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WWDC 2019: The new Mac Pro, and why it’s such a beast

Apple’s announced their brand new powerhouse workstation, the Mac Pro, at the 2019 Apple Worldwide Developers Conference in San Jose, California—and it’s undoubtedly one of the hottest topics of discussion in the tech scene right now.

And for good reason. The Mac Pro is (or will be, this fall) the most powerful and customisable Mac so far, and it won’t come cheap: US$5,999 (about RM25,075) for the base model that was displayed during the keynote (8-core Xeon with 32GB of memory and a 256GB SSD).

Specs

The Mac Pro will come equipped with Intel’s Xeon processor with up to 28 cores, plus an astonishing capacity for 1.5TB of memory. You’ll also have 8 PCI Express expansion slots (twice the previous Mac Pro had) while you can opt to have two Vega II Duos running to give you 56 teraflops of graphic performance and 128GB of video memory.

Always wanted to simulate an app on a dozen devices at once? Or perhaps you’re a producer who needs the raw CPU power to play hundreds of virtual instruments. You’ve got it.

Apple is also very proud of something called Afterburner, an accelerator card that is capable of decoding up to 6 billion pixels per second—sounds impressive, doesn’t it? Especially if you’re a video editor that has to deal with converting native file formats for post-production work.

In addition to that, the Apple MPX module features Thunderbolt integration and more than 500W of power—both groundbreaking features for any graphic card on the market today.

Making Mac ‘grate’ again

When it comes to the aesthetic element of hardware, Apple is very often the envy of the competition. And the Mac Pro has certainly turned eyes with its design, although unfavourable comparisons with a cheese grater have been made by many.

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Apple’s workstation is enclosed in a stainless-steel space frame with an aluminium housing that can be lifted to allow for 360-degree access into the system. This is all in line with the modular nature of the Mac Pro.

The lattice pattern present around the housing of the device may look like tiny alien faces peeking through, but functions to maximise airflow/ventilation and to ensure quiet operation.

How much will the upgrades cost?

As with all things Apple, the aforementioned starting price of US$5,999 (about RM25,075) for the base model is just the start. Expanding your memory or storage, or opting for the higher-end graphic options available can and will shoot your spending a fair bit higher.

The Verge did a quick estimate to see how much a maxed-specced Mac Pro would cost, and the numbers are big enough to make anyone feel a little faint.

Here’s a quick breakdown:

  • 1.5TB of RAM (12 x 128GB sticks of RAM)
  • 4TB of storage (2 x 2TB SSDs)
  • 28-core Xeon processor
  • 2 AMD RADEON PRO VEGA II GPUs
  • 1 Apple Afterburner Accelerator Card
  • 1 Apple Pro Display XDR
  • 1 Apple Pro Stand

Keeping in mind that the figures given are mostly guesstimates, a fully jacked-up Mac Pro, along with the Apple Pro Display XDR and the Apple Pro Stand, would cost somewhere in the region of US$30,000 (about RM125,400) to US$45,000 (about RM188,100).

All in all, the Mac Pro is a device that is built for professional use, although if you can afford it and you’d just like to use it for binge-watching Netflix, that’s entirely up to you.

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