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2019 Mac Pro and alternatives


I wonder if Apple learned its lessons with the trash can Mac Pro edition and stopped using non-standard screws and other junk in the latest edition. That would considerably ease manufacturing domestically. Alternatively, perhaps some of the tariff exemptions that Apple secured revolve around said fasteners and other bits and bobs to make the industrial designers happy.
Apple said:
The value of American-made components in the new Mac Pro is 2.5 times greater than in Apple’s previous generation Mac Pro.
That Apple statement is kind of meaningless without getting a bit more specific. For example, if the CPU was previously sourced from a fab abroad and is now sourced domestically, that would drastically change the ratio. The new case is also likely much more expensive to manufacture than the trash can, due to the greater number and mass of parts - the honeycombed front and back, etc.

Anyhow, all this points to Apple adapting to unpredictable federal executive branch domestic and international trade policy.
 


Ric Ford

MacInTouch
That Apple statement is kind of meaningless without getting a bit more specific. For example, if the CPU was previously sourced from a fab abroad and is now sourced domestically, that would drastically change the ratio.
Exactly. And a 28-core Xeon CPU is a gigantic expense, for example, and Intel maintains billion-dollar manufacturing plants ("fabs") in the U.S. (as well as elsewhere), though I couldn't quickly determine where Intel's Xeon CPUs for Apple are being manufactured.

Interesting info:
 


That Apple statement is kind of meaningless without getting a bit more specific. ...
Apple said:
The value of American-made components in the new Mac Pro is 2.5 times greater than in Apple’s previous generation Mac Pro.
Apple may be putting a politically beneficial spin on its upcoming announcement of price increases for the new Mac Pro. Apple's statement appears to refer to the absolute, not fractional, value of the components. The design of the new Mac Pro bears little resemblance to the previous generation; the same is likely to be true of the price. The current Mac Pro starts at $3,000. If the low end of the new Mac Pro sells for more than $7,500, it could have a lower fraction of US-made parts than currently, and Apple's claim would still be true. The high end currently sells for $4,000. By the same calculation, the break point for the high end of the new Mac Pro is $10,000.

If the prices for the new Mac Pros exceed $7,500 - 10,000, the fraction of American-made components could be less than 2.5 times the fraction of American-made components in the current Mac Pro, while the value of American-made components is more than 2.5 times the value of American-made components in the current Mac Pro.
 


Ric Ford

MacInTouch
Here's an update from Mark Gurman on this three-ring tariff circus:
Forbes said:
Apple Is Denied Tariff Relief on Five Mac Pro Parts After Staying in Texas
Apple Inc. won’t be exempted from tariffs on five Chinese-made components for the upcoming Mac Pro computer, even after the company announced it was keeping some assembly operations in the U.S.

The U.S. Trade Representative’s office denied Apple’s request for relief from 25% tariffs on the much-discussed optional wheels for Apple’s Mac Pro, a circuit board for managing input and output ports, power adapter, charging cable and a cooling system for the computer’s processor.

The decisions, posted Monday, come about a week after Apple announced it would make new Mac Pro computers at a plant in Austin, Texas -- which it’s operated since 2013 -- after originally considering shifting production to China like its other products.
 


Ric Ford

MacInTouch
Info and speculation, FYI:
The Verge said:
Apple’s Mac Pro clears FCC, hinting at imminent launch
When Apple announced its redesigned Mac Pro this June, the company didn’t give a release date more specific than “this fall” — but the powerful new computer has just shown up in FCC filings, which could indicate an imminent launch.
... Another interesting tidbit found in filings is that some Mac Pros may be assembled in China.
... Update, 5:17 PM ET: Added Tim Cook’s double-down on Austin, Texas during today’s Q4 earnings call.
 


Apple promised the new Mac Pro would be available in the fall of 2019. Fall technically runs from September 23 to December 22 this calendar year. Buried in today's MacBook Pro announcement was the following tidbit at the very end, almost as an afterthought.
Apple said:
Mac Pro and Pro Display XDR
Today, Apple also announced that the all-new Mac Pro, the world’s best pro desktop, and Apple Pro Display XDR, the world’s best pro display, will be available in December. Designed for maximum performance, expansion and configurability, Mac Pro features workstation-class Xeon processors up to 28 cores, a high-performance memory system with a massive 1.5TB capacity, eight PCIe expansion slots and a graphics architecture featuring the world’s most powerful graphics card. Pro Display XDR features a 32-inch Retina 6K display with P3 wide and 10-bit color, 1,600 nits of peak brightness, 1,000,000:1 contrast ratio and a superwide viewing angle, all at a breakthrough price point.
 


