Anybody want a Mac Pro mini?

“For years, geeks have wanted Apple to make an ‘xMac’: an expandable desktop tower like the Mac Pro, but much cheaper, generally achieved in theory by using consumer-class CPUs and motherboards instead of Intel’s expensive, server-grade Xeon line,” Marco Arment blogs for Marco.org. “Apple’s refusal to release such a product is almost single-handedly responsible for the Hackintosh community.”

“Apple has shown that they don’t want to address this market, presumably because the margins are thin. And the demand probably isn’t as strong as geeks like to think: most businesses buy Windows PCs for their employees, and most consumers buy laptops for themselves,” Arment writes. “The relatively small group of people who still want desktop Macs seems to be served adequately by the iMac and Mac Mini.”

Arment writes, “The Mac Pro is all but forgotten now, but Dan Frakes restarted the discussion of the xMac this week, arguing for the next Mac Pro to be a consumer minitower: ‘Put all this together—Apple’s relentless efforts over the past few years to make everything smaller, cooler, and less power-hungry; the fact that you don’t need massive components to get good performance; and an apparent trend towards conceding the highest-end market—and it seems like a Mac minitower is a logical next step for the Mac Pro line.’ I don’t think it’ll happen like this.”

Much more in the full article here.

Related articles:
A new Mac Pro or just a bunch of peripherals? – February 11, 2013
Apple confirms launch of new Mac Pro in spring 2013 – February 6, 2013
Apple to discontinue Mac Pro in Europe March 1st, sources say – January 31, 2013
Rush Limbaugh: Okay, Apple, where’s my Mac Pro with Thunderbolt? – June 12, 2012
Apple reportedly confirms NYT report: New designs for iMac, Mac Pro in the works, due in 2013 – June 12, 2012

61 Comments

  1. Despite the exodus of many timid editors following the (IMO trumped-up) FCP X brouhaha, Hollywood is full of Final Cut Pro Video Editing and Logic Audio Mixing studios. We’d like an updated, expandable xMac please!

    1. Many people for years have expresses interest in the “xMac” yet Apple has never offered it to its customers. If Apple were to release the “xMac” it would be an answer to many prayers.

        1. BS. In the late 1990’s under dreadful leadership Apple rolled out unprofitable models that cost more than the clones. It didn’t have “too many” models, it let other companies sap its profits.

          Anything a company makes that earns them money above money-market rates is a good product to have — and today, with no clones in existence, Apple should get it done pronto.

          1. It is not so simple. Let us assume for the moment that Apple is able to design and develop this device without spending too much on the R&D (which is a risky assumption, since Apple NEVER spends little to develop a new product), and is able to find a manufacturer who will make this cheaply enough so that the margin can be healthy. The retail price of this new Mac would have to fall somewhere half way between the Mini and the Pro (in the range of the current iMac line, probably). It would cannibalise all those three lines to an extent (Mini, iMac, Pro), but more problematically, it would add one more product line to support. The three desktop models are already showing very little growth (compared to the portable Macs), and their share in the total is steadily shrinking quarter after quarter. There is no way Apple would allow product to exist on the market without their legendary support and service. For Mac Pro, this is possible, despite its minuscule revenue numbers, because of the very fat margins the device rakes in. In a way, same goes for the Mini, although the Mini needs a bit less support, being fairly non-expandable. A mid-tower device would likely require the same or similar level of support as the Pro, but would generate less revenue due to much lower margins than the pro.

            As much as many would love to see a desktop Mac with proper desktop components (and not laptop) that can be had for less than $2k, I don’t see Apple bothering with such a device.

            1. Pros want a Pro. Not a cut down version designed for the masses. We are willing to pay whatever it takes to get the best. The everyday user has plenty to choose from now. We need power and capacity to grow. We need a new Mac Pro. You’re correct, Apple isn’t likely to produce a Pro mini. At least we hope not!

