Apple Mac Pro

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Mac Pro

by Michael Gariffo

Docid: 00011580

Publication Date: 2109

Report Type: PRODUCT


Apple's Mac Pro is the company's sole line of full-sized desktop tower
computers, with the budget-minded Mac Mini and the all-in-one iMac as its only
other stationary systems. Although the Pro line has gone through many iterations
over the years, some form of the familiar "Cheese Grater" design has dominated
the majority of its history. Apple ignored those expectations, however, when it
debuted a cylindrical Mac Pro, which began shipping to consumers
in 2013. That unit left behind the brushed aluminum Apple stuck with for
years and replaced it with a strikingly unusual case design. While the redesign
received praise for its unique look and clean aesthetic, 2019 would see Apple
once again returning to its trademark Cheese Grater look for its latest update. This report details the Mac Pro, its features,
capabilities, and applications.

Report Contents:

Figure 1. The front, inside, and rear of the latest Apple Mac Pro desktop

Figure 1. The front, inside, and rear of the latest Apple Mac Pro desktop

Source: Apple


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The Apple Mac
Pro is Apple’s top-of-the-line desktop
personal computer. The line has long held a niche following within the
fields of graphic design, video and audio editing, photo manipulation, and other
creative pursuits. This was largely because of its simplicity of use, powerful
Intel Xeon W workstation-class processors, and a diverse collection of creative
software from Adobe and other manufacturers.

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Despite its loyal following, the Mac Pro never gained the widespread
traction of Apple’s MacBook lines nor the general public’s adoption rate of the
all-in-one iMac. The reason for this is debatable. While the Mac Pro usually
offers the most powerful system available from Apple within any given
generation, that power usually comes with a hefty price tag, at least when
compared to what a contemporary version of the MacBook can be had for, or for
what customers can expect to pay for a less powerful iMac. Since most users would prefer the
flexibility of a laptop over the power of a desktop and many would never even
fully utilize the extra speed boost in relation to the iMac, the Mac Pro has
remained, and will likely continue to remain, a solid niche offering.

Apple Computer
1 Infinite Loop
Cupertino, CA 95014
Phone: (408) 996-1010
Fax: (408) 974-2113

Type of Vendor: Hardware, software
Founded: 1976
Service Areas: Global
Stock Symbol: AAPL (Nasdaq)

A more worrisome aspect for Apple is that
the Mac Pro has not come close to widespread adoption in the business world.
Windows currently enjoys almost five times macOS’ market share globally.1 Again, many
members of the press and public alike point to Apple’s premium price tag as the
reason behind this. However, it is worth noting that nearly all of the major
business software companies, including Microsoft itself, have a relatively
miniscule library of MacOS compatible software when compared to
Windows-compatible titles. For years, if a business wanted to run something as
simple as Microsoft Office on their Mac, they would have been out of luck.
Although this particular failing has been corrected, other software,
which may be just as essential, remains out of reach for Mac users.

Apple’s switch to Intel processors in the 2010s made it possible to install the Windows operating system onto any Mac as a primary or
dual-boot OS. However, the technical know-how to accomplish this, as well as the
extra cost of purchasing a Windows license, has made the process prohibitive for
most users. Another matter is the introduction of apple's own proprietary
silicon chips in 2020. While these CPUs have only so far been announced for the
company's more consumer-focused laptop and budget-friendly desktop lineups, at the time of writing, it seems inevitable that the
tech giant would eventually want its flagship desktops to also sport its
self-produced, ARM-based CPUs, which would likely make it impossible to run the
Windows OS or Windows-based software on Mac Pros with considerable extra
wrangling. However, Apple has, so far,
remained mum on its plans for future Mac Pro CPU updates.

Whatever the outcome of Apple's future plans for their flagship desktop
series, the weakness of its Windows-based software support is somewhat mitigated by the fact that Apple has been praised over the years for its
proprietary operating
systems. Although the OS underwent a name change from OS X to macOS, it remains the software behind the Mac Pro, MacBook, iMac, and Mac
Mini lines. The latest version, macOS 11 (Big Sur) was generally well
received, despite the fact that it once again largely provided very iterative
and incremental improvements over its predecessor. Among these improvements were
added support for the company's new ARM-based hardware, UI tweaks, and
performance enhancements. However,
more drastic changes are on the horizon with the upcoming release of MacOS 12
(Moneterey). This refresh will bring new additions like Universal Control (a way
to remotely control iOS-based devices), enhanced Airplay support, and Shortcuts,
a way of automating common tasks and actions.

