The future of Mac Pro is here

The future of Mac Pro is here

Apple today announced the new Mac Pro. The entire keynote was a snoozefest for me as all I gave a damn about was to hear the new Mac pro being announced. One hour and 20 minutes in… finally! The new Mac Pro!

Is it hideous? Meh, kinda. Were some compromises made? Yeah. Is it a worthy successor of our beloved Classic Mac Pro’s? Absolutely. Let’s take a quick look at how the new Mac Pro is everything Apple promised and almost everything pro users wanted.

Processor

Starting with an 8-core 3.5GHz Intel Xeon which has 24.5MB cache and supports up to 1TB 2666MHz RAM, it’s fast out of the gate. The other options are a 12-core 3.3GHz, 16-core 3.2GHz, 24-core 2.7GHz and 28-core 2.5GHz Intel Xeon W. These latter all support RAM speeds of 2933MHz and up to 2TB of it! In CPU performance all but probably the 8-core will absolutely smoke the cMP, even those maxed out at 2x 3.46GHz.

Now the new Mac Pro is a single-CPU box. The good news is that this CPU is socketed so you can upgrade it at any time with another compatible CPU.

Memory

Up to 1.5TB (2TB according to the CPU specs…) of DDR4 ECC spread over 12 DIMM slots. At the low end these modules will provide 2666MHz and the high end will provide 2933MHz speeds. Enough said, this will leave any cMP in the dust.

Graphics

The options are pretty darn appealing. Apple used some new tricks to combine two GPU’s on a single card which gives a user incredible performance. During the keynote it was mentioned that 3rd party cards will work as well but if this includes NVIDIA is yet to be seen. Hopefully with macOS 10.15 Catalina’s API NVIDIA will be back in business.

Expansion

Apple delivered. 8 PCI Express slots of which 4 are double wide, 3 are single wide and 1 is half width. Four x16, three x8 and one x4. Two of the double wide slots offer an additional connector which allows an additional 475 Watts of juice to be delivered to the MPX module housing a GPU such as the Radeon Pro Vega II Duo. That connector is not just for power but also offers additional lanes with Thunderbolt integrated for incredible bandwidth. Many had hoped for at least 3 PCI slots and with 8 of them, Apple definitely delivered on their promise.

Cooling

Three 120mm (assuming) impeller fans sit at the front of the Mac Pro. Rotational speeds are as of yet unknown but I’m sure they are more than capable of cooling this beast down. The CPU heatsink and MPX modules are huge and Apple touts the CPU can run at maximum clock speed “all the time”. An additional blower fan sits on the side of the Mac Pro to help cool down the RAM, storage and power supply

Power

With a 1400 Watt power supply (1.4Kw does sound more impressive) the time for Pixlas Mod is over for now 😉 This will run your system and whatever card you can afford to put in just fine for the time being.

Case design

As with the cMP, this case was designed around cooling. I’m not a fan of the actual design but I have no doubt it’ll get the job done.

Storage

The time of 2.5″ and 3.5″ drives (internal at least) is over. Storage comes in the form of two SSD blades which will be RAIDed together by the T2 chip, up to 4TB. All your other storage will have to go external. Which brings us to the next point.

Ports

On the top of the Mac Pro we’ll find two Thunderbolt 3 USB-C ports. On the back there will be two USB-A 3.0 ports as well as two Thunderbolt 3 USB-C ports (seated on a PCI Express card that fits in your x4 half width slot). Dual 10 gigabit ethernet ports are also standard. Other I/O can be installed using any of the PCI Express slots.

From everything we currently have to go on, the new Mac Pro will be a gamechanger for professionals. This thing can be configured to meet your wildest expectations and have room to grow. Of course some questions remain unanswered. For example what are these ports inside the Mac Pro for?

USB, two SATA and a 10-pin connector.
UPDATE: Looks like that’s made for the Pegasus J2I 🙂

Another question of course is how upgradeable will this Mac Pro be? It has plenty of PCI Express slots and a socketed CPU but will the T2 chip prevent the use of 3rd party components? Time will tell.

Now I do not intend to buy this any time soon. I wish I had a job that paid that well 😉 From what we know now, I am happy with this Mac Pro because it means I have a future with Apple! When my 12-Core 2012 5,1 Mac pro is no longer good enough, I do not have to go to hackintosh to get the kind of hardware I want and that means a lot to me. Come 2027 I’ll probably be able to find one of these for a good price used and that will give me another decade or more of Mac Pro power 🙂

The announcement of the new Mac Pro does not in any way mean the cMP is less useful now. In my eyes, the cMP is still king. But come this fall, a better version will become available. As the pricing will keep the new Mac Pro out of the hands of us commoners, I foresee the cMP having at least another 5 years of useful life left in it if used for serious work and a decade or more if used as a personal/hobby computer. macOS 10.15 Catalina is said to only be compatible with the 2013 Mac Pro and newer but with people such as Dosdude1 on the job, we’ll likely have this and the next few macOS versions running just fine on our beloved cMac Pros.

This was my quick look at the new Mac Pro. Let me know your thoughts in the comments!

For the keynote, go here.
For the Mac Pro specs and features, go here.

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