Tim Bajarin: Apple’s new Mac Pro is the Mac of Steve Jobs’ dreams

Afterburner on the new Mac Pro allows video editors to decode up to three streams of 8K ProRes RAW video and 12 streams of 4K ProRes RAW video in real time.
All-new Mac Pro and Pro Display XDR are the most powerful tools Apple has ever put in the hands of pro customers and will change pro workflows forever.

Tim Bajarin for Forbes:

For the last three years, Apple has been criticized a great deal for not upgrading their Mac Pro line in a more-timely fashion. This caused many of their pro customers to move away from the Mac and to other workstation class systems from HP, Dell and others.

Early this week, Apple responded to this criticism by introducing a new Mac Pro that includes a new XEON processor from Intel, as well as extremely powerful graphics cards from AMD through their VEGA line of graphics processors and boards… From a technical standpoint, the Mac Pro is one of the most powerful workstations on the market and sets Apple up to be more than competitive with the current offering from competitors.

The new Mac Pro emphasizes that the Mac is still an essential product for Apple, and they can still innovate at the highest levels. It also helps fulfill a key goal of Apple Co-Founder, Steve Jobs. A day after Jobs came back to Apple in 1997, I met with him to try and get a sense of how he was going to help turn Apple around. I asked him directly what his top priority would be. He said that while he was away, Apple forgot about their core customers. These were the folks that helped put the Mac on the map and included engineers, graphic designers, desktop publishers, and those who needed more powerful tools to do their specific type of technically driven jobs… Within weeks of Jobs being on the job, he ordered the engineers to create more powerful Macs and, within a year, Apple was back in favor with their core customers and this was one of the reasons Apple started turning itself around.

In talks with my Hollywood friends since this new Mac Pro was announced, it is clear that the new Mac Pro hit a real nerve in Hollywood. This product has the chance to help Apple gain ground on competitors in this critical, creative market segment. I can’t help thinking that this new Mac Pro is the dream machine Steve Jobs might have envisioned when he came back to Apple in 1997.

MacDailyNews Take: Steve likely wouldn’t be proud of the Mac Pro fiasco of the last half-decade, but we bet that he’d be very proud of the new Mac Pro!

Apple now just needs to demonstrate a real commitment to upgrading the Mac Pro. Those professional users who moved away from the Mac will begin to come back, the first wave will be those who were most reluctant to move, but as Apple shows regular upgrades over time, the pros will be back. These are Macs, of course – with unmatched ease-of-use, security, reliability, and superior TCO.


    1. Im not sure if Steve or would not have been pleased with this. But I do not think it targets their “core” customers. People mistake Pros as being their core. ENTHUSIASTS are their core market. Many of which are Pros. But many pros are not enthusiasts. The ENTHUSIASTS saved apple.

      And the pricing on this thing, there just is no entry level where Enthusiasts can get on board. The original Mac Pros started at around $2500 and enthusiasts could get on board. If apple priced a cheaper entry point. Something with just a simple video card, and maybe an older model Xeon 4 core at say $3499, it could have really brought a lot more people back.

      This is just for rich enthusiasts and pros that will have corporations buying for them. It will not be for that core of people that saved apple. It’s just too expensive.

      1. I think I am beginning to understand the preoccupation of some people with user upgradeable Macs. It’s not a computing need it’s a lifestyle need. They probably grew up modifying their computers over the years and sharing the experience with friends or on forums, a geeky version of car culture. I don’t follow the Windows scene but I assume this is still a thing there. With Apple’s clear focus on non-upgradeable products for a mass audience and now the new Mac Pro for a media professional/corporate market though, it’s tough to justify a “mini tower” for people to tinker with.

        There are many more “Mac enthusiasts” who have their needs met by Macbook Pros, Mac Minis and iMacs (with external GPUs if required) than “Mac computing hobbyists” who want to be able to experiment and toy around with tech (and keep upgrading for a decade or more). The “core customers” from the article that Steve Jobs sought to please wanted great machines capable enough to get their work done, not computing projects in and of themselves. I don’t think an in-between machine would be a prudent decision for Apple, their Mac lineup is basically complete. Now we just need timely updates and hopefully a resolution to the Macbook keyboard problems.

