Do Post-Production Users Still Need a Mac Pro?

August 21st, 2023 Jump to Comment Section 7
Do Post-Production Users Still Need a Mac Pro?

Apple launched the glossy black ‘trash can’ Mac Pro nearly a decade ago. The company’s CEO, Tim Cook, had promised ‘something special’ for the imaging pros who had been waiting patiently for a new high-end workstation. Circa 2023, and their prospective customers remain indifferent after June’s new Mac Pro ‘cheese grater’ and Mac Studio launches.

There are several reasons for this apathy. Some of it is the residual pain from how Apple re-imagined their NLE, Final Cut Pro X, in 2011, which made it unusable for many. Post-production customers have long memories.

Confused product marketing

Another reason they’re indifferent is the way Apple has marketed the new Mac Pro and the product that sits beneath it, the Mac Studio. As usual, when you buy a computer on Apple’s site, you can configure it, so if you add every option to both Macs, the total price difference is over $3,500. The new Mac Pro, fully loaded, is $12,348, and the Mac Studio is $8,799.

The Apple Mac Studio. Image credit: Apple.

The basic Mac Studio costs $1,999, while the cheapest Mac Pro costs $6,999.

With the Mac Pro, you get seven expansion slots, six of which are PCIe gen 4. So yes, you get more ports and slightly more slots in the Mac Pro. The all-important chip and cores are the same, but what third-party card manufacturers support these expansion slots?

Both computers offer the following as fully loaded products: Apple’s M2 Ultra with a 24-core CPU, 76-core GPU, 32-core Neural Engine, 192GB unified memory, and 8TB SSD storage. 

If you can live with Apple’s M1 Max chip, buy yourself a Mac Studio M1 Max 10-core CPU, 24-core GPU with 32GB memory, and 512GB SSD storage from Adorama for only $1,999 – or the same spec Mac Studio, but with double the storage and memory for $2599 from B&H.

The allure of the MacBooks

Perhaps the biggest surprise was that according to The Verge, many people in post-production preferred using the latest Apple MacBook Pros over the new Mac Pro. For instance, Kevin Ford, who shoots and edits documentaries, has used the Mac Pro for years. He told the Verge’s Monica Chin that he owned the tower models and the ‘trash can’, but he switched to the latest 16-inch MacBook Pro with the M2 Max a few weeks ago, and he’s not looking back.

Editing with the MacBook Pro on the go. Image credit: Apple.

Zach Passero, who does editing, animation, and visual effects for films, and uses a 16-inch Mac Book Pro with the M1 Max chip, also talked to Chin and said in regards to the new Mac Pro, “There’s something about my experience using the M1 chip where I’m like, ‘I don’t know if I need the full Mac Pro.'”

The article has other post-professionals singing the same tune and moving away from Apple’s flagship computer. But what do you get in a fully loaded 16-inch Mac Book Pro? An Apple M2 Max chip with a 12-core CPU, 38-core GPU, 16-core Neural Engine, 96GB of unified memory, 8TB of SSD storage, three Thunderbolt ports, an HDMI port, an SDXD slot, and a Liquid RetinaXDR display. All for $6,499.

The pandemic accelerator

The new Mac Pro is ultimately a fantastic workstation, but one that doesn’t fit into the new world of scalable cloud computing, where computer horsepower is a commodity ramped up and downscaled depending on the need at the time. It’s part of a new expenditure model that moves away from traditional capital expenditure. 

The Mac Pro. Image credit: Apple.

The age of the post-hero suite is ending. Now is the time to locate heavy computing in remote locations with metered computing usage. The pandemic accelerated these new post-production practices, and perhaps Apple needs to catch up.

Monica Chin’s full Mac Pro article is on the Verge website.

Share your thoughts in the comment section below, and whether you intend to buy any of these new Apple products.


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