Apple Finally Reveals the Long Awaited Mac Pro Refresh

Apple Finally Reveals the Long Awaited Mac Pro Refresh

When Apple released the "trashcan" Mac Pro in 2013, it was praised for its engineering, chided for its design, and criticized for the lack of upgradability. Apple teased a new Mac Pro for years, and now, finally, it is here. 

The Mac Pro 2013 was a fantastic piece of engineering, that much cannot be ignored, but with advances in technology, it has become hard to recommend, even for the most diehard Apple fan, when a similarly priced PC is just... better. At WWDC 2019, Apple finally announced the long-promised upgrade to the Mac Pro, the biggest feature being... wheels! 

I'm kidding, the biggest feature is upgradability. With Apple realizing that professionals want PCI expansion, they have come back with four double-wide slots, three single-wide slots, and one half-width slot for I/O, which Apple defaults to two USB-A ports, Thunderbolt 3 ports, and a headphone jack! 

The motherboard of the Mac Pro really puts the Pro back into the line, supporting the Intel Xeon line of processors with up to 28 Cores and a ridiculous 1.5 TB of RAM (With a T) for all of your graphics needs and maybe even to run Chrome! 

Apple is making some crazy claims as well, saying that their new hardware, called Afterburner, makes the Mac Pro capable of playing three 8K RAW video streams (or 12 streams at 4K) with a custom cooling solution, saying that even when processing six billion pixels per second, it shouldn't be louder than the iMac Pro. 

Apple is also coming out with a new Cinema display, which will be a 6K HDR Retina display, which they are calling XDR.

The Mac Pro is going to be starting at $5,999 this fall with the Radeon Pro 580X, 32 GB of memory, eight-core Xeon CPU, and a 256 GB SSD, which is surprisingly well priced, continuing Apple's trend of actually being reasonably priced compared to an exact competitor. The fact they are also going to have a rack-mounted option for server rooms is huge! 

Are you planning on picking up one of these? Why or why not? Sound off in the comments below!

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Rob Davis's picture

I wonder if they’re not too late on this. A lot of the gripes people have had with Windows have largely been resolved since Windows 7. I don’t think I’ve seen a blue screen since. I have seen the spinning rainbow of death on my MacBook a few times though. Now there are Surface products and Windows Signature PC’s that come without the crapware for pre-built buyers. Then there are all of the custom builds available.

I don’t know anyone who does animation or CGI. Anyone else know if many big studios have already made the switch?

Daris Fox's picture

A lot of the designers/video editors I know have switched, that includes more than a few photographers (at for those that haven't fallen for the 'Apple is better' mantra). They've moved to either custom builds, and where the budget allows HP Z840 and Z8 workstations (or similar OEM rigs).

They got fed up of waiting and anaemic specs, plus Windows 10 Workstation is as good as MacOS for the majority of tasks, combined with native Linux Kernel for controlling remote systems / render walls it's an easy sell especially when you get good discounts for bulk purchase.

In addition with Epyc 2 CPUs around the corner and the the fact Intel is actually losing performance due to the various security patches, it's interesting that Apple went the Intel route instead of using Epyc.

jacob kerns's picture

Exactly I switched after they half-assed released Final Cut X which didn't include the option for a lot my add-on cards. I was hopeful for the new iMac Pros but I didn't want or need another screen or thermal issues.

They should of released a low end Mac Pro with a single i9 or Xeon for $2-$2.5k.

Yet I can order one with an AMD 32core Thread ripper and 128GBs for ram Quadro P4000
for $6k and with the new Epyc is going to be even better deal for the price.

Rk K's picture

CGI hasn't been done on macs for a long time..

Motti Bembaron's picture

True statement. They are not powerful enough.

David Penner's picture

After reading a bit more into it I think they might actually do well with this new system. They are using a custom GPU with up to 64 gigs of RAM. The issue with GPU rendering is unless your renderer supports out of core rendering you need to be able to store the entire scene in the memory. The most ram you can get with Nvidia is 48 gigs. The one thing I'm sorta surprised with is that they didn't use the new Rome server processors. Basically have AMD for the whole thing.

