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Apple Drops Cylindrical Mac Pro Prices by $1000

It will be 2018 at the earliest before we see the redesigned Mac Pro that Apple has promised (see “Maca Culpa: Apple Admits Mac Pro Missteps and Promises More Transparency,” 4 April 2017), but if you need a cylinder-style Mac Pro in the interim, there’s some good news: Apple has rejiggered the configurations to provide existing higher performance options at lower prices.

(These changes have been called a “speed bump,” but in our opinion, a speed bump requires the introduction of a faster CPU that was previously unavailable. In comparing the technical specs, it seems clear that all Apple did here was drop the prices on existing configurations.)

For $2999, the new low-end configuration gets the specs of the previous high-end configuration, which equates to a $1000 price drop. It moves from a 3.7 GHz quad-core Intel Xeon E5 CPU to a 3.5 GHz 6-core Xeon E5 and from dual AMD FirePro D300 graphics processors with 2 GB of VRAM to dual AMD FirePro D500 graphics processors with 3 GB of VRAM.

The new $3999 high-end configuration moves from a 3.5 GHz 6-core Intel Xeon E5 CPU to a 3.0 GHz 8-core Xeon E5. It too gets beefier graphics processors, trading dual AMD FirePro D500 graphics processors with 3 GB of VRAM for dual AMD FirePro D700 graphics processors with 6 GB of VRAM. These aren’t new options, and our best guess based on current prices is that this configuration also received a $1000 price drop. Oddly, given the fact that these are existing options, the Apple online store reports this configuration as “Currently unavailable.”

Both models now feature 16 GB of RAM standard, up from 12 GB for the low-end model, with upgrades to 32 GB ($400) or 64 GB ($1200) available. They come standard with 256 GB of flash storage, and you can boost that to 512 GB ($200) or 1 TB ($600). For the ultimate performance, you can still upgrade to a 2.7 GHz 12-core Xeon E5 CPU ($2000). A tricked-out Mac Pro still costs a whopping $6999!

Nor do any other specs change. Notably, the Mac Pro still relies on Thunderbolt 2, so you can’t connect new accessories like the LG UltraFine 5K Display. Besides the six Thunderbolt 2 ports, it still has four USB 3.0 ports, two Gigabit Ethernet ports, one HDMI 1.4 port, and yes, a 3.5mm headphone jack with optical digital output. For wireless connectivity, it features Bluetooth 4.0 and 802.11ac Wi-Fi.

These improvements aren’t likely to make anyone jump on the Mac Pro train, but if you need to buy additional units for your business in the near future, they’ll provide more performance for the money. For many desk-bound professionals, the 27-inch iMac with Retina 5K display is a better choice, and most of us here at TidBITS now use that machine.


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Comments about Apple Drops Cylindrical Mac Pro Prices by $1000
(Comments are closed.)

Michael Lever  2017-04-04 17:43
I have a 27inch 5k retina display. When i switch off at the end of each day, the screen sometimes displays an array of coloured lines before finallty turning off. I say sometimes because it's random. Is this normal or a sign of problems to come?
Adam Engst  An apple icon for a TidBITS Staffer 2017-04-05 10:48
I almost never actually power my 27-inch Retina iMac down (only when I go on vacation), so I'm not sure if this is in any way normal or not. I haven't seen what you describe, or at least not enough that it has registered.

For the most part, there isn't much win in turning the iMac off as long as you let it sleep so it's using almost no power while it's not in use.
trippp  2017-04-09 23:18
The new iMacs seem to have an issue with the colored lines at shutdown. This is something the Geniuses thought Apple was working on. It seemed to me like an obfuscation, but at least it was an acknowledgment that someone thought there was a real issue that needed to be dealt with. In the past I have considered this sort of thing a sign of trouble. That was four months ago now and the issue is still with us.

I chalk it up to yet another example of Apples thinking that a 25billion dollar Macintosh business is not really worth their time when there are iOS devices to be be designed and sold that bring in many times that figure.
Dennis B. Swaney  2017-04-11 00:16
Adam, I've found from actual experience that on days I have my iMac powered down the most, I save electricity.
I track my daily KwH consumption and normally I have my iMac powered up from about 7 AM to about 2 AM, or 19 hours. If I'm going to be gone most of the day, I power it down when I leave. Since I have it scheduled to power up at 10:30 PM and power down at 2 AM on the days I'm gone, it may only be on those 3.5 hours, saving me about 15.5 hours of energy. That savings shows in the daily readings. Sure it may only be a few KwH per day, but when you are paying 20¢/KwH the savings add up.
Adam Engst  An apple icon for a TidBITS Staffer 2017-04-11 10:13
An iMac uses about half a watt while turned off, and about 1.3 watts in sleep. So there's almost no difference in power usage and minuscule cost savings. Call it 20 watt-hours of usage for a day, or .02 KwH, which works out to less than half a cent per day.

I'd have to do some testing with a power meter, but my suspicion is that the spike in power usage at power on might result in overall higher usage than regular sleep/wake cycles.
Dennis B. Swaney  2017-04-13 11:27
Well, all I know is on days the iMac is off, my total daily consumption is at least 1 or 2 KwH less. Perhaps it is because with the iMac down, Time Machine and Carbon Copy Cloner can't run so my external TM and CCC drives never power up? We have to remember that peripherals are part of the "computer system" and when the "system control" is powered down the other elements are usually asleep.
Adam Engst  An apple icon for a TidBITS Staffer 2017-04-13 14:24
It sounds like your Energy Saver settings, or other tasks, were preventing the Mac from sleeping properly. Hard drives should be set to spin down there too, for just that reason. I don't have a sense of how much additional power would be used if you have Power Nap enabled, since that lets the Mac wake on its own periodically for certain types of tasks.
Laine Lee  2017-04-04 18:36
If you've ever seen Star Wars Episode I, you know that a communications disruption can mean only one thing: invasion. If you've followed Apple for a while, you know that a substantial price reduction can mean only one thing: imminent release of a new model.
Adam Engst  An apple icon for a TidBITS Staffer 2017-04-04 19:08
Except that they explicitly said that there would be no new Mac Pro this year. Sorry!
This is the second site I've seen with this headline. They didn't drop the price, they bumped the specs up.

The price for the low end machine is still the same as it was, and the price for the high-end is still the same... you just get slightly more power for your $ now.
Steve Nicholson  2017-04-06 10:09
Just like with relativity, it all depends on your frame of reference. If you're looking at it from the amount of money you're spending, it's a speed bump. If you're looking at it from the machine you're buying, it's $1000 cheaper. Both points of view are valid.
Adam Engst  An apple icon for a TidBITS Staffer 2017-04-06 12:07
As I said in the article, in our opinion, it's not a speed bump if there are no new configurations. Had Apple made a previously unavailable CPU available with a faster clock speed, that would be a speed bump. This is all three-year-old technology at lower prices.

It's still welcome, it's just not the same thing.
Charles Jacobs  2017-04-08 09:01
Could this now be the super Mac mini that so many have asked for? Is the price still too high? I just checked - a fully decked out Mini is $1999!!! Certainly this is twice the performance.