    1. I guess if you can fork out 6+K for a Mac you can afford whatever PCI storage solution you need for as long as you need it. What a Mac! What would Steve say? Ask Woz, this is probably HIS dream machine.

    2. That’s big enough for the OS and all the pro apps you might need.

      If you’re using this machine, you’re not storing working files, archived projects, or data on that drive.

    3. What part of “user expandable” don’t you understand?

      A lot of pro workflows rely on central file storage over high speed Ethernet. Why should Apple load up the default machine with storage it doesn’t necessarily need. The new Mac Pro is less expensive that comparably equipped pro machines from the likes of HP and Dell, so no, Apple shouldn’t be expected to just throw in more storage for free.

      If an individual needs more storage, they can buy it from Apple as an upgrade at the initial purchase, add internal third party storage later, or simply add external storage via T-Bolt or 10Gbps Ethernet.

      Don’t be a troll.

      1. Totally agree!

        Back in the 90’s, we had a Mac FX which cost (me) over $10 thousand, which we used primarily with Photoshop and Illustrator. Boy was it fast for the time.

        One weekend, one of my art directors took it home for the weekend to finish rendering a Seimens catalog that we had worked on for over a week. Unfortunately, he slipped on a patch of ice and literally destroyed everything. Yes, we didn’t use external storage or have backups, so we had to start over.

        Needless to say from that day on, we don’t have Macs with “all our “eggs in one basket, ” and in for that matter, I am currenlty developing and working on my MBP (250 gb) to program a catalog and manage more than 30 million records (200+ gb) stored on an external drive(s).

        As I tell my employees, clients and students, key your Mac clean. Need storage, use external. And as you say, use “…external storage via T-Bolt or 10Gbps Ethernet…” hell, in most cases, even USB and firewire is fast enough. Most important safer and a hell of a lot cheaper, especially if you need mobility or faster upgrading to a new machine.

        And as one of my colleges told one of his students who couldn’t hand in his assignment because his laptop got fried, “So you put all your eggs in one basket. Too bad. You just failed twice!”

  1. This is the Mac of Steve’s nightmares. It’s the exact computer that made Steve fail. And what I’m referring to is NeXT. NeXT failed largely because the computers were too expensive, even for the pro vertical market they were going after.

    I realize Apple has a large consumer base with iOS, but this Mac Pro is absurdly expensive and beyond the reach of many “Pros”. I question that there is any sustained market for it.

    And the display is also ridiculous. $6000 USD? That is inaccessible to most people.

    I look at these products and they already look dated. The iMac Pro is decent, but even that needs a redesign. The Microsoft Surface Studio PC is an incredible design, and Apple is still nowhere near that.

    The $6000 Apple 6 k monitor is antiquated junk: you can do multi-touch on it. The cheesgrater is also ugly and the MacOS is getting long in the tooth.

    We need a new fusion OS and an entirely new class of devices. What this is, is Apple creating a checklist of features based on online market research of people saying to bring back the cheesegrater! This isn’t innovation, it’s absurd. So is a $1000 monitor stand.

    1. So if you CAN do multi-touch as you say, this makes it “antiquated junk”?

      Maybe YOU are the antiquated junk. Catalina lets you put multi-touch on your iPad. Or a trackpad. Keep your ugly, greasy fingers away from my $6k 6K screen, you cheap sunovabiyatch.

      1. Clearly a typo. I meant it CAN’T do multi-touch.

        Time will tell about how these things sell, and I predict they will not sell well because of a lack of a market for the product itself and the price point. In time, we’ll see if I’m right and if you guys will be eating crow.

    2. The new Mac Pro is thousands of dollars less expensive than comparably equipped competitors.

      Just because you think this machine is too expensive, it does not follow that it is overpriced. It’s quite possible that you aren’t the target customer.

