Apple Rolls Out Two Professional Mac Upgrades Before WWDC
Just a week before WWDC, TechCrunch reports that Apple has rolled out high-end upgrades for the 16-inch MacBook Pro and the 2019 Mac Pro:
- The 16-inch MacBook Pro now has an additional high-end graphics option: the AMD Radeon Pro 5600M, which is 75% faster than the former top-end Radeon Pro 5500M. You can add the Radeon Pro 5600M to the MacBook Pro when ordering for an additional $700.
- Those who want more fast storage in a Mac Pro can now purchase do-it-yourself SSD upgrade modules for the Mac Pro in 1 TB ($600), 2 TB ($1000), 4 TB ($1600), and 8 TB ($2800) capacities.
These upgrades are of interest only to a niche of niche professional users, but they’re welcome for those who need them. It is surprising to see Apple start selling standalone upgrade parts, even for the modular Mac Pro.
At that BTO price, I wonder if you wouldn’t be better off getting a TB3 eGPU case along with a better performing desktop class GPU on a card. Sure you wouldn’t be able to lug it around, but when working at a desk you’d be getting much better performance from a higher-wattage card with decent cooling.
The cooling issue with MacBook Pros is crucial. I’m stuck running gfxCardStatus for a decade now due to the overheating issues of the 6750M/6770M in 2011 MBP. I’m very grateful to Cody Krieger for creating gfxCardStatus but it would have been easier to buy a MBP with a cooler 6490M and the 2 GHz i7. Sacrifice a little bit of performance for a lot more quiet and a much longer trouble free lifetime (I’ve replaced two motherboards on my 2011 MBP with the 6750M).
Tuning down, not up, MacBook Pros usually improves the user experience.
Parallels my own experience. High end graphic cards and portable computing have not been an ideal combination to date.
iFixit has some interesting commentary on the SSD upgrade kits.
Now that we know Apple’s Configurator tool is capable of pairing flash modules with a T2 chip (at least in a Mac Pro), it now begs a few other questions that I hope companies like iFixit and OWC can answer:
Will it be possible to use aftermarket flash modules? As far as I can tell, Apple’s modules are just flash chips attached to a standard bus interface, so there may no longer be a technical reason why anyone else can’t make a compatible module.
Will it be possible to transplant Apple’s flash modules to another computer? You won’t be able to read any data from them, but if you can use Configurator to change the pairing (making any pre-existing data forever unrecoverable), that should be fine for almost everybody.
Will this Configurator option work (or later be upgraded to work) with other Macs that have removable flash and a T2 chip (currently, this is only the iMac Pro)?
Of course, in actual practice, it will be cheaper (and produce higher performance) to just buy a generic NVMe drive on a PCIe carrier board and use that instead of (or in addition to) Apple’s SSD if you need an upgrade.
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