By now you’ve all see the “sneak peek” at the new MacPro (and if not – look, a link!). While it certainly looks interesting, it poses some serious problems for current MacPro users like me.
For one, I already have all 4 internal drive bays filled with disks – as well as 10 external drives, and 2 external optical drives. I have a pair of eSATA cards and a USB 2.0 card in the PCI slots (that supposedly no one uses) as well as an upgraded video card. So with no eSATA or FireWire connectivity, I have to figure out how to connect up all these drives without going broke.
A couple of the drives have USB 3 ports, so I’d be good there. Most are FireWire 800 (with the opticals being 400) as well as USB 2 (too slow for drives unless they are temporary really). And of course the internals have no cases at all.
I did see a 4-drive USB 3 enclosure for $100 on Amazon. I’d need a couple of those. Of course, the next price up on anything like it is generally at $150, and the majority are pricier, so I’m not sure if that $100 is just asking for trouble or not. It would at least cut down on my cable and power connections.
Good luck finding a Thunderbolt enclosure for anything reasonable. The few that I found were as expensive as buying another computer.
My DisplayPort monitor will work with one of the Thunderbolt ports, so that’s OK. But I have a lot of USB peripheries – mouse, keyboard (previous articles have mentioned why I gave up on Bluetooth for those), serial ports (which I connect to ham radio gear), USB printers, etc. So it looks like a couple of hubs are in order.
It could easily cost a premium of $300-700 just to hook everything back up! And if I need to change the video card in the future, another $300 just for the Thunderbolt to PCI box so I can buy a video card. (Yes, the dual cards look to be pretty powerful now, but how will they look in a few years?)
In any case, I certainly won’t consider buying one until the second model comes out. I already got burned with my original MacPro, which has an Intel chip that can run 64-bit OSes, but the 32-bit EFI won’t let it move past Lion. What “gotchas” will be found down the road with the first model with a radical redesign? Also, the heat dissipation is a concern to me, having been a Cube owner- I’m sure it’s been well-tested in the labs, but let’s see what happens when they get out into people’s hands and in real use. I’m willing to bet the second or third gen has some sort of at least minor redesign to keep the unit cool.
They might also move some of the ports – the only one that must be on the back is the power cable. Put the some of the others on the front. I plug in a lot of things temporarily (like thumb drives). Yes, I could place it with the ports on the front, but then the power cable will be front and center as the largest cable.
We also don’t have pricing yet. Usually, as things get miniaturized, they get more expensive. I’m not too keen on paying a laptop premium on a desktop just to make it small. I would like something a tad smaller than the current monster, but it seems that all of that free space will be taken up by expansion boxes anyway.
So I’ll be passing on the first gen model for sure, and wait to see how it works out. Fortunately, converting my boot and main working drive to SSD has sped up my current machine so that it doesn’t seem slow anymore. Prior to that, my laptop, which also has SSD, seemed so much faster, even with the slower processor.
So instead of breaking the bank on a new MacPro, you might consider an SSD upgrade instead.