Apple’s Ultimate Mac Pro Is Here, and with $400 Wheels It’s Priced for Serious Pros
You probably already know that the base model Mac Pro starts at $5,999. That’s almost as much as a fully loaded 16-inch MacBook Pro, but other than portability, you’re getting more horsepower and substantially more expandability.
For the $5,999 starting price, the Mac Pro comes with a 3.5GHz 8-core Intel Xeon W CPU that can Turbo Boost up to 4.0GHz, plus 32GB of DDR4 ECC memory, and a Radeon Pro 580X with 8GB of GDDR5 memory. On the other hand, you only get a paltry 256GB SSD in that configuration, but unlike Apple’s MacBook and iMac, the Mac Pro easily lets you add your own internal storage, and many users may prefer their own options to what Apple offers.
Looking for Wheels?
What’s particularly shocking, however, is that Apple is actually charging $400 for wheels for its new Mac Pro. Yes, you read that correctly — if you want wheels instead of feet on the bottom of your Mac Pro, you’ll need to pony up an extra $400. The wheels make the Mac Pro about an inch taller but allow you to easily move it around without having to lift it.
Granted, most users won’t need the wheels, but it’s still rather unbelievable to realize that Apple is charging as much for a set of wheels as it is for an entry-level Apple Watch.
Then again, this really shouldn’t come as a surprise considering that Apple already revealed earlier this year that the stand for its $4,999 Pro Display XDR would cost an additional $999 .
Apple is also planning to launch a version of the Mac Pro that can be racked in a data center, which will cost an extra $500 above the base price — $100 more than it does to add the wheels to the tower version.
If You Have to Ask the Price…
While Apple has a reputation for selling products at a premium, most unbiased users would agree that the higher asking prices for its MacBooks and iMacs are generally justified by the performance, quality, and reliability of Apple’s hardware; Apple doesn’t sell budget laptops, so you really can’t compare even Apple’s MacBook Air to a sub-$1000 HP or Dell, much less a MacBook Pro. Of course there’s still a slight premium for the Apple brand, but it’s not as much as some people think, and generally Macs are more expensive because they’re worth it.
Apple’s Mac Pro, however, is in an entirely different category, and to be fair Apple is really going out of its way to make it absolutely clear that this is a machine that’s targeted squarely at professionals who need it as a business tool, and if you really need a tripped-out Mac Pro, chances are that you’re using it to work on something like a feature film or music production that will earn you far more. In other words, it’s still totally worth it for those who actually need it, but way out of the reach of most typical Mac users.
In short, if you’re seriously phased by how expensive the Mac Pro is, chances are good that it’s not the computer for you, and you’ll be more than happy with a MacBook Pro, an iMac Pro, or even a high-end iMac. Even if you’re a hardcore gamer, there’s no game on the market that will even begin to take advantage of the horsepower of the Mac Pro. This is a machine for those who need to render multiple 8K videos with complex effects, or lay down hundreds of layered audio, music, and effects tracks. In other words, it’s for producers of shows like Game of Thrones, DJ’s like Calvin Harris, and productions that can afford to pay their stars $2 million per episode.
Sometimes there’s also a need to price things high in order for them to be taken seriously in their target industries. Nowhere was this more evident than the Gold Edition Apple Watch — a ridiculously expense piece of bling that was over the top even for Apple, but was an absolute necessity for the fashion industry to take the technology company seriously as it entered the wearable market. It’s a safe bet that the Apple Watch would have never graced the cover of Vogue or GQ if Apple hadn’t also made the Gold Edition version.
We suspect that the $400 wheels and $999 stand for the Mac Pro and Pro XDR Display are a similar attempt to make sure professionals know that this is a serious piece of pro gear that can hold its place alongside other pro video and audio equipment, which are frequently priced in the exact same manner.
Other Configuration Options
Wheels aside, if you’re looking to expand upon your Mac Pro, Apple is offering quite a few configure-to-order options. The maximum configuration will run you slightly over $52,000, this takes you right up to a 28-core Intel Xeon W CPU that bursts up to 4.4GHz, plus 1.5TB of RAM, but there are also a lot of steps in between.
All of the CPU configurations use an Intel Xeon W.
- 3.3GHz/4.4GHz) 12-core: Add $1,000
- 3.2GHz/4.4GHz 16-core: Add $2,000
- 2.7GHz/4.4GHz 24-core: Add $6,000
- 2.5GHz/4.4GHz 28-core: Add $7,000
All of the memory configurations use DDR4 ECC RAM.
- 48GB (6x8GB): Add $300
- 96GB (6x16GB): Add $1,000
- 192GB (6x32GB): Add $3,000
- 384GB (6x64GB): Add $6,000
- 768GB (6x128GB): Add $14,000
- 768GB (12x64GB): Add $10,000
- 1.5TB (12x128GB): Add $25,000
The 1.5TB option also requires a 24-core processor as a minimum, which will run you at least another $6,000, but if you’re already8 willing to pay for $25,000 of RAM, money is likely no object. Then again, it’s sort of amusing for those of us who are old enough to remember when one megabyte of RAM went for over $1,000.
The graphics on the new Mac Pro can get quite insane as well, with the ability to drive up to four of Apple’s 6K Pro Display XDRs in the higher-end configurations.
- Radeon Pro Vega II with 32GB of HBM2 memory: Add $2,400
- Two Radeon Pro Vega II with 32GB of HBM2 memory (each): Add $5,200
- Radeon Pro Vega II Duo with 64GB of HBM2 memory: Add $5,200
- Two Radeon Pro Vega II Duo with 64GB of HBM2 memory (each): Add $10,800.
Apple is also promising that you’ll soon be able to add a Radeon Pro W5700X with 16GB of GDDR6 memory in either a single or dual-card configuration.
Apple is also offering its “Apple Afterburner” card as an additional $2,000 option, which provides “even better video performance for the most demanding workflows.” This PCIe accelerator card will let you offload the decoding of ProRes and ProRes RAW video codecs in apps like Final Cut Pro X.
As an added bonus, if you have a high enough limit on your Apple Card, you can get 6% cash back this month, which works out to a pretty nice discount on something as expensive as the Mac Pro.
All of this makes the Mac Pro one of the most expensive “personal” computers in the world, but it’s also easily the most powerful. Further, while Apple’s configure-to-order options make the process of getting a new Mac Pro simpler, unlike every other Mac that Apple sells, the Mac Pro is fully DIY expandable, so if you’re a professional video or audio producer on a tight budget, or simply aren’t sure of how much power you need out of the gate, you can still easily start with the base $5,999 configuration and then expand from there as your needs (and budget) grow, and you’ll probably pay less for peripherals than Apple’s asking prices too.