We live in a fragmented society where a small number of people exercise control over a large number of people. That’s even true in technology where Apple, a company with modest marketshare, exercises an oversized influence on the entire industry. Likewise, technology media can influence technology companies.
In the aftermath of Apple executives admitting the 2013 Mac Pro was a mistake and outlining their intention to fix it with a new, modular (whatever that means) Mac Pro, I read Justin Williams‘ missive on his Mac Pro needs with relish. I’m ready for a new Mac. Now it looks as if I need to exercise more patience.
I have no aspirations or desires for a stackable, modular computer where I can add an external GPU or other parts I desire. All I need is a tower that connects to an external monitor. That’s it.
He calls that a ‘Tower of Boredom.’ So be it.
Traditional PCs, and the Mac falls into that category, have similar components. An operating system. CPUs. GPUs. Power. RAM. Storage (either fast SSD or cheap hard disk drives). A screen. And a motherboard and a case to hold the whole shebang.
For all the noise raised recently about Apple’s seeming inability to do much regarding Macs for professionals, note that 80-percent of all Macs sold in the past year were upgraded in the past year. By Apple. That means MacBook and MacBook Pro are Apple’s best Mac sellers. Everything else– iMac, Mac mini, Mac Pro– are diminishing returns.
What does a Mac Pro need to be? I make a living on my Mac. I’ve owned a number of the aluminum cheese grater Mac Pro models, and at one time, the most powerful Mac notebooks money could buy. Today, doing exactly the same work, I get by just fine on a quad-core iMac and a dual-core MacBook Pro (both with Retina displays; once you go there, going backwards is painful and so 1999).
What do I need? What do I want?
Screen – It’s easy to justify a large Retina screen. Once you’ve used it awhile. Retina displays provide near print magazine visuals, so whatever Apple has planned for the future needs to be as good as screens can get. 4k and 5k Retina displays are here already. What’s next? 8k.
CPU – Specifications get tossed around as if they have the same meaning for everyone. Most Mac applications do not tax a dual-core CPU, let alone quad-core or beyond. That means Apple needs to have options and an iMac that tops out at four cores and limited RAM is limited on options. I see an iMac Pro coming down the road.
GPU – A Retina display pushes a lot of pixels, and while not every Mac user runs Photoshop or Final Cut Pro, it’s all about options. Each Mac should have GPU options. Not all Macs do.
Storage – Hard disk drives are massive and inexpensive. Solid state drives are fast and expensive. Again, hard disk drives are going away. More than 80-percent of all Macs sold do not even have a hard disk drive option. Go all the way to SSD everywhere, Apple. Cheap storage works well as external drives.
Memory – RAM isn’t cheap and with a fast SSD architecture even 16GB RAM can seem like more. But what Apple is missing here is the option. Mac notebooks come with 8GB with a build-to-order options of 16GB. That’s it. That’s not what professionals want.
What most Mac users want is more of everything but we’ll settle for less. But I want more. More connector ports, more options, more flexibility, more capability, and the ability to swap out what I want to just to keep a machine running for another year or two.
That means I don’t worry about dongles. If Apple goes USB-C and Thunderbolt 3 on everything and does it overnight, that’s just fine. Just provide enough connectors so external items can be connected. The entry-level MacBook has one USB-C connector. That’s insanely ridiculous. The high end MacBook Pro has four. Yep, just as ridiculous. More is better.
Williams seemed to indicate he would settle for a tower of boredom. I agree. But I want options. Apple seems more intent upon turning the Mac into a pretty appliance and too many customers simply accept that as the way to go. It is not.