Apple has decided to refresh its powerful Mac Pro desktop computer for the first time in more than three years, the company told a select few journalists at a recent roundtable event. New versions with more computing power will become available later today, and a fully redesigned model and accompanying Apple displays will follow, albeit not anytime this year.
However, later this year there will be new iMac models that will be geared toward the pro market.
The news comes as a surprise. Some Apple observers had written off the Mac Pro. Developer Marco Arment said in December that the machine — the current version is the thing that looks like a small trashcan — is “very likely dead.”
The context is that in October Apple held a big event to unveil its new MacBook Pro and optional onboard Touch Bar display but didn’t say a word about desktop Macs. It was unclear at that time — and still was until yesterday — when, if ever, the Mac Pro would be refreshed. There were even questions about the state of the desktop Mac as a whole, questions that were only made more insistent after Bloomberg reported that the Mac operating system team had been disbanded.
Even the way that Apple communicated what will be coming — and not even this year — in a special on-the-record meeting with no accompanying press release, is unorthodox. Apple doesn’t generally do this. Yet here we are.
People who rely on Mac to do computationally intensive work and have held off on switching to Windows will be happy today. More beefy and modern Macs are coming.
Specifically, the baseline $2,999 Mac Pro is going from a quad-core Intel Xeon E5 chip, dual AMD FirePro D300 graphics processing units (GPUs), and 12GB of RAM to a six-core Xeon chip, two AMD D500s, and 16GB of RAM; the $3,999 version is going from a 6-core Xeon E5 chip with two D500s to an octa-core Xeon chip and two D700s, according to TechCrunch.
There will be no USB-C ports. Instead, there will be the six Thunderbolt 2 ports, four USB-A ports, two Ethernet ports, and an HDMI port.
On Apple’s October earnings call, chief executive Tim Cook did say that the company would have “some exciting news to share with current and future Mac owners very soon.” Two days later was the MacBook Pro press event — but now it’s conceivable that comment also accounted for today’s desktop Mac news.
Update at 10:24 a.m. Pacific: Apple has updated its website with the new Mac Pro models, although there’s no way to purchase the $3,999 model yet.