Apple promised the new Mac Pro would be available in the fall of 2019. Fall technically runs from September 23 to December 22 this calendar year. Buried in today's MacBook Pro announcement was the following tidbit at the very end, almost as an afterthought.
If memory serves, the Late 2013 Mac Pro became available for order on December 21, 2013, and if you blinked, you missed it – existing production was booked solid, and by December 31, the machine was back-ordered until the end of January, 2014. As I recall, the first one we ordered, sometime in January, 2014, didn't arrive until early March of that year because of a constraint somewhere in the supply chain, and the pile-up of orders.
 


Ric Ford

MacInTouch
If memory serves, the Late 2013 Mac Pro became available for order on December 21, 2013, and if you blinked, you missed it – existing production was booked solid, and by December 31, the machine was back-ordered until the end of January, 2014.
Of course, the Late 2019 Mac Pro "Hollywood" model starts, stripped down, at twice the price of the Late 2013 "trash can" Mac Pro, which may factor into demand, but supply could certainly be an issue this time, too. Catalina is another factor - will the Late 2019 Mac Pro require it and fail to run macOS Mojave? (Also, will it run Linux, unlike new MacBook Pros?)
 


If memory serves, the Late 2013 Mac Pro became available for order on December 21, 2013, and if you blinked, you missed it – existing production was booked solid, and by December 31, the machine was back-ordered until the end of January, 2014. As I recall, the first one we ordered, sometime in January, 2014, didn't arrive until early March of that year because of a constraint somewhere in the supply chain, and the pile-up of orders.
It was December 19, but otherwise, yes, if you blinked, you missed it. I placed my order at ~1:45 am. When an Apple sales rep I had talked to emailed me at 7:40 that morning, they were already out to February. Mine shipped the morning of 12/3/13 and arrived 1/6/14.
 






Is it possible to directly connect SATA drives without the Pegasus?
I looks like it might be possible, as the connectors are standard - but how you'd mount the drive might be tricky, as the Promise carrier (which holds two 3.5" drives) looks custom for the Mac Pro. Doubtless someone will make an alternative one?
 


Is it possible to directly connect SATA drives without the Pegasus?
Yes, but some caveats. The J2i is both a drive bracket to be mounted in the Mac Pro and an 8TB drive. Can you connect a SATA drive to the Mac Pro without a drive bracket? Pragmatically, no. You'd need someone else's drive bracket.
For comparison:
Western Digital 8TB Ultrastar DC HC320 SATA hard disk drive - 7200 RPM Class, SATA 6 Gb/s, 256MB Cache, 3.5" - $207 on Amazon.
So if you take the $400 and subtract $207, it is about a $200 bracket. Promise is probably using a Toshiba enterprise drive (Toshiba 8TB Hard Disk Drive), so we can nudge that price up a bit).

The other issue is that Promise pre-formats these drives to HFS+. (Whether they do any burn-in testing isn't explicit but it is more than the completely unformatted drive typically gets.)

Also need some right-length cables, so they don't get mixed up with the CPU heatsink.

That is still a bracket price that is going to attract competitors. I'm sure someone will do it cheaper later just by being driveless. But putting cheaper drives in there to hit lower price points could be a problem long term. It is not the usual thermal environment for a drive that most systems provision - basically downstream from the CPU heat, instead of the other way around.
 


That's ludicrous.
It also adds several weeks to the ship date. And you need to contact Apple Service to change (which may mean they have to swap out the space frame - in that context, they don't attach, but are built into the frame).

Again, someone will probably come up with 'clip on' wheels. Or just buy the rack version and put it in an 'equipment cart" that has wheels.

Why the wheels are needed at all is a bit of mystery to me. (If carrying is too much then just get cart/dolly/skateboard with a plank on top and just move it and put it back down). And if constantly moving everyday, putting most of the rig into a cart would be better, since other stuff would be moving right alongside the Mac Pro also.
 


