Mac Pro 2019: the perfect Mac for some professionals

19-06-2019 19:06

As every year, WWDC 2019 was an opportunity for Apple to present its new features in the software. But in the midst of ads on its home systems, the company has slipped a segment dedicated to Mac Pro. What is better for this announcement than a room full of developers, one of the traditional goals of this machine? And also on the occasion of the 2013 WWDC that the previous Mac Pro had just been revealed during WWDC 2006 that the first Mac Pro was presented.

photo The Verge

The Mac Pro 2019 follows a tradition of several years … except that the developers in the room were seriously cooled at the announcement of the price. Starting at $ 5,999 for the basic setup which is not crazy and how far? Probably the vertices, we will return, but at that point we judge the gap with its predecessors. The 2006 Mac Pro started at $ 2,499 and was a super-powerful Mac you had for that price. As for the 2013 Mac Pro, the range started at $ 2,999, far behind the new entry-level price.

How to justify and explain such a void? This is what we will see …

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A large aluminum tower, practical before being aesthetic

The Mac Pro has a rather spectacular design, with its multiple holes. Everyone will not like it, but Apple has chosen to focus on function rather than form. And the air of nowhere, this tower has required a lot of work and thought.

In many ways, the Mac Pro 2019 is more reminiscent of the PowerMac G5 and the first Intel Mac Pro than its direct predecessor. In 2013, Apple has innovated with a brand new design, a metal cylinder that housed the components around a triangular cooling system. It was an extremely innovative computer, unlike anything we had seen before and still a beautiful object.

But this splendid result was also a bad idea with the use, with great cooling problems and zero scalability that forced Apple to abandon after this first generation. For his new Mac Pro, the manufacturer is starting from scratch … without reinventing the wheel this time. This computer is a perforated aluminum tower, with four feet and two handles to lift it. Do you remember anything?

It is impossible not to think of the old Mac Pro, which was also in the vertical tower format, built in perforated aluminum and with metal handles. In terms of overall dimensions, it was roughly the same size as the new model, while the 2013 Pro cylindrical Mac was significantly smaller and lighter.

Dimensions and weights of the three generations of Mac Pro.

However, Apple has not only taken over its old design and modernized its components. If the new Mac Pro took more than two years to work, it's because it's a brand new design despite everything, inside and out. The handles are in steel and rounded to avoid being uncomfortable during transportbut they are mainly the outward sign of the general design of the product.

Apple has designed its Mac Pro around a steel frame that is self-sufficient. It could work without the aluminum shell, all the components are kept on this steel base which also acts as handles in the upper part and in the lower feet. Feet that can be replaced by optional wheels, at a speed still undetermined.

Once all the internal components have been removed, the steel structure that holds the Mac in place is perfectly visible. photo The Verge.

Furthermore, the hood is completely removed to access the components: rotate a handle on the top and it is possible to lift the entire aluminum grill. This may remind you of something more ancient: it is exactly the same concept that Apple had used for its Cube in the early 2000s. As in this old Mac, this choice provides access to the components of the four sides, and not one like it is more often the case on a tower.

To open the new Mac Pro, you have to turn a large handle up and pull up. The entire aluminum cover is removed and the components are accessible from all sides. Also note the steel bars on the sides that hold the set.

As a result, Apple has organized the space differently than the old Mac Pro, although we find the same general idea in both cases. The goal is to efficiently ventilate the components and organize space in multiple areas to prevent an element from overheating the entire machine. On previous models, the space was divided into three horizontal areas: background, processors and RAM, in the center the area dedicated to graphics cards and other extensions, on power supply and storage.

The breakdown on the PowerMac G5, which had the same overall design as Intel Mac Pro until 2013.

On Mac Pro 2019, the design is different, as the vertically positioned motherboard divides the interior space into two areas. On the right side with the computer in front of you, you will find the processor, this time, and the graphics cards and other expansions down. Three large fans suck in fresh air in the front and hot air is expelled to the rear. This large area is not separated horizontally, but the top fan will cool the processor, while those at the bottom will be PCIe cards.

Cooling of the dedicated processor area (top) and expansion boards (bottom). In this illustration, the Mac Pro has two MPX modules that each contain two graphics cards.

