WWDC: Mac Pro — the computer for the few

Apple nails it with its new Mac Pro. Its high-end computer, while a high price tag, radically enhances the workflow of the high-end user and is the best a professional can get.

WWDC: Mac Pro — the computer for the few
Jonny Evans

It’s not for the mass market, and it costs as much as a car and most people will never even see one, but Mac Pro is still the best Mac Apple has ever made.

Mac Pro built for the real world

I’ve been wandering around WWDC speaking with people, and the general feeling about Mac Pro seems to be that the company has got this really, really right.

These Mac systems are not compromised on cost, components or design and were developed with just one primary mission in mind: to radically enhance professional workflow.

In building them, Apple’s Mac people worked closely with a relatively new internal group called the Pro Workflow team. The members of this team are real professional users from the high-end industries — they are movie makers, photographers, musicians, designers, research scientists, and architects, and their work helped Apple identify the real workflow needs of the incredibly high-end professional users these systems are aimed at.

Apple took these lessons to heart when it designed the Mac Pro. That means when you purchase one of these Macs, you aren’t just buying the best available computer system; you are purchasing something developed from the ground up to meet real professional workflow needs.

Achieving impossible things with the new Mac Pro

That’s why you can achieve things with the new Mac Pro that you couldn’t achieve before, such as managing 1,000 tracks of Logic Audio — each one composed of hundreds of virtual instruments on one Mac — or running three streams of uncompressed ProRes 8K video simultaneously, or getting full-quality 8K performance in real time — with the ability to color-correct and apply effects — using DaVinci Resolve.

That’s right — not only can you run 8K video without using proxy, but you can also edit it in real time. (Though you may need to add Apple’s AfterBurner hardware accelerator card to achieve some of those things.)

In typical Apple fashion, this focus on real workflow needs extends to little details, such as inclusion of a USB slot inside the Macs into which you can plug those annoying but necessary software authorization dongles.

One reason why that latter detail works is the expandable nature of these Macs. You open them with the twist of a lever, lift up the aluminium cover, and gain access to the multiple expansion slots inside these Macs — and yes, the 1.4kw power supply sits inside there, too.

Expandable, advanced, powerful

The Mac Pros use 28-core Cascade Lake 3000-series Xeon W workstations processors. The processors were announced by Intel even as Apple introduced Mac Pro, and enable the computer to deliver performance specs that are simply off the hook. I’m talking about support for up to 1.5TB of high-performance memory, eight PCIe expansion slots, and a graphics architecture featuring the world’s most powerful graphics card. You can install up to 4TB SSD storage and protect all those precious assets with Apple’s T2 chip. (Many of those who invest in these Macs won’t care so much about storage — they’ll be purchasing these things for throughput.)

I’m not going to say too much more about the tech specs of these systems. They ship in numerous configurations, and you tweak them for your needs using those expansion slots. When you do, you’ll be impressed by Apple’s beautifully designed homage to the still very much-loved Power Mac G5 and the ease with which you can add, change, and tweak these Macs.

And something to watch it on: Pro Display HDR

Of course, developing the world’s best Mac also meant Apple had to build a display to match. The Pro Display HDR is what Apple came up with. To develop it, Apple’s tech teams went on a money-is-no-object exercise to develop new manufacturing, process, and display technologies to achieve remarkable things.

You see, while Apple’s display costs just over $5,000, it delivers superior (1,000 nits consistently) brightness, color consistency, and all the other things professional users need in a display that looks better and runs far more quietly than industry-standard reference displays that cost six times as much. I know. I’ve seen them running side by side. It’s important to understand that in this section of the real world, these displays are already a bargain.

These happy few Mac Pro users

These Mac Pros are not systems “for the rest of us.” Most Mac users will never need to run something as powerful as these machines.

The people that do need them are the most demanding professionals, and to them these things are not expensive — just another big investment to go beside the highly expensive RED cameras, music instruments, or production and recording gear they already own.

These are people for whom time isn’t just money, but people who in many cases value time even more than cash. I’m in very little doubt that these are people who will see how Apple has assembled such powerful technologies and will also understand that in doing so, it has developed a Mac that meets their actual workflow needs. Which saves them time andmakes them money.

I sensed real pride from among Mac-related Apple people I encountered at the giant developer event. My feeling is that they are pretty much delighted to have been given the chance to put together these wonderfully uncompromised new systems, which should meet the needs of the highest-level professionals. I think they have a right to feel pride. They have built the best Mac Apple has ever made.

One more thing

I wrote this glowing account on an iPad Pro, which these days seems to be all the Mac I need. And this is why these astounding Mac Pros define the future of the Mac, as iPads and iPhones become all the computer most people need for almost every task. The Mac Pros aren’t for the many, but for the few — and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that.

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Copyright © 2019 IDG Communications, Inc.

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