The New Pro can be a Mac Cube
We all heard Apple is doing “something really different” with the new Mac Pro. That’s a terrifying prospect after what they did with Final Cut Pro. But I have thought a bit on this subject and welcome the change.
I have long since stopped personally finding the Mac Pros bang-for-buck worth the money, but I do know that is only because most of what I do is straight forward NLE cutting, not much after effects or color correction. I run off a Mac Mini! It started out as a quick buy in a pinch in January of 2012, and I upgraded it to 16GB of ram, has an SSD startup disk and LaCie eSata hub to connect all my drives. Premiere runs smooth, exporting is reasonably fast, and I would have to spend more than twice as much just to get a small boost in power. Many others are getting bang-for-buck out of Mac Pros everyday and are constantly begging for more power. These people are going to be pissed if the Mac Pro dies in a similar fashion to FCP.
I do however, see this is as a great opportunity. Thunderbolt is a powerful little IO port that eliminates the need for the tower itself to have all those other ports. Think modular.
I want a smaller footprint (think G4 Cube roughly). The physcial box just needs to house 2+ PCIe slot, 2 hard drive trays, 8+ slots for ram and 2 or more Thunderbolt buses. From there, they can give low to high end processors. Make the drives, memory and PCI slots user upgradeable. The obvious key upgrade is Thunderbolt, as everything else is made more minimalistic in Apple-style. With Thunderbolt we have modular expansion on this base system which will become essentially the powerhouse of a more modular style of computing. Give it the same size footprint as the Mac Mini but in Cube shape and then you pop a Sonnet Echo 15 or similar future competitors and you have all the IO options you need again!
This creates something you could only do before at the cost of performance, external peripherals are no longer a compromise, but a new way to work. Dont put everything in one box (or tower). Build the tower as central hub for power, and features are all plug-n-play from there. Added bonus, if you also work off your MacBook Pro, it just got a whole lot more useful, as you can take your necessary thunderbolt peripherals with you and work from anywhere on a surprisingly full-featured edit system with a smaller footprint.
Anyway, I this will still leave some people high-and-dry for what they want. I didn’t say it was perfect, but based on their transition from ‘pro’ to a more ‘prosumer’, this would certainly leave a product that gives the desired bare essentials over the iMac. You can upgrade or swap out hard drives or memory, since sometimes, you know, they die, and that shouldn’t mean you lose your computer for a week while you have to send it in to Apple for them to replace or fix it. It’s a semi-happy compromise makes it more friendly on price points for prosumers, which even pros will appreciate to some extent, as long as they can achieve all they need with thunderbolt.
What else would you like to see if Apple has to downsize the Mac Pro? Is it even worth keeping around at my proposed “Cube” form or would you still need more out of it?