Now that Apple's taking orders for the 2019 Mac Pro and Pro Display XDR, we finally have prices for all the upgrades and add-ons...
Not just prices but lots more info. (which Apple could have released earlier:


such as what kinds of PCIe cards (and a link to a FAQ/info page on Afterburner there, what kind of memory, etc.

And YouTube videos. (The "security lock" slider next to the USB port unlocks the MPX bays.)

And can only use special Apple cloth to clean the matte (nano texture) XDR display (not even water). Sounds pretty easy to mess up the the nano texture.
 



Ric Ford

MacInTouch
Or just buy the rack version and put it in an 'equipment cart" that has wheels.
Of course, that's even more expensive +$500)... and has an even longer (unspecified) delay.
Why the wheels are needed at all is a bit of mystery to me.
If you're moving it fairly often to access the internals (e.g. out from under a desk), the pricy wheels might be helpful.
 


Ric Ford

MacInTouch
This seems really weird but also disturbingly consistent with Tim Cook Apple's disrespect for the Macintosh platform...
OWC said:
Mac Pro Now Available for Purchase
The little matte-blue buy button finally appeared on Apple’s Mac Pro page this morning. No hype, no fanfare, no press release, not even a cameo appearance on the homepage. The moment we have all been waiting for has come and gone with nary a peep.
 


Now that it's in the store, I can see how well my prediction panned out:
... I couldn't configure a [Dell system] equivalent to a maxed-out Mac Pro. I could come close or exceed it in some specs, but not in others. My nearest equivalent came to $51,985.59 ($74,068.00, less a $22,082.41 discount) ...

That's a really nice (and expensive) system, but Apple's maxed-out system has a better CPU, better set of GPUs and more memory. So I think we can assume that such a system will easily cost over $50,000 and may go significantly higher. My gut feeling is around $75,000 for that maxed-out system, and it will be worth it for those few people who actually need that much power.
It appears that I estimated too high. Configuring a maxed-out Mac Pro from Apple's web site today, I end up with:
  • CPU: 2.5 GHz 28-core Intel Xeon W processor
  • RAM: 1.5 TB
  • GPU: Two Radeon Pro Vega II Duo with 2x32 GB
  • 4 TB SSD storage
  • Apple Afterburner card
  • Wheels
  • Mouse and Trackpad
  • Total cost: $52,748
Apple's price is about $750 higher than the Dell system I used for comparison back in June, and that system is not as powerful (only 12 cores, 1 TB RAM, one GPU).

If I scale back my Mac Pro configuration to more closely align with that Dell, the Apple unit ends up at less than half its price:
  • CPU: 3.3 GHz 12-core Intel Xeon W processor
  • RAM: 768 GB
  • GPU: Radeon Pro Vega II with 32 GB
  • 4 TB SSD storage
  • Wheels
  • Mouse and Trackpad
  • Total cost: $21,348
So, yes, the new Mac Pro is an expensive system, and even the smallest configuration is too expensive for me, but I think the price is extremely competitive compared to similar computers from other vendors.
 



Now that Apple's taking orders for the 2019 Mac Pro and Pro Display XDR, we finally have prices for all the upgrades and add-ons...

A few I was particularly interested to see:
Those look like 1988 prices.
 




Ric Ford

MacInTouch
... So, yes, the new Mac Pro is an expensive system, and even the smallest configuration is too expensive for me, but I think the price is extremely competitive compared to similar computers from other vendors.
Thanks, it's enlightening to see the comparison at the stratospheric top end, but how do the comparisons play out for Apple's entry-level configuration?
 


So you can spec a $52,000+ Mac Pro, which clearly is very valuable. So, obviously the new Mac Pro comes with at least one Kensington security lock slot right? No it doesn't. But Apple will sell you a third-party lock for an additional $50… <sheesh>
Those little security slots are completely pointless.

While they might prevent an opportunist from grabbing a small item like a laptop, it won't stop anyone who really wants to steal it. Those connectors tend to rip right out of most computers if you yank them hard enough. And a thief who intends to steal a heavy tower-case computer will bring bolt cutters, which will make short work of any Kensington-style lock assembly.

Note that that Belkin lock is not a simple security slot, but a heavy steel device that bolts on to the computer. You'll still need to get a suitably strong cable and mount point, but it should (hopefully) stop all but the most determined thieves.
 


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