New Mac Pro and Pro Display XDR Offer Power for a (High) Price

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It has been a long time coming, but Apple’s new highly configurable Mac Pro and Pro Display XDR monitor raise the bar—and the price—of a high-end Mac workstation. Well-heeled creative professionals who need maximum performance will be delighted.

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There sure is a LOT to say/question about this new machine, but my central one is how in the blazes can they call this a REAL pro machine if it’s not capable of running CUDA? Far as I know, CUDA is a very essential part of a LOT of actual professionals…

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Why can’t they do a reasonable priced computer? I’m using an iMac right now but I don’t need laptop components. The iMac can’t be height adjusted and is really loud when doing heavy computing.

Would’ve taken ‘courage’ for CUDA support.

In reality, while hideously expensive for a desktop machine it is only about 2K more than the 2010 ‘cheesegraters’. While likely not very cost effective for most new Mac users, it can be an effective solution for existing Mac users with ‘cheesegraters’ who have the funds and not wishing to switch OS platforms. It seems to be a far better solution than journalist were predicting which was a closed system made up of only Apple modules, who felt on the bases of those articles that Apple was not listening and that they would be likely forced to abandon the Apple platform. If you have the funds, then paying an extra 3k for a new machine when compared to what upgrading a old ‘cheesegrater’ with new high performance processors and graphics cards, which will likely not be installation supported by Catalina, even with the improved processor and graphics card, is not totally outrageous when you consider the time, effort and costs to convert or substitute all your current apps to another platform or custom build a ‘Hackintosh’. I also suspect that one could use 3rd party ram and SSD’s in a effort to control costs as if they are not currently available they are likely to be available at or soon after the release date. My only disappointment so far, other than the costs, is no provision internally for traditional drives, which are currently still more cost effective than SSD’s especially for storage sizes greater than 1TB. They still are great options for backups and storage rotations for off-site physical archiving. Also there is no internal provision for a DVD drive which is handy to have for creating disks to be used at other sites, especially when computers or the internet is not available as phone and ipads don’t interface easily.with DVD drives and have some other advantages over flash drives in certain situations. All this means I am no longer feeling that I am being coerced by Apple to change platforms to obtain the flexibility I need in a desktop computer, but it does come with a hefty price tag in order to maintain presence in the Apple universe. As such I still feel that sales of this machine will be quite limited for general enterprise work or as enterprise servers. Perhaps Apple at some point in the future will consider creating a lower performance and less costly MacPro Desktop for more general usage. I have friends that would jump at the opportunity to purchase such a desktop machine; one with open architecture with lower performance processors and GPU’s at a lower cost that was configurable. It might also appeal to the general enterprise community and to small business. Tower desktop machines actually improve security as they are harder to steal and fence. They are also more ergonomically friendly and less susceptible to damage. It is just not that easy to accidentally drop a tower machine onto the floor as most are already on the floor or close to it. If not they are usually firmly attached.

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Glad they took the box with slip off case route, possible to add third party cards etc. Really nice to see all the pro video companies on board on launch. Great there’s a rack-mounted version. Wonder if it’s cheaper?

Can’t say I love the design. It has impact for sure but the word ‘elegant’ doesn’t apply at least on first look.

The price for the base Pro is kind of expected, will be interesting to see if add-ons are premium priced too.

  • Afterburner
  • memory, what’s 1.5Tb of Apple priced RAM? Hmmmm.
  • That do-hickey they can pop the video cards in. Not clear if that was standard but given that you can have two, probably not.
  • not to forget the castors, set of four…

The screen is impressive spec-wise. Very impressive in fact, but that design… I’m not sold, holding judgement until one is in front of me, when I suspect I’ll want one.

999 for a stand got a deserved audience reaction. I think if we had heard a price breakdown for the elements within the box (and the castors…) stunned silence might have dominated the room.

Where’s it made I wonder? The US factory story got a big mention last time.

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You kids don’t know what high cost is. My first Mac was an SE/30 bought in January 1989 and it cost. $6,500. To put that into perspective, " $100 in 1990 is equivalent in purchasing power to about $187.54 in 2017, a difference of $87.54 over 27 years." That brings the cost of a MacPro to about $12,220 for comparison purposes. BTW I still have two of them that are used often and have never been in the shop. Another way to look at it is I bought my first house in Wellesley Massachusetts (a wealthy town) in 1966 for less than $24,000. It was most recently sold for more than $800,000.


In that picture used in the article, what are those things that look like internal ports next to the CPU and right above the half length PCIe slot? And what does the thing do that appears to be some kind of locking mechanism to the left of those ports?

Fair question. Is no CUDA on Mac really still a consequence of petty Apple trying to punish Nvidia after they had some falling out over nothing about a decade ago?