            1. He isn’t, you are. Apple could not make computers that competed with the clones. The consumers bought more clones than Apple machines, it almost killed Apple.

              It wasn’t the licensing to clone makers that was the problem. It was Apple inability to compete on a hardware level. The manufacturing/supply chain sucked then too contributing to the problem.

            2. Jobs’ first order of business was to re prioritize and streamline Apple’s product line.

              Cloners and licensing was a separate issue.

    1. how trite.

      try this:
      1) there are profits to be had. Add up the profits of all the junk PC makers who offer inferior desktop machines. Apple could take at least 10% of that, maybe more if it actually advertised it as the “home cloud server” or “digital hub” or “archive for your digital life” or whatever.
      2) market is not growing in the US, but desktops are cheaper than laptops, and Apple needs all the help it can to penetrate price-sensitive growing overseas markets.
      3) Hackintoshes are products too; they’re just products that Apple was too lazy to build & sell — and profit from.

        1. You ‘re probably right. Designing a machine intermediate between the massively expandable MacPro (which sells in minuscule numbers and likely to come in at least three models) and the minimally expandable Mac mini (which sells only less than the iMac) is too difficult for Apple.

    2. A positive effect not to be underestimated is the fact that Mac-centric designers show OSX screenshots and Mac gear in their advertising, simply because they have easy access to the stuff.

      Apple spends a lot of money subsidizing movies and TV shows for them to prominently display Mac products (usually the good guys, in order not to attach a negative connotation to Mac users).

      1. Actually, Apple spends very little on product placement. I know from personal experience that for many tv shows and movies the decision to use Apple products is made by the producers without promotional consideration. In some cases Apple will lend hardware.

        1. Exactly. And in some instances, some shows will try to squeeze Apple for some cash for that, and Apple generally doesn’t bother. You will sometimes see iMacs or MBPs with their glowing apple logo taped over.

          Apple is well known in the business as pretty much the only company out there that gets outsized proportion of their advertising done for free by the legions of fans and users. Movie industry is largely (if not practically exclusively) using Macs for their work, and very many of them are genuine fans. It doesn’t hurt that Apple’s industrial design is always impeccable, which makes them much more useful to production designers as props. In general, Apple hardware is very disproportionately represented in Hollywood output as it is, just because people who decide what goes in front of the camera love their Macs.

          1. Yup. If you see a Dell on TV you know they paid well for it to be there. If you see an Apple it was likely a decision of the art director or even the actor and Apple is pleased but they don’t pay for the placement.

          2. Pre : You are correct about the disproportionate use of Apple hardware in Hollywood and “the business”. Your observation is very good. And I’m speaking as a participant not an observer. Macs rule and Mac Pros do all the heavy lifting. It’s why we are so anxious about updating our Mac Pros. Those who think the iMac and MB Pro are enough just don’t understand what really goes on. Obviously the same goes for a Mac Pro mini. We don’t want a Mac Pro mini. Pros still need the Mac Pro. Mac Pro, it’s still the king. Long live the king!

            1. if so then People don’t want a Mac Pro mini – right?
              because it lessens the Pro position.

              Yet Mac mini — does not have a Pro yet… raising the Mac mini to a Pro level is very positive.

              Mac mini Pro then

  2. Here’s my guess from a year ago…

    What Will Mac Pro 2013 Look Like

    Posted by Thelonious Mac on June 18, 2012
    So Tim Cook, (Apple CEO) promised so called “pro” users something to look forward to later in 2013. I’ve been thinking about why that might be and my guess is that it won’t be the box pro users are thinking of. The old Mac Pro is a throwback to the past when you needed a big box with expansion ports, memory slots, giant fans, monstrous and monstrous power supplies.

    Those days are over.

    To get an idea what the new Mac Pro might be like you don’t have to look any further than the new MacBook Pro with Retina Display.

