Trash can resemblance jokes aside, Apple's completely revamped Mac Pro could change desktop computers forever, much like how the company's ultra thin and light MacBook Air spurred demand for svelte Ultrabooks with fast solid state drives.
Announced and teased in June, the new cylindrical Mac Pro is a professional Mac in a chassis that occupies only one-eighth of the volume of existing Mac Pro towers. Desktop computers are usually boxy towers for a very simple reason: expandability. Apple's new Mac Pro, which will be assembled in the U.S. and arrive this fall, looks to discard most of that.
From what we know so far, it looks like the only swappable parts inside of the new Mac Pro will be the PCIe-based flash storage and the ECC RAM. That's a huge blow for computer users who like to upgrade to new GPUs or add additional things like an optical drive or high-capacity hard drives on the cheap internally. Apple's solution is simple: if you need them, you can add those features externally via the six Thunderbolt 2 ports and four USB 3.0 ports.
Apple's website states it designed the Mac Pro with plenty of external expansion ports on purpose:
"In creating a pro computer for the future, we wanted to provide an enormous amount of expansion — without being limited to the space inside the enclosure…It’s our most expandable Mac yet. And it has everything you need to build a workstation completely customized to what you need and how you work."
We're not buying the positive Apple spin, though. In its quest to reduce the volume of the Mac Pro into a new form factor designed around a centralized thermal core, Apple's decided to alienate the very people that need powerful workstations and don't want all the clutter of external accessories.
Can you imagine a new Mac Pro sitting on a desk with four Western Digital My Book hard drives snaking out of its rear? It's not going to look pretty. The Mac Pro's flash storage is great because it's so much faster than a platter-based hard drive, but it's also super expensive, especially at higher capacities, which means the limited expandability you'll be doing is going to cost a pretty penny.
Apple is known for removing old technologies — i.e. floppy disks, DVD drives, FireWire — in order to push its hardware forward. If the new Mac Pro is a success, it could cause a shift in how desktop PCs are designed across the board and create a ripple effect.
The new teaser video below does a good job of hyping up the Mac Pro, but it doesn't really show anything about the power within it. In other words, it's classic Apple.
And just how much will the new Mac Pros cost? If Marco Arment's assessment based off of AnandTech's reported Intel Xeon E5-2600 prices are any indication, they're going to cost anywhere between $2,331 to $2950.