Motti Bembaron's picture

Although I know next to nothing about video editing, you have some good points regarding video rendering. The GPU indeed seems to be custom made. I could not find any related information on that specific GPU. However, some think it is equivalent to the NVIDIA GEFORCE GTX 1080 TI.

I agree with you regarding AMD but to be honest until very recently, I myself would have never thought of using AMD architecture for photo editing or graphic in general. I built my PC 2.5 years ago and AMD was not an option.

From what I understand, it takes Apple 18 months from design to store shelves. So they probably chose then what was the best at that time for their MAC. Meanwhile, the computer world made some impressive jumps, especially in CPU's. Today, AMD has an impressive line of CPU's that give Intel a run for their money but Apple cannot upgrade machines that fast. They have to focus on their phones most.

I can open my PC, put a new MoBo with AMD CPU and leave all other components as they are (M.2, SSD, Power supply, CPU cooler, GPU, RAM, and the case), Apple cannot just swap components, they will have to redesign from scratch.

I personally am not sure they would do well. Many pro users have moved long ago to more powerful PC's that can be upgraded and cooled better. A while ago I saw a graph that showed the shift many advertising, graphics and animation firms went through from using Apple to PC's. Apple lost a huge part of this market because they put all their effort, money and talent into their phones and tablets while completely neglecting their PC power users market.

Now that the phone market is completely saturated they try to revive their PC line but I believe they are too late for the party.

Many of today's Apple buyers are casual users and use a fraction of the power their Apple machines have. That's because their purchase is a social one rather than practical or professional.

For example, I have two friends that bought a $6,000 CDN (or so) iMAC's and basically use it to surf the net. They will never do any CPU taxing work on them. One of those iMac's sits idle for days before being used for a short time before forgotten again. They have the money and they can spend it.

In my opinion, those casual users represent the bulk of Apple users today. I don't see them going for this machine because it lacks the aesthetics and the wow factor of the iMac, something that makes many of those casual users to buy Apple.

renimagines's picture

After buying the last rubbish MacBook Pro for an outlandish price I will not be buying another Apple Computer (ipads on the other hand - for sure but they serve a different purpose for me). After over 20 years of dedicated Mac use, I cannot risk another computer running photoshop and other applications so poorly. So, for me - unfortunately, it is too late on this.

Motti Bembaron's picture

Except for the GPU, prices of other major components like CPU, motherboard, memory and (tiny) SSD (is it even M.2?) are available online.

However, if I take what people say is equivalent to the Pro 580X GPU -the NVIDIA GEFORCE GTX 1080 TI- we arrive at about $3,300 USD for a finished PC (CPU, GPU, RAM, M.2, MOBO, box, power supply).

As more and more graphic designers, motion studios and photographers move to PC's, I wonder what was their strategy in costing this one.

Benoit .'s picture

Glad to see the big bully is losing clients. We pay for it and it should be ours. That's something Apple has forgotten a long time ago coming up with any restriction they could think of to generate more unjustified profit in the end.

Lawrence Jones's picture

Please explain how this machine is competitive.

John Ellingson's picture

I have a current iMac Pro with 10 cores and the Radeon Pro Vega 56 GPU. It has 64 GB of RAM and 8GB of VRAM. I do not do any video processing and use it only for still images. I do use some of the processing intensive Topaz plug-ins. I'm perfectly satisfies with this setup. I have 72 TB of RAID memory on two external drives for multi backup. I also have 2TB of internal storage. I run Adobe Creative Cloud for LR and PS. I have a regular full house iMac sitting next to it for other tasks. The iMac Pro is lightening fast compared to a regular iMac. I do process lots of big files shooting a D850 along side two D500.

g coll's picture

What did your system cost you out of interest?

Spy Black's picture

Too bad Mac users won't be able to actually afford one.

