Today was a great day for the Mac, ahem, Apple faithful. I readied Chrome with 6 different tabs: Macrumors.com, Ars, Tweetdeck, etc; and waited for the updates from Tim Cook’s WWDC keynote to start streaming in. Personally, I don’t give a hoot about iOS 6 and OS X Mountain Lion (only 1 of my 5 Macs is even running Lion), so let’s get to it:
“New” Mac Pro = Same Mac Pro = Mac Pro is pretty much dead
After all the speculation, Apple released an update to the Mac Pro – a 1.5 year old processor as an option in addition to the same processors that have been available for 2 years. No other updates. No Thunderbolt. No USB 3. Nothing.
Honestly, I don’t know what to think. No updates at all would indicate an EOL product line. Doing a slight, and I mean SLIGHT processor bump after 2 years of speculation is just strange. This tells me that Apple got faster processors to shut people up, and now they’re blowing out the remaining stock of enclosures. The fact that they updated nothing and slapped a “New” sticker on the Mac Pro in the Apple Online Store is insulting. My previous article still stands. Do NOT buy a new Mac Pro. Used ones are a great deal and still have all the horsepower of the “new” ones Apple is selling now. I’m very happy with the 8 core Nehalem I bought 2 months ago from Mac of all Trades.
EDIT: As linked at the bottom of this page, Apple CEO Tim Cook responded to an email from a Mac Pro user, saying that “we’re working on something really great for later next year.” This sounds eerily similar to Steve Jobs’ email in April 2010 about Final Cut Pro: “Next release will be awesome.” And of course the result was Final Cut Pro X. So if they’re working on something so far in the future, it’s telling me that it is a drastic redesign and possibly a rethinking of the entire desktop/tower concept. From Apple’s history, whenever they do something like this, it leaves Pros in the dust and skews towards the greater user base. In the case of the Mac Pro, Pros ARE the user base. So I would bet that Apple will try to shift the user base towards the average iMac user instead of appeasing the Pros. We may see something more akin to the rumored xMac than a new Mac Pro tower. I truly hope not. But that’s my speculation at this time.
How does this affect my business? Right now, not at all. I wouldn’t get a new Mac Pro if one was announced today anyway. I’m too busy trying to secure control surfaces, monitors, a new projector screen, etc. I’ll probably buy some more used Mac Pros to build a render farm for After Effects. I would like to get a 12 core model to use as my main workstation, which is mostly DaVinci Resolve and After Effects, along with a Cubix expansion chassis. For me, all the power is on the GPU end. Resolve with 4 GTX580 cards is where it’s at! I rarely run out of processor speed, even on my 2009 Nehalem.
In the case of the server systems I build, especially the large SAN systems, I’m leaning customers away from a traditional server and RAID setup, and going with all-in-one units such as the Small-Tree Titanium. It puts the RAID and Linux-based processor in the same chassis and you can add cards (SAS expansion, 10Gb Ethernet, etc) as you need. It takes the server out of the equation. I’ve been pushing this system for awhile as it’s a much cleaner implementation of SAN networking, and it scales really well.
But my concern is more on the software side. All the hardware I’m buying: PCIe cards, RAIDs, control surfaces, networking gear, etc, can all be used on either Mac or PC systems. But what about investments in software? My copy of CS6 for Mac won’t work on Windows. I like what Blackmagic Design has done here. If you buy a license for DaVinci Resolve, you get both the Mac and PC versions. I wish more Pro App vendors did this. It’s my main concern moving forward.
As you can see from the above, yes, I will move to the PC soon for my Heavy Iron system.
But I still love OS X, well Snow Leopard at least. I’m still not sold on Lion, let alone Mountain Lion. I will stick with Apple for portable stuff, which brings me to…
Wow is this thing awesome.
2880×1800 resolution display (!)
I love the 17″ and its 1920×1200 screen, but it’s a bitch to travel with. This now allows me to play back 1080p footage for clients without needing a larger screen.
Tom Lowe, the director of Timescapes, has created a version of the movie specifically for the MacBook Pro’s Retina resolution. Other versions include DVD, Blu-Ray, regular HD download, a version for 30″ displays, and full 4k. This is a first (and really fast!) and definitely a sign of things to come as more and more movies are mastered at 4k and beyond. Also, the ARRI Alexa’s width resolution is the same 2880 pixels as the MacBook Pro. Another reason why this computer is a dream for DITs.
