Mac Pro teardown finds a largely traditional desktop inside

iFixit, a group that sells electronics repair tools and rates devices for repairability, published a detailed teardown of Apple’s new Mac Pro. Despite a couple of minor complaints, the folks at iFixit gave the device high marks. In an unusual tune for Apple products, they called the Mac Pro “beautiful, amazingly well put together, and a masterclass in repairability.”

Whereas a modern Mac usually takes specialized tools and a lot of careful effort to open up, iFixit was able to get inside the Mac Pro by simply using the twist handle at the top—no proprietary screws or adhesive were in place. Additionally, removing the case hard-cuts power to the machine for safe operation.

Both the CPU and RAM, as well as PCIe cards, can be accessed and replaced as easily as could be done on most other desktop PCs. However, the SSD is a different story. It has a modular SSD, but it’s “bound to the T2 chip, meaning user-replacements are a no-go.” You can add more storage in other places, but you can’t really replace the built-in drive.

No special tools are required for replacing the RAM. Access to the CPU is similar to other desktop tower PCs; you’ll find it in a standard socket after you unscrew and remove its heatsink, and you can remove it and replace it if needed.

As a side note, iFixit tried grating cheese on the surface in reference to many jokes about the Mac Pro’s appearance, but unsurprisingly found that it could not efficiently be used for that purpose.

iFixit complimented the build quality over all, and noted a handful of conveniences in the design that make it clear that the machine was designed to be opened up and serviced. Whereas they often give Macs scores like 1 out of 10 for repairability, they gave the Mac Pro 9 out of 10, knocking it only for the lack of a replaceable SSD and difficulty and expense of finding new parts.

Apple’s Mac Pro is built specifically for use in professional environments like video-editing bays, 3D-modeling studios, and the like. It’s priced to be competitive with high-end workstations from specialized companies like Boxx or from dedicated arms of bigger PC OEMs. It’s also largely manufactured in the United States instead of in China or India, further raising the price.

The narrow targeting of the Mac Pro makes sense for Apple’s current strategy with the Mac, but there is still a dedicated niche of Mac users who want this level of serviceability in a more consumer-oriented (and consumer-priced) desktop. Unfortunately, that’s still not yet to be, but any version of a user-serviceable Mac tower in 2019 is nevertheless interesting.

Listing image by iFixit

You can order the Mac Pro and Pro Display XDR starting tomorrow

Apple has emailed its customers notifying them that its new Mac Pro desktop computer and accompanying Pro Display XDR will be available for order starting tomorrow, December 10. However, the company has not yet revealed when units would actually ship to buyers or any details about build-to-order configuration pricing. This news came around the same time that records of FCC approval of both tower and rack-mount configurations of the Mac Pro surfaced.

The Mac Pro is Apple’s attempt to answer six years of complaints about the 2013 Mac Pro. The 2013 version was not as customizable as some users wanted and bet on a video architecture that did not pan out for segments of the computer’s target audience, such as video production professionals. The new device is a sort of middle ground between the Mac towers of yore, which could house certain industry-standard components that users could select themselves, and the company’s current focus on proprietary hardware. Users will be able to purchase modular upgrades made specifically for the Mac Pro by Apple and its partners.

The Pro comes with eight PCIe expansion slots and offers anywhere from eight to 28 cores, plus memory up to 1.5TB and 12 DIMM slots. Pricing starts at $5,999, but we’ll have to wait until tomorrow to see how much various upgrades add to that price.

Below: Apple’s Pro Display XDR.

Priced at $4,999, the Pro Display XDR is a niche monitor primarily aimed at creative professionals doing work like video color coding and photo editing. The high price nets buyers a display that can sustain 1,000 nits of brightness and a so-called 1,000,000:1 contrast ratio.

It has 576 blue LEDs, each of which is modulated at 10 times the display’s refresh rate (60Hz). We don’t expect this to sell very many units, but the Pro Display could be a boon in certain fields like film production where it has previously been prohibitively expensive (even compared to this) for multiple people in the pipeline to see assets as they will ultimately be seen by consumers with high-end TVs or in movie theaters.

Apple released its iMac Pro around this same time two years ago, but while that all-in-one solution satisfied some users, others have been asking for a traditional tower desktop. The new Mac Pro is as close as they’re likely to get. Since orders start tomorrow, we might be able to see targeted ship dates through the online store then. But we’ll have to wait and find out.

Listing image by Samuel Axon