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Mac Pro being good value 'for a workstation' doesn't negate the obvious fact that Apple should have a modular desktop that doesn't start with workstation components. People talk about an 'xMac' like it's some mythical unicorn instead of the most basic computer Apple should offer
115 replies and sub-replies as of Dec 16 2019

'But the profit margins!' was the traditional response to the 'xMac' idea, but Apple could offer a $4000 non-workstation desktop tower and it would still both be a huge steal compared to the Mac Pro, and outrageously expensive compared to any other faster, better PC
I don't for a second think the market for a Mac tower is 0 like Apple has convinced pundits. The market for Apple's towers for the past 16 years has been tiny because the machines have been so expensive and way-outclassed for the broader userbase
I personally don't need Xeons, or this-many PCIe lanes, or ECC RAM, or a 1400W PSU, though I have nothing against those who do; I'm pressured into mortgaging a €8,400 Mac Pro because that's literally the only option if I want to stay on macOS and get a desktop that fits me
I wonder, why not iMac Pro? Only because of monoblock?
It's simply a poor investment. The performance is there for sure, but for how long? Can you replace/upgrade/repair any component 5 year down the road? It's also very hard to open it up and clean the dust.
Just buy the one with the CPU and SSD you want and upgrade the remaining specs
Same here. I need at least two monitors and some kind of upgradeability.
It might just be that a good cheap Mac wouldn’t make shareholders happy and therefore cannot be made
Not sure, but perhaps the Mac Pro is the start of a new trend. As with most new things at Apple, they are first implemented at the highest level and they trickle down to consumer level eventually. So perhaps the Mac Pro is just the beginning for desktop towers? Perhaps…
How can the thing they've had for more than a decade (before trash can Mac Pro) be "start of a new trend"?
Not necessarily never done before, just brought back (even those if I recall weren’t consumer level). They might be returning to a desktop form factor? Idk, I’m just guessing.
What kind of kit does Apple give its own devs, I wonder? IMac, I guess?
yeah tbh I have an iMac pro at work and surprisingly it’s been one of the least reliable macs I’ve ever used, I’d kill for a modular mac I could afford. Also do you think the new Mac Pro will make Hackintoshes more viable? you ever toy around with the idea of making one?
Is Mac mini with an external TB3 PCIe enclosure not feasible? Modularity of a desktop whilst using a preconfigured base with common components. Or are there not enough x16 lanes over TB3 for your needs?
i’m with you on this, but just to ask: iMac Pro? or are you also put off by non-adjustable screen height
Isn’t the issue with an extensible, case-open, Mac that the real challenge is supporting external kernel mode software? If there’s any hope to a longer term Mac OS then third party devices need end. Or is this just about custom memory, disk, and number of supported gfx cards?
What you mean is not “The Mac Pro is the only Mac that meets my needs,” what you mean is “Apple doesn’t make the exact Mac I want” lmao pressured
In a world with more and more custom SoC in macs and a move to proprietary processor in the next few years, does a modular Mac make any more sense than a modular iPhone would?
Any reservations about going the hackintosh route?
There’s a story here about why Apple won’t make an upgradeable prosumer Mac desktop with a modest i7 processor that hits around $2300 like the OG Power Mac/Mac Pro AND they won’t make a workstation MacBook Pro with a mobile Xeon like HP Zbook Studio.
I keep a 2011 iMac alive because it has 3 sata ports (that I routed externally) to connect & swap drives. An old Mac runs Aperture & Safari fine. I need many terabytes of storage without spending hundreds on arrays when a $5 sata cable is direct & more reliable. Modular=options.
If Apple came out with a mid-range i9 tower, I feel it would both invalidate the base Mac Pro and high-end iMac. Why would you buy a high-end iMac that constrains the CPU and ties everything together going forward?
If it’s a better machine, then it’s OK for it to invalidate the others. We don’t need to protect Apple’s margins for them.
The (relative) comeback of desktop PCs in the consumer space thanks to PC gaming shows that there is absolutely a market out there for desktops that don’t have server parts in them
Except that Macao’s is not a gaming friendly platform. With the inevitable move to ARM boot amp won’t even be a possibility.
