Apple's New Mac Pro Targets Deep-Pocketed Boutique Shops


Apple Macbook Pro
Apple MacBook Pro

Apple updated its Mac Pro line with a distinctively cylindrical workstation available for order Dec. 19 that has a starting price of $3,000. Apple partners say the Mac Pro will have limited appeal to high-end design houses with deep pockets willing to pay for expensive extras such as external storage and high-end 4K monitors.

"This is a beautiful and powerful Mac Pro. It brings together unique design with a powerful machine. For creative professionals that specialize in 3-D modeling, CAD and film rendering, this Mac Pro will welcome upgrade. But for companies that have standardized on high-end iMacs, the new Mac Pro's price will be hard to justify," said Jerry Zigmont, owner of MacWorks, an Apple consultant based in Madison, Conn.

Apple's new Mac Pro, the first major update to the SKU since 2010, ships with a quad-core Intel Xeon E5 processor, 12 GB of system memory and 256 GB of PCIe-based flash storage. A six-core configuration with 16 GB of memory runs $4,000. Both models feature AMD's FirePro D500 GPUs with 3 GB of VRAM -- beefy enough to drive three 4K displays at the same time.

"Apple created its own Mac Pro vacuum over the last couple years and there is a lot of pent-up demand. I've already been hearing from customers interested in kicking the tires of these new Mac Pros. These new systems are 'bad-ass' and think they will drive traditional upgrades for Apple shops hungry to replace an aging fleet of Mac Pros," said Ben Johnson, president of Liberty Technology, Apple partner, based in Griffon, Ga.

First previewed in June at Apple's Worldwide Developer Conference, the new Mac Pro takes up one-eighth the desktop space of its predecessor. Apple says it's able to reduce the workstation's footprint, thanks to the system's unified thermal core that pushes heat to rise through a central cone created by three circuit boards assembled into a triangular wedge.

But Apple's unique design limits the amount of internal storage, dropping it down from 12 TB in previous Mac Pros to 1 TB, point out Apple partners. The new Mac Pros support Apple's Thunderbolt 2 high-speed (10 Gbps bandwidth) peripheral interface standard. "For creative professionals that need more than a terabyte of SSD-based storage, the cost of upgrading to a Mac Pro just goes up and up," Zigmont said.

For partners such as Johnson, the business-focused release of Mac Pros is a welcome change. "I'm a B-to-B Apple reseller. We haven't seen a lot of new [Apple] products to sell to our customers. We are excited to see Apple focus on business solutions with this new release."

"I think the majority of people who want to upgrade to the new Mac Pro will have sticker shock. But for high-end digital houses, where time is money and they need the horsepower, this new system is an impressive piece of hardware," Zigmont said.

PUBLISHED DEC. 18, 2013