Awesome Mac Pro concept packs expansion slots pros want

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Apple should steal ideas from this Mac Pro concept.
Apple should steal ideas from this Mac Pro concept.
Photo: Curved

Professional Mac users will have to wait until 2018 for a glimpse at the new Mac Pro Apple is working on, but if the next-gen computer looks anything like this new concept, it might be worth the wait.

German site Curved created a Mac Pro concept that shows how Apple could add modular features, allowing professionals to swap out pretty much every component. The concept artists even dreamed up a Cinema Display that packs plenty of ports for expansion.

Take a closer look:

Mac Pro concept brings extreme expansion

mac pro concept
So many expansion slots!
Photo: Curved

To make the Mac Pro more expandable than any Mac ever, Curved’s concept puts hinges on both sides of the machine. Pulling out the doors reveals a bunch of expansion slots that would let Mac Pro owners swap out the SSD, processor, GPU and RAM.

A Touch Bar-like interface graces the front of the Mac Pro’s face. This would give owners a quick digest of the components connected to the Mac Pro and their current status.

The power button packs Touch ID (similar to the way the new MacBook Pro with Touch Bar wonderfully integrates that technology). While it would probably be a useless feature for Mac Pro owners who stuffed the machine under their desks, this concept seems small enough — and definitely looks beautiful enough — to earn a spot on the desktop.

Apple offered a rare peek at its product pipeline when it recently revealed it is working on an all-new, modular Mac Pro and external display.

However, Cupertino hasn’t provided any details about what the new Mac Pro will actually look like.

The company confessed that it painted itself into a thermal corner with the design of the current Mac Pro, which looks like the world’s most gorgeous trash can.

Apple tasked the Mac team with coming up with a new solution, which could be ready by the end of 2018. Hopefully, some of the ideas in Curved’s intriguing Mac Pro concept make it into the real deal.

  • Pierre-Luc Delisle

    You simply cannot install a GPU this way. Same for the RAM. This concept is ridiculous. The case is nice, the front touch screen is nice for monitoring, but component installation is ridiculous.

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    • And the monitor is not sustainable with this tiny, out-of-center-of-gravity base.

      • Dennis Lacroix

        Introducing Apple Bolts®, You simply bolt the monitor to your desk.

      • S C

        There’s a reason that “designers” aren’t necessarily engineers.

  • Furutan

    Sure you can install components this way. Slide in the RAM horizontally, then pull a lever to seat it vertically. If the hinges were ad the front / back edges, cards could be installed this way, as could other upgrades. The difference with the former is that you would want the ports to be directly pluggable from the back instead of requiring some sort of internal adapter.

    I am reminded of the G3 desktop. Press a latch and the whole thing opens up from hinges at the left and right.

    My concept would be not all that different, but it would be enhanced by Apple providing a matching expansion enclosure that could attach directly to the main chassis to form a solid, but expandable unit – one that could handle up to two expansion enclosures. As for size, if the base unit could be around 1/4 the volume of the tower and the expansion enclosures being slightly narrower.

    • Dan

      Don’t go crazy with expansion enclosures as long as the base has the needed slots for the GPUs I don’t think people will be needing more than one expansion unit which could be connected via USB-C cable. Besides, More Pro’s use external storage systems of some sort Vs putting everything internally.

      • Furutan

        For high-end users, the extra expansion would definitely be needed. No question – with display cards (some of which would be double-wide), SRAM cards, cards for breakout boxes, video IO, Audio IO, and more. The notion of housing everything in a compact enclosure is great for gamers, execs, and midlevel pros, but the folks at the video houses would need a lot more.

      • Dan

        Not saying no, just saying it’s likely going to be independent of the main box connected via USB-C. Just look as the expansion boxes being used today (Thunderbolt) to get a better GPU in the current Mac Pro or even a MacBook Pro laptop.

        Frankly, I want four slots to support two GPU boards in the system chassis. The question is what will be needed to work on 8K video? Will that be enough??

      • Furutan

        Are you familiar with the original (non-server) version of the Sonnet expansion chassis for the MP? The format provides internal connections with all the MP ports, along with pass-throughs, plus room for multiple cards and drives. It has a modular design and can be loaded with different modules. If I had a cylinder MP, I would probably have bought one. The size is roughly that of the Mac ci series.

  • Dan

    While the overall look is quite nice, I’m not sure the swivel idea will work for the card bays as you made no allowance for the cards external connections. Also the card’s mounting direction may have a heat issue. The drive & memory access I think would work but the direction of the RAM modules would need to be different. Remember SATA I/O is giving way to PCIe connected SSD’s so the interface here would be completely new maybe a PCIe x8 or x16 wide. I still would have some soldered in SSD as well as offer RAID drives.

    • Furutan

      The compact format was the source of the engineering problem for the MP cylinder – high end pros use cards that put out a ton of heat.

      • Dan

        The thermal limits of the design was mostly the use of the core heatsink design (triangle) and case being round.

        The CPU’s heat was less of an issue, it was the GPU’s heat going to a single GPU deign vs the dual which really never got traction.

        We have 6 and we still have a few cheese graters too. Each meets a need.

      • S C

        The thermal issue is really more an issue of the designers at Apple wanting to stay below a maximum ceiling for sound pressure than the density of the chassis. The chassis density does contribute to the problem, but it’s not the main factor.

  • TrueNorth_Steve✓ᴰᴱᴾᴸᴼᴿᴬᴮᴸᴱ

    i would actually be into that concept ..

  • gareth edwards

    I’m gonna just keep the review of this simple. ‘Bollocks’

  • Null Static Void

    the current mac pro is not such a clunker because of lack of slots. Rather, it lacks the CPU horsepower and data throughput of a dual CPU config. While it lacks slots. It does have the ability to expand storage via TB. Which even at SSD speed is not being saturated. Most other pro functions like SAN connection can be done via Thunderbolt.
    The only real miss here is the lack of ability to upgrade GPU. In the last 3 years Apple hasn’t even upgraded the stock GPUs on the Mac Pro.
    They whine that the market shifted from dual to monolithic GPU. But come on. AMD is hungry for business. If Apple really wanted D900 or at least D350/D550/D750, they could have wrung that out of AMD with parts binning and clock cycle tweaks. It’s an old part now, on an old process!

  • Nick Seamore

    Looks like a Mac-Mini with an extra case!