Remember when Apple was known more for the Mac than the iPhone? Even the company seems to have forgotten about its desktop computers, with most of its lineup receiving incremental updates at best, or going without any hardware upgrades for several years at worst. That started to change today with the news that Apple (finally) updated the Mac Pro and told journalists it plans to refresh the iMac and Mac Pro over the next few years.
First, the changes to the Mac Pro: The desktop is marketed to professionals who need more oomph than the all-in-one iMac or itty-bitty Mac Mini can provide. (All that in a case that looks more like a Dyson air purifier than a computer.) Yet before today, it last received an update in December 2013. A lot's happened since then: new CPUs and GPUs have debuted, memory has gotten much faster, and storage prices fell even as performance rose.
Now, the $2,999 model will sport a six-core Intel Xeon E5 3.5GHz processor instead of a quad-core Intel Xeon E5 3.7GHz processor, and the $3,999 model will include an eight-core Intel Xeon E5 3GHz processor instead of the six-core Intel Xeon E5 3.7GHz processor from 2013. Both models have also been updated with dual AMD FirePro D500 and D700 GPUs, instead of the dual AMD FirePro D300 and D300 GPUs they've used since 2013, respectively. The cheaper model also rose from 12GB of DDR3-1866 memory to 16GB.
There you have it--the first Mac Pro update in three-and-a-half years. That doesn't seem like enough to entice anyone to upgrade, let alone purchase the desktop instead of building their own PC, but at least it showed that Apple doesn't want to exit the desktop space entirely. Still, buying one of these updated models is made even more foolish by the fact that the company told journalists that another Mac Pro update will arrive. TechCrunch, whose editor Matthew Panzarino was one of five journalists invited to speak with Apple execs about its plans for the Mac, reported on the meeting:
The news, if you want it straight: Apple is acknowledging that the Mac Pro they introduced in 2013 has run aground on the cleverness of its own design, and they’re re-thinking the entire machine. In addition, they’ll be releasing a new external display — something it had previously opted out of.
But none of that is coming this year. Today, we’ll see a performance bump on the old design of Mac Pro, which will remain on sale for now. And later this year we’ll see improved iMacs that Apple feels will appeal to a segment of Pro users, as well.
A spokesperson confirmed to Tom's Hardware that Apple does plan to update the Mac Pro and iMac. That spokesperson declined to answer further questions, such as to what extent the next Mac Pro will be customizable or how macOS might have to change to support more configurations than ever. Apple currently knows exactly what components the vast majority of macOS users have in their systems because A) opening up many of its products to swap out components is much harder than on competitive hardware and B) most upgrades over the last few years have been minor.
That could change with the new Mac Pro models, whenever they debut, and at least the iMac will get a bump later this year.