Well, it seems that Apple finally created a whole new design for the Mac Pro. After seven years of the “Cheese grater” the new Mac Pro is now a… thermos?
Some say that first impressions are the most important. In the case of the new Mac Pro, my first impression is that Apple did exactly what I feared: it completely ignored what professionals actually want, and created a consumer product instead.
The full technical specifications are not yet known, so it’s difficult to say just how bad things are. From a first glance, it seems that the new Mac Pro can’t accept any internal storage, not even a single 2.5″ drive, so you can forget about getting an affordable SSD. Only Apple-designed (and obviously super-expensive) PCIe SSDs will be available, and then you’ll probably have to remove the old one if you want to upgrade to a bigger one.
As for the graphics cards, they look like custom jobs, so I would not have any hopes of adding an affordable PC graphics card any time in the future.
Firewire, DVI, and optical Audio out seem to be gone. A single HDMI port is the only affordable way to connect a normal DVI monitor (without having to buy either an Apple Thunderbolt monitor or a ridiculously expensive Thunderbolt-to-DVI adaptor).
It is clear that Apple has decided that Thunderbolt is the IO port of choice for the new Mac Pro. Apple seems to think that its huge bandwidth will be good enough to connect any and all high performance devices to your Mac. One tiny problem: there are very few Thunderbolt devices out there. Also, Thunderbolt cables are generally more expensive compared to Firewire or USB.
So what budget-minded professional will prefer untested Thunderbolt peripherals which will probably cost 1.5 times as much as PCIe cards, which the new Mac Pro does not support?
The new Mac Pro has a single theme: expensive, expensive, expensive. Want to add high-performance peripherals? Pay extra for Thunderbolt devices instead of PCIe cards. Want to add an SSD? Sorry, only Apple-designed SSDs will fit, and you have to throw away the old one. Want to upgrade your graphics card? Only Apple-designed graphics cards will work. Want to use standard PC DVI monitors? you have to buy an adaptor. Same if you want to connect your existing FireWire devices to your new Mac.
Being on the bleeding edge of technology is never easy, or cheap. But In this case, Apple may have gone too far. If Thunderbolt devices were both affordable and commonplace, then the new Mac Pro would be a reasonable, if uncomfortable, upgrade. But in the current reality the new Mac Pro is far too restrictive and requires far too big an investment to make it a competitive choice.
One good thing about it though; I now have no qualms about what my next Mac will be: a hackintosh.