; Date: Tue Jun 11 2019
Apple finally released a proper modular Mac Pro computer, again. The new Mac Pro has a design reminiscent of both the 2009-2012 Mac Pro and the old G4 Mac Cube. It is extremely customizable, easy to open up and fiddle with the interior, and the maximum specs are way beyond belief. But, the price is putting people off in a big way, especially the price for the corresponding monitor. The chorus of naysayers are, however, wrong, and are clearly not the intended market for the new Mac Pro.
The typical system performance review you'll find has been created by a YouTuber. YouTuber's are for the most part looking to edit 4K video, and publish said video to YouTube, and are probably not looking to publish video to other targets. This means their mind is wrapped up in, a computer has to score well on CineBench in order to be taken seriously.
But are these YouTubers representative of high end video or audio production houses? No. Are they representative of high end computational science houses? No.
I'm not representative of those places either, but I've just watched two videos back to back that provide useful contrast to understand where the new Mac Pro fits. The videos are embedded below, and are:
- Upgrading my Mac Pro to the MAX CPU and RAM | Dual X5690 and 128gb -- Luke Miani is a YouTuber specializing in upgrading older Apple hardware, and wringing the best performance out of low cost hardware.
- YOUR OPINION ON THE MAC PRO IS WRONG! (And here's why...) - A Filmmaker's Perspective -- This is a "film-maker", Karim Shabankareh, who does high end video work for customers, and those customers are willing to pay him the fees he needs to support buying high end hardware, and cost is not an issue but performance and usability is.
Both of these are spot-on with their assessments. Let's start with the film-maker.
Professionals need high end performance, the more the better, and can pay for it
The new Mac Pro is simply not meant for what he calls a "prosumer" YouTuber. Mr. Shabankareh is happy that Apple finally got back to serving the Professional market, those with truly high end needs. While he has complaints with specific choices, he expresses himself as being happy with Apple's choices overall on the 2019 Mac Pro.
The choice to put a 250GB SSD in the base model is strange. One assumes that Apple intends the 250GB SSD to be used in production houses where there's an existing high end file storage system, witness the dual 10GB ethernet ports built-in. One also assumes the upgrade to a 1TB SSD won't be terribly expensive.
The new display for the new Mac Pro is causing many peoples heads to twist around into knots. $6 grand for a monitor???!?!? Well, Mr. Shabankareh points out that going by the specs this monitor is hands down better than existing Professional monitors on the market, at a much lower cost.
In particular he notes many critiques that for $6k one can get a whole computer, and speakers, and a webcam, embedded in a really good monitor. But - the people calling for that combination are completely missing the point. For Professionals, they don't want speakers or a webcam built into the display, because they'll already have a Professional audio system, and don't need a webcam. As for building a computer into a display - such a computer would not serve what a Professional needs.
Bottom line - Professionals need truly high end stuff, and this combination is excellent for them. They will not be sticking with the base model, but will be upgrading the heck out the machine. And the 1.5 terabytes of main memory will be useful to enough of these people.
Prosumers need performance, but not so extreme, and might have a limited budget
Let's turn to Luke Miani'a video. He recently bought a 5,1 2010 Mac Pro with a dual CPU tray. Yes, we're talking about a 9 year old computer. In this video he upgrades that computer to have the highest end Xeon's that it will take, along with the greatest amount of memory it'll take. And the result came in fairly equal to the 2019 Core i9 iMac Pro, at a fraction of the cost.
Miani is one of these YouTuber's who need to render 4K videos for YouTube. Every time he touches a system upgrade he runs GeekBench and CineBench and is clearly looking for the best bang for the buck system with which to render his videos.
That era of the Mac Pro (2009-2012) is clearly the design wellspring from which Johnny Ive drew inspiration for the 2019 Mac Pro. These older Mac Pro's are a breeze to open up and modify, as is the 2019 Mac Pro.
For this build he upgraded his 5,1 2010 Mac Pro with Dual X5690 Xeons and 128gb of 1333 MHz ECC DDR3. And then he ran Cinebench and got scores on par with the latest top end MacBook Pro and iMac Pro systems.
It's impressive that for way under $1000 one can build out a 9 year old Mac Pro with equivalent performance to the latest prosumer gear Apple offers. But it's also clear between the two videos that this 2010 Mac Pro is way outgunned by the 2019 Mac Pro.
Miani's 2010 Mac Pro will surely do what he needs, and he'll probably be happy with it. But his use case isn't the use case of the high end professionals Mr. Shabankareh describes.