Time to Get Back to Work

If you have been wondering, I’m speaking to the four readers out there, what has been going on with this blog, just call me an iMac. Apple last updated the iMac back in October of 2015. I haven’t updated this blog for about the same amount of time. This is my first post since September of that year. Well, as with Apple and the Macintosh, I guess it’s time to get back to work.

I have been (slightly) rejuvenated with the latest news from Cupertino. I don’t consider myself a ‘Pro’ but I do like having a Mac that is Pro level. I have two ‘cheese-grater’ 8-core Mac Pro towers along with several other Macs from the 2009-2012 era.

Apple invited a select group – select meaning five tech journalists – to a special discussion of the Macintosh. Not a general discussion but a look into what Apple is doing for the Professional Mac user. The professional photographer, video editor, audio engineer, 3-D animator, well, you get the point.

Ten years ago, if you were a professional photographer you most likely used a Mac. The Mac of choice was aptly named Mac Pro. It was a large beast of a machine that had plenty of space inside for hard drives, optical drives, RAM, video cards, and slots for even more types of expansion cards. The processors in the later models were even on a slide-out tray so they could be possibly upgraded.

The Mac Pro tower with its workstation-class Xeon processors was introduced back in the summer of 2006. It had a few updates over the next couple years, 2010 being the last major update. In 2012, after many complaints, Apple did a slight processor speed bump to appease the masses. Shortly after, Apple announced they would be coming out with a whole new vision of the Mac Pro. It wouldn’t be available until the end of 2013. For Apple this was remarkable. They hardly ever pre-announced any product that wasn’t ready to hit the shelves in a few weeks.

December of 2013 Apple unveiled the new Mac Pro. A tiny, compared to the Mac Pro tower, shiny black cylinder – The 2013 Mac Pro. On paper it looked impressive. When they finally shipped in quantity in 2014, the new Mac Pro was praised by some but criticized by others.

It really was powerful for its size. But when it was finally released, the hardware inside was already outdated. The real problem was that you couldn’t upgrade anything inside but the SSD and the RAM. On the outside were plenty of ports, but there were no internal slots that some Mac Pro users relied on.

From the end of December 2013 to the end of March 2017, there has been nothing done to the Mac Pro cylinder. Nothing at all and users have not been happy. Some of the more prominent ‘Pro’ Mac users have publicly migrated to other platforms, partly because of the success of Microsoft’s new Windows 10.

If you can live with Windows 10 as your operating system, the choices for the ‘Pro’ are staggering. There are workstations from Dell, HP, and others along with some very powerful laptops that are definitely Pro-class. My problem is that I really like working on Mac and so do a good number of users who need ‘Pro’ hardware.

This week Apple revealed their plans to rejuvenate the ‘Pro’ in Macintosh. Not just with the iMac, which for some has become the ‘Pro Macintosh’, but also with a new modular-design Mac Pro. There are no pictures to see, or even any type of description other than ‘modular’. The bad news is that it won’t be released until next year. And that’s if everything goes well.

To offset this delay, Apple has reconfigured the current Mac Pro lineup. For the same starting price of $2999, you now get the 6-core 3.5GHz model with 16GB of RAM and dual AMD FirePro D500 graphics processors. For $3999 you now get an 8-core 3.0GHz Xeon with 16GB of RAM and dual D700 graphics processors.

Don’t get me wrong, this is nice to see, but these are the same 2013 models just at a lower price. If you need a Mac Pro right now to finish a job that would pay for your time and new Macs, then this is great. Just remember that this machine is pretty much at the end of its life before you buy it.

Apple also revealed they would be coming out with a more ‘Pro’ level iMac this year. The current 5K iMac actually beats the lower-end Mac Pros on many benchmark tests. This is why the 5K core-i7 iMac has somewhat replaced the Mac Pro at certain levels. Having a high-end computer inside a high-end 5K display does make sense for some, but all-in-ones are not for everyone. Having the ability to connect your monitor can be more appealing.

The new iMac is said to me more ‘Pro’ oriented. What this all means is hard to say. Most believe that it will still have AMD-based GPUs, but will have faster storage options and RAM up to 64GB. The only problem with an all-in-one solution is that it, like the current Mac Pro, is not expandable or even upgradable. While AMD FirePros are no slouch, many pros want a nVidia graphics processor with their CUDA cores.

It is remarkable to have Apple make this type of announcement. It will be interesting to see if this will actually appease the ‘Pro’ user. Let’s just see if they can deliver. See you next year?

 

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