It looks like Apple will be closing off 2019 with the release of the ultra-powerful Mac Pro and the extremely impressive (and expensive) Pro Display XDR that the company debuted at its Worldwide Developers Conference back in June.
Although Apple’s high-end Mac Pro lineup has never been for the casual Mac user, there are a lot of creative professionals who depend on the raw horsepower and features that only Apple can deliver. Sadly, however, after years of enjoying Apple’s very upgradeable Mac Pro tower design, many of these pro users were very disappointed when the company chose a form-over-function cylindrical design for its last update in 2013, and it’s left them wanting for more ever since.
Rumours of a refresh to the Mac Pro have been circulating for at least a couple of years, and power users got even more hopeful when Apple admitted it was working on a major modular redesign of the Mac Pro back in early 2018. By all accounts, it sounded like Apple had heard the concerns of its most intense customers and was planning to address them, so by the time the company unveiled the new Mac Pro back in June, most had a pretty good idea of what to expect, and Apple didn’t disappoint this time around.
Alongside the new Mac Pro, Apple also unveiled a stunning 32-inch Pro Display XDR that pushes the envelope of what a high-end display can do, offering 6016 x 3384 6K native resolution with more than 20 million pixels and specifically calibrated LEDs that represent the company’s first foray into microLED technology.
After showing the new Mac Pro and Pro Display XDR off, Apple promised that it would be available by the end of this year, but with the clock running out, many were wondering if that would happen. Today, however, Apple snuck the news into its 16-inch MacBook Pro announcement that the Mac Pro and its accompanying Pro Display XDR will indeed be available in December, although it’s scant on details like exactly when you’ll be able to pre-order either product or when they’ll show up in stores.
As you would expect, the new Mac Pro is the single most powerful computer that Apple has ever made, with impressive specs even in its baseline configuration. For the “entry-level” $5,999 price tag — about as much as it costs to max out the new 16-inch MacBook Pro — you’re getting an 8-core Intel Xeon CPU and 32GB of RAM, but only a relatively paltry 256GB SSD. To be fair, however, this is a machine that’s clearly designed with the idea that you’ll be adding your own high-speed Thunderbolt 3 storage arrays.
If you have demanding needs, though — or just a lot of money to spend — you can easily turn this into the most powerful desktop computer in existence, with a 28-Core 2.5GHz Intel Xeon W CPU, 1.5TB of RAM, a dual-GPU AMD Radeon Pro Vega II Duo that can drive up to eight 4K displays or four of Apple’s own 6K Pro Display XDR’s, and of course whatever else you can plug into the eight PCI Express expansion slots and array of a half-dozen Thunderbolt 3 ports. While Apple hasn’t announced pricing for specific configurations yet, most estimates suggest that this will run you around $50,000 — and that’s not including the cost of adding the four Pro Display XDR’s.
Pro Display XDR
Apple’s Pro Display XDR is the other flagship pice of professional gear this year, offering a 32-inch Retina 6K display with a P3 wide and 10-bit colour gamut, 1,600 nits of peak brightness, and a 1,000,000:1 contrast ratio.
While Apple says the Pro Display XDR has a “breakthrough price point,” it’s still not for the faint of heart, with the display coming in at $4,999 — and that’s without the $999 stand, which is sold separately.
Still, there’s a good chance that if you’re in the market for the Mac Pro and its accompanying Pro Display XDR, money is not really the most important factor, as these products are aimed at professional producers and studios who will be using these tools for projects like multi-million dollar feature films and hit albums, for which a powerful rig like this is a necessary cost of doing business. For the rest of us, there are probably better ways to spend $50,000.