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Apple Mac Pro: No update for 2018 – but expect a new Mac Pro in 2019

The Mac Pro’s big modular update could be unveiled at WWDC 2019

Apple’s 12 September event is long gone, and though we were treated to a host of hardware higlights both during the event and throughout 2018 – the iPhone XS, the Apple Watch 4 or new iPad Pro models to name but a few – there was no new Mac Pro. Of course, we already knew this would be the case. How? Because, uncharacteristically for Apple, the company had flat-out confirmed as much.

“We want to be transparent and communicate openly with our pro community, so we want them to know that the Mac Pro is a 2019 product,” said Tom Boger, Apple’s senior director of hardware product marketing, in an interview with Techcrunch. “It’s not something for this year.”

That leaves potential buyers in a bit of a quandary, as Boger went on to admit: “We know that there’s a lot of customers today that are making purchase decisions on the iMac Pro, and whether or not they should wait for the Mac Pro.” So what’s the answer? To help you decide whether to hold out for the 2019 Mac Pro, here’s everything we know so far about the next generation of Apple’s iconic workstation.

2019 Mac Pro: What is it?

The Mac Pro isn’t just an upmarket Mac. With Intel Xeon processors, twin GPUs and 16GB of RAM as standard, this is a computer that’s truly aimed at professionals. And the price reflects that: the current base model – unchanged since its 2013 debut – still sits proudly on the Apple website for a massive £2,999, while the eight-core model goes for £3,899.

For those whose work centres on intensive video editing, involving hundreds of gigabytes of raw footage and lots of real-time rendering, the Mac Pro is a very tempting solution. However, the one-piece design means that users in other industries can’t customise the internals to suit different workloads.

2019 Mac Pro: Features

One thing we know about the new Mac Pro is that it will be more modular than the current version. A December 2017 press release confirmed that Apple was working on “a completely redesigned, next-generation Mac Pro architected for pro customers who need the highest performance, high-throughput system in a modular, upgradeable design.” In a 2017 interview, Apple’s Phil Schiller had previously hinted at much the same thing: “Since the Mac Pro is a modular system, we are also doing a pro display. There’s a team working hard on it right now,” he said.

There’s been no firm information about what form that pro display will take, but reports suggest that it could pack an 8K panel with an enormous resolution of 7,680 x 4,320 pixels. You’d need a high-spec computer to convincingly pump performance at that resolution, but that’s precisely the Mac Pro’s niche.

All of this implies that the distinctive cylindrical design will be heading out to pasture, and indeed members of Apple’s senior staff have all but admitted that it was a mistake. “We wanted to do something bold and different,” said Craig Federighi in the same interview. “What we didn’t appreciate completely at the time was how we had so tailored that design to a specific vision that in the future we would find ourselves a bit boxed in – into a circular shape.”

Another sign that Apple is keen to broaden the appeal of the Mac Pro is the fact that it’s started sending out surveys to current Mac Pro owners asking what the most important usage areas are for them.

From this it seems very likely that the core specifications – or at least the marketing focus – are still up in the air.

2019 Mac Pro: Price

Apple almost invariably remains tight-lipped about pricing until new hardware is ready to launch. It’s a safe bet though that we’ll be looking at a steep price. Even five years after it was launched, the current baseline Mac Pro still costs £2,999 on the Apple Store.

However, if the new design is going to be more modular, buyers could get better value by specifying the precise components that suit their needs. Or, you might be able to buy a basic configuration and upgrade it yourself at a later date. Even if that’s the case, though, we don’t expect the price to be at all consumer-friendly.

2019 Mac Pro: Release date

Currently our only indication of the new Mac Pro’s arrival date is what Tom Boger, Apple’s senior director of hardware product marketing, said in his interview with Techcrunch: “We want to be transparent and communicate openly with our pro community, so we want them to know that the Mac Pro is a 2019 product.”

That doesn’t necessarily mean we’ll have to wait until September 2019, however. While new iPhones tend to come out to a regular annual cycle, Mac hardware is much less predictable. In previous years, plenty of new models and updates have emerged between March and July, so when it comes to guessing when the new Mac Pro might appear, there’s very little to go on. Hard as it is to stomach, the answer might just be “when it’s ready.”

According to a report published by Bloomberg, Apple has “internally weighed previewing a new version of the high-end new Mac Pro” at WWDC 2019 in June. If the rumours are to be believed, this will be our first glimpse of the modular Mac Pro; this doesn’t help with a release date, I grant you, but it could be a legitimate ‘first contact’ date.  

We will update this article as we hear more about the 2019 Mac Pro.

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