Emile Husson's picture

I had despaired of ever seeing a new Mac Pro again, so last year I gave in and bought the iMac Pro with 3GHz processor, 32 GB RAM and the Radeon Pro Vega 64 graphics card for my photo and video work. I do not foresee working extensively in 8K or even 4K in the near future, so this setup should be fine until it's time to upgrade again. At that point, the new Mac Pro will have had time to prove itself (or not).

Stephen Kampff's picture

Interestingly, when they showed off the iMac Pro in NYC it was lauded as being able to play back 8K ProRes 4444 from a RED in FCPX. Yesterday they showed that it could playback three streams of this at once.

It's amazing, but I do wonder how viable it is to do away with a proxy workflow. They never mention how well a R3D file plays back. Could it do three 6K streams from a GH5 or S1H?

At what point is it overkill, and you'll need to use proxies anyway?

Emile Husson's picture

Typically when they show off such a capability, I know that I'm never going to be doing that, but it does show that it has more than enough juice for what I intend to do, as well as anticipating needs for a few years down the road.

Patrick Karbownik's picture

"..., continuing Apple's trend of actually being reasonably priced compared to an exact competitor."

He wrote, forgetting to mention that they sell the stand separately for $999.

Are you serious??

Jason Lorette's picture

I cannot see me paying $6,000 for a computer from anyone, ever. Is Apple pricing themselves out of the general market...likely, however I hope not as I do like their product.

Studio 403's picture

I will take 2, thank you. rant of the day

LA M's picture

The MAC nobody who reads this websites forums needs...

I bought the Late 2013 Mac Pro on the same bunch of BS.

Personally I can't complain. I bought the reference model along with the Sharp PK321 monitor which was touted as it's equal. It runs...constantly without a hiccup. Does what I expected but nothing that wows me. Exactly what I wanted. But that price was ridiculous. None of the "industry partners" came in with accessories that took advantage of the power. The market shortly moved unto TB3. And now the cool thing is to connect underpowered computers to eGPU's which cost as much or more than the attached PC..

This new proposed MAC isn't for "us"

It's the "very" low end of the Hollywood studio market. To get to the bare minimum they need the base model at $5K won't cut it. So you have to jump up to the next likely configuration which will cost just shy of $10K. I can afford that...but I won't buy it.

For what...Youtube videos?

Tutorial videos?

IG videos?

Apple has spoken....the iMac Pro is our beast.

Daniel Dallacasa's picture

$6K for a PC? Seriously? That’s half the cost of a 600mm.

David Penner's picture

Well if you look at it from the POV of someone that would be using something like this they might say "$12k for a lens.. that's twice the price of my computer". IMO though the more entry level Mac's won't be worth it... It's the $40k systems that might actually be worth it since the hardware is specialized. I hate Apple but after really digging deep into things I can definitely see those systems being worth the price for the right people. Mostly for GPU rendering and VFX work where massive amounts of video card ram will make a difference. For GPU rendering you typically want the entire scene to be able to fit onto the video card memory. Multiple cards doesn't matter since whatever card has the least amount of ram dictates how much ram you have available. Even 16 gigs of video ram might not be enough. It's why for the most part up until recently most renderers actually used the cpu since it uses normal ram which means you can make massive scenes without issue. The mac can be optioned up to 64 gigs on a single card. GPU rendering is quicker and more accurate.

Ignacio Balbuena's picture

only 256GB SSD for a computer of 5.999 u$d, are you kidding me? Even if the 8-core processor plus 32GB of memory sound nice but a radeon pro 580X graphics card that Apple says is in conference as "the world's most powerful graphics card",
Are they joking?! Even if the 580X is a help for the future launch of the pro vega II, GeForce 1080GTX outperforms the radeon pro 580X way better and is lot cheaper, and lets going to be honest the 1080 isn't exactly in the top product anymore with all the quality graphic cards that Nvidia release this last time! And even when they release the pro vega II for that time Nvidia will have the competence line!! Also even if you wanted that professional version of the radeon VII, you will be at the mercy of the company's pricing for being the only ones that release it with a pair of mpx modules??? Poly don't want that cracker. With all that money for sure you can build a cheaper, quality and even flexible pc

Paulo Macedo's picture

My GTX 1070 Ti with a little OC is faster if not on pair with the 580X.

