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Apple's new Mac Pro signals commitment to professional computing

Agam Shah | Nov. 27, 2013
Apple is sending a signal that it hasn't abandoned the professional computing market with the latest Mac Pro, which will ship next month. But the workstation faces competition from its own sibling iMac as computer buyers weigh purchases.

Another key feature in the Mac Pro is the inclusion of the Thunderbolt 2 ports, which makes up for the lack of internal expansion features, Seeman said. The Thunderbolt 2 can transfer data between the host computer and peripherals at a rate of 20Gbps (bits per second).

The Mac Pro will find high-end buyers using programs like Final Cut Pro X, but interest could increase if more peripherals for Thunderbolt 2 become available, said Peter M. Fine, who runs consulting firm FinePeter Consulting in New York.

Right now Thunderbolt-compatible products include a few storage devices, and Apple sells a Thunderbolt-compatible monitor. Apple needs to encourage third parties to ramp up production of expansion hardware, which is important to high-end buyers, said Fine, who is also the co-founder of the Metropolitan New York Macintosh Alliance (MetroMac).

Like others, Fine is curious to see the performance of the Mac Pro models. But the appealing price and cutting-edge technologies could meet the needs of some of his clients, and moreover, the new workstation is more power-efficient than predecessors.

"The good news is that it is Apple, not a lesser-known small manufacturer, so most users can anticipate a pretty good experience," Fine said.

But some potential buyers who have waited years for the new Mac Pro are weighing the workstation against the high-end iMac, which is cheaper and delivers sufficient performance required to run multimedia programs. Still, the Mac Pro has its advantages with server processors, faster graphics cards and Thunderbolt 2 ports, not available in the iMac.

There are Mac Pro loyalists who want the latest and greatest, but iMacs in many cases are good enough for content creation and high-end graphics, said Jay Chou, senior research analyst at IDC.

"The [Mac Pro] has the hardware of a server in addition to very fine graphics capabilities. It can be overkill," Chou said.

Gary Huff, founder of Rusty Auto Productions in Austin, Texas, is considering the Mac Pro, but wants to see benchmarks and real-world usage before making a purchase decision. He is also considering an iMac.

"I am worried about performance of the Mac Pro base models not being significantly improved over, say, an iMac. I do think the higher-end models will be absolute beasts in computing power, but then it becomes an issue of whether or not it's affordable for me at this time," Huff said.

But like others, Huff is relieved to see the new Mac Pro.

"I do like the design. It looks rather sleek. If Apple had simply released the original cheese-grater design with the new guts, I think I would have still been excited," Huff said.


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