In recent years, many analysts have expected Apple to ignore the Mac Pro
line or to drop it altogether. The fact is that the system will never be as easy to
sell to consumers as the bright, friendly looking iMac or become as much a staple of
the Apple user lifestyle as the ubiquitous MacBook lines. However, Apple’s early
success in the PC marketplace cannot be attributed to the stereotypical college
student toting one of its laptops, nor can it be laid at the feet of the
family looking for a living room computer that makes up most of the iMac user
base. In fact, that small niche market of designers, editors, and creative
artists that still cling to the Mac Pro line are what gave Apple the early push
it needed to become the company it is today. Thankfully for those loyalists,
Apple has chosen not to abandon them and has once again given them a system
designed to power through any work they can throw at it.


The primary strength of the Mac Pro has always been its power. Although many
reviewers and consumers compare it to standard Windows-based home desktops, it
would be more accurate to compare it to high-end workstation-level
PCs. Not only does this put the oft-derided pricing into better perspective, it
also explains design decisions like the inclusion of Xeon processors. Apple’s choice to use a CPU traditionally seen only in servers is
no accident; it wants every bit of speed that can be wrung out of a processing
core, and, while the Intel Core i line offers some impressive specs, it has
still not matched the raw power available from a Xeon.

The processor is only a small piece of a larger whole, however. It can easily
have its power wasted if a PC maker does not use components capable of handling
its throughput. Fortunately, Apple has avoided any such bottleneck by always
equipping the Mac Pro line with ample amounts of RAM, powerful graphical
processing units, and speedy Solid State Drive storage options.

On the software side, the Mac Pro line benefits from the same ease-of-use
that all Macs boast. MacOS is often lauded for being much more
user-friendly to non-technophiles than Microsoft’s offerings. Whether or not
this is actually the case is something that can only be decided by the
individual user. However, the important thing for Apple is that it has managed
to maintain this reputation of accessibility for many years and has successfully
leveraged it as a selling point on all of its Mac lines.

Apple’s software also offers a definite but somewhat unusual advantage over
Microsoft’s in another area: security. The very real advantage comes from the
relatively small amount of viruses, malware, adware, and other malicious
software designed for the MacOS platform. This means that, even if a user
chooses not to install any form of security software, he or she is still less
likely than a Windows user to be detrimentally affected by malefactors thanks to the
rarity of malicious software that is compatible with his or her system. However,
this benefit remains somewhat of an odd trade-off for Apple. Simply put, the
reason for the smaller amount of MacOS malware is the fact that there is a dearth
of targets for it. Essentially, Apple’s lack of dominance in the desktop
operating system market has resulted in an enhanced level of security for its

Finally, the Mac Pro shares that same intangible draw that most Apple
products have. Even Apple’s greatest detractors have to admit the reputation for
quality from the Cupertino-based firm is at least somewhat warranted. It’s Mac
Pro cases are notoriously hard to damage and have always done an excellent job
of protecting their internal components while also providing ventilation for
them. Apple also seems to create its external housings with the art community
that makes up much of its user base in mind. While users struggle to hide their
ugly, wire-laden Windows-based PCs, Mac Pro users often seem to have their
system in full view. Simply put, they want everyone around them to know exactly
what computer it is they are using, and that is not something most PC
manufacturers can say.


The primary weakness of the Mac Pro line has always been its cost. Although
Apple may be completely able to justify the price thanks to its high-end
components and commercial-grade build quality, many users simply cannot afford a
Mac Pro. This definitely has not changed with Apple's currently Mac Pro sporting
an "entry-level" price of $5,599. High-speeds and attractive design aesthetics are all well and
good, but few customers are willing to purchase a single Mac Pro for what they
could spend on four Windows-based desktops configured with internal components
that would be entirely capable of all but the most intense tasks.

Making the issue of cost worse is the fact that the Mac Pro may well have
limited usability for some customers when compared to those cheaper
Windows-based PCs. This is the result of the same lack of widespread software
developer support found across the entire Apple Mac ecosystem. However, the Mac
Pro line feels this lack of applications more acutely than any other member of
its family. While many MacBook buyers simply use their purchase to browse the
Web, handle basic productivity, and do some light editing, Mac Pro users expect
their systems to be able to handle all aspects of even the most demanding tasks
their business and personal needs require. Likewise, the iMac user base is made
up largely of families and non-power users that are content with the
comparatively small library of third-party software available for their system.
Once again, all the power available in a Mac Pro is very attractive, but it is
of little actual use it if can’t be applied to the software a user needs because
the manufacturer of the app in question does not support MacOS.

