Apple has finally offered up the long-awaited refresh to its professional desktop line, but are the new design changes and hardware upgrades enough to lure design professionals back to the fold? Here are a few factors that will influence the unit’s success:

Apples to Apples

The Mac Pro price of $2,999 for the entry-level unit is going to pose a challenge to Apple’s cause. Forgetting the pure element of sticker shock that’s likely to scare away some in the prosumer crowd, the Mac Pro line exists within an odd paradigm: too much computer for most, but overpriced for those who can actually make use of all the bells and whistles. For comparison’s sake, consider the high-end 27″ iMac that starts out at $1,999, a full $1,000 cheaper. With the iMac, users are still getting four cores’ worth of computing power from an Ivy Bridge Core i5 processor.

Video Editing

For the bulk of graphic design and desktop publishing professionals (a core Mac Pro demographic) the 27″ iMac is going to be more than adequate. Admittedly, the hyper-threading capabilities of the Xeon E5 processor of the new Mac Pro do offer advantages for video editors. With the backlash after the release of Final Cut Pro X, however, the industry isn’t as tied to OS X as it used to be. For those who aren’t married to Final Cut as their editing suite of choice, chances are they will be able to build their own custom Windows-based rigs with comparable hardware for about 60%-70% of the Mac Pro price.

Design Dilemmas

Putting the price discussion aside, the new chassis structure of the Mac Pro brings more problems to the table. There’s no denying that the circular design is a welcome visual departure from the tower-based architecture that consumers have grown accustomed to in desktops. Style points aside, however, the big drawback to this chassis is that it’s essentially incapable of any significant expansion. Apple claims that Thunderbolt 2 is its answer to the lack of internal drive bays, but is there an option for users who need more than four USB 3.0 ports?

Asking customers to drop $2,999 on a high-end desktop and then spend anywhere from $300-$400 for each additional Thunderbolt enclosure is another challenge facing Apple. For those who work with a lot of external devices, the new Mac Pro may not be the ideal machine.

Ivy Bridge to Nowhere?

Mac Pro devotees have finally gotten their wish: an updated product line on Ivy Bridge architecture. But the expense and lack of expansion capability may prove a roadblock for some. What do you think of the new Mac Pro? Is it worth the price tag?


Image courtesy of Flickr



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