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Getting a Grip on the Mac Pro

by Kerry Dawson

Mac Pro

The new Mac Pro was announced at the 2013 WWDC back in June to the delight of many that have been waiting for an upgrade to Apple’s venerable high end computer. People were not only happy with the announcement but they were absolutely amazed by what was being delivered. This high end computer was coming not in any big box but a cool and sharp looking small container that could sit on a desk. As I sit here and write I am still myself amazed at what Apple has been able to accomplish. Phil Schiller’s famous quote at WWDC couldn’t have been more right on: “Can’t innovate anymore, my ass“.

The Mac Pro is supposed to be delivered in December of 2013. Unfortunately, there’s still no word on the delivery of what I suspect is going to be a hit. Although author’s such as Ted Landau, of Macworld, have written the article “The new Mac Pro: Not for the faint of wallet” part of this is because he is having to do a lot of guessing around what the end cost of the machine will be and then coming up with a staggering number he just concludes the device is not for the faint of wallet. I don’t doubt his conclusion based on the numbers he’s using. However, until the Mac Pro is actually delivered and we can assess it’s true costs based on needs, his conclusion is still probably accurate but it might not be as bad as he thinks. He actually still might be able to afford the beast he wants but doesn’t need.

Need and Want

A little of the devil

There are many that are so taken by the Mac Pro that although they don’t need one they want one. Many people are like me. They have basically a maxxed out iMac that is thoroughly capable of doing anything and everything I throw at it and fast. The Mac Pro though is all about performance for say the video or movie editor that needs all the performance possible. From what I can see the Mac Pro should more than meet anyone’s need for power. It’s incredible what they have stuffed into this ergonomic and cool device. It is almost a work of art.

So there are many people, which are referred to as niche players, who absolutely need the Mac Pro. There is pent up demand in this segment or to say it differently they are chomping at the bit to get their hands on it. However, the Mac Pro has captivated another group of people. It has captivated those that don’t need this power but want the device partly because it is a work of art.

Getting a Grip…. on the Mac Pro

There are two aspects to this title that need be addressed. The first aspect is we need the Mac Pro delivered so that we can get a grip on what the machine’s power equates to relative to other devices such as a maxxed out iMac. Secondly, for those of us who want the Mac Pro but don’t really need it do we need to “Get a Grip”. In this second aspect of “Getting or Get a Grip” it really means employ self-control.

The two aspects of the above are very important to any decision around the purchase of a Mac Pro or not. Once the product is released people can then price it out in terms of performance relative to needs and have hard numbers to deal with. My suspicion is that no matter how you slice and dice this the Mac Pro will be quite pricey but then again so is good pieces of art. The scenario may not appear as stark as Ted Landau presented but for those that really don’t need the Mac Pro it is going to be one pricey buying decision.

A Stunner

Earlier I said the Mac Pro was like a fine piece of art. In many ways that’s true. This is probably one of the finest if not the finest computer Apple has ever produced. From it’s internal specs around performance, which are mind blowing, to its design and look this machine is in every way a stunner.

As I said, there is a lot of pent up demand for this Xeon/flash based system. The Mac Pro exceeds that of personal computer and is easily a workstation class machine. It’s more than capable to perform as a very high powered server. Many professionals in the film, music and design business have been waiting for the Mac Pro. It will likely sell incredibly well to this niche of the market.

However, it is also appealing to those that don’t need this power due to it’s power and terrific design. There are those out there that just can never have too much power. In this case do we “say get grip” or go for it if you can afford it. The answer I think is a bit of both.

Getting a Grip and working with the Real Numbers


I think until Apple actually releases the product for those that want the Mac Pro but likely don’t need it they need to be working with the real numbers or the real cost. They also need to be looking at the real performance gains.

Once Apple releases the product we will be working with solid numbers. It might turn out that the Mac Pro does provide quite a kick to your current installation and possibly not as expensive as some are speculating. However, it might turn out to be the opposite and that the performance gain is modest while the cost is substantial. It’s at this point you really need to sit back and reflect hard.


It is expected that the Mac Pro will be released any day now. At that point you’ll be able to call in to Apple and price out the system you think you need. With facts, feelings and numbers in hand it’s time to decide what to do especially if you fall into the category of I don’t really need this but I want this as opposed to our consumer that both strongly needs the product and will benefit by a return on the investment.

My view on this is that as long as you come a long some continuum of major computer user you’d be be able to justify the expense. As a major computer user you might not need the raw computing power of a film editor, researcher or scientist but if you sit at a Mac extensively generating various things throughout the day then you will be able to justify the expense.

I think though if you only rarely sit at your Mac and are using a mobile device extensively it would become extremely hard to justify the expense. It’s important, that when we make either software or hardware decisions, these things are chosen based on the benefits that can be derived from the use of the system.

Secondly, even if you can justify the expense you have to decide whether you can afford the item as in the case of the Mac Pro it will be expensive. However, if you can both justify the expense from a benefits perspective and determine that it’s affordable and you want it get it.

Finally, sometimes we want something, can afford it but have no real benefits driven reason to get it but we still get it simply because we want it. There is nothing wrong in this scenario at all. The benefit here, at the end of the day, is it is just such a cool or great looking system I just had to have it. The benefit here is you have got yourself, in other words, a piece of art that you just enjoy looking at. This is perfectly fine.

So it’s D-Day. As with D-Day a lot of thinking and planning went into that. If you do your homework you’ll come up with the right decision. With everything ready to go and decision made that it is a yeah or nay act on either. Yes, even a nay decision has to be acted on. You have to come to terms with the basis of that and feel alright about the decision. If it’s a yeah decision it’s time to go and get your Mac Pro!


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