A first look at Mac Pro: Apple’s most powerful computer is here

The Mac Pro is the first modular Apple desktop in years

Mac Pro

Apple’s first update to the Mac Pro since 2013 is an out there looking, expensive metallic beast of a machine.

I recently had the chance to take a look at and learn more about the new Mac Pro following the company’s WWDC 2019 keynote.

The long-awaited modular desktop, which starts at an astounding $5,999 USD (roughly $8,060 CAD), was shown off by Apple in a demo area in a variety of ‘professional’ settings, including a live photography studio, music mixing setup and a video editing bay.

Media weren’t allowed to play around with the computer but could ask questions and watch professionals from various fields Apple thinks will want a powerful macOS-powered desktop like this, work their magic with the Mac Pro.

Mac Pro and Pro XDR Monitor

Though the ‘cheese grater’ look of the desktop has become an amusing running joke, I’m fond of the Pro’s design. Is it bizarre and bears a striking resemblance to something out of a Marilyn Manson music video or YTV’s The Zone from the mid-90s? A little bit, but it also helps the design stand out even more so than Apple’s other products.

There’s no mistaking the Mac Pro for a Windows-based desktop, and I think this is what Apple was going for with this borderline brutalist industrial design.

Mac Pro and XDR Monitor Rear

There are small Apple design flourishes to the Mac Pro’s aesthetic that can only be appreciated in person. For example, the grill on the front features a lot of depth and texture and isn’t a collection of generic holes. The same can be said about the rear of the Pro XDR Monitor Apple revealed alongside the Mac Pro. Further, there’s a stainless steel frame inside the desktop, and the enclosure’s legs can be swapped for wheels, making the Mac Pro easier to move around.

It’s possible to lift the handle on the top of the Pro to gain access to the computer’s modular insides, according to an Apple representative I spoke to at the event. Lifting the handle automatically shuts down the computer to prevent electrocution. It’s safe to say the thermal issues the previous generation Mac Pro suffered from will likely not be a problem with this new, complete redesign of the desktop.

Tim Cook WWDC Mac Pro

Specs-wise, it’s possible to kit out the Pro with up to 1.5TB of RAM, four GPUs and a 28-core, 56-thread Intel Xeon processor. The Mac Pro also features something Apple is calling an MPX module that plugs into the desktop’s PCIe slots. These modules give the computer graphical processing power.

The base model Mac Pro ships with a 256GB SSD. It’s possible to configure the computer with up to 4TB of internal storage. Regarding graphics, the Pro starts with a Radeon Pro 580x and can be configured with a Radeon Pro Vega II. If professionals are looking for more power, Apple says the pro can be set up with two AMD Radeon Pro Vega II Duo, giving the computer four GPUs and a total of 128GB of graphics memory.

Apple also showed off its new Pro Display XDR in the same demo area, giving those in attendance a first look at the pricey 6K display.

It was challenging to get a good look at the screen in the crowded demo space, and I’m not sure I buy a specific demo that aimed to show the difference between an image with HDR turned on and off on the XDR display. To me, it just looked like the photographer that shot the picture took the photo at too bright of an exposure and needed to turn down the highlights.

Apple says the Pro Display XDR is capable of emitting 1,600 nits of peak brightness, features 10-bit colour HDR, and finally, the display also includes a 1,000,000:1 contrast ratio. With all this in mind, what does feel a little ridiculous is that the $4,499 USD (roughly $6,043 CAD) Pro Display XDR also requires the purchase of a Pro Stand for an additional $999 USD (about $1,341 CAD).

The tech giant also set up an interesting augmented reality (AR) demo in the same space that allowed media to interact with the Mac Pro in AR, exploring its different parts and unique construction.

While Apple has confirmed the Mac Pro is set to start at $5,999 USD (roughly $8,060 CAD), Canadian pricing for the Pro has not yet been revealed. Apple plans to start shipping the Mac Pro later this year. The Pro Display XDR starts at $4,999 USD (roughly $6,716 CAD). Canadian pricing for the Pro Display XDR has also not been confirmed by Apple yet.

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