While the professional-oriented Mac Pro has gone without receiving much attention for several years now, Apple on Tuesday announced a refresh that substantially upgrades the machine’s internal components for 2017, while maintaining the same cylindrical form-factor of the 2013 Mac Pro models.
Moreover, while stopping short of providing any major details, an Apple executive confirmed that his company is currently working on a “completely rethought” Mac Pro model, featuring a new form factor, as well as an undisclosed number of Apple-branded displays that could be launching at some point in the next year or two.
Apple’s base-model Mac Pro, which previously featured a quad-core Intel Xeon CPU, dual AMD FirePro D300 GPUs, and 12 GB of DDR3 RAM, has been replaced with an upgraded base-model featuring a hexa-core (6-core) Intel Xeon E5 CPU, dual AMD FirePro D500 GPUs, and 16 GB of DDR3 RAM for the same price of $2,999. The next model up, which previously featured a hexa-core Intel Xeon CPU, now features an octa-core (8-core) Xeon E5 CPU, 16 GB of RAM, and dual AMD D700 GPUs boasting 6 GB of VRAM apiece for $3,999.
No other changes have been incorporated as part of the refresh, and both models are still encapsulated in the same cylindrical form-factor, featuring 256 GB of PCIe-based flash storage, four USB 3.0 ports, six Thunderbolt 2 ports, dual Ethernet ports, and one HDMI v1.4 port.
Apple’s Senior Vice President of worldwide marketing, Phil Schiller, also announced that his company is working on an “all-new Mac Pro,” which will supposedly feature a “high-end, high-throughput modular design.” Although the new model will take a bit longer to complete, Schiller said, it will apparently be accompanied by an Apple-branded external display of an untold size and resolution — likely similar to the company’s since discontinued Thunderbolt display, although more than likely more advanced in terms of specifications.
“With regards to the Mac Pro, we are in the process of what we call ‘completely rethinking the Mac Pro’. We have a team working hard on it right now, and we want to architect it so that we can keep it fresh with regular improvements, and we’re committed to making it our highest-end, high-throughput desktop system, designed for our demanding pro customers,” Schiller said, according to Daring Fireball, while adding that “[The forthcoming Mac Pro], by definition, is a modular system — we will be doing a pro display as well.”
The “pre-announcement” of a future Mac Pro overhaul isn’t exactly consistent with Apple’s usual way of revealing product plans. However, in what appears to be a way of appeasing the company’s professional power-users, Schiller appears adamant in diminishing the growing concerns that Apple had in any way “given up” on them — reiterating, once again, how Apple is fully committed to its professional users, while promising that “many great products” are in the pipeline.
“We’re committed to the Mac, we’ve got great talent on the Mac, both hardware and software, we’ve got great products planned for the future, and as far as our horizon line can see, the Mac is a core component of the things Apple delivers, including to our pro customers,” Schiller said.
Apple’s refreshed Mac Pro offerings are currently listed for sale via the Apple online storefront, however the top-tier octa-core model is, at least for the time being, listed as “currently unavailable.”