A closer look at Apple’s reinvented Mac Pro

Apple only announced one new piece of hardware at its event today, but it was a doozy. After years of promising a refresh for the long-lamented Mac Pro line, the high-end desktop finally got its modular upgrade.

To mark the occasion, Apple devoted a considerable amount of space to showcasing the device is various states, powering multimedia work stations and alone on the table for all the world to see.

The Pro’s certainly striking. Looks-wise, it’s a more direct descendent of the shiny metal Power Mac G5 tower of yore than the more recent trashcan Pro. There are plenty of tweaks, of course. It appears a bit smaller than the G5, while the vent holes have been made much larger, for a kind of cheese grater design, at first glance — an effect that’s only enhanced by the prominent handle up top.

Otherwise, the enclosure is relatively minimal, with a soft metal design and massive Apple logo on the side. The tower is elevated slightly, atop a pair of shiny metal legs (optional wheels have returned, as well, for those who require a slightly more mobile experience). At the top is a large swiveling handle that can be used to move the computer around (in lieu of wheels) or removing the aluminum housing with a pull, for easier access inside.

The more traditional tower design allows for additional modularity. That, of course, was one of the major issues with the previous Mac Pro, which caused Apple to head back to the drawing board. Apple’s version of customization naturally centers around its own engineering, but there’s plenty of potential power to be had here, including the MPX graphic modules with dual Radeon Pro Vega IIs and Intel Xeon chips with up to 28 cores.

The company’s once vice-like grip over the world of creative professionals has been challenged in recent years with lines like Microsoft’s Surface. The iMac Pro represented a reasonable stopgap for the company as it went back to scratch with the Mac Pro line. But while the all-in-one is powerful, those with truly demanding workflows no doubt found it lacking.

The company happily discussed how much it had undercut the competition at $5,999 — but it’s important to note that those who are really serious about the category are almost certainly going to want to upgrade from some of the base-level specs including, notably, the 256GB SSD. When we’re having conversations about editing 4K and 8K video, you’re going to want something beefier out of the box.

The Pro Display XDR  6K monitor is also quite lovely. And it’s interesting to see the company getting back in the monitor game after handing off a lot of the heavy lifting to the likes of LG. At $4,999, it’s $1,000 cheaper than the Pro — until you add back in the optional $1,000 stand.

There are some nice tricks here, too, like the ability to swivel to portrait mode for specific editing needs. Though once you start totaling up that Apple shopping cart, you may need to look into a second mortgage.

As far as firepower goes, however, Apple looks to have delivered with the Pro’s return.