Lastly, although Mac Pro users tend to be the most tech-savvy of Mac users,
they are largely denied a basic option afforded to users of even the most basic
Windows desktops: the ability to upgrade their own systems. Thanks to a
combination of proprietary components and inaccessible hardware, Apple has
become notorious for creating desktops that are nearly impossible to upgrade by
This may do a great deal to benefit the services provided by Apple’s Genius Bar
and technical support. However, the revenue lost in sales that the company may
have made to consumers that want a system they can tinker with themselves is
unlikely to be recouped.


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The Apple Mac Pro is designed for use by both consumers and businesses.
Examples of Mac Pro applications include student computing, Web and graphic
design, newspaper and magazine publishing, and editing of digital media such as
photographs, music, and video.

Programs for its macOS support Web browsing, video chat
and video editing, graphic design, and productivity applications. Software
upgrades support remote desktops, database development, and


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Apple currently offers two configurations of its Mac Pro desktop PC, a
desktop or rack-mounted option. However,
both of these models can be customized to a particular buyer’s needs.

Table 1 details the Apple Mac Pro’s operating environment, including all available options
for each customizable component.

Table 1. Apple Mac Pro Environment
System Elements
Processor Options
  • 3.5GHz 8-Core – Intel Xeon W with 24.5MB L3 cache
  • 3.3GHz 12-core
    – Intel Xeon with 31.25MB L3 cache 

  • 3.2GHz 16-core – Intel Xeon with 38MB
    of L3 Cache
  • 2.7GHz 24-core – Intel Xeon with 57MB
    of L3 Cache
  • 2.5GHz 28-core – Intel Xeon with 66.5MB
    of L3 Cache
Graphics and Displays The desktop has space for two "MPX Modules," Supporting up to
four GPUS. Specific GPUs available include: 

  • AMD Radeon Pro 580x
  • AMD Radeon Pro W5500X
  • AMD Radeon Pro W5700X
  • AMD Radeon Pro W5700X Duo
  • AMD Radeon Pro 6800X (32GB or 64GB variants)
  • AMD Radeon Pro 6900X (32GB or 64GB variants)

The Mac Pro also features:

  • Support for up to six displays
  • Support for digital resolutions up to 4096 x 2160 pixels
Storage Although Apple's previous Mac Pro lines included options
for hard disk drives (HDDs), the latest revamp relies entirely on solid
state drives (SSDs). They are available in the following sizes:

  • 256GB
  • 1TB
  •  2TB
  • 4TB
  • 8TB
Ports and Audio Mac Pro offers the following ports and audio features:

  • Two USB 3 ports
  • Four Thunderbolt 3 ports
  • Two 10Gb Ethernet ports
  • Headphone minijack with headset support
  • Built-in speakers
  • Various DisplayPort and HDMI video outputs, depending on the GPU
    configuration selected
  • 32GB (4x8GB) of DDR4 ECC memory
  • 48GB (6x8GB) of DDR4 ECC memory
  • 96GB
    (6x16GB) of DDR4 ECC memory
  • 192GB (6x32GB) of DDR4 ECC memory
  • 384GB (6x64GB) of DDR4 ECC Memory
  • 768GB (6x128GB or 12x64GB) of DDR4 ECC memory
  • 1.5TB (12x128GB) of DDR4 ECC memory (requires 24 or 28 core CPU)
Software Software included with the Mac Pro: MacOS (Mojave) (includes Apple Mac Store, Time Machine, Quick Look, Spotlight, Mail,
iCal, Safari, Address Book, QuickTime, Photo Booth, Front Row, Face Time, Auto
Save, AirDrop, Resume, and Mission Control) and GarageBand.


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With the Warranty Service, eligible repairs
are available
free of charge for twelve months from the date of the original
purchase. Beyond the warranty period, the AppleCare Protection Plan for
Mac Pro extends hardware repair service and technical support coverage to three
years from the product’s original date of purchase.


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Pricing for the Apple Mac Pro at
$5,599.00 USD. While full pricing details for the forthcoming launch of the Mac
Pro remain unknown at the time of writing, it is likely that the top end
configuration for a single system could go as high as $30,000 given the
optional configurations available and Apple’s historical pricing practices.


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The Apple Mac Pro competes primarily against
desktops from HP, Dell, Lenovo, Sony, and Asus. There is also a much
smaller, albeit growing community of "Hackintosh" users. Apple’s switch to
Intel processors has made it possible to build a computer system from
readily-available PC components and install OS X as its operating system.
Although the option could theoretically provide the same specs as a Mac Pro for
a fraction of the cost, the technical know-how needed to accomplish such a build
has had only a very minor effect, if any, on Apple’s sales.

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1 "Operating System Market Share Worldwide."
StatCounter. Retrieved September 2021.

About the Author

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Michael Gariffo is an editor for Faulkner Information
Services. He tracks and writes about enterprise software and the IT services
sector, as well as telecommunications and data networking.

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