John Paczkowski

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Dark Tower: A Mac Pro Review Roundup

Mac_Pro_2013The first wave of reviews for Apple’s new built-in-the-U.S.A. Mac Pro workstation landed this week, even as the machine’s ship date slipped inexorably from Dec. 30 to some indeterminate date in February.

And they’re about what you’d expect for a top-of-the-line Mac Apple hyperbolically touts as “epic,” “something radically different from anything before it”: piles of plaudits with some obvious caveats about the machine’s price, its obvious need for more powerful software applications and a few inevitable quips about its cylindrical design and metallic black chassis, which lend themselves to comparisons with Darth Vader and Diaper Genie, both.

It’s worth noting that a few reviewers noted that the Mac Pro was too much machine to fully test in the time allotted, which in itself says quite a bit about what Apple’s managed to pull off here.

Dan Frakes, Macworld: For many years, “pro” meant a big, expandable tower case, lots of internal storage, replaceable graphics cards, and so on. For Apple, it now means “maximum performance when using pro apps.” In that respect, the new Mac Pro reflects multiple trends in computing. It, of course, continues Apple’s ongoing shift across its product lines towards flash storage and external expandability at the expense of capacious hard drives and internal upgrades. But it also illustrates the ways in which Apple and other vendors are responding, at the high end, to the fact that processor speeds simply aren’t increasing at the same rate that they used to: Namely, they are focusing on multi-core and GPU-based processing technology, in both hardware and software.

David Pierce, The Verge: In many ways, the Mac Pro is the fastest and most powerful Mac ever made. But today, as it stands, it’s not a drop-in improvement that will instantly make any and every setup faster — its greatest tricks are enabled when software is specifically tuned to this hardware. Because this Mac Pro is now the de facto professional computer for Apple users, most important apps are virtually certain to be upgraded to support its particulars. There’s clearly plenty of power here for almost any use case, but while we wait for software updates this machine isn’t a particularly notable upgrade from the last-generation Pro, or the latest iMac.

Dan Ackerman, CNET: Is the Mac Pro a killer performance machine? For $8,000 it had better be. In our benchmark testing, the system turned in excellent scores, ripping through video encoding and other tasks. … The Mac Pro, as configured, was in most cases well faster than even the most high-end Windows desktop we’ve tested this year.

Molly Wood, The New York Times: The Mac Pro is extremely, ridiculously fast and powerful. The specifications are nearly mythical. … The Pro took just over an hour to convert 32 gigabytes of high-definition video into another video format — a job that took over three hours on my quad-core Mac Mini. And although the task noticeably heated up the Mac Pro, its fan stayed quiet, and it didn’t seem perturbed. It’s clearly capable of much more than a mere multimedia professional can throw at it.

Brian Westover, PCMag.com: The Mac Pro isn’t quite perfect. It’s expensive, even given the usual premium for Apple products, and the one-year warranty and 90-day tech support is short and lackluster. Whether or not the lack of internal expansion is a detriment is yet to be seen, but at the very least it’s a drastic change, that will force many professionals to change how they approach their work. At the very least, it’s safe to say that the Apple Mac Pro (2013) offers some of the most exciting updates to desktop design we’ve seen, and backs it up with powerful professional-grade performance. The Apple Mac Pro (2013) is our new Editors’ Choice for single-processor workstations, and one of the best high-end desktops we’ve seen in years.

Dana Wollman, Engadget: It’s hard to say if the Mac Pro is pricey, per se, given that there’s nothing else quite like it. There are plenty of Windows-based workstations, certainly, but none are quite this small or quite this portable (many aren’t quite this quiet, either). And if you’re a creative professional already hooked into Mac-only apps like Final Cut Pro, this is really your only choice: The new Mac Pro is a serious improvement over the old model in every way, and is likely worth the upgrade. So, while $2,999 (let alone $10,000) is indeed a big investment, it’s well worth it for people who live and die by their workstation, and for whom (rendering) time is money.


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There’s a lot of attention and PR around Marissa, but their product lineup just kind of blows.

— Om Malik on Bloomberg TV, talking about Yahoo, the September issue of Vogue Magazine, and our overdependence on Google