John Skinner's picture

Funny thing about these Apple units. Back in the day, due to their forward thinking on design, features like the Retina display, very small footprints and thickness made them a media room darling. So lines and lines of guys all doing post-work on MacBooks.

Step ahead a few years, and this trend has changed dramatically. Gone are the days of Windows machines being that of bags of potatoes weight and footprints like Shaquille. And since Win7 came out -- no more blue screens of death. So those silver over-priced books are fewer in numbers, and I expect the stragglers are largely due to out and out brand loyalty and stupidity of not wanting to change up to an unknown. Either way, all of these items produced by this company now are made by kids in some far off sweaty land and sold for prices beyond reason. Best of luck to the people that keep investing and driving this stock up.... Cause I own a boat load of it.

Daniel Sandvik's picture

"continuing Apple's trend of actually being reasonably priced"

Biggest bullshit I have ever read in an article before.

Ian Smith's picture

I'm just gonna share this...

I've never been Mac over PC, however historically speaking Mac's have proven more stable for my workflow. I produce video, photography, graphics, animations and in recent years I've also gotten into augmented reality.

Having used the Mac ("trash can" design) for 4 years exclusively, I noticed serious lag when it came to anything more intensive than 1080p video, and animation rendering could in fact be done overnight. However, I still (even when maxing out the 64Gb Ram) was unable to utilize certain Premiere Pro features such as the "mouse-over scrubbing" in the footage Bin.

The final straw for me was when I needed to update my augmented reality applications. I have used my 10year old apple laptop to do these for years. However, now Apple required some updates which required the latest software, which required the latest OS. Do you follow? Well, Apple decided my computer was no longer capable of the latest OS, so I could not download the latest software... SO I WAS UNABLE TO UPDATE MY APP! The computer was completely capable one week prior, but now I found myself at an immediate halt.

Since, I've read up, learned a ton, and finally built my personal desktop PC. I referenced the most powerful Mac you could buy, located comparable (or better) parts for a PC, and went at it. Until the release of the new Mac, I was able to say my PC was easily more than twice as powerful as previous Mac's, and cost nearly two-thirds less. I spent a little under 5K. The comparable Mac would have cost 15K, and would have been less than half as powerful.

Worthy to note: I've also learned that even if you have a billion graphics cards in your machine, the software you use, Adobe Premiere Pro for example, may be written to only utilize a single graphics card while you're working. Many software only use a second graphics card during exportation or render - so be aware!

In summary: The PC I built is amazing and does everything I ask it to and even surprises me from time to time with performance. The new Mac seems quite competitive in spec, but there is no way in Hell I'm going to pay that much for it, nor do I care about 8K when everyone still watches 80% of their content via YouTube, Facebook, Pinterest, or streamed to their phone. The other % is via their 4K at best TV. -opinion based on personal observation.

Przemek Lodej's picture

Are you serious? Affordable? $6000 for something that could be had for around $2000? Apple is out of its wits. I have a 12 core i7 8700K with 64GB RAM, RTX 2080, 2 TB SSD. Yes It's not a Xeon, but who really cares? And unfortunately I hate to say this but the current Radeons are inferior to NVidia's cards.The newly announced Navi cards may be better, but we'll have to wait and see. For now one would have to be seriously insane to waste their money an another Mac.

Paulo Macedo's picture

Holly damn!! I never thought I'd see a thread about Apple with so many people who have switched to PC and standing for it.
I myself was allways a PC user at home, but at work I've used Mac for a couple of years.
This machine might be impressive, but you can still build something way more powerful on the PC world for half the price.
I talk for myself here, but I'm still impressed with my mediocre AMD Ryzen 7 1700X paired with a GTX 1070Ti and the whole system costed me some 1200€.

Vladimir Vcelar's picture

But design it like a cheese grater?

cameramanDop Shanghai Hong Kong's picture

More cutting edge design is coming for the new generation of laptop!