      This is a halo product, not a mass market machine. Do you go around complaining that Lamborghini’s are overpriced?

    3. The NeXT box, NeXT printer, and associated equipment (and OS) was so expensive because Steve pushed the envelope too far into the future. Many things in the NeXT systems did not become main stream for several years. Vector graphics on screen is now extremely common but back then the license for Display Postscript was ridiculously high. Smart computers and printer drivers and dumb printers are now pretty much standard. The cost to the computer and OS for those back then was high. Optical drives were rare and very expensive. Now optical drives are crazy cheap and nearly a thing of the past. The list goes on and on and on as to why the NeXT systems were expensive. It was NEVER Steve’s intent to over charge for the NeXT systems.

      In fact it is well documented that Steve railed against the original price of the Mac (and he wanted it to have more RAM on day one). It was Sculley and the board that pushed for very high margins on this new kind of computer in which they did not fully believe. (“If it’s going to blow up in our faces, let’s get as much profit out of it as we can before this crazy new line dies.”)

      Very likely Steve would not have supported such high margins on the new Mac Pro or the new monitor. He likely would have supported Apple having such high end capabilities, but not the high margins.

      One pair of perfect examples under Steve’s guidance was the XServe and the XSAN. They were extremely cost competitive and cost effective. Hell, even major database companies (Oracle and others) were openly and publicly telling people to buy XServes and XSANs to run their enterprise size databases.

  2. Went to Dell.com and QUICKLY put together a workstation for over $23,000 with no problem. And I thought they sold cheap junk, but quickly realized they just sold junk.

  3. I still think it would be nice to have something between a Mac Mini and a Mac Pro. Some people do like to tweak components and do small upgrades every once in a while. We may be a small minority, but we are Apple customers too…

    1. Apple has needed a machine like this for at least five years! The fact that it is rack-mountable is outstanding.
      I could use the raw power of this machine, but I do not need 12 RAM slots and 8 PCI slots.

      I would be happy if they simply made the Mac mini, and the iMac a bit more upgradable.

      The Mac mini should offer user-upgradable HDs, both SSD and Fusion, for example.

      The iMac should allow one to swap out the HD without having to lift off the frickin’ screen.

      These two machine have prioritized thinness over usability with NO advantage gained.

      Or why can’t Apple simply offer a Mac mini type desktop box with ALL the HD, CPU, GPU options of the iMac?

  4. Anyone who claims the new monitors are too expensive don’t understand what a reference monitor it. Typically, they go from $18,000-$40,000 depending on the quality. Apple just made high quality production available to a lot more people.

  5. Yes, we need a Mac Pro Jr. — a configurable. smaller tower — for the non-billionaires among us.

    We don’t need 1.5 TB of RAM, just up to 64, or maybe 128 GB.
    We need room for up to a couple of 2TB SSD storage modules, or one SSD module and a HD bay, and the ability to connect an external GPU.
    And we need a separate 5K Retina display, as on current 27″ iMacs.

    We want to be able to configure our own computers, as Windows users can do … a Mac Pro Jr. We can add our own RAM for MUCH cheaper than Apple would sell it.

    Something like this — base model for under $3,000 — and it’d sell like hotcakes! I think Apple can do it!

    1. Your post seems logical and very reasonable to me. An user accessible and upgradable Mac mini-tower configurable from the Apple Store with core guts ranging from consumer grade to prosumer grade. In addition, market the iMac 5K monitor without the iMac guts (but with built-in bus adapter for Thunderbolt and USB and Ethernet) for a reasonable price.

  6. Haha! I’m sure Steve woulda loved those cute little feet & all those amazing cutouts that would collect dust and shit…NOT. Steve is turning in his grave.

    1. Have you ever seen a computer intake (or interior) that was not full of dust? I haven’t. Are you expecting real magic?

      The solution is the periodic application of a vacuum cleaner and a can of dust-off or equivalent to improve convective thermal rejection and fan operation.

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