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5 Things To Know About Apple’s Updated Mac Pro For 2021

The updated model of the high-performance Mac Pro desktop features additional AMD Radeon Pro graphics options, while sticking with Intel Xeon processors for the CPU.

Already the highest-performance Mac in Apple’s portfolio, the Mac Pro desktop is getting new options for even more-powerful AMD graphics as part of an update for 2021.

Notably, the update does not include the addition of Apple’s in-house CPU technology, with the updated Mac Pro sticking with Intel Xeon processors.

[Related: The 10 Biggest Apple News Stories Of 2021 (So Far)]

The new Intel-powered Mac Pro comes as Apple is about nine months into its two-year transition away from using Intel processors in the Mac.

What follows are five key things to know about Apple’s updated Mac Pro for 2021.

Graphics

Targeted at creative professionals with demanding performance needs—such as video and audio editors—the Mac Pro desktop has included options for heavy duty graphics since the redesigned model debuted in late 2019.

However, Apple is now taking that even further with the addition of several new high-end AMD graphics configuration choices on the new Mac Pro.

For the updated model, the Mac Pro can now be outfitted with AMD Radeon Pro W6800X, AMD Radeon Pro W6800X Duo or AMD Radeon Pro W6900X graphics.

As Apple says in its documentation on the new Mac Pro, the Radeon Pro W6800X and W6900X “deliver workstation-class graphics ideal for demanding pro applications.”

The 7-nanometer GPUs offer a per-watt performance improvement of 50 percent, Apple said.

Three lower-end graphics options continue to be offered for the Mac Pro—the AMD Radeon Pro 580X, Radeon Pro W5500X and Radeon Pro W5700X.

CPU

For the updated Mac Pro, Apple is sticking with the same Intel Xeon processor options that were originally available upon the 2019 debut of the redesigned Mac Pro desktop. That means no option for Intel’s “Ice Lake” Xeon processors just yet.

The Intel Xeon W processors available for the Mac Pro range from having 8 cores all the way up to having 28 cores, with support for up to 2933MHz memory.

This also keeps the Mac Pro as the last remaining Mac without Apple’s in-house, Arm-based processing technology available. Apple’s M1 processor is now available in certain models of the MacBook Pro, MacBook Air, iMac and Mac Mini—although some versions of those Macs still have yet to be updated with Apple’s processor technology.

Other Specs

Besides the graphics update, Apple has not made other changes to the Mac Pro for 2021.

That means that the new Mac Pro retains its options for up to 1.5 TB of system memory and up to 8 TB of SSD storage, while offering eight PCIe expansion slots.

In terms of design, the Mac Pro features a stainless-steel frame with an aluminum housing, which can be removed for accessing the desktop’s internal components.

Pricing

The Mac Pro tower continues to have the eye-popping starting price of $5,999, and the addition of the new AMD GPU options takes the pricing much higher.

Configuring the Mac Pro with the Radeon Pro W6800X graphics adds $2,400 to the price, while the W6800X Duo adds $4,600. To get the Mac Pro with the AMD Radeon Pro W6900X, meanwhile, will nearly double the price of the machine—adding $5,600 to the Mac Pro price tag.

Future of the Mac Pro?

In terms of future updates to the Mac Pro, Bloomberg recently reported that Apple does have plans to bring its in-house silicon to the Mac Pro as soon as next year.

The Apple-made chips for the 2022 Mac Pro could offer up to 40 cores for CPU, as well as up to 128 cores for graphics, Bloomberg reported. The form factor of next year’s Mac Pro may also be reduced in size, according to the report.

Meanwhile, a seemingly contradictory rumor surfaced last month, saying that Apple may in fact be planning to offer Mac Pro with Intel Xeon “Ice Lake” processors in 2022.

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