On the other side of the motherboard there are twelve RAM slots, as well as storage and other important components, such as the T2 chip that handles many aspects (storage, security …). A fourth vertically positioned fan draws in fresh air from the front and expels it towards the rear. It is also this small fan that will cool the impressive 1400 W power supply positioned at the base of the Mac Pro.

The components are closed by default, but the RAM strips are located in the upper right quadrant and the SSD bars are at the bottom, right.

Four fans in all, three in the front row who will do most of the work and should do it silently, even in command. The default graphics cards are fanless and the Xeon processor does not have a dedicated cooling device to cool it. This is a very different cooling system from the two old Mac Pros: the 2013 tube had only one fan to cool when its predecessor was less than nine aligned. However, this should be sufficient to cool all current and future components.

In any case, this is one of Apple's promises: after the unfortunate experience of the Mac Pro 2013 that could not maintain the temperature of its components, the company set up this year's package. If necessary, all fans can operate at maximum capacity and move about 8.5 cubic meters of air per minute. An impressive volume of air, which will allow the processor and graphics cards to run at full capacity continuously, without fear of lower performance.

Both sides of the Mac Pro and the impressive range of three fans on the front side, which ensure that temperatures remain soft every day.

If so, the Mac Pro will certainly be noisy. But in normal use, this should not be the case: Apple promises that this powerful monster will do it a little quieter like iMac Pro or Mac Pro 2013, two references in the field. With 10 dB of base, as far as it will be inaudible and can be placed on a desk, if you want to admire its holes permanently.

This laundry design has made many people talk about this, and for good reason. The Mac Pro "cheese scraper" of the time also had a perforated aluminum shell, but the holes were thinner and more consistent. It was a much simpler, more sober and, in any case, more unifying project. This new model will undoubtedly displease anyone suffering from trophobia and even if it's not your case, you might find this choice to have a big hole and some strange little holes in the back.

This is undeniably an amazing design, which was not found on the first computer and which we had never seen in Apple (although some Macs of the G4 era had a grid in the same spirit). But it is not absolutely free and in this area the producer has chosen to focus on the function on the form. The final design was chosen to optimize the correct ventilation of the Mac Pro maximizing the amount of air it can pass, while maintaining good rigidity.

Here's how the front panel of the Mac Pro was created, "lattice".

This grid, which Apple describes as a "lattice", is created by digging an aluminum plate with slightly offset spheres on each side. More than half of the metal is removed in the process, so there is more air than aluminum in this structure. The main objective is to create an aluminum panel, rigid and open enough to leave as much air as possible, and the Jony Ive team did not have this project in mind before designing Mac Pro.

It is often the function that determines the form in Apple and the Mac Pro goes to the end of the process. This is a difference with its predecessor, in which the aesthetic choices dictated certain technical choices, starting from the small dimensions of the product.

Before moving on to internal components, a word on cable design. For the second time, Apple abandons traditional white plastic in favor of black cloth cables for its food. The first was for the HomePod and we imagine that Mac Pro will inherit the same type of cables. Why this choice? Apple has abandoned PVC in recent years in favor of more ecological materials, but less solid and less pleasant. Let's imagine that at this price level, a cable in nicer fabrics is better …

The back of the Mac Pro, with its fabric cable. photo The Verge.

Most observers will notice that the power cord blocks the aluminum shell when it is connected. In theory, Mac Pro could work with visible components, but the manufacturer made sure it wasn't.

No compromise on components and prices

The numbers speak for themselves: up to 28 cores for the processor, up to 1.5 TB for RAM, graphics processing capacity up to 56.8 teraflops or a power supply of 1 400 W. its new Mac Pro, Apple has no compromised the internal components, even exploding the budget. Let's take a brief tour of its components.

processor

From the processor point of view, Apple has opted for the latest generation to date (presented at the same time as the computer, among others) from the Xeon W range of the Intel Cascade Lake architecture. The Mac Pro uses a much of the range, from the Xeon W-3223 and its entry-level 3.5 GHz eight-core Xeon W-3275M and high-end 28-core 2.5 GHz. They are all engraved at 14 nm, it should be the latest generation at this level of finesse before moving to 10 nm.