    I believe that rather than create something that is just the opposite of their direction everywhere else, Apple will stick with their new modus operandi. A new Mac Pro will be a box, but a much, much smaller one. It will come in configurations of 32, 64, or 128GB of RAM. That RAM will be soldered to the system board. It will have an option of one, maybe two internal SSD drives for a little over 1.5 Terabytes of internal storage. No SATA. It will have the most current graphics card available. The graphics card on the new iMac is already better than anything in the existing MacPro line. It will have the fastest multicore Intel Xeon processors available. It will also have lots of ThunderBolt ports probably 4 and at least one FireWire 800, one Gigabit Ethernet Port. There won’t be any PCI slots internal to the machine, the clear message being Thunderbolt, ThunderBolt, Thunderbolt.

    I expect this all to fit in something the size of an XBOX 360. Or better year, I like it to be in a glistening black cube, with a hologram of Steve Jobs on the side.

    The Pro “community” will react poorly, creating petitions, and whining, etc., instead of thinking about how to use the new machines. ( Just as they have this time. )

    They will whine about storage:
    Answer – 12Terabytes of RAID storage as fast and faster than their existing RAID systems can be had for around $1500.

    They will whine about memory being soldered on the system board.
    Answer – The amount of RAM on my imaginary Mac Pro in increments of 32, 64 and 128GB is more than enough. All they have now is 64GB.

    They will whine about what to do with their existing RAID systems.
    Answer – If you don’t want to go to Thunderbolt, you can get a Magma ExpressBox 3T allowing you to connect your PCI cards to an external chassis, and then to Thunderbolt of course.

    http://www.magma.com/thunderbolt.asp

    Some will ask about being in an Xsan.
    Answer – Both ATTO and Promise make Fibrechannel to Thunderbolt devices allowing you to connect not just my imaginary Mac Pro to fibrechannel sans, but current iMacs and yes, MacBook Pros.

    So be prepared for a REALLY all new Mac Pro. One that is as closed as the new MacBook Pro Retina. Expect the most whining to come from the “pros” who need the big box mostly to feel like pros.

    1. That makes a lot of sense except for the soldered RAM.

      I just don’t see any reason to do it. The only thing you get from soldered RAM as an advantage is with size and weight. The last thing Pros care about, and have even been joking about is that the new Mac Pro will be introduced as the “thinnest Mac Pro ever”.

      There’s a huge advantage in being able to buy a Mac Pro with empty slots and then upgrading when your needs change, or can afford it later. The Apple price difference between 32GB and 128GB would be crazy.

    2. Well, you’re right. We may whine a bit. Your long discourse about the imaginary new Mac Pro is very interesting. Not what we want but still very interesting. Only time will tell what Apple will deliver. Matters not what you think or what I think. It is what it is. I just wish they would hurry up. Of course the graphics card on the new iMac is better than the old Mac Pro. It’s much newer. Your system will work for some pros but certainly not all. Not sure about your comments about “needing the big box mostly to feel like pros”? Maybe you wish you were one yourself? We are a small group so we have to take what Apple throws at us. But make no mistake, we do know what we need. It’s not imaginary.

    3. the NTFS file system in OSX can only address 96GB of ram so heavy computing will be limited on the mac until apple makes a truly modern operating system. Also no PCI spells hello PC to pro users who need a little more than minimalism and shine.

  3. Honestly, what “expandabillity” is required by non-professionals that cannot be connected through Thunderbolt, other than graphics cards for gamers?

    The Hackintosh community is made up of people who think they have a right to use OS X on any computer they want and are too cheap to pay for a Mac. Even if you build your own Hackintosh, you are still limited to expansion cards supported by OS X.

    The Mac Pro isn’t going anywhere there are just too many professionals that rely on those systems. They just completely rewrote FCP not too long ago, they have no interest leaving the professional space. The long delay between system updates may have something to do with a new industrial design. Until you hear something official from Apple, don’t count it out.

