What Can We Expect From The New Mac Pro (Part 2)

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New-look Mac Pro

With the new technology mentioned opposite, a redesigned Mac Pro could be substantially thinner than the current model, and Apple certainly tends towards the slim as its natural design progression.

But would this be practical for the traditional user? With a thinner case comes the prospect of Apple creating a Mac Pro that’s capable of being both a desktop computer and a replacement for the 4.4cm tall Xserve Rack Apple discontinued in 2010. This would come as relief for both Mac OS X power users and system administrators, who were left in a state of limbo after Apple discontinued its rack mount server.

The slimmer form factor may impact its upgradeability

The slimmer form factor may impact its upgradeability

Whether Apple can pack the power of the Mac Pro into a 1in thinner case is debatable, though if you look at something like the HP Z1, you can see how HP has squeezed workstation power into an iMac-esque case.

The slimmer form factor may impact its upgradeability though, especially with regard to the PCI Express sockets used for graphics cards. Apple could include space for an upgradeable card, maybe two at a push. Or it could elect to have fixed graphics along with the CPU at the time of purchase. However, upgradeability is important, and for some the ability to add graphics cards and extra memory at a later date is crucial.

One cosmetic change that seems inevitable is the removal of the optical drive, which is likely to attract hostility even in this era of cloud computing and Wi-Fi storage solutions.

Modular design

Another suggestion is that Apple could move to a modular system for the Mac Pro. At the Consumer Electronics Show in January, a company called Xi3 revealed a modular computer called the Piston, and Apple is rumored to be interested in the technology. If it adopted such a design, it would not sell a single case but several smaller component ‘cubes’ that connect together to form a computer. So you’d buy a processor cube, a storage cube, a graphics card cube, and so on. These would connect using Thunderbolt technology. It’s an interesting concept, although whether Apple is planning such a radical change is debatable.

An iMac Pro

Alternatively, Apple may be planning to launch a desktop computer that sits somewhere between the iMac, Mac mini and the current Mac Pro.

A modular design for the new Mac Pro is shown in this concept image

A modular design for the new Mac Pro is shown in this concept image

There are a good number of people for whom neither the Mac Pro nor the Mac mini is the right fit: they don’t need all the bays, slots and other geek-wish-list features of the Mac Pro, but the mini doesn’t offer enough storage or internal expandability. Similarly, some people won’t buy an all-in-one computer like the iMac because they don’t like the screen, not to mention that the latest models offer essentially no internal expandability. A screen less desktop with power-user performance and moderate expandability is attractive to some.

So how about a minitower with a reasonably powerful processor; a good graphics card in an upgradeable slot; a decent amount of upgradeable RAM; two drive bays that could accept either traditional hard drives or SSDs; and a PCI Express slot?

Video/Graphics Card NVIDIA GeForce GT 120 512MB Mac Pro 2.26~2.93GHz

Video/Graphics Card NVIDIA GeForce GT 120 512MB Mac Pro 2.26~2.93GHz

Won’t high-end pro users abandon the Mac platform without a ‘true’ Mac Pro? Some will, there’s no doubt. But many already have, arguing it’s Apple that’s been slowly abandoning the high-end market over the past few years. (There’s some evidence for this: token updates to the Mac Pro, dropping the Xserve and Xserve RAID, major updates to pro apps that make them seem more consumer than pro-focused, and so on.)

If you consider Apple’s efforts over recent years to make everything smaller, cooler and less power-hungry, along with the fact you don’t need massive.

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