This choice is logical, Apple has exclusively used Xeon processors in Mac Pro since their creation. They are more expensive than the Core processors found in all other Macs, but provide additional advanced features, including ECC RAM which provides additional security and is indispensable in some professional areas. They are also essential to manage the maximum of 12 RAM and 1.5 TB and offer the best performance of the moment to Intel.

The price of the options offered by Apple is not known, but we know the prices recommended by Intel. The base price starts at $ 749, and the rates rise very quickly to $ 7,453 for the 28-core Xeon used by the high-end Mac Pro. Also in this case, it is a recommended price for a purchase by the unit, it is not the price that the Cupertino company pays … nor what it will charge for the purchase. It would not be surprising if the option alone touches or even exceeds $ 10,000.

Painting AnandTech.

Note that Apple no longer offers configuration with two processors, as in the case of the old Mac Pro tower format. The manufacturer probably preferred the space dedicated to expansion and therefore it was a good way to multiply hearts, but the High end option with 28 hearts should be largely sufficient for all needs.

memory

Apple has also seen great things in this area. The Mac Pro includes twelve dedicated RAM slots and, by default, four will be used with 8 GB bars, for a total of 32 GB of RAM. You will be able to fill them all and reach 1.5 TB of RAM using twelve 128 GB bars. It is every time a protected memory (ECC) and has a clock with 2 933 MHz on all models, except for the entry-level which will be contained with 2.666 MHz bars.

Only Mac Pro with the 24 core Xeon option and those with the 28 core option will handle 1.5 TB of RAM. The lower models only handle "1", while the two high-end processors could actually handle 2 TB of RAM. But since we don't have more than 128 GB of memory, the limit is actually lower.

Before packing your bags, know that the 128 GB RAM arrays are still very rare and are mainly used in the server world. We find some for $ 1,500 one on this site, which makes a total of $ 18,000 for the twelve bars needed to reach 1.5 TB.

Apple does not tend to make a gift with the RAM option, its prices often have nothing to do with market prices. To better evaluate this point, it might be better to refer to RAM prices in iMac Pro. Knowing that the transition from 32 GB to 256 GB cost $ 5,200, we can estimate that the 1.5 TB option will exceed $ 31,000. Of course, you can install your own bars after purchase, for a much softer price.

Graphic card

Let's move on to the graphics card, or rather graphics cards. It comes with only one default card, the Mac Pro can embark on two and manage up to four graphics chips. The manufacturer has created a specific module, called MPX (for " Mac Pro Expansion ") Which can accommodate something other than a graphics card, but which is mainly used for this. The base computer will be supplied with a Radeon Pro 580X, a mid-range graphics card from AMD, with two additional options. , the MPX Radeon Vega II Duo, a powerful card that integrates two GPUs, according to Apple, is also the most powerful graphics card of the moment.

And since you can integrate two MPXs in command, you can install two Radeon Vega II Duo in a Mac Pro. In total, the workstation will have 56.8 graphics power teraflops (FP32) and 128 GB of dedicated video memory. This is really very impressive and a record for Apple as well as in the AMD world. If we look at what is done in Nvidia, we can find it even better on paper by combining four Quadro RTX 8000s, but besides the prices it would be delusional (count about € 7,500 unit), the memory used by AMD is faster and the gap may not be significant.

The MPX modules were created by Apple and have no direct market equivalent. We can still speculate on the price based on the Radeon Pro WX9100 which is the old generation equivalent of the Radeon Pro Vega II used for Mac Pro. When it was released, this graphics card was displayed for $ 2200 and we can estimate that we would be in the same waters. Taking into account the Apple margin, maybe about $ 2,500 for an MPX Radeon Pro Vega II, $ 5,000 for the MPX Radeon Pro Vega II Duo?

Details of the Radeon Pro Vega II card designed specifically for Mac Pro. One of the innovations is the very fast connection between the two graphics chips, for performance first much better than with external connections (SLI to Nvidia, Crossfire to AMD) proposed elsewhere.

At this point, we can only hypothesize and we don't know how much Apple will charge for the MPX system, nor how high will be its margin on this professional product. In any case, we must also remember that the Mac Pro is equipped with standard PCIe ports, which can accommodate any AMD graphics card on the market. A Radeon VII equipped with an AMD Vega 20 chip is brought to light starting from € 750 unit. We should be able to put four without much problem in Mac Pro, which has great computing power at a much more reasonable cost.

