Speaking of cards, we also didn't get the spare PCI Express slot I wished (weakly) for. While that's a very minor letdown for me, the new Mac Pro's lack of any PCI Express slots is the most-common complaint we've heard from pro users. I think that for some people, this is mostly a gut reaction—in the end, they'll be more than happy with the built-in video cards, and they'll be able to accomplish everything else using Thunderbolt peripherals. But there are definitely folks who need a full-size tower's expandability. As forum member Phredd wrote, Apple has "turned the Mac Pro inside out...with all expandability on the outside rather than room on the inside." And that won't work for everyone.
Will the price be right?
Of course, the biggest question that remains—both for judging my predictions and for satisfying the curiosity of many an anxious Mac user—has to do with the new Mac Pro's price. Though I predicted the new, smaller model might be the only Mac Pro, I not-so-secretly hoped Apple would keep a high-end tower and offer a model (or at least a configuration) that was a better fit, at a sub-$2000 price, for people like me—power users who don't need all the current Mac Pro's bells and whistles. I wanted a powerful-but-affordable minitower for what you might call "sub-pros."
As it turns out, the new, smaller model is still very much a Mac Pro. It's a high-end machine with high-end componentry and specs (lack of PCI slots notwithstanding). It uses the latest CPUs, the latest GPUs, the latest solid-state storage, the latest expansion ports, and a completely new industrial design made of machined aluminum. This thing is, as Macworld contributor John Siracusa hoped it would be, a halo car—an example of what Apple is capable of doing in terms of both design and performance.
Which makes me pretty confident that my dream of a smaller Mac Pro at a smaller price isn't going to come true. My initial thinking, while I was watching last Monday's WWDC keynote, was that Apple might offer a low-end configuration priced somewhere around $2000 to $2500. But after considering everything that's inside, as well as the target audience and the computer's place in Apple's product line, I think the new Mac Pro will continue to be a premium-priced product. I'm guessing that, as with the current Mac Pro, the low-end model will start at around $2500, and the price will quickly ramp into the five-digit range when you max it out.
Is it the right Mac Pro?
While price is the biggest question, the biggest debate is about whether this Mac Pro is the "right" Mac Pro. I'm excited about it, lack of internal expansion and all, because it looks to be very fast, easily expandable and upgradeable for the types of things I need to do, compact, and—I'm assuming—relatively energy efficient. But I understand why it's going to be disappointing to some people.
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