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Mac Pro Gains Only Minor Speed Bump, Not Thunderbolt or USB 3.0

We wish we could say that the Mac Pro is going hard core, but today’s new models, which didn’t even merit mention during the WWDC keynote, are only a small speed bump, with a change in the standard configurations stocked in Apple Stores and available from the online Apple Store. The new Mac Pro models use slightly improved Intel Xeon processors, some of which run at modestly higher speeds. Apple has also added a beefier standard configuration that was previously available only as a build-to-order (BTO) option.

The new models lack both Thunderbolt, now standard on all of Apple’s other models, and USB 3.0, which first appeared in the revised MacBook Pro and MacBook Air editions announced today. That’s a strange omission for top-of-the-line kit, and suggests that Apple either has a serious revision still up its sleeve for later in the year, or that it may let the Mac Pro continue to languish as it has since 2010.

Two standard models are now available: a 4-core desktop with a single 3.2 GHz quad-core Intel Xeon W3565 processor and a 12-core model with two 2.4 GHz 6-core Intel Xeon E5645 processors. The quad-core version comes in a regular and server version with different memory and storage options.

Apple managed to keep the price of the 12-core unit relatively low, at $3799, by using 2.4 GHz processors. Bump them to 2.66 GHz, the previous lowest level for a BTO model, and you’re looking at $4999 — the same price charged in 2010 for a slightly older processor. Apple also offers a 3.06 GHz 12-core BTO model for a whopping $6199.

It’s hard to believe that Apple expects animation and video professionals who rely on the fastest machines either to switch to laptops, which can’t offer the scale of processors found in pro desktop computers, or to be satisfied with minor feature bumps and missing modern interface ports.

Apple continuously reworks its product line, dropping models and old designs in favor of the new. The Mac Pro is the only machine stuck in amber. Perhaps it’s already extinct. But it’s also peculiar for the company to walk away from what is a significant source of revenue, and one that comes with high margins and a well-heeled professional market. Today’s anemic upgrade didn’t provide any clarity to Apple’s long-term plans for professional-scale expandable desktop computing.


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Comments about Mac Pro Gains Only Minor Speed Bump, Not Thunderbolt or USB 3.0
(Comments are closed.)

Charles  2012-06-11 18:21
Can a WWDC attendee please corner an Apple Exec and ask why there’s no Mac Pro with Thunderbolt?
Yeah, seriously. Apple thinks slapping in a new processor and video card in a 2010 chassis is acceptable to professionals?
And why no big tada on the Airport Express? It looks like AppleTV's ghost!
James Katt  2012-06-11 19:18
This minor update is VERY VERY disappointing.

The loss of a 17-inch MacBook Pro also is disappointing. It could have had 2 SSDs - which would make it twice as fast as one SSD when used in RAID-0.
Very disappointing indeed. Apple and the MacPro is now getting closer to border the line of joke. Do they really expect professionals to jump and replace their MacPro to these models especially without ThunderBolt?
This is ridiculous.
i'm so bummed. i've waited two years for this? actually, been waiting much longer to upgrade my tower, but kept thinking the next round would be worthy. my old (pre intel) system is 8 years old. at the end of the month, it will NO longer sync (mobile me) calendars, contacts, or anything else (just have my mail), so i have to upgrade.

so today's announcement meant a LOT to me. and now, so disappointed. was willing to pay more, so i can change my own hard drives, add cards, and play with the system. but without thunderbolt/usb 3, i have to take another look at the imacs (which has not been upgraded for over a year, and NOT addressed today.

i think the towers are a dying breed to apple. otherwise, you wouldn't wait two years to do a minor upgrade. why can't they put the same design effort into them, like they did the imac/ipad/iphone, and create a new archetype? that's what i was hoping for. not the dodo bird.
Peter Breis  2012-06-11 22:29
Design effort? Is that what you call it?

Give the Mac Pro to any pre-pubescent teenager and they could whip up something over a weekend that would leave Apple's efforts for dead.
maybe there's hope:

so i just have to wait another year and a half. time for a temp solution... :)
Maarten Meijer  2012-06-12 06:59
You can add you own 2 or 4 port USB3 card if you need one and use that for external storage. No need for USB for keyboard and like.
Dennis B. Swaney  2012-06-11 22:56
Apple just lost a lot of sales today by not updating the MP. Up on Apple Discussions, one poster had authorization in hand to order 32 of updated MPs; he said that order was now going to HP.

On the other hand, perhaps the "MacBook Pro Next-Gen with Retina Display" is a stalking horse for an "iMac Next-Gen with Retina Display" which will replace the Mac Pro?
John Lockwood  2012-06-12 10:15
I agree the lack of Thunderbolt on the 'new' Mac Pro is a big disappointment however...

Thunderbolt is intended as a way of providing the speed and expandability of PCI Express slots for machines which do not have room for such slots, i.e. laptops and all-in-one computers. As the Mac Pro has real PCI Express slots it can already be expanded to support many options via a high speed interface. This could include a USB3 interface card (Lacie make one for example). So on that basis the need for the Mac Pro to have Thunderbolt is less than for other models of Mac.

Saying all this there are some peripherals like the new Blackmagic Cinema Camera which are only available for use with Thunderbolt.
Ted Stoffers  2012-06-17 12:57
I understand the MacPro is not needed by many people. At the visual communications department at my local college we've had iMacs for the last 2 generations (6 years total). They couldn't justify the cost for MacPros the iMacs had plenty of power.

But Apple should make the MacPro a BTO, special order item. So people who need the heavy Iron (or is it Aluminum) and ports can it. It can't be too hard to have the parts on hand, and ship 'em from Apple HQ in 24 hours....

And BTW the special items should be priced fairly.