Other extensions

The Mac Pro expansion features won't stop there. In all, it has eight PCIe connectors, including a small one that is used by default to offer a jack, two USB-A ports and two Thunderbolt 3 ports on the back. Apple will also market an optional extension card called "Afterburner", a specialized module responsible for managing video streams in ProRES format, codec used by Final Cut Pro. Thanks to this card, the Mac Pro will be able to handle three streams without problems 8K video, or twelve 4K video streams.

In addition to what the company will offer in its store, third-party props will be able to use these expansion ports to add more features to the Mac Pro. We already know that Promise will sell a system that lets you have four RAID hard drives in an MPX module, there will certainly be others in the fall and later.

storage

As for storage space, the Mac Pro remains exclusively on the default SSD, like its predecessor. Two slots are dedicated to memory and the computer will be supplied by default with a 256 GB anemic module. In options, it will be possible to integrate up to 4 TB of storage in the form of two memory modules managed by the manufacturer's T2 chip. It is exactly the same format as iMac Pro, except that it comes with 1 TB by default.

This component is probably the easiest to encrypt, as the company already markets Macs with 256 GB of basic storage that can be upgraded to 4 TB. Let's take the 15-inch MacBook Pro as a base. It takes € 240 to 512 GB, € 720 for 1 TB and no less than € 3700 for the 4 TB option. You probably don't have to wait much less: even if the prices of the SSD go down, Apple's prices are generally very stable.

The integrated performance of Mac SSDs announced by Apple are lower than the best Macs. It is not clear why the manufacturer may have chosen a more reliable and slower memory. Be assured, it will still be very fast.

To finish on this point, it will probably not be possible, or at least not easy or not given, to replace the installed memory modules. Better to configure the right amount of internal storage: 512 GB seems the bare minimum in 2019, knowing that you can always count on third-party products to increase the storage space available on your computer. Without opting for a specific product, it only costs a PCIe adapter for SSDs in M2 formattwenty euro.

An expensive Mac, but aligned with its competitors

The Mac Pro will sell for $ 6,000, but the entry-level model is not very representative of the entire range. In addition to its memory of only 256 GB, its processor only handles RAM more slowly and should not be the announced power monster. From what we know, an iMac Pro should do better than this first model, present above all for having a "reasonable" call price.

To stand out from the all-in-one professional, Mac Pro can count on its scalability and a long list of options, and this is where prices will begin to rise exponentially. Importantly, Apple has simply given the base rate, without specifying the option prices and we can only hypothesize. This warning, I tried to imagine the price of a Mac Pro all the options by taking the prices mentioned in the previous section:

Speculating from the prices of individual parts or equivalent products, here's what you'd expect for the more expensive Mac Pro.

As a reminder, here's how I did my calculations:

  • Base price : I assumed that, like iMac Pro, there was only one basic model to configure;
  • processor : the price announced by the Intel processor is about $ 7,500, I added a little extra margin to get a round number;
  • memory : I relied on the price of iMac Pro upgrades ($ 5,200 for 256 GB) to get this figure;
  • Graphic card : it is the most speculative price of all – we have no idea what Apple will charge for its MPX – but I used the price of an old AMD comparable graphics card to get the estimated one;
  • storage : I relied heavily on the price of the MacBook Pro upgrade ($ 3,000 to change from 256 GB to 4 TB to 15 inches).

Upon our arrival, we reach an impressive $ 58,000, or about € 51,200 at current rates. This could make the Mac Pro the most expensive Mac in the history of Apple, even taking into account the inflation on previous models. And again, it's a price without screen (it will add at least $ 6,000 for the XDR Pro Display and its foot), and some options, like Afterburner, that it's hard to estimate the price (the card RED Rocket-X those with a similar role cost $ 6,750).

It's incredibly expensive, but is it too expensive? To find out, you have to compare all the Mac Pro options with a similar computer, like the HP Workstation Z8. The comparison is not perfect, because the manufacturer does not yet offer Xeon processors similar to those of the Mac Pro and because the graphics card created by Apple has no equivalent on the market. However, trying to maintain the maximum, with a 28 core Xeon processor, 1.5 TB of RAM, 4 TB of NVMe SSD and two powerful graphics cards, we get a $ 53,000 machine.

