There is no denying that Apple somehow dropped the ball on the Mac Pro. Although the Cupertino company managed to update it three years ago, the updates then were somewhat dated. Furthermore, many users complained of some performance bottlenecking that is not justified by its premium price tag. Now, Apple is trying to reinvigorate its high-end workstation by announcing the Mac Pro 2018.
In a recent press junket, Apple has acknowledged the fact that the Mac Pro 2013 is somewhat lacking in terms of performance. Even though the workstation is equipped with an Intel Xeon processor, it does not change the fact that it was a year older even when the Mac Pro 2013 was released. Because of this, many have argued what Apple should have done on the Mac Pro to make it a better machine.
Right off the bat, this is perhaps one of the best announcements on the Mac Pro 2018 from Apple. In the said junket, the company’s executives were up front with the elephant in the room, which is the Mac Pro design. They were aware that the current design is somewhat detrimental in maximizing the potential of the workstation. As anyone would know by now, there are no options for other third-party hardware like a graphics card from either NVIDIA or AMD.
Based on this, it seems like Apple is reverting to the original 2006 design of the Mac Pro. On the Mac Pro 2018, users will be able to once again add third-party hardware on their systems.
Skylake-EP with multiple processor support
This is probably one of the most obvious differentiators between the next generation iMac and the Mac Pro 2018. The Mac Pro 2018 could offer multiple processor support for a single board, just like the 2006 Mac Pro. While this may drive the cost up, consumers can still opt to buy the second processor outside of Apple to save a few hundred or thousand dollars.
In addition to multiple processor support, the chip would also need to be new. And since the development cycle of a server-grade processor is considerable slower than that of a desktop, an Intel Xeon E5 2600 V5 series will suffice. Although by the time Apple has released the upcoming Mac Pro, this chip will be about a year old.
More third-party hardware support
At the moment, Apple uses AMD GPUs on the current Mac Pro line. However, since NVIDIA will be releasing the latest Mac drivers for its line of graphics cards, more third-party devices will be able to work with the Mac Pro 2018.
In addition to the graphics card, Apple could also include support for Intel NVMe storage like the new Intel Optane. That is not to say that Apple does not have a fast NVMe storage solution. Being able to have an option is always a welcomed feature.
While it may seems like not a big deal at all, being able to add a third-party RAM module is a welcomed treat. Apple is not really forgiving when it comes to third-party hardware. Nevertheless, there are hopes that the Mac Pro 2018 will bring the feature back to the Mac ecosystem once again.
New Apple display
Since the Mac Pro is essentially a headless computer, a user will still need a display in order to use it properly. Apple has already made it clear that it will once again revisit the idea of making its own display like the original Apple Cinema display. While details are yet unclear, many speculate that the display in question will have an 8K resolution and quite possible a Thunderbolt 3.0 interface. As for the size, one can expect it to be between 27 and 32 inches.
Touch and pen input for Apple display?
Everyone knows that when it comes to desktop computing, Apple is not a fan of touch displays. For years, it has avoided that topic by introducing another technology to replace it. Even the current MacBook Pro does not have touch display support. Instead, Apple opted for the Touch Bar; a small strip of touch-enabled OLED display atop the keyboard.
Of course, if Apple decides to finally break and add touch support on the Apple Display, a stylus of pen support is only fitting. This feature will bring in a whole new number of features for the Mac Pro 2018, especially for content creators.
Unfortunately, Apple was very adamant that the company will not be using touch displays on any Mac anytime soon. Nevertheless, this will be a welcomed addition especially for professionals who choose the Mac Pro for its performance.
Mac Pro 2018 price and release date
For now, one can only guess how much the Mac Pro 2018 will be. However, judging by the past models, this thing will not come cheap. Consumers can expect to shell out a minimum of $2,000 for the entry-level system Mac Pro 2018. As for the higher-end of the spectrum, it could be anybody’s guess.
If Apple decides to include multiple processor support, it will definitely drive the price up. The latest six-core Xeon processor costs around $885 per chip. However, coming from Apple, this could easily be sold for more than $1,000.
As for the release date, if Apple wants the Mac Pro 2018 to stay relevant a bit longer, it will opt for a release in the first half of 2018. At that time, the Skylake-EP Intel Xeon processor will only be a few months old. In any case, we are barely at the start of the second quarter of 2017. There are roughly nine more months for Apple to nail the design of the Mac Pro 2018.
Another option for Apple is an autumn of 2018 release, just like the MacBook Pro. However, if Apple will be releasing a MacBook Pro update in 2018, there is a strong chance that it will not have the Mac Pro 2018 released on the same event.
Readers should note that these are nothing but speculations made on recent announcements and market movements. For more updates on the Mac Pro 2018, be sure to check us out at TheBitbag.