The new Apple Mac Pro is here with the new M2 Ultra and anyone can purchase and get it from next week (in the US, it has a 5-7 business day delivery window) with a starting price of $6,999 with free shipping, which is $1,000 more than the previous Xeon-based one (you do get twice the base memory and storage though). Could it be the best workstation ever launched? Stay tuned for a review when we get it.
As expected, options have been changed significantly as well; there’s one CPU SKU (24-core CPU, 32-core Neural Engine) with a GPU upgrade from 60-core to 76-core, a 27% improvement, for $1,000. We don’t know whether the upgrade also comes with improvement in clock speeds.
The base configuration for the Mac Pro has 64GB unified memory (which means that the memory is used by the GPU and the CPU). Doubling the system memory to 128GB costs $800, tripling it adds another $800; in other words, Apple is charging $12.50 per GB of RAM. Unlike the previous Xeon-based Mac Pro, the memory is neither ECC and you can’t get more than 1.5TB; Apple probably believes that this shouldn’t matter for existing Mac Pro users.
Storage is the only untouched component (at least when it comes to capacity); there’s still no RAID and Apple seems to be charging more for its SSD despite a drop of almost 80% in average price per capacity since the launch of the Mac Pro four years ago. Adding 1TB to the new Mac Pro costs $400, quadrupling it to 4TB, $1000 and increasing it to 8TB, $2,200 (around $314 per TB). That’s marginally less than the $2,400 Apple charged for going from 512GB to 8TB on the previous model.
A stripped down Mac Pro
The option to add $2,000 Afterburner cards, a favourite amongst video editors using Intel-based Mac Pro, has been removed; Apple says that the new Mac Pro is as powerful as seven of them. The rest of the configuration remains the same: from the $400 wheels to the Magic Mouse and the 1.4Kw power supply unit housed in the iconic cheese grater tower chassis.
A fully loaded Mac Pro will cost ‘only’ $11,799, a fraction of its predecessor but then again, they are two different beasts. A better comparison is the Mac Studio which comes in at $8,799 or almost 25% with the exact same component configuration (bar the chassis) ; a significant saving if you don’t need the native expansion capabilities (no, Mac do not support eGPU).
I like the fact that there are seven PCIe slots, six of which are PCIe Gen4 ones (no words about GPU support as well). That’s one fewer than the old Mac Pro, something we can live with; perhaps more concerning is the apparent disappearance of the useful Mac Pro Expansion Module which was used to accommodate the likes of the AMD Radeon Pro W6900X. It is not listed on the feature page or on the specs sheet.
Let’s hope that this time around, Apple will release the next Mac Pro before 2027 with a bit more differentiation compared to its cheaper but equally powerful sibling, the Mac Studio. After all, the latter seems to be on a yearly refresh cadence.