I’ve changed camps a bit on the question of Apple overpricing its hardware. These days, I’m inclined to take a stance that if Apple chooses to cater to a specific Mac segment at all, I’ll appreciate that regardless of how high the cost. The stagnation and/or outright neglect were bad enough while they lasted (and still do for certain products/uses).

That said, you’d think that for $5k a monitor would come with some kind of stand. I wouldn’t mind if they charged extra for an extra fancy stand, but the fact that $5k gets you zilch in terms of stand/mount is just preposterous.

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Sure seems to me that they seem to be serious about selling a freaking stand for that monitor for a grand, (and the 5-6k cost does NOT come with anything to hold it up) sure seems to point where they are aiming sales at. I’d still like to know exactly what percentage of the cost is no object scientific and 3D animation is solidly using CUDA. Everything I have read ALL suggests that whatever CUDA brings, it is generally considered better than anything AMD has come up with. So maybe the question there is does whatever else the machine can do justify end users ditching using CUDA?

Of course this really is 100% dumb, there is no reason whatsoever for the machine to NOT be capable of supporting CUDA… seems like petty vindictiveness over something that happened many many years ago that, to this day, most seem to blame the fruit more than nVidia.

SO fine, we have an uber expensive machine (properly equipped to actually DO the stuff they claim the machine was built to do seems to get into the $20,000 category) that is aimed at not that big a market. While I would have to really stretch to spend 3 grand to replace my cMP (more want it than need it) I just gotta think this is a HUGE market. Might take 6-7 folks buying machine like that compared to the return on one of these new monsters. More than 7, more net income for Cupertino.

AND let’s look ahead. Isn’t it clear that as the smartphone market leaves middle for old age (AND seemingly shut out of China due to Tim Apple’s good buddy in the white house), the revenue ain’t coming from there, but for “services.” How much of that “20 grand machine” market is at all interested in said “services?” NONE. How about the market of my mythical 3k machine? Seems THAT is the sweet spot for said services. Flip it around… they are not in any way making any machine I would consider buying at this point. How inclined do you think I would be to give them money for “services?” NONE. Oh I’ll keep limping along best I can on my Sierra-ish cMP (OS dead end due to nVidia card and apple refusing to let them ship already developed drivers for mojave) then if it blows up, 2k will get me a perfectly fine wonblowzen gaming box that will do all I need it to do.

Why can’t they do a reasonable priced computer? I’m using an iMac right now but I don’t need laptop components. The iMac can’t be height adjusted and is really loud when doing heavy computing.

The new Mac Pro is targeted at the highest of the high end professional market, probably a big % of which will be corporate buyers from companies like Pixar, Disney, ad agencies, Adobe, Cartoon Network, game design companies, studios that do VR, AR, CGI, etc., as well as general film and TV production studios. Scientific communities would be good targets as well, as would automotive and other transportation design, architecture and engineering. Even for a very small production company, a high end pro camera or a even a Steadicam will cost more, usually a very, very lot more, especially if they are added on to mobile rigs, than a fully tricked out new Mac Pro. And the cameras and Steadicams often take beatings on sets, so their lifespans aren’t very long. The Mac Pros will be chugging along for years, especially since they are now very expandable.

Mac Pros are aimed at an entirely specific, and different, market than the average TidBITS reader, and the high end market is a highly lucrative one. Beyond that is the rub off effect. A less expensive model benefits from the good karma of an associated, stratospherically priced brand.

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New video provides some more insight.

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The higher end MacBook Pros, the top end of the new 2019 iMac, the iMac Pro all count as high-end machines. All bring great power, and the base model of this overlaps them in some regards, what it brings is expandability beyond anything else we’ve seen on the Mac. You can ramp this up all the way and then some.

And that will cost. I am curious to see how much is all and so glad it’s there.

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As I remarked to my TidBITS colleagues, back in the 90s I worked at a video editing company. One day I was asked to pick up 64MB (not GB, MB) of RAM for one of our new tower Macs (an 8500 or 8600) from a local computer store. The RAM cost close to $1K (I felt like I was participating in a drug deal as I slipped the anti-static bag of RAM into a pocket). Installing the RAM was a trial; though the case of the Mac could be opened, working in it was awkward and often ended up in tears and blood. The price of the Mac was about $2.7K: $4.3K in 2019 dollars.

The new Mac Pro plays right into the same market that I worked in back then, and my few remaining contacts in the profession are excited and encouraged by the new Mac Pro. I can see a lot of the new Mac Pros being gobbled up by post production facilities. Also, keep in mind that Apple is working very closely with such facilities these days now that it is, in essence, also a video production company producing a slate of programs for its TV service, so it probably has access to a lot of feedback from potential purchasers of the Mac Pro.