NVIDIA GeForce GT 650M
with 1GB of GDDR5 memory and automatic graphics switching with integrated Intel 4000 graphics – this is awesome for Adobe’s apps with the Freddie Mercury Playback Engine and DaVinci Resolve
256GB, 512GB, 768GB. No more spinning drives! All of my laptops have been either single SSD or SSD/Hard Drive combos since the Intel G2 drive was released. I haven’t used the optical drive in years and don’t miss it. This was the natural progression. Now, about the price on that 768GB…
Dual Thunderbolt Ports
If you follow my Twitter feed (and you should!), my biggest complaint about Thunderbolt right now is lack of passthrough on many of the available devices. If you get something like the AJA T-tap, it has to be last in the chain. Having 2 ports definitely helps solve this problem.
No one saw this coming, and it’s awesome. Now you don’t have to tie up a Thunderbolt port if you just want to hook up a display (max resolution of 1920×1080 though). I more or less think of this as a third Thunderbolt port. Way to go Apple!
USB 3.0 ports
Haha, duh. Took Apple too long in my opinion to add this feature. eSATA would be nice. But you can get a Thunderbolt to eSATA adapter, as well as TB adapters for Firewire 800 and Gigabit Ethernet.
Up to 16GB of 1600MHz RAM
Looking at the picture of the guts of the new MacBook Pro, it looks like the RAM is soldered onto the motherboard. Damn. Which means you can’t upgrade in the future. So pay the extra $200 right away to max out at 16GB of RAM. Remember, it’s impossible to upgrade later, so max it out now.
In fact, iFixIt has torn down a Retina MacBook Pro and declared it “the least repairable laptop we’ve taken apart”. This doesn’t bode well for people like me that like to tinker and swap components. Right now I’m typing this on a Late 2006 Core 2 Duo MacBook Pro that if I wasn’t able to open up and modify parts as needed, would have died years ago.
As I said, awesome. I need a new laptop badly and this one will fit the bill nicely. My only question is how it will run with older software that isn’t optimized for a retina display. Soon after the keynote, Software Update lit up with new versions of almost all of Apple’s apps to update them to retina display. Working as a DIT, this is pretty much the ultimate machine. I’ve been using the ExpressCard slot a lot over the years – Matrox MXO2 MAX, eSATA adapter, CF card adapter, etc. But now I can replace all those things with Thunderbolt or USB 3 options and not lose speed. To anyone bummed about losing ExpressCard, remember that each Thunderbolt port is 4x speed. Expresscard was only 1x. If you have a Mobile Rocket, you only get 1x speed even though the RED Rocket card is 8x. With Thunderbolt and a compatible enclosure, you can (soon) get 4x speed, getting you closer to not needing a tower. I won’t miss the 17″ MacBook Pro. My main needs were ExpressCard and an HD display. The new MacBook Pro with Retina Display and Thunderbolt ports takes care of these things. And a 15″ laptop is a lot easier to travel with. If you’ve ever tried to open a 17″ laptop in Economy class, you know what I mean. Overall, a great update. I stil wish there was a new Mac Pro, but I can live without it. Glancing over at my Twitter feed, I can see a lot of people can’t. And of course, the people that left the Mac Pro behind months ago are even happier in their decision, because they’re months ahead of the rest of us. Yes, my copy of CS6 is for Mac. But my copy of CS7 will probably be for Windows.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go back to updating my remaining computers to OS X 10.7 Lion before I lose access to MobileMe at the end of June.
Update: From MacRumors: David Pogue: New iMacs and Mac Pro’s Coming “Probably in 2013”
“Probably” 2013? Give me a break. I’m moving on. This is worse than constantly chasing after the hot chick and getting rejected time after time.
Update 2: From MacRumors: Apple Spokesperson Confirms New Mac Pro Designs Likely Coming in 2013
Well, that’s pretty much FOREVER in computer terms. We’ve already waited 2 years. My plan is to keep going with my current Mac Pros and buy used ones as I need them. In 2013 I’ll re-evaluate where I am with Macs or if I need to switch to a Windows workstation.
Apple bowed to pressure and removed the “New” icon from the Mac Pro on the Apple Online Store. Damn right!