Prepare to Experience the new Hypercar of Computers
In 2019, Apple released a new series of Mac Pro computers, effectively reviving the species since the previous model was released back in 2013. The novel Mac Pro features a completely different design than before, record-breaking performance and an ease of disassembly and upgrade that is rather uncommon for the company, writes Thomas Hughes.
If the previous generation Mac Pro impressed with its design, the new Mac Pro, first of all, takes it all with the specs. It is available in a number of configurations, ranging from the entry-level at $5,999 to the most powerful one at $52,748. Just like the price, the difference in performance is massive, though even the entry-level model can certainly not be called cheap nor weak.
Processors range from the Intel Xeon W-3223 (8 cores, 16 threads, 3.7GHz, Turbo Boost up to 4.3GHz) to the Intel Xeon W-3275 (28 cores, 56 threads, 2.5GHz, Turbo Boost up to 4.4GHz). RAM: 32GB to 1.5TB (yes, 1.5 terabytes of RAM!) The graphic cards start with an AMD Radeon Pro 580X with 8GB GDDR5 memory and end with AMD Radeon Pro Vega ll Duo with 64GB HBM2 memory. Local SSDs go from 256GB to 8TB.
So, let’s check out what this computer actually looks like when you get your hands on it. The Mac Pro is more than a computer - it’s an experience, and it makes an impression even before you took it out of the box. Generally speaking, Apple packaging is characteristically monotonous - from generation to generation their appearance will rarely change, and if the package is adjusted, those adjustments are kept rather minimal. The Mac Pro is a different story.
For starters, the box of the Mac Pro stands out not only in size (it is particularly massive), but also with its fabric fasteners. It is suggested to carry the box by the designated slots in the cardboard, which is not only much more convenient than the flexible plastic handles on the iMac / iMac Pro, but also much more reliable. They definitely cannot rip.
At the same time, the cardboard of the package is particularly dense and sturdy, and within the box, it fills the space all around the computer. Therefore, the Mac is protected as much as possible: even a fairly strong blow to the box can hardly damage the equipment, though we do not recommend you try!
These are obvious, logical precautions for a model that can cost over $50,000. The other side of the medal is the weight of boxing. Even a very strong lad is unlikely to carry it alone. However, together it is possible and actually quite handy to carry the box just thanks to these slots on both sides. The logistics should thus be taken into account when organising the process of purchase.
Among other things about the packaging, of course, is also how impressive it is aesthetically: before even leaving the box, it already looks very expensive and serious! Overall, the presentation experience is exactly what it should be for such a special product. Apple would not be Apple if it tried to amaze us with quantity and stuffed everything in the box; instead, here, in every detail, one can read elitism and exclusivity - a reminder to the happy owner that they bought something out of the ordinary.
The new Mac Pro comes with a full-size Magic Keyboard with black keys and a silver frame (whereas the iMac Pro had a completely dark keyboard), and a Magic Mouse 2 - black, same colour as iMac Pro, which you can also replace with the Magic Trackpad 2. It is also possible to have a kit with both a mouse and a trackpad, though, of course, it will cost an additional amount equivalent to the cost of the trackpad.
Everything comes with the necessary cables - network and Lightning / USB-C for charging peripherals. There are no monitor cables, but a Thunderbolt cable comes with the Pro Display XDR. And here’s what’s interesting: both cables included in the kit are not just dark gray, as in the iMac Pro, but also with a special braided texture. The latter sends a clear message: even in such tiny details, the owner of the Mac Pro should feel special. And the fact that Apple’s braided cables cannot be purchased separately from the Mac Pro only underlines the exclusivity of the purchase. Of course, there is also a practical sense here: firstly, such a Lightning wire will clearly be stronger than an ordinary one, and secondly, over time it will not get dirty and lose its appearance.
The overall look of the Mac Pro is much closer to a traditional computer power unit than its predecessor in 2013, which was jokingly likened to a bucket. And at the same time, the novelty clearly inherits an even earlier version from the same line. However, it will be impossible to confuse it with a model of some other company because of the massive signature “apple” on both sides of the case.
There were a lot of jokes about the appearance of the Mac Pro after its reveal, with many comparing its front side to a cheese grater. However, the photographs can be misleading: in person, it projects a completely different impression. The panel is not simply littered in holes, but rather equipped with complexly arranged recesses (each one has three more multidirectional holes), which have for purpose not only to impress externally, but also to promote effective cooling.
Let’s also pay attention to those stable legs, which are a continuation of the stainless steel frame along with the handles on top. At the same time, on the bottom of the legs there is a thin plastic coating that prevents them from scratching the table or the floor, wherever you choose to put the PC. By the way, it is possible to order wheels instead of legs, which will set you back another $700.
On the back of the case is where you will find most of the connectors: the average model would have ten Thunderbolt (USB-C) ports - four on each video card, plus two more - on top, next to two USB-A and a 3.5mm headset and microphone jack. In addition, both video cards have one HDMI, along with two 10 Gigabit Ethernet and a power indicator next to the network cable connection.
But wait, there is more: the computer also has ports on the ”roof” of the case, featuring two more Thunderbolts. Right next to them is the power button and another indicator that performs the same function as the first. On top of the tower, there is also a circular handle. If you turn it 90 degrees, you can use it to remove the cover and get access to the internal components. By the way, until you put it back on and turn the knob to its original position, the computer will not start, as a precaution.
UNDER THE HOOD
The cover can be removed rather easily, if you disregard the fact that it is particularly heavy. Better yet, you do not need a screwdriver or any other device for the task: you simply turn the handle and pull it all the way up. This will take you directly to the computer’s inner self.
Literally everything is interesting here, since the arrangement and the choice of the components is absolutely unique. For starters: if we move the latches located on the square block on the left, we will gain access to the RAM sticks. The top spec would have 12 sticks of 128GB RAM each (just that, altogether, is already nearly $18,000). If there are less than 12 slats, it is recommended to install them through one slot. An interesting detail: on the inner side of the panels that cover the compartments where RAM sticks reside, you can find all the recommended options for installing the RAM in a schematic number, taking each number in account.
The two zones located between the RAM happen to be dedicated for a speaker equipped with a subwoofer. This can also be removed and the wire that connects it to the machine can, pulled out.
On the other side, on the top left, where ‘Mac Pro’ is written, you can find the processor underneath a powerful radiator. On the right is a motherboard with eight PCIe slots. The upper one (half length) is occupied by the I / O board. The four on the bottom are dedicated for video cards. Above them, one slot is occupied by the Apple Afterburner accelerator. It is recommended to install it in this slot - the fifth.
While this about wraps up the physical description of the computer, words can hardly do it justice. To truly appreciate the experience of the new Mac Pro, you should test it out yourself! If fifty grand for a computer is not on your budget, even its entry-level model demands admiration. EG