Apple’s new Mac Pro is undoubtedly a beautiful machine, and one with a price tag to match. Now iFixit has taken it to pieces, and I’m fascinated to see if it looks as awesome on the inside as on the outside!
Mac Pro – the low down
However, it is a powerful computer aimed at high volume business use. This is ideal for high data usage industries such as graphics and video production markets.
If you have the budget to spend, here is a breakdown of what you will get for your money. Note that a lot of these are optional extras, which combined reach the heavy price tag!
- Base unit with 32GB RAM
- Octa-core Intel Xeon CPU
- Radeon Pro 580X graphics card modules each with 32GB of RAM per GPU
- 256GB SDD card with additional 4TB included across 2TB SDDs (8TB option to follow)
- 28-Core 2.5GHz Intel Xeon W processor with the option to Turbo Boost to 4.4GHz
- Nano-texture glass option for the Pro Display XDR monitor
- Magic Trackpad
- Afterburn accelerator card
- 802.11ac Wi-Fi
- Bluetooth 5.0 wireless technology
- Wheels – yes, wheels!
So all told that is a very powerful machine with a huge number of optional extras. This allows users to customise their Mac Pro to suit their business requirements.
Mac Pro – the design
As with all things Apple, the design is at the pinnacle of the Mac Pro. It looks stunning, and regardless of the fact that I would never need this kind of computing power, I can still wish!
What has caught our attention is the return to a more traditional cubic design, and of course the ‘cheese grater’ effect.
Before we look at the teardown, props to iFixit for sharing this with us, and for dropping $6k on the basic spec model so we can all take a look inside!
From the outset, the Mac Pro looks beautiful. The design is slick, moulded aluminium and looks innately ‘Apple’. It features no less than eight PCIe slots, which allows for the capacity for multiple upgrades and add ons (no point offering them if the base unit can’t support them!).
The machine is surprisingly easy to take apart. There are no screws or adhesives, and opening it up is a simple as removing the housing and turning off the power. That’s a far cry from past Apple models which have been extremely difficult to ‘break into’!
All in all, the surprise here is a pleasant one. Having looked recently at how difficult it is to repair MacBook Pros, the Mac Pro is easy to open and most components can be removed without using any tools whatsoever.
The sockets are all industry-standard, which makes life easy; perhaps with the cost of investing in a Mac Pro, there wasn’t any need to restrict users from using any additional hardware!
Apple has even included diagrams on the device and publishes free repair manuals to assist with repairs and upgrades.
The PCIe cards are secured with a switch that can be toggled between settings one and two, so no complications there.
Interestingly, the unit has only front and back fans, without any dedicated fans to cool the CPU and GPU. Time will tell if this provides enough cooling power for the Mac Pro when it is working at full capacity…
There is also no dust filter to be found. That could be a major problem if the unit becomes clogged with particles, but apparently Apple says they don’t need one!
There are a couple of niggles that iFixit found.
The CPU is buried under a huge heat sink and T15 Torx Plus screws. This part of the machine does not have any guides. To access it you’d need to unscrew the heat sink bracket to release the CPU.
It’s a shame that whilst diagrams and user manuals have been published, these seem to have some gaps.
The modular SSD card is to be found underneath the fan housing, but this is bound to the T2 chip which means there isn’t going to be a way to replace this if the need arises.
With the SDD cards being custom produced if they ever do need replacing these are only going to be available through Apple. That is if you have the repair approved and can find the spare part!
Whilst there are a couple of niggles, I’m still impressed. iFixit it calls this ‘a masterclass in repairability‘. And they should know!
The Mac Pro is simpler to take apart than I would have ever expected. Perhaps Apple has been listening to user complaints about the stress and complexity of making repairs? Anyone have the budget to invest in a Mac Pro (let me come & have a go!)?