Brief Thoughts on the New Mac Pro

His headshots get old, but Linus gets it.

It may seem like a cop-out to get the ball rolling with somebody else’s detailed video analysis of the Mac Pro, but Linus has a lot of good insights on Apple’s new professional-targeted rig. I have some thoughts too.

For some niches of content-building professionals, the 2019 Mac Pro will be a great solution. Hands down, graphic designers, audio producers, and video post-production specialists hooked into the ecosystem will be thrilled, assuming they can afford to use one. The Afterburner RAW video board is a very nice piece of hardware relevant for a small, well-compensated group of media post-production professionals. And iOS developers can simulate plural devices simultaneously, to an even greater extent than they already could on a different multi-core Mac stuffed full of memory.

The G5 Power Macintosh, with “cheese grater” case. Image courtesy Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Power_Mac_G5

But at the risk of being called a wet blanket, I should remind readers that the utility of the Mac for iOS development is a restriction of Apple’s own making. Put bluntly, if you don’t have a Mac of some kind, iOS development isn’t a (legal) possibility for you. This is enough of a documented phenomenon that Mac Minis have been jokingly called authentication dongles for iOS development for years. Were the tools for compiling and building iOS apps ported to different platforms, then any supported, capable machine could handle the job.

The Mac Pro 2019, where calling it a cheese grater is the good kind of cheeky. Source: https://www.apple.com/newsroom/2019/06/apple-unveils-powerful-all-new-mac-pro-and-groundbreaking-pro-display-xdr/

macOS feels slick and has held onto an ecosystem that suits 2D-centric multimedia work very well. That doesn’t get around the fact that there’s nothing inherently magical about the Mac Pro. Its CPUs are designed and manufactured by Intel, and are part of the latest refresh of their Skylake Server line. While the motherboard is Apple’s design, the CPU socket will be LGA 3647, part of Intel’s premium, server-targeted line, and the chipsets are also Intel products. Time will tell if Apple really does migrate to ARM for its future Macs, but in its current state the Mac Pro is likely to be a long-term investment for Apple. While it looks like concerns that their rumored switch to ARM would be total effective next year were off the mark, that doesn’t mean a gradual change is off the table.

From Linus’ vid, above.

But there is this conundrum. Apple has signaled by its asking price that capable, upgradeable workstation-ready hardware should be restricted to the well-heeled and people with corporate budgets to draw from. Even by workstation pricing this is a bit much, especially at a point where increasing numbers of workstation users get by with gamer-targeted hardware. For the pros Apple’s targeted – the people who will use these machines to get profitable work done, and for whom a big initial investment is a means to that end – they’ll be great. Time will tell if anybody else is going to climb onboard at those prices.


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