Zero Distraction / An Anthology of Examined Nerdy Things, by Alex Knight

The Mac Pro Is Not Dead

Mac Pro

A lot of professionals and power users that love the Mac Pro, yours truly included, have been incredibly disappointed and distressed at its lack of updates since the 2013 “trash can” redesign. Scratch that. Mac Pro users are frothing at the mouth and have been screaming for the last three and half years for substantial hardware updates. On The Impromptu podcast, which I co-host with Michael Norton, we talked about it at length, just days before John Gruber on Daring Fireball reported that Apple has big plans for the product. Apple has finally acknowledged to the public that their initial compact design was flawed and did not serve enough of its customer’s needs.

In his piece, Gruber opens with good news:

Apple is currently hard at work on a “completely rethought” Mac Pro, with a modular design that can accommodate high-end CPUs and big honking hot-running GPUs, and which should make it easier for Apple to update with new components on a regular basis. They’re also working on Apple-branded pro displays to go with them.

And we all breathe a sigh of relief. I recommend reading the entire piece.

I’ve spent some time thinking about what Phil Schiller, Craig Federighi, and John Ternus said during the mini press meeting–trying to read between the lines and decipher the meaning of what Apple means by “modular design.” Just how modular are they willing to go with the Mac Pro? The 2012 “cheese grater” Mac Pro, the last truly upgradable Mac Pro, had what you could consider a modular design. You could easily open the case and replace the GPU, RAM, hard drives, and optical drives. I’m curious if Apple plans to take this rethinking of the Mac Pro even closer to what you can do with a PC assembled from off the shelf parts. No doubt the design will have Apple’s unique flare and attention to detail, but I’m hoping we can swap the CPUs if we wanted to.


As far as form factor is concerned, I suspect we’ll get something between the compact nature of the current cylinder Mac Pro and the honking tower that proceeded it. I’m pleased that Apple has finally acknowledged the idea that professionals will just use external storage and peripherals for everything is flawed. I currently own a 2012 12-core Mac Pro and would never want to give up the ability to have multiple internal hard drive bays. The last thing I want is have my desk space littered with external storage that generates heat, noise, and space.