It's been over a week since Apple announced the new Mac Pro, and while public opinion has been quite positive, the creative professionals who will most likely be the target market for the shiny cylinder haven't been heard from... until now. Macworld UK's Karen Haslam followed up with a number of power users, and found that while many are thrilled with the prospect of Apple's new flagship product, there are some concerns as well.
The lack of internal expansion in the new design is of concern to several commenters. Writing for Broadcast Engineer, David Austerberry noted that "If I upgrade, that spaghetti under the desk will be joined by more Thunderbolt spaghetti connecting to external storage." Referring to the turntable base of the new Mac Pro, Austerberry says, "If I need to plug in an external drive to bring in video content, I can attempt to plug in at the back, but the chassis isn't going to turn easily with all the cables plugged in. Some front connectors would have been dead handy!"
Despite the concerns about internal expansion, Final Cut Pro trainer Larry Jordan recently blogged that 80 percent of current Mac Pro users don't have any PCI cards installed except for the graphics card. Jordan also wrote that "Apple essentially provided a virtually unlimited number of card slots for users that need the maximum in expandability," in reference to the use of the still unproven Thunderbolt 2 bus.
Pros need a lot of storage. Video editor Lou Borella bemoans the lack of Thunderbolt peripherals, saying that the "missing piece is the lack of high-speed Thunderbolt-native RAID 5 storage systems" and "very, very few 5- to 10-drive RAID 5 systems, which we editors need the most."
Most of the pros seemed thrilled with the prospect of the Xeon E5-powered Mac Pro and fast PCIe flash memory. But most were also concerned about the lack of choice of GPU in the new Mac Pro. Borella "was drooling at the thought of two NVidia Titans" in his future Mac Pro, but Apple has apparently decided that the two built-in AMD FirePro workstation-class GPUs are enough. Some Mac users have software that isn't optimized or even compatible with the new graphics card, so the ability to swap out GPUs is a major concern.
For the most part, many of the pros were optimistic, with Borella noting that "This machine will change the way my peripherals sit on my desk. It will cause me to take a hard look at my current monitor situation. It will cause me to re-evaluate my home network and my NAS devices. It might even cause me to give a harder look to FCPX. For good or bad this Mac Pro will change everything and cause a ripple effect in my entire computing life... It's probably about time that some company takes me to the next step."
We'll hear more about the Mac Pro, including pricing and expansion possibilities, as the fall release date draws closer. If you're a current Mac Pro owner and have your doubts or hopes about the new model, please leave us your comments below.