If Apple wanted to “punish” a company, they’d most likely follow president set by Steve Jobs years ago that quickly became b-school textbook cases…the serious damage Apple did to Adobe and Avid. Not long after Jobs returned to Apple, Avid, which only ran on very expensive big iron from companies like Sun that cost at least $25k+ a workstation, unveiled a Windows Version. They also said they would never develop a Mac version and kept making it clear. Adobe, who had Premier and After Effects, not only said they would not develop a Mac version, they announced they would stop Mac development for Photoshop, Dreamweaver, etc. They had already slowed development on their apps so they were released well over a year later then the Windows versions.

So Steve went into high gear and quickly developed Final Cut Pro. At its release, it cost about $1,000 and would run on any Intel Mac, even the lowliest Mac Book. The cheapest version of Avid software ran over $20k for the basic package (and extensions were mostly developed by Avid and were never cheap). After Effects or its extensions were not cheaper; the Windows versions also needed to run on big machines and also couldn’t run on Windows laptops that were available then. It was a humongous, groundbreaking and earth shattering innovation to bring non-linear editing directly on set. So even though Final Cut Pro didn’t do everything that Avid & After Effects could, it did do a lot, saved a ton of money, and changed production schedules for the better. Apple provided extensive training sessions for professors and teachers and for professional organizations. Even better, college students majoring in film were given free copies, establishing a valuable base early on. And there were very advantageous rates for students that were not film majors. Apple also made FCP very extensible, while the competition was not.

So FCP quickly became number three and Final Cut Pro X currently boasts over two million active professional users.

The other two aren’t releasing their numbers, and rumor has it that it’s close to a three way tie with Avid falling gradually. FCPX is supposedly the strongest in the documentary and news markets.

While there wasn’t much they could do in the professional market against Adobe’s Photoshop, Apple did, and continue to do, a huge amount of damage to Photoshop Elements and profits for the PS group buy releasing iPhoto for a fraction of the cost, then giving it away for it free a very short time later and rebranding it without the “i” as Photo. And don’t forget Steve Jobs vs. Flash. Though Flash deserved what it got 1,000%, Steve hit them frequently with atomic bomb attacks. And Android and Windows phone manufacturers looked really stupid for sticking up for Flash, especially ones that made phones the supposedly worked well with Flash.

The moral of the story…mess with Apple and they will kick you where it really hurts, hard and fast.

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What I have heard is that there are two SATA ports and one USB-A port internally, so I suspect that’s what three of those ports are (and that’s what they look like.) I’m not sure what the one to the far right is; I’m not sure what the switch does.

Sure seems to me that they seem to be serious about selling a freaking stand for that monitor for a grand, (and the 5-6k cost does NOT come with anything to hold it up) sure seems to point where they are aiming sales at.

Yes they are. I read about this 31 inch, 4k professional monitor that doesn’t come close to the XDR specs that sells with a stand at Adorama for 32,392.95, down 10% from its original price of $35,995.00.

It also doesn’t look like it pivots at all. A big % people who work in graphic oriented fields need to pivot their screens from portrait to landscape frequently, and this is important to a significant % of people working in graphics oriented fields. And changing position on a large screen sometimes takes a short but annoying time lag to adjust.

I checked out stands that fit 32" monitors at Amazon. They have quite a few of them and they were all extremely cheaper, but practically all of them had a clamp that needed to be screwed into the lip of a desk. Though I didn’t look that closely at all of them, the few I looked at did not feature pivoting, which is usually a big, clutzy, aggravating and somewhat time consuming task in which frequent pivoters or angle adjusters quiver in their shoes that the screen will fall over, especially if it’s anchored to the end of a desk. Or get POed the cords will disconnect. The demo link Tommy provided showed the XDR stand, positioned toward the middle of the screen, makes pivoting, tilting and changing angles a worry free breeze that literally takes a second or two. And the image or the brightness and color of the screen didn’t look like it needed to adjust at all.

Yes, this monitor stand is slim, sleek, beautiful and sexy, just like Apple products. But changing angles and pivoting is critical to a subgroup that would be willing to shell out, or work for companies that would be willing to shell out for what is for them an important feature. Like the new Mac Pro, it’s not for casual or non-pro users, unless they are willing to shell out mega bucks for stuff they don’t really need.

And I’ll bet there are plenty of manufacturers already working on cheaper versions of the new monitor stand.

Interesting. Any ideas what those ports are for? I haven’t heard about any disk bays so far.

The irony with this whole stand business is that the so called professionals that supposedly have no reservations whatsoever paying $1k on top of $5k for said stand because of their demanding positioning requirements… Well until quite recently Apple was telling those very professionals they don’t really need to adjust their monitors at all apart from maybe some minor tilting. Height adjustment? Nope. Instead, put your stylish design Apple monitor on a stack of faded phone books from the 90s. Swivel? Nope. You don’t want that. Pivot? Heck no. You certainly don’t want that! Do you even know what you’re doing? Dammit, move over, let Apple show you what you’re really supposed to want.

The very same users that were recently being told “you’re holding it wrong” are now being used as an argument why $1k is supposedly chump change. Talk about reality distortion! :smiley: