Apple’s aging Mac Pro is falling way behind Windows rivals

“Apple’s Mac Pro is aging fast, especially with screaming fast Windows desktops being announced in recent weeks,” Agam Shah reports for Digital Arts.

“Introduced in 2013, the Mac Pro was a top-of-the-line desktop at that time. It looked exquisite in its sleek cylindrical design, and it sported new features like Thunderbolt 2 ports, plus the latest CPUs, GPUs and NVMe storage,” Shah reports. “More importantly, it was a signal that Apple had not abandoned the professional computing market.”

“But the Mac Pro is again falling behind the competition, with powerful new workstations from Lenovo, Dell and HP carrying superior technology. The PC companies are waging an active campaign to tempt Mac Pro users, many of them creative professionals, to move over to Windows PCs with better CPUs, GPUs, and memory,” Shah reports. “The Mac Pro is still a fast machine, but creative professionals want the latest and greatest hardware, said Bob O’Donnell, principal analyst at Technalysis Research. ‘I compare it more to a low-end workstation,’ O’Donnell said… But patience has its virtues. If Apple hangs on before upgrading Mac Pro, some breakthrough technologies could put the desktop leagues ahead of its Windows rivals.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Here’s hoping WWDC delivers some Mac Pro goodness we’re sure developers and other pro Mac users would greatly appreciate.

85 Comments

  1. Apple, give me a box similar in design to the old Mac Pro but make it 1/3 the size and allow me to drop the side so I can add components as needed. Also, design small blades that can be added to make it a cluster super computer. Enough with the trash can. You closed yourself in with that design. Don’t be afraid to go back to the old design. It was great. Just make the next generation box smaller.

    1. From your lips to Tim’s ears. I would like a full tower though. I am tired of even thinking of going PC workstation. It’s sad when a 2012 Mac Pro can be updated to be as fast (or faster) as the current Mac Pro, and for less money.

    2. Absolutely!!
      I have an iMac 27 2012 I use for most of my creative work but I wanted a more powerful and flexible profesional machine. I ended building a small PC with a fast CPU, much, more powerful graphics, watercooling and a Lian Li mini ATX box. I love this PC machine but if Apple does what you say I will sell everything and buy one. “A smaller Mac Pro box with a side panel”, I don’t care to go “back”. And even if Apple updates the current Mac Pro I think I will pass and replace my iMac instead. I hate the idea of spending a great amount of money on a professional machine that can’t be significantly upgraded on the GPU components. Meanwhile I will keep using one powerful iMac and 1 powerful mini PC.

    3. I’ve always wanted a 1/2 size tower.
      1. Four memory slots (instead of eight)
      2. Two PCI slots (instead of four)
      3. One Optical drive (instead of two)
      4. Two HD bays (instead of four)

      In my opinion, the current Mac Pro achieves exactly opposite of what it is supposed to do–instead of an elegant little cylinder, you have an elegant little cylinder hooked up with a bunch of ugly wires to a bunch of other gear like raids, backup HDs, external optical drives and converter boxes for everyone who heavily invested in Firewire.

      Fer crying out loud, why couldn’t they put a couple of frickin’ Firewire ports on the MacPro which every audio or video professional has invested in over the last decade!

      Also still say the MacMini should have used 3.5″ drives which would have made it cheaper and more flexible to configure.

    4. With all the resources Apple has, why offer only two headless desktop models? In addition to a simplified MacBook lineup and the iMac family, there should be 5 new Mac model lines for hardcore users:

      1) all-new Mac Mini
      2) revised Mac trashcan
      3) all-new rack-mountable Xserve (which Apple can implement for its server farms immediately!)
      4) all-new midsize Mac tower
      5) all-new monster Mac Pro workstation

      Until Apple gets off its increasingly fat asses and produces a full lineup of computers again, the Mac will continue to be a <10% market profit proposition. The answer is not to continue ignoring the market, Apple needs to cater to the needs of the huge market for real powerful computers!!!!

      1. Actually a pretty good list! There is no one-size-fits-all for professionals. And Apple is doing a huge disservice to its Mac user base in just waiting for 3rd party companies to fill the void. The Apple factory machines are so far behind the Hackintoshes right now, it’s laughable.

        I’ll bet the pent-up demand for at least some of those proposed configurations is enormous. Cook and his fashionistas would be shocked how many people are ready to buy new professional Mac models, if only Apple made them.

    1. Just because you said so? Apple knows their entire line is important from pro to consumer. You apparently though know nothing and assume everything before it plays out. Let’s wait and see what happens at WWDC. They just may pleasantly surprise you.

      1. I love your optimism and enthusiasm, but the reality remains that Mac Pro produces a negligible sliver of profits for Apple, which is why they can afford to build it in the US (margins are massive, volume is minuscule, so logistically, it isn’t a major challenge). We will all hope for that surprise in June, but one must temper expectations, after watching recent trends.

        1. If would be different if Apple just didn’t have the resources or money to continue Mac Pro development but they do, in spades. So why the heck not? Profits hardly even matter in this instance. Reputation, prestige and the repercussions of having a limited “truck” for sale to professionals without a Mac Pro offering would matter more and certainly change professional opinion of Apple. Not everyone can get away with getting their work done with a fully loaded iMac or Mac Book Pro. A MacStation PC killer would be nice.

          Hope springs eternal ’tis true. ‘Til June then… 🙂

          1. Mr. Blood, you are right on the money.

            I agree, it is a niche market and there is little profit to be made, but APPLE, that little niche consists of the artists, designers, scientists and university educators who talk about and help sell your line to others. Many of them are the opinion makers in their little universe of professionals. Don’t give them a second class machine for doing their work. Give them something they talk about with pride. Give them something they point to and brag about. Some people might say that scientists are above bragging about their computers. Ha! Give me a break! That’s one of the things they most love bragging about. And if the box under their desk isn’t worth computing-shit while their colleague across the hall is using a Windows box that crushes their machine, well, then everyone in the department and at this year’s conference on “Why the universe will end in 2025” knows about that difference.

            APPLE, give the geeks of the world a machine they can be proud of and can use in wondrous ways. If you do, they will sell your line with even more gusto than they do now. And, more importantly, they will sleep better at night knowing that the CPU under their desk is 50% mightier than the CPU under their colleague’s desk.

          2. I think it looks quite clear that, in the car / truck analogy, Apple chose to offer a BMW, rather than a limited, high-end truck. To Jobs, trucks will always be trucks, and him having grown up in suburbia, the common association with trucks was a ‘redneck’… After all, he himself drove a Mercedes.

            Apple’s general æsthetics gives us strong signals that the old-school user-serviceable tower computers are history and will never return to the Mac product line.

            We can still hope…

        2. Agreed.

          Who won that battle a long time ago, Job’s or Woz? Woz wanted everything upgradable, Job’s not so much.

          The battle still rages on but which makes the investors more money?

          1. Apple always used to care about professionals and served their upgradability needs, right up until the time Jobs left us. Then immediately Apple turned its back on pros and gave us nothing but soldered solid-state disposable computers that cannot be economically upgraded by the user.

            Soldered memory and lack of internal expansion may be what it takes for Ive to squish his grey boxes and sell more neutered MacBooks, but it makes professional users puke.

            On most basic performance measurements, the entire Mac lineup is severely outclassed in the market. What’s more, OS X has become a creaky, bloated imitation of itself. It’s file system is actually inferior to the competition and the built-in freebie ware is for the most part ugly, poorly designed, and unusable. It’s inexcusable. Cook needs to fix it now or get the boot.

            1. Apple made many decisions that angered professionals during the years that Jobs was in charge. I miss Steve, too, but revising history to made the 2000s seem like the proverbial “good ole days” is unfair to Tim Cook and the rest of the Apple team.

              As I have said many times before, Apple can and should do better in supporting professionals by providing cutting edge equipment and maintaining software tools and development, regardless of the profitability. Apple used to publicly laud the performance of its systems. In the Intel CPU age of the Mac, Apple appears content to settle for mid-range.

      2. Peter … unfortunately, “theyreallyareamoungus” is 100% spot-on: the content that the traditional Power User Mac was built for isn’t sufficiently compelling for Apple to support anymore – – if nothing else, wake up and realize that Aperture was EOL’ed.

        And while I’d certainly love to have a new MP at WWDC for me to drop some cash on to replace my 2012, my reality is that current PC offerings – – – and increasingly, the non-Mac **ecosystem** is a better fit for my workflow needs than what Apple is choosing to sell.

        And that sort of statement coming from a 3+ decades Apple customer is not great news for Apple … and that’s even before how I point out how the 2013 Mac Pro represented huge decline in customer value for my applications: I did a quick assessment in late 2015 and found that the $5.5K that my 2012 did cost would cost $7.3K for an _equivalent_ (no, not “better”) 2013 … that’s a 30% price increase (or a 30% decline in product value)…or I could switch to Windows and retain the $5.5K price point. Unfortunately, I see it as only a matter of time at this point.

        1. I think you both are suffering from “premature doomulation.” You are guessing. For me the “put up or shut up” comes at WWDC this year and determines for many the platform direction they will, or must, go. (Also is you notice Mac sales remain YOY ascendent as the trend for PC’s is on the down low even though the numbers are bigger.) Different strokes for different folks and it should always be that way. Believe me I know the allure of the dark side but frankly I can easily build a $10-20,000 PC workstation too. We shall see soon enough.

          1. Call it what you wish, but the reality is still that the 2013MP design resulted in it servicing an even-narrower niche of Pros, and it hasn’t received any attention.

            In the meantime, OS X 10.11’s disk utility has been dumbed-down, which has telegraphed that Apple’s intended path ahead is for systems which only contain but a single logical drive…no RAID support, etc, which again is depleting the toolbox for Pros.

            Now granted, I do agree with you that WWDC is going to be a milestone decision point for a lot of Pros … but that’s effectively just an arbitrary line in the sand – – there will be some who decide to move on, just as there will also be some with rose-colored glasses who will try to kick the can out to whatever the next Apple event after WWDC is.

            And on YOY sales performance, that’s a red herring unless you can substantiate that the performance is in Pro-grade products. The growth could be all MacBooks being sold to school systems (or Air’s going to college students) and we have no way of knowing that there’s any uptick – – or even any benefit – – to Pros. If you want to interpret this lack of data as good news, you’re welcome to do so, but let’s make an assessment based on known facts, which here also has to include the observation that the headless Macs are all quite long-in-the-tooth since their last hardware upgrade (545 and 846 days .. that’s 100 and 400 days longer (slower) than their historical product cycle time averages)

            1. I agree with the neglect in today’s pro market and also letting the usual Apple urge to downsize and make stylish (or over-Ivesed) get the better of them. Pro’s don’t care about fashion when it comes to the heavy lifting – they want options and upgradeability. So it is illogical to force something different on them. A total misread of that market space.

              Yep hate the new Disk Utility too, they need to add an “Advanced” section to bring back everything, and then some.

              A friend of mine who won a VFX Academy Award for the original Star Wars has used Macs a long time but was starting to reconcile he would have to move to a PC workstation. He did get one (a very high end one) but had so many problems (Windows 10 being part of the culprit) he went back and got a 2012 12 core 3.47Ghz Mac Pro with Titan-X from Create Pro in the UK and other speed enhancement technology that brings it up to date (except no Thunderbolt 2 and USB 3 needs a PCI card). I am tempted but at the same time why should we have to do this? I may still jump ship. But I am hoping Apple will have updated the Mac Pro and made it more pro attractive again.

              The YOY is for overall Mac sales, I wasn’t referring to specific pro sales. Who knows how many 2013 MP’s they sell? All I know is my Macs last a VERY long time (though the G5 Mac Pro was a steaming pile of Power PC junk) so the cost factor really isn’t a factor. Also there are caveats as some graphics apps DO work better with PC’s (or are exclusive to that platform, as FCPX is to Macs) but OS X is so much more delightful to work with. I was reminded of this at a friends with many Windows machines over last weekend watching the convoluted way he had to go through to simply transfer some files from a USB device. Spare me!!

              WWDC is an pro platform choice divergent point for Mac Pro’s to be sure. I wonder how much Apple is aware of that? Thanks for your views!

            2. FWIW, I also think that one final element of this longstanding dialog regarding the 2013 redesign is anger at when Phil Schiller threw down his snarky “Can’t innovate anymore, my ass!” remark: given just how obviously that Apple leadership has misread their Pro customer, if there’s ever going to be an admission that they made a mistake, it is going to also have a big old serving of crow to be eaten as part of the apology.

              The real cultural question for Apple is if they’re going to be smart enough to admit that they screwed up, or if they’re going to deny & double down. Given how the Mac is an increasingly smaller fraction of the iOS Corporation, they could choose to remain silent and in denial, believing that there’s no downside loss risk to them…which is a dangerous attitude for any business to have, even if other factors indicate that they’ll survive for the next decade — but then again, there were times where no one expected Nokia or Blackberry to fall from grace, either.

            3. Not having a Mac Pro that is the dream of the industrial professional won’t bring down Apple but neither will it enhance their reputation with pro’s or business. With the XServer gone and a neglected & design misguided Mac Pro it only leads one other platform direction left for many. Audio professionals must love the newer quiet design but really Apple needs to offer up more than one take on the Mac Pro form factor, but doubtful they will.

        1. The word “may” is a modifier that implies either way Captain Obvious. Of course it may not turn out to be our delight and satisfaction in spite of all the inevitable & usual product introduction bravado said with a brave face. I can only hope they’ve gotten an earful about it and done their due diligence within the pro industry of, hey, ASKING pro’s what they need rather than foisting their choices on them.

  2. Pro desktop machines need to have user expandability. Thats why they are pro machines, for pros who don’t mind to tinker. Otherwise get the Macbook pro. Or kill the MacPro off. But Jeez Apple, do something right for once in this regards.

    1. You get a “super-yep.” Every pro I know who I uses Macs laments this. Surely Apple has gotten plenty of feedback on this folly and misread of the pro market by now. But you know they would be loathe to take a step backward (that would be admitting failure). Let’s hope they step gracefully sideways with a new form factor that appeases all.

  3. Move over to windows – please. Get yourself one of those superfine microswift machines. Amaze us with your creativity. But really, just go. Go away. Be gone.

    APPLE WAS NEVER MEANT TO BE “PRO” OR ENTERPRISE-CENTRIC. Apple is for the “rest” of us. The LAST thing I want to do is open up a computer. I just want to use it for my reasons. Please go away.

    1. You are wrong. Quadra, PowerPC 9500, G3, G4, G5 Toweres, and 5 models with two form factors of MacPro destroy your ignorant assessment that Apple was never meant to be Pro. I would know, because I have owned every single model that was pro with the exception of the 2013 MP, which I had to pass because my workflow is to dependent of nVida GPUs that did not support with that model.

  4. Actually Apple was always the high end boutique option for the artistic creative market. even though most windows machines can outgun and out power and outperform pretty much any mac on the market ever.. its the User Experience that appeals to us creative non technical thinkers… overpriced but easy to use.

    that said i’d rather have a powerful laptop with the option of running added GPU/PCIe devices via TB3..

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