Wednesday, April 6, 2022

Mac Pro Historical Perspective

Jeff Johnson:

Below is a historical list of changes in the base price of the Mac Pro and Power Mac.


I would argue that the Mac Pro as we software developers knew it was never given a successor after the “trash can”. The Mac Pro was discontinued and replaced with a different computer of the same name that was no longer for its largest pro audience. I don’t know many individual software developers now who can afford a new Mac Pro. I certainly can’t. The Apple news media gleefully exclaim “The new Mac Pro is not for you!”, but the problem is that the old Mac Pro was for people like me, as proven by the fact that I had one, as well by Federighi’s statement that it was for people like me. In my eyes, the 2019 Mac Pro was a betrayal of Apple’s 2017 assurances.


Ten years ago we had relatively affordable, conveniently upgradable Mac Pro models. Since then we gained a faster CPU, but otherwise we’ve lost everything else great about the Mac Pro.


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I think it's correct to say the 2019 Mac Pro is not for most of us based on price alone.
It seems that from a compute perspective, the iMac Pro and the Mac Studio generally address the higher end needs. When factoring the cost of a display ($1600), the iMac Pro at $5000 was still costly, but you could say represented a $3400 computer, or a 13% increase over the 2013.

What then is the purpose of the Mac Pro? If it's truly replaceable components, then the 2013 was not a "real" Mac Pro, and the 2019 model is a successor to the 2010, albeit at more than 2X the price.

I spent money on my 2019 Mac Pro. It's nearly full with PCIe cards, but it was a very poor value from a compute and graphics perspective. It's a significant premium to have everything inside, though realistically, I could probably just deal with some Thunderbolt PCIe boxes...

In some ways the Mac Pro is just a victim of changing trends. Everything over the past 10 years has lost the ability to be upgraded
in some way. Remember that time when Apple actually made it easy to replace the disk drive in a Mac Book Pro?

I owned a 1999 PowerMac G3 which I upgraded to a PowerMac G5 in the mid-2000s. After that, the Mac Pro line got too pricey for me. My next desktops were a 2009 21.5" Intel iMac and 2015 27" iMac 5k (which I still use). None of the pro machines since the cheesegrater have felt like they were designed for me.

Beatrix Willius

He is absolutely correct.

a) Developers don't matter anymore.
b) We were told that nobody upgrades their computers anymore. Which is marketing speak that the upgrading lost them money.
c) The new Pros are like the Bugattis of this world. Nobody really needs them. I want something with enough internal space and speed. Not a compromise because some Apple person thinks that space on my desk is premium.

I can't agree with this more. There isn't really a mac out there for me, or people like me. The last mac I had that I truly loved was a 2009 Mac Pro. I kept it going a long time by -- surprise surprise -- being able to upgrade it.

My current my system is a 2017 iMac. I really want to upgrade its storage because it has a 500 GB drive and I could really use more. But it's not user upgradable! Doing it myself requires specialized tools and skills, and is incredibly daunting. The last time I opened up a computer that wasn't meant to be user serviceable when I put it back together it wasn't working properly. (Beware programmers with screwdrivers, they say.) I can't risk that with my iMac. So the alternative is hauling the damn thing to a service center to have them do it for more money than I want to pay. That's garbage.


> The new Pros are like the Bugattis of this world.

Fully agreed.

I have vague memories from a couple of years ago, where podcast hosts like the ones on ATP, were making an argument that we needed a new Mac Pro in order to advance the platform in the same way that Chevy needs to continue to develop the Corvette.

I have also seen some talking points that say that the idea that the existence of the Mac Pro is to serve the Apple Silicon team.

No idea how true either are. To me, it seems like optimize their product offerings the most towards video editors and animators.

That said, I am a fan (so far) of the Mac Studio strategy. They should have made the box more accessible, the iFixit teardown looks rough. But it makes me glad to see them stepping away from the idea that creatives and professionals should be buying all in ones (27" iMac).

"In some ways the Mac Pro is just a victim of changing trends. Everything over the past 10 years has lost the ability to be upgraded in some way.”

A company which is one of the top manufacturers of smartphones, tablets, laptops, *and* desktops — and arguably the most influential one — can’t also claim to be a “victim” of trends. Apple has long been the industry’s trend *setter*. When they remove legacy functionality, their competitors follow suit. Pricing the cheapest upgradeable Mac at $6000 is not the industry’s trend.

You can’t sit in the driver’s seat and complain about where you’re going.

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