The new Apple Mac Pro is finally here: behold the $50k computer
Ever since Apple announced the new Mac Pro in June, one question kept the tech community on its toes. Just how much would a maxed-out 2019 Mac Pro cost? With a starting price of USD 5999 for the base model, many predicted figures around the 50k mark. Well, it’s finally here, and let’s just say this: The predictions were pretty darn accurate.
Apple releases new Mac Pro
The new Mac Pro is now officially available. We already knew the new “cheese grater” case with no less than eight PCI Express expansion slots. The computer’s mind-blowing maximum specs were also already well-known and vividly discussed: Intel Xeon W processors with up to 28 cores, up to 1.5 terabytes of DDR4 ECC memory, and dual AMD Radeon Pro Vega II Duo graphics cards.
Let’s put those numbers aside for a moment and take a look at the base model. It comes with an 8-core Intel Xeon W CPU running at 3.5 GHz (turbo boost 4.0 GHz), 32GB of RAM, AMD Radeon Pro 580X graphics and a measly 256 GB (!) of SSD storage. If that’s all you get for 6000 bucks, how much does it cost to upgrade the Mac Pro to a configuration that truly deserves the “pro” moniker?
Like everyone else, I headed straight to Apple’s website when the news broke, and maxed out the specs out of curiosity. So here you have it: With 28 cores, 1.5 TB of RAM, dual Vega II Duo graphics cards and 4 TB of SSD storage, the 2019 Mac Pro breaks the sound barrier at USD 50,199. That doesn’t include taxes and any other extras, like a monitor and monitor stand, but that’s a whole other story.
That number is of course entirely fictional, because no one in their right mind would pay Apple 25,000 dollars (whew!) for 1.5 terabytes of RAM. So let’s go for a more sensible configuration. With a 16-core CPU, no memory upgrade (we’ll buy that somewhere else, thank you), a Radeon Pro Vega II and 2 TB of SSD storage, we’re at USD 11,199. If you want the 28 cores, that goes up to USD 16,199, and upgrading to either the Radeon Pro Vega II duo or dual Radeon Pro Vega II’s adds another USD 2,800. And remember, we still have to get the RAM. And the monitor stand.
Yes, it’s an expensive machine, as was to be expected. Many have pointed out that it’s a computer aimed at the pro market, where price is often less of a deciding factor than upgradeability, reliability and sheer power. But at these prices, I think that a future-proof configuration of the new Mac Pro may be out of reach for many who call themselves “pros” in the world of music production. The 28-core model can apparently run 6.5x as many Logic Amp Designer plug-ins as the previous generation 12-core Mac Pro, but how many of us will have a chance to experience it?
All in all, while the new 16-inch Macbook Pro was very well received and led some commentators to statements like “Apple is finally listening to pro users again”, we’ll have to see how well the Mac Pro does. I don’t think anyone would question the machine’s pro capabilities. But the price of the thing could mean that even some pro users simply can’t afford it, or cannot justify the cost.
Mac Pro Rack
On a side note, the new Apple Mac Pro will also be available in a rack format. Ever since Apple discontinued the Xserve, the company didn’t offer a server-style rack-mountable computer. The Mac Pro Rack (Apple Rack Pro?) is coming soon and will be a bit more expensive than the tower models. For studios that can afford it, this might be a good option for hiding the computer in the server / machine room.
- Up to 28 cores: Apple
- Apple Mac Pro Rack: Apple
Another gearnews article that fails to metion the ongoing issues with Apple’s T2 chips – the audio dropouts are still an issue, even with the new 16 inch macbook pro. See Louis Rossman’s latest youtube video on the matter.
Apple’s initial FCC filing for the Rack Pro is available, more documents are confidential until 05/31/2020.