I'd settle for a tallboi Mac Mini Pro with an unsoldered CPU and dedicated GPU options.
I’m one of these people that always wants this kind of machine, and I think Apple’s wrong to not offer it (former PowerMac 8600/200 owner) but would they sell enough of them? Im not sure they’d sell as many people might expect. Not as many need one as they think they do.
They probably just assume that the Mac Mini covers that user base..
Which it absolutely does not, as you know.
All we need is a update to the Mac Mini, with a Vega card and boom that is your machine. More or less a 16” without the screen.
Apple needs to update the Mac mini anyway as there are now 8-core 65-watt CPUs that are about the same price as the current 6-core i7 (and would likely outgun the base Mac Pro).
IMO Apple doesn't really care about desktops or they wouldn't be trying to charge $450 for Vega 48 on iMac which at best now offers the perf. of a $180 PCIe card. Their entire desktop line is bad.
Apple has said 80% of Mac sales come from laptops and developers are by far the largest segment wrt pro users. This Mac Pro is aimed at the small segment that needs such a computer.
I think what "most" pros want is an iMac 5K / iMac Pro without the screen.
Have you seen the prices on Dell Precision 7920s?
Yep. Honestly shocked at the prices I’m hearing some podcasters paying for this thing. As if reality has slipped the bounds of normalcy so completely I can’t tell if I’m listening to real people or a joke I don’t understand.
Come on, John S buying one isn’t about need, it’s about want, as he readily acknowledges. He’s been saving for a decade. Most people can’t touch the sides of an iMac Pro’s processing power. Compute power has moved on. I had a tower in 2004. Laptop has been fine ever since.
Even the age old argument that Apple laptops are comparably priced to other PCs, true, but really. Sometimes I think a well marketed lower spec’d machine would take over the world. I guess what I mean is I wish Apple weren’t only all about the highest end sometimes.
A Twitter poll is not representative of the general public.
I had a 2008 Mac Pro which cost under 2000 € and served me well until 2015. It was a fantastic machine.
Uhhhh crap but the repair profit margins!
I don't disagree that there should be an xMac, but these are two different topics. The Mac Pro is a competitively priced workstation.
I guess the main problem is “the walled garden”, they want an experience controlled in every device, a xMac won’t give it.
You seen to forget the kind of computer company Apple is.
Imagine a high-end Ryzen Mac for half the price of a Mac Pro! ...wait no that would outperform the Mac Pro. 😂
In all seriousness though, a Ryzen-based Mac Performa (🙃) would slot neatly between the Mac Mini and the Mac Pro and offer a nice kick in the shins of Intel, which Apple would probably love to do. Assuming there's not gonna be an ARM switch, of course.
Yes now this I agree with. The problem is how much to they spend in R&D vs actual profits as the user base will be very low.
I think Apple doesn't want the Mac Pro to interfere with their iMac sales, which it would if the base price of the Mac Pro were around $4K.
There are people on YouTube building compact, quiet workstations with 16 core AMD parts. Would love to see Apple ship something like this.
You think they could get away with charging $4k for a 9900k commodity parts PC?
of course. We have no other options. They know just how sticky macOS and the Apple ecosystem is
Yeah but all their other machines are very unique, so hard to compare with a significantly cheaper PC. A commodity tower Mac, not so much.
The main market—and, really, the only market—for high-end non-server towers are gamers. Perhaps pple could have made more of a push into that segment in the past, but I don’t think an “xMac” would steal significant share at all.
And we should remember that earlier tower Mac Pros (2006+) started with... $2499 - less than I paid for my 2017 iMac 5K with i7 7700K For 2010 Mac Pro, $4999 gave you fully specced, 12 (dual-CPU) core machine! This AnandTech review is quite interesting:
Apple Mac Pro (Mid 2010) Review
(no description)
I feel like 4000 would be too close to the Mac Pro to the point I would prefer put a bit more to have the Pro instead 🤔
Base Mac Pro is pretty basic. A non-xenon CPU and non-ecc ram isn’t gonna reduce it by $2k in price.
