot of power under load.

For someone (like you) that doesn't use GPU compute, that's a huge expense right out of the gate.

MPG: agreed. GPUs are generally useless for any photographic workflow I do. I’d much rather spend the power and space budget on a 2nd CPU and twice as many memory slots. That said, dual GPUs of this performance might encourage something of everyday use to develop. And I can’t see gamers being unhappy at all! But also remember that such GPU power and bandwidth will be needed to drive 4K displays for scaling or any similar activity.

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