HP and other PC makers didn't wait for Apple to create powerful and expensive workstations.

This Mac Pro all options will be very expensive, undeniably, but it probably won't be too far from the market references. The difference between Apple's computer and those of its competitors is that there really are no cheap options. The same HP Z8 workstation can remain under the $ 10,000 mark despite being extremely powerful and well equipped for most uses.

This is not what Apple has been looking for, which directs its Mac Pro to the high end, without a real answer for the base level. So, the $ 6,000 model shouldn't be very interesting, especially when compared to iMac Pro. For a close price, you can have an all-in-one with the Xeon 10 core option that will be more powerful than the Xeon 8 cores of Mac Pro, 64 GB of RAM and 1 TB of SSD, against 32 GB and 256 Go only.

And for this price, you'll also have an excellent screen plus a great computer! Do you already have a screen? The updated Mac mini last year is a great machine, powerful enough for those who don't need a dedicated graphics card. And even if this is the case, eGPUS is an option.

The basic level of Mac Pro should not be a great deal firstalthough it has the advantage of being evolutionary. You can add RAM and change your graphics card without Apple's margins, but we believe the manufacturer has not designed the computer for this purpose. In fact, the Mac Pro 2019 is really optimized for a handful of specific uses …

A computer cut for Hollywood

Apple presented its new Mac Pro against a few thousand developers, but that doesn't mean they were the target of this new product. Just judge by the examples provided by the company to highlight the qualities of the computer: video, audio and 3D were in the spotlight, not Xcode. The world of cinema, television or video games, not the world of developers.

The technical demonstrations presented during the WWDC are an excellent indicator of Apple's choices for the design of this new Mac Pro:

  • The Logic Pro music creation tool can handle thousands of tracks without problems, which will be particularly interesting for composers of original scores.
  • Video editors will be able to use Final Cut Pro to mount three 8K video streams in parallel without slowing down.
  • Pixar will be able to load full three-dimensional animation scenes on a single Mac Pro.
All companies that have been involved in the creation of Mac Pro. You will notice that they are almost exclusively companies related to the creation of images or audio.

There is a common point among all these examples: everyone has a foot in the creation of video or audio. For caricature, the Mac Pro was developed specifically for Hollywood.

Film and television professionals, advertisers, animators of big studios – Pixar in the lead -, composers of film music … are the customers of this computer. And they will be happy to buy it, because macOS is their only option and the new Mac Pro is much better than that of 2013. Or also because this machine sold at delusional prices for ordinary people is not in fact not so expensive for what can bring them.

Apple has heavily supported this point during its keynote: the Mac Pro is ready for current production, but also for the future. The care of the 8K responds to a need that will spread in the coming years, if not essential today. Let's imagine that the Afterburner card can be updated in a year or two to handle even more 8K streams, or even allow the computer to handle even larger video streams without problems.

To the left of the processor and above the PCIe ports, Mac Pro has two eSATA ports that can be used to connect additional hard drives or SSDs, as well as a USB-A port. Why a USB-A port inside a computer? To connect the license key still used by many professional software, especially in the video world.

And speaking of the future, one wonders if Apple has created this new product for its own needs. After all, the company intends to become a major player in video production by launching Apple TV + in the fall. It will produce series, feature films and documentaries, and computers will be needed to edit, animate and put all these original creations into music. This Mac Pro 2019 is probably the perfect answer …

Focusing on a specific area, Apple has forgotten entire professional categories that have taken advantage of the Mac Pro at the same time. All professionals can buy it if they wish, of course, but in most cases it will be very expensive and oversized. The developers who were in the WWDC room will not really be interested in opting for this computer, the iMac Pro or a Mac mini will respond much more to their needs.

The perfect setting for the new Mac Pro and its reference screen.

Those waiting for a suitably equipped default Apple tower, sold at a reasonable price and easy to upgrade, will be at their cost. Cet ordinateur n'existe plus dans la range depuis 2013 et le constructeur n'a probablement aucune intention d’occuper à nouveau ce segment.

The faudra s'y faire et si vous tenez vraiment à acheter the successors of the Mac Pro des années 2000, les hackintosh n'ont pas dit leur dernier mot.

. (tagsToTranslate) Mac Pro (t) Mac Pro 2019 (t) Mac

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