Also @tim_cook was proud the whole product line could all fit on one sleek table. This might be the straw that breaks the camels back!
If we're being fanciful, god I wish they offered a Threadripper 3000 desktop. Brand new Mac Pro already misses out on PCI-e 4.0, 7nm/10nm, and a post Skylake uarch (the latest Xeons are that thrice warmed over). If you don't need the Xeon bits, that's a tremendously better pick
Could it be that the market for such a computer is too small to justify the investment to make it?
How could it possibly be smaller than the market for the current Mac Pro? And they could use the same case design to spread out the R&D cost.
I’m not sure “most of the people” would need that. I’d love one though.
Even some GPU options for the Mac mini would be a nice start
Just to play devils advocate... why? I don’t know anyone except gamers who use desktops. Laptops are more convenient for most. iMacs aren’t bad. Almost no one will upgrade components... except those with very specific workstation grade needs.
Anyone who works with video, animation/vfx, 3d modeling, etc
Not all coders like laptops as their only machine. I like to actually sit at a desk with two big monitors and a mechanical keyboard.
Sam so do I ... I need this machine for the ram and CPU needed to power Chrome and Slack at the same time 🤣
I have two big monitors and an ergonomic keyboard at my desk, both powered by a laptop that I can then take into meetings, on trips, or to work from home.
Anyone between the average user (mostly web browsing, office tasks, etc) and a full on employed professional. The kind of people who need power for advanced work that’s more than a hobby but can’t afford the $6000+ bill of a full tower.
As a decent example, there are a lot of students like me who intend to transition into these career paths but for whom a desktop is needed but the mac pro is too expensive.
It’s worth noting that “gamers” are an enormous market that Apple has chronically underinvested in across the entire stack, not some curious niche.
Apple also quotes developers as the number one Mac Pro constituency, who generally would be much more directly served by a more modest workstation.
I like a desktop b/c I can upgrade components a little at a time. Hard drives added, ram added, video card updated. I sit at my office desk. I don't need the portability of a laptop for my coding/gfx work I normally do. I'd love an affordable, upgradeable desktop.
Hey, I’d love the same thing, but very few people actually want that or would use it. I’m not saying it wouldn’t be great, I just don’t think there’s enough of a market for it.
I think the whole situation with Mac Pro was a result of trying to avoid having product that overlapped with iMac Pro… Offering a non-workstation class tower is probably good for customer, but hard to image it’s aligned for their business direction 😅
Honestly, I don't see much of a future for the iMac Pro with this new Mac Pro in the lineup. I assume that the type of users that want such a class of machine desire upgradeability, not AIO
Yup. Neither the iMac Pro nor the old trash can really catered to the market they were for. Real pros want to be able to upgrade their GPU when a faster one comes out. That’s always limited with a Mac, but the iMac Pro and the trash can made that nearly impossible.
The Mac desktop line up has become a mess: - 2013 MP - Apple decides to replace the '13 MP with the iMac Pro - Apple realised they actually need a tower MP, it takes them a few years to produce the new MP, that is forced to be more expensive then the iMac Pro, and previous MPs.
Why? Sure, I’d love that. But Apple never has done this and they’re not going to start now that the market is even smaller. Talk about a super vocal minority.
The 2008 Mac Pro started at $2,800. The 2013 Mac Pro was a design failure. It’s not unreasonable to ask for the equivalent of a 2008 Mac Pro again! They’ve moved WAY upmarket on price and not much on performance at the base (old GPU, 8 core middling Xeon)
Yeah, like people are in the comments assuming we’re asking for like 1K modular macs which would be cool but like not going to happen. Would be willing to pay 3-5k
You got a point there.
The blue and white Power Mac G3, well into the Jobs and Ive era, got a brand-new case informed by the iMac design language at an introductory price of $2,469 in today’s dollars. (Sticker price was $1,599 in 1999)
Not for nothing but that tower's swivel opening system is definitely a faster way to access the internals than the new Mac Pro's while we are talking about better things from the past
A better question is why you think it’s worth defending that the new Mac Pro at $6,000 isn’t meaningfully more powerful than the $2,800 Mac Pro was at launch in 2008.
