Yet after testing the Mac Pro alongside one of the best iMacs you can buy, both on loan from Apple, I learned a valuable lesson: You don’t need a Lamborghini when you can buy a Lexus for half the price.
As Geoffrey Fowler correctly interprets, this Mac Pro is an elite supercar compared to most Macs or PCs. Since it was revealed in June, I’ve been forming a similar opinion on the Mac Pro (Late 2013). The comparison draws from Steve Jobs’ appearance at the D8 conference, where he discussed the PC’s place in the newly coined “Post-PC” era (Text/Video).
The only problem with the new Mac Pro, as I see it, is that Apple delivered a fantastic supercar – to replace their truck. Imagine the reactions if Ford positioned the GT as a replacement for the F-650. The big box allowed anyone to customize the Mac Pro to their needs while providing a reliable chassis for sustained loads. The new model has fewer options while moving reliability and longevity into an unknowable category.
Looking under the
hood shell of the Mac Pro reveals a beautiful, forward-looking machine at the limits of today’s technology, much like the original 2008 MacBook Air. That machine was compromised from the start, between performance, heat and size, while suffering from reliability issues and ultimately a short lifespan. Other cutting-edge Macs have encountered these types of compromises as well, such as the MacBook or PowerMac G4 Cube. They were also known for a lack of performance and/or questionable reliability. Ideally, this next generation Mac Pro will avoid the pitfalls of previous first-generation Macs.
The Anandtech review, however, shows that the Mac Pro has a craving for PCIe lanes – like a supercar craves more air for combustion. More than anything, the available number of PCIe lanes seemed to have dictated the direction of the Mac Pro. One SSD, shared USB3 throughput, paired Thunderbolt channels and lack of internal expansion are all driven by the limited number of communication channels the Intel platform provides.
Setting aside the possibility of retaining the old form factor, it would’ve been nice to see more diverse configuration options for the Mac Pro to better suit the needs of its users. What about swapping one of the GPUs with a another CPU? Or sacrificing a GPU for more storage (SSD) slots? How about extra RAM slots? Mismatched GPUs with a high-end consumer (gaming) option? Heck, why not a new card slot standard to drop whatever you want into the second GPU space? These are the kind of options I would like to see in future revisions of the Mac Pro.
Walking back slightly from a one-size-fits-all attitude and providing a highly configurable chassis would be the ideal direction in which to take the Mac Pro for future revisions. As impressive a supercar as it may be, there’s still room for a true truck-style Mac Pro in the line up.