The Mac Pros are "going to be expensive"


I wonder if the ‘Xeon Tube’ will fall neatly into the same historical slot as the ‘G4 Cube’. Slick as hell; but doomed by its elegance to being alarmingly expensive for the power. (Though, unlike the G4 Cube, which had to go up against the much more viable G4 tower workstations, Apple can just kill the dual-socket Mac Pros and solve that little problem)

Unfortunately, Marco Arment ran the numbers on the components and it’s not looking good for cheapskates: “I’d be very surprised to see the new Mac Pro’s entry price below $3,500. And for a CPU that makes the Mac Pro barrier worth crossing, I think we’re talking $5,000 and up.”

Today I learned that not wanting to spend $5,000 or more for a pro-level workstation makes a person a cheapskate.

I worked at one of the largest publishing companies in the U.S., and about the only thing they were using the Pros for was to run OS X Server. It’s what Apple recommended doing after they discontinued the XServe; people might suggest “sticking it in the cloud” but that’s not viable all over the U.S. just yet (if ever.) The allure was that you had this quiet (if huge) tower where you could just buy off-the-shelf cavernous HDDs. When I left that place they’d been setting up Pros all over the U.S. with huge ATA drives formatted to software RAID1 with backups going to an external Firewire, and remotely admined with ARD. It was darn near an appliance. I’d say that when it comes time to replace those machines, they’ll be switching to a combination of “stick it in the cloud” and NAS, and to heck with the Pros. If you want something you have to connect a bunch of external peripherals to, for most people a Mini will do.

One of the things that made the G4, G5, and Pro towers so attractive is that they’re fairly field-serviceable. You have a drive go out? Open it up and replace it. Need more memory? No sweat. Fan went out? Pretty easy to replace (and I’ve replaced the G4 120mm fans with off-the-shelf gear before.)

I could be wrong but although this sounds like top-of-the-line gear, it sounds less serviceable than a Mini. At least with a Mini, you can open it up and replace the internal drive (handy on something that uses a 2.5" HDD.)

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That’s disappointing. After realizing that the Creative Cloud version of the CS can be installed on two systems I’ve been trying it out on an older Mac Pro at the office, and was surprised/dismayed to find that there really seems to be a qualitative difference in the results of some operations using the exact same settings as on a windows system. Differences enough that for $3,500 I might jump, but for $5,000 this better be a spectacular machine.

Of course, by the time it comes out, Adobe could have caught both flavors up to the same place.

It’s somewhat hard to tell just from the press shots; but it looks like the Tube will be comparatively easy to open, you just won’t find much inside. Other then the RAM slots (all 4 of them, this is Serious Workstation Stuff, kids) every single component is proprietary, and there is nothing to expand, except with a rat’s nest of thunderbolt enclosures.

OWC will probably conjure up a compatible SSD eventually, and Apple may or may not condescend to sell GPU upgrades in the unique shape required once the shipping cards are starting to look antique; but at present, it’s RAM or nothing.

Well, duh! Since when have Macs of any flavor ever been a leader in the price/performance area? It has always been possible, easy even, to build a machine which would outperform the top-end Apple machines at a lower price. The only things the other machines lack is the kewl kred that is attached to the Apple name – the fact that they might out-perform means little in some circles when the logo is missing. Having a machine with a blazing-fast multi-core processor (or two) on a generic workstation motherboard in a generic case with off-the shelf drives and memory and video just isn’t the thing to brag about even if it is faster and cheaper.




$5,000 gets you a spectacular (single physical CPU) machine plus a 4-node render farm in the self-built Windows world.

You don’t need it if you don’t chew up giant amounts of data. Video editors, 3-d renderers, animators. They don’t need a bunch of fancy shit just reliable machines that do a lot of numbers fast. This is what the thing is built to do. With two giant GPUs and 12 processors it will scream through renders. This is what we need. People who chew data also use giant external drives for storage and have for years. Apple knows what the market for this machine is and have crafted an answer. The price will be immaterial for a lot of people. I am hoping it will be within reason. I am guessing $2500 and up.


Mac Pros are going to be expensive?

I don’t think there is actually enough “No shit” sort of memes on the internet to express my lack of surprise.


Unless Apple is getting some killer component pricing, $2,500 would be charity. The cheapest Xeon in that chart comes in at just under $2,000, and the AMD FirePro cards worth putting in a workstation start at about $450, up to a bit over $3,000 for the fancy ones. Throw in RAM, SSD, mechanical components, and profit margin, and $2,500 will be looking pretty thin.

oh well. And assembled in the USA doesn’t suggest cheap, either.

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Yeah - I’ve got no problems with speed. It just looks like the Mac version of Adobe CS/CC is back to being a generation ahead of the Windows version in some of the tools.

I suppose it’s not going to matter soon, since server/cloud side processing is taking over.

My reasoning was that they seem to have a steady selection of products at every price range now starting at around, what? $80 on up. The iMac tops out at $1999 basic price. The next step for a desktop would be, or might be, $2500.

And 20k will get you a sports car, but it won’t replace your rolls.

Not for CS - most of the hardwork is done by the graphics card these days, not sure how easy that is to ‘outsource’ offsite.

Processing is only really a big factor for rendering - but maybe you’re talking about video editing, in which case ignore me.

The CPUs in the Anandtech article are for two socket systems. The new Mac Pro will be a one socket system, so these processors are not necessary.

CPU-World says there will be three single socket Xeon-E5 V2 chips. My guess is these will be used for all the lower end Mac Pros while the two socket chips will be used in the $5k+ systems.

I would be surprised if the base Mac Pro is more than $2499.

Unless Apple has a surprise announcement(and a bold plan on how to make it fit) there are no dual socket Mac Pros in the pipe. All single socket, hope your application is GPU accelerated.

Apple offers style and ease. Sure, a clever person could build a PC that beats the Mac Pro, but it wouldn’t be as small or pretty, and it wouldn’t come with a warranty or Apple Care.

It’s the 20th Anniversary Mac, or the G4 Cube all over again. No big deal. Enjoy the industrial design, chuckle at the rich geeks who buy them, and secretly wish you had one too even though you might not have a use for it.