If I had to guess, I’d say Apple sold less than 1,000 Mac Pros last year. Between the long wait for Apple silicon, the arrival of the Mac Studio, and the lack of meaningful upgrades, Apple’s most expensive Mac has probably only been sold to the most desperate or ignorant of Apple buyers.
It shouldn’t have been. When John Ternus teased the Apple silicon Mac Pro for “another day” at Apple’s Peek Performance event last March, he seemed to be giving a nod and a nod to the most fantastic rumors of a machine significantly larger than the just-announced Mac. Studio and its huge M1 Ultra chip. Fast forward 10 months and we’re still waiting for the arrival of the Apple Silicon Mac Pro.
The safest bet would be that the new Mac Pro arrives at WWDC, where the past three models debuted in 2006, 2013, and 2019. Apple likes to impress with its Mac Pro, and the WWDC keynote is the perfect place to do so, with a captive audience of users ready and willing to spend $5,999 on a Mac “designed for professionals who want the Ultimate in CPU performance.”
While there’s little doubt that the new Mac Pro will once again take its rightful place at the top of the Mac pyramid, the speed gains may not be nearly as impressive as previous models. When the M1 Ultra brought a whopping 20-core CPU and 64-core GPU to the Mac Studio, rumors began swirling about an “Extreme” chip with a whopping 48 CPU cores and 152 graphics cores, more than twice that powerful as the upper-end Mac Studio. It would be the ultimate display of the power of Apple silicon and usher in a new generation of Mac Pro that has few, if any, peers. Now a report from Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman claims that Apple has canceled the workstation-class “Extreme” chip and will settle for a slightly souped-up Ultra processor instead.
That’s still fast, mind you, but the difference between it and the Mac Studio – even if it sticks to an M1 chip for another year – won’t be as great as we’d hoped. So if the Mac Pro isn’t the fastest Mac you can buy right now, and the new model won’t be significantly faster when it launches later this year, why is it still around?
According to Gurman’s report, the Mac Pro will feature an M2 Ultra processor with a 24-core CPU and 76-core GPU, the same case design as the current model, and slots for storage, graphics, media, and network cards, but no memory. (It’s not entirely clear how graphics expansion would work with Apple’s system-on-chip, but Gurman had previously reported that the Mac Pro would be “easily expandable for additional memory,” so it’s possible his source is wrong about support for graphics cards .) Expansion is obviously important for the Mac Pro, but with Thunderbolt’s 40Gb/s speeds, internal upgrades are less of a concern. And the lack of aftermarket RAM upgrades means Apple doesn’t make Macs with user-upgradeable memory.
But the bigger question is: what is the identity of the Mac Pro? Over the past decade, the Mac Pro has consistently been Apple’s most innovative and powerful desktop machine, from the fascinating yet frustrating cylinder to the current model’s state-of-the-art thermal architecture and $699 wheels. However, as Apple’s silicon transition has progressed, the Mac Pro has become less and less relevant and worth its price, and it’s in dire need of a rejuvenation treatment, which we assumed was imminent.
But if the new model is only slightly faster than the Mac Studio and slightly more expandable than, say, the MacBook Pro, then it isn’t really a Mac Pro, is it? In the course of Apple’s silicon transition, Apple has already killed off the iMac Pro and the 27-inch iMac without so much as a goodbye, and the Mac Pro seems to fit the same logic: a relic of an older era that doesn’t live to be own legacy. After the 24-inch iMac and MacBook Pro received impressive redesigns to accompany their new chips, I assumed the first Apple silicone Mac Pro would be something radical and revolutionary, requiring years of development and a proper introduction to make the transition. finalize.
After all, that’s what the Mac Pro should are. If not, I ask again: is it really a Mac Pro?
I’d previously thought the Mac Studio was a stop-gap machine designed to fill the gap between Mac Pro updates, but now I’m not so sure. I assumed the Apple Silicon Mac Pro would be nothing short of a breakthrough, with a new class of processor, a radically new form factor, and a new identity that would put it back on the map. Apple had a chance to wow us with the design and speed of the Mac Pro and take its MPX modules to the next level, but if not, maybe the Mac Studio is all the professional Mac we need.
Assuming the price of the Apple Silicon Mac Pro remains $5,999 and is only about 30 percent faster than a maxed out Mac Studio, it’s hard to see why anyone would spend another $1,000 for a bigger case and internal expansion. Apple already sells the Mac Studio with “groundbreaking performance, a wide range of peripheral connectivity, and a modular system to create the perfect setup,” so if the Mac Pro doesn’t deliver a quantum leap in performance, design, and expandability, who needs both to exist?
We may never get that answer. Based on the Mac Pro’s update frequency, the model Apple released this year will probably still be around three years from now. If Apple is having a hard time justifying its existence now, what will it look like in 2026? If the rumors are true and Apple wanted the Mac Pro to be something much bigger than it’s going to be, it might be best to just remove it from the lineup rather than keep its name and nothing else.