Because the market has changed. They keep making sealed toy computers and out-priced towers in a time when the iPad exists. It no longer makes sense.
The whole Mac market basically a „super vocal minority“ compared to other markets Apple deals in (Watch, AirPods, ...). Sure, they can get a hefty margins out of those that *need* the new Mac Pro, but that can’t be the only reason they’re making it.
So if Apple has finally realized that the real worth of the Mac to its business isn’t purely the financial revenue it reaps directly from it they might just realize that there’s worth in having such a Mac in the lineup.
Then again probably every Mac that Apple is considering making that a) doesn’t need Xeons and b) doesn’t come in a package that‘s already being sold today will most likely have to wait for ARM
I’d even be satisfied if only I could self-service my iMac/Mac mini (officially). Hard drives fail. I want to be able to replace them. I want to be able to upgrade them, because storage needs always grow and I don’t want to pay Apple‘s outrageously priced BTO options up front.
Make the Mac mini twice as tall and give me easy access to RAM and a couple of NVMe slots would be a HUGE improvement
Right there with you.
Honestly if upgrading the ram in the Mac mini was just a little bit easier there would be no need. We can easily add egpu now
By the supported Apple eGPU is tremendously expensive.
I agree but it’s not that hard to upgrade ram in the macmini. It took me 15min for 64GB. EGPU with vega64 is so nice :) wish I got the 10G port :(
Do you think it would sell enough to justify the increase in complication? Not just to the customer making a buying decision, but to the dealing with customers who bought one and messed things up? Also, who would buy it and why would they?
This would be awesome. Hackintosh without the bullshit compatibility rigmarole
Original iPad was $499. Today, that’s diversified to a $329 entry level model, $499 mid tier, and $799+ Pro models. Why couldn’t the Mac Pro eventually diversify to a $6k mid tier, $4k entry level, and $10k+ Pro? Gotta start somewhere, and $6k seems like a nice spot.
Mac Mini Pro perhaps?
I would be happy with a more robust Mac Mini type product and an Apple 5k display that is like the LG 5k they sell at Apple Store. Maybe something like the Cube would do the trick.
I think they're afraid of straying away from their image. They have the NeXT brand trademark lying around, just waiting to be used.
I thought the Mac Pro used the NeXT playbook, an expensively designed painfully average workstation.
What's the least amount of Mac can Apple sell in a product?
I keep wondering whether this new, service oriented Apple would at some point start selling Hackintosh kits. Kinda like a strangler fig, with a T2+NVMe+bootrom on the Mac outside, PC on the inside. What's the least amount of Mac could Apple bear to sell?
Oskar Groth on Twitter
“Building a Hackintosh is all fun and games until you need to update macOS to run latest Xcode and you find yourself desperately PM'ing some russian 15yo on Insanelymac for help with getting your $2000 work machine up and running because you're stuck with 100 different boot errors”
I’m watching my 32 core Ryzen sit 95% idle because @Adobe doesn’t think image resizing is a task that can be multithreaded. A lot of people are going to be disappointed when they spend all this money and their favorite software stares at all that hardware like an idiot.
I want the xMac to exist, but I think the “should” is doing a lot of work in that sentence.
What about the Mac mini?
Totally agree. Just cause I think the Mac Pro is fairly priced doesn’t mean I don’t desperately want a non-workstation one suited better for my needs. Even more so, I want an Apple display that fits the “prosumer.” The third-party options are lacking.
Look at Apple's product strategy. The iMac is made obsolete by the MacBook. The MacBook by the iPad. iPad but the iPhone. Then the Watch. We probably won't see another iMac overhaul for a decade. It has to keep up with where we're going to be in 2029.
Sadly Apple and modular never went together because of their mentality of closed garden. The “stability” of Mac OS just like iOS is due to the limited hardware and setup it has to support. They prefer to keep selling overpriced components.