Apple this week took the fairly unprecedented step of announcing that it was going back to the drawing board to re-envision the Mac Pro. The company invited a handful of editors in to its inner sanctum including our own Matthew Panzarino to discuss its plans, moving forward. Meantime, however, the company is giving the existing Mac Pro a performance boost as it works on building a re-imagined machine for 2018.
“In the meantime,” Phil Schiller said in the meeting, “we’re going to update the configs to make it faster and better for their dollar. This is not a new model, not a new design, we’re just going to update the configs. We’re doing that this week.”
Starting today, you’ll be able to pick up the little black cylinder featuring a -core Intel Xeon processor, dual AMD FirePro D500 GPUs and 16GB of memory (up from a 3.7GHz Quad-Core Intel Xeon E5 with 12GB of memory) for an entry-level $2,999. The $3,999 six-core model, meanwhile, gets bumped up to an eight-core processor with dual D700 GPUs.
Apple’s new-found transparency on the matter is an attempt to placate pro users who have been waiting for a meaningful update to the company’s modular desktop system for more than three-years. It’s making it clear that this refresh isn’t designed to drive renewed interest in the system, but it does appear positioned to make hardware – while old – a bit more appeal. And perhaps to play to the interests of those professions who simply can’t wait until next year to purchase a new system.
All of which is to say that the new Mac Pro (same as the old Mac Pro) just became a better deal than it was yesterday, but those who can wait, probably should, as the company reassesses some of the constraints built into the Pro’s design.
Apple’s lack of activity on the Mac Pro line over the past few years has been viewed in some circles as the company turning its back on its back on the professional class that has long been a key pillar of its loyal user base. The MacBook Pro line had also suffered from a lack of significant upgrades, though the company finally amended that last year with the introduction of the new MacBook Pro with Touch Bar.
The company has also worked to appeal to professionals on the mobile side with the iPad Pro. And while the Mac Pro is getting a fundamental rethink, the company is committed to maintaining the separation between the product lines — which means, among things, that a touchscreen isn’t likely destined for the next generation of Mac Pros or, for that matter, iMacs.
“We recognize customers often [use both] — we all certainly use both — so we’re really focused on making them work well together,” SVP Craig Federighi said in the meeting. “Because we think in many tasks, that’s actually the best solution. So all of our customers should feel free to buy multiple products,” he added, jokingly. “We encourage that.”