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The new Mac Pro: What we wanted, what we're actually getting

Dan Frakes | June 18, 2013
Now that we've gotten a peek at the long-awaited new Mac Pro, how does it stack up against our wish-list?

Mac Pro

Back in March, I opined about the next generation of the Mac Pro, explaining both what I hoped for and what I actually expected. First, I was hoping for a new Mac that fell somewhere in between the current Mac mini and Mac Pro—a moderately expandable, more-affordable minitower that was still powerful. Second, I thought that Apple might not only make such a machine, but make it the new Mac Pro:

What if that Mac minitower isn't just a new Mac Pro, but the new Mac Pro? It sounds crazy, but thanks to both technological advances and shifts in the pro market, Apple could conceivably offer a "pro" minitower and drop the full-size Mac Pro completely. I wouldn't bet my paycheck on such a move, but for the first time, the technology is there—and Apple has a penchant for making bold, "We know better than you, trust us" moves.

Not unexpectedly, that article generated quite a bit of feedback, including a number of people pointing out (correctly) that what I wanted and what some higher-end users wanted were not necessarily one and the same.

Last week, Apple gave us a sneak peek at the Mac Pro so many have been waiting for, and that preview was a stunner—both because of what the new computer will look like and because of the features it will (and won't) have.

We've told you everything we know so far about the latest professional Mac, but how does it stack up against my hopes and predictions, as well as the desires of the many Macworld readers who commented on that article? And what does it mean for the professional market?

Smaller, indeed
Back when I used one Mac tower after another, I loved that I could upgrade pretty much everything, but in reality, I rarely swapped out more than hard drives, RAM, and the occasional video card or optical drive. Only once did I ever use an additional PCI slot. And yet because of their extensive expandability, the pre-2013 Mac Pro models use lots of floor space and lots of electricity, and they generate a lot of heat. So my biggest wish was for the next Mac Pro to get smaller and cooler.

As it turns out, while a subset of the highest-end users wanted to keep the Mac Pro huge (more accurately, hugely expandable), many power users, and even some pro users, agreed with me: Small is big.

Needless to say, we got what we wanted on this count, and then some. Call it a fancy trash can, call it a subwoofer, call it a mini jet engine—call it what you will, but you can't call it big. In fact, the 2013 Mac Pro is tiny: It's about one-eighth the size of the current Mac Pro in terms of volume. And at just 9.9 inches tall (the same height as an iPad—think about that) and 6.6 inches in diameter, it's got a considerably smaller footprint than the Mac mini, making it easy to fit on your desk, rather than taking up much of the space under it.

 

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