    The long delay could also be due to moving operations/assembly. Weren’t they moving some jobs back to the states? Didn’t everyone just assume it was going to be the Mac Pro since it has the lowest demand?

  4. The Mac mini serva me perfectly.

    I have 3. Two older, one new with fusion drive..

    They are awesome, fast, and quiet.

    And… Much faster than my 2005 Mac Pro that I give away (and spent $8000 on)

    You think you want a “gaming graphics” card that is better than the one in the mini? Ok, each his own.

    An xMac just isn’t necessary. Really. (Go ahead, start flaming now…)

  5. … and gave in. Got the biggest, meanest, iMac available. Can’t get a better graphics card if I wanted it. Good thing I don’t. (what’s the emoticon for GLEE?) Got tired of waiting, Steve, Tim. Wanted a mini-MacPro, would have settled for a full-sized model, got NOTHING! I was your market, you ignored me.

  6. My Economics 101 teacher taught “never make your customer wait to spend their money”. It was More about queues but damn, I feel like all I do is wait for Apple. We all know that Apple has taught us they will axe anything at any time as well. So you never know if there is any intention of, well, anything. It just seems like nobody there cares anymore. They’re all rich and couldn’t give a f@&k.

  7. A company does not have to make a truckload of money on every single product in the line to justify it. Sometimes the top of the line is released not to make a stand alone profit- but to make a statement about the company, it’s technology, it’s philosophy and to extend the cachet to other products in the line.

    Apple has the cash to make the Mac Pro regardless of profit as long as it does not lose massive amounts of money. When Apple was a struggling company trying to port NextStep/OpenStep to PPC as Mac OS X and designing the first iMacs, iPods and such, it was the profits from the Power Macintosh line that paid the bills and kept the fire burning.

    That alone should buy it a place in the line.

  8. WHY THE @#$%^& DO YOU THINK IT HAS TO BE ONE OR THE OTHER?

    Give “Pro-sumers” a mid-range tower and ALSO set new Geekbench records with a new flagship Mac Pro. If the richest corporation on the planet can’t figure out a way to do this profitably, then the future for former Mac Faithful “geeks” is only going to accelerate in the hackintosh direction — another lost opportunity for Apple.

    Agent – but it DOES have a truckload of money. So much money that it doesn’t even know what to do with it all. So much money that unsolicited dorks from Wall St have taken it upon themselves to push for self-serving stock rewards or buyback programs (which is what a corporation does when it decides to stop innovating and just milk its cash cow.)

    1. Apple can’t seem to figure anything out. It’s as though Apple doesn’t even have an economies of scale advantage over rivals. One might think it could take a loss on one product line to boost another with more powerful features. Maybe that doesn’t work in practice, though. It just seems as though Apple is throwing away opportunities that other companies can take advantage of and beat Apple. Like AppleTV.

      From a company with Apple’s wealth, that box seems so damn weak in function for my purposes and barely on par with a high-end Roku streamer and you can’t even load a media server client on AppleTV. Only some iTunes with restricted codecs. I’m turning almost all my video library into Matroska wrapped files. I don’t even want to see an mp4 or m4v file. I mean seriously… no game play? Apple has got to be kidding. Apple should be able to build some iOS game console that plays all the thousands of games within the iOS ecosystem. Could it be that hard to do? Don’t tell me there wouldn’t be any demand. Opportunities just tossed away… for what?

  9. Building a downscaled Mac Pro is, to y opinion, a total nonsense. Mac Pro has to be a “truck”! It is meant for very heavy, multithreaded, day and night job. It’s not a gamer, but a WORKstation! Therefor, it has to have multiple CPUs and a lots of place for massive memory and several HDs and/or SSDs. This can’t be put inside a tiny box… and this independently of any Thunderbolt plugs.

  10. No thank you they’d have to really prove themselves the Mac Mini I have doesn’t really do that much by the time you hook monitors up to it real speakers and amplifier you should have bought an iMac I’m not illiterate this voice Mike thing is

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