Apple’s latest Macs are powerful and versatile. So much so that some people wonder if anybody will want the top-of-the-line Mac Pro desktop, even with its new M2 Ultra chip.
A new report found an audience for the top desktop lacking, given the capabilities of Mac Studio and MacBook Pro. But others suggest Mac Pro is here to stay.
Will anyone choose Mac Pro over Mac Studio and MacBook Pro?
Apple’s powerful new M2 Mac Pro desktops unveiled at WWDC23 are for professionals with seriously demanding needs. But when The Verge spoke with a bunch of power users, none of them wanted it “because Apple’s other computers are just too good.”
Those other computers include the compact-but-potent M2 Ultra Mac Studio desktop, also rolled out at the conference. It boasts the same processor, RAM and storage options as Mac Pro, but it costs about $3,000 less.
No, these pros wouldn’t go Mac Pro
So The Verge asked a sizable group of power users with intense computing needs — animation, 3D rendering, working with huge datasets — if they would buy the new Mac Pro. Out of 20 people interviewed, just one said yes.
Interestingly, many of them said “no” not because they wanted a Mac Studio, but because of the MacBook Pro — especially the M2 Max model.
But even older MacBook Pro models are keeping some pros from Mac Pro.
WhatsApp engineer Vikram Bodicherla ditched two Intel-based Mac Pro models, one for work and one for home, in favor of an M1 Max MacBook right after the laptop came out in 2021.
“I don’t really need any other computer,” he said, noting he hasn’t even considered a new Mac Pro.
So who said yes?
In addition to MacBook Pro, the article covers Mac Studio as a Mac Pro alternative. And the one person who said “yes” to Mac Pro was also saying “no” to Mac Studio.
“I don’t know why they made two different products,” said Vyacheslav Drofa, a UX director at banking app maker Alty, looking at the two Macs’ identical spec sheets, which might make people wonder why they would spend the extra money.
Drofa said he loves the big cheese grater.
“The killer feature is when somebody comes and says, ‘Okay, you have a Mac Pro,’ and I say, ‘Yeah, I can make a cheesesteak,’” he said. And as for Mac Studio, he said he doesn’t trust “that small thing.”
Enduring Mac Pro traits challenged
Sources in the article even had trouble coming up with who would want a new Mac Pro. One suggested architects. Another put forward people with extremely challenging machine-learning tasks. A third suggested those with tons of 3D rendering to do.
And yet there are audiences to whom the Mac Pro has always appealed, to paraphrase comments on Mastodon by Cult of Mac writer D. Griffin Jones — those who (1) crave the fastest machine possible and those who (2) can’t live without expandability options.
“Apple cannibalized (1) with the MacBook Pro and Mac Studio. Apple doesn’t care enough about (2) to make it really work,” he added. “We can go back to our regularly scheduled Worrying About the Future of the Mac Pro.™”
But other Apple machines have chipped away at those, too. Benchmarks show the top Mac Studio very close to Mac Pro in speed over many tasks. And expandability has taken a hit with Mac Pro’s graduation to M-series chips, too.
As The Verge noted:
Spec choice is now more limited (there are only two processor options, for example, and memory is now capped at 192GB where previously up to 1.5TB was available). The 2023 Mac Pro’s memory is not upgradeable after purchase for the first time in the model’s history.
However, Mac Pro still has a slight advantage over Mac Studio in expandability:
The primary advantage that the Mac Pro can claim over the Studio is the fact that the former has PCIe expansion slots — six full-length PCIe Gen 4 slots, specifically, as well as a half-length Gen 3. These, in theory, allow for some degree of modularity, where a user could slot in additional storage, IO, or other peripherals [but not external GPUs].
The professionals included in the story, however, weren’t thrilled enough over some extra slots to fork over $7,000 for Mac Pro.