Mac Pro 2019 first look: release date, price and specs

Finally, Apple revealed the new Mac Pro 2019 at WWDC 2019, complete with the modern high-end hardware that creatives and professionals have been demanding from Apple’s most powerful computer for years. 

The new Mac Pro 2019 has up to a 28-core Intel Xeon processor, on top of 1.5TB of 6-channel ECC system memory, which means that you’ll be hard pressed to run into any task that’s too demanding for the new Mac Pro.

We got a first glimpse at the new Mac desktop successor to the Mac Pro 2013, and you’ll be happy to know that this model allows for modular upgrades, just in case having up to a 28-core Xeon processor isn’t enough for you down the line.

The Mac Pro 2019 is, without a doubt, built with an eye for – not to mention, look from – the future. The new Mac Pro features a stainless-steel frame that ditches the cylindrical ‘bin’ look of the 2013 model in favor of a more traditional tower chassis that hearkens back to older Mac Pro models. Visually, the front and back are filled with uniquely designed vent holes, setting it apart from the more traditional and cleaner look.

The power and design come together when you pop open the computer from the top. You may lift off the aluminum housing for 360-degree access to just about every component.

Alongside the Mac Pro 2019, Apple is also releasing a new professional monitor – the Pro Display XDR – which comes with a matching design that compliments the Mac Pro 2019’s new look. This monitor has a 32-inch Retina 6K display (the world’s first), and boasts the next level in high-dynamic range (HDR) or what Apple calls Extreme Dynamic Range (or XDR).

This 32-inch 6K display features a Nano-Texture surface meant to reduces reflections without affecting the overall image quality.

On top of that, because every single LED is calibrated at the factory level for HDR, Apple is able to deliver high-dynamic range like never seen before. Apple does this by using a unique lattice cooling pattern on the back of the display in order to maintain 1,000 nits of brightness at all times – with 1,600 nits of peak brightness. This monitor is able to produce stunning images, as well, thanks to its 1,000,000:1 contrast ratio. 

All of these specs combined deliver a new technology Apple has dubbed Extreme Dynamic Range or XDR, the next generation of HDR.

This monitor will cost you whopping $4,999 (about £3,950, AU$7,270) for the standard version, and $5,999 (about £4,730, AU$8.720) for the Nano-texture equipped version.

Mac Pro 2019 tested

The Pro Display XDR looks stunning.

Naturally, the new Mac Pro 2019’s companion screen comes separately, as do the color-tweaked keyboard, mouse and trackpad. That’s always been the case with Mac Pro configurations – it’s going to be an investment for everything, which also means that it’s not for everyone.

In fact, Apple is aiming the new Mac Pro 2019 at production crews and serious creators. This isn’t a computer created for the average consumer, as you’ll find the spec and price to be far in excess of what you need – and what you can afford.

Cut to the chase

  • What is it? Apple’s new dedicated desktop
  • When is it out? September – November 2019
  • What will it cost? Starts at $5,999 (about £4,730, AU$8.720)

Mac Pro 2019 release date and price

What’s waiting a few more months for the new Mac Pro 2019 when we’ve been holding our breath for several years, hoping that the day will come when we finally get our hands on this desktop computer?

Apple announced the Mac Pro 2019 release date for “fall 2019,” which means that it will most likely be here between September and November. Apple has favored October for a lot of its previous hardware launches, and that falls into this release window. However, now that the iPhone 11 event has an actual date, we might see it on the shelves soon. 

The Mac Pro 2019 price starts at $5,999 (about £4,730, AU$8.720). That’s for the base model with an 8-core Intel Xeon processor (CPU), Radeon 580X graphics processor (GPU) and 32GB of ECC memory (RAM). 

Remember though that the Pro Display XDR – for $4,999 (about £4,000, AU$7,150) – is a separate purchase, as is the Pro Stand for $999 (about £800, AU$1,400) and VESA Mount Adapter for $199 (about £160, AU$285).

We only know the price for the base model so far, but a recent estimate suggests it could cost as high as $45,000 (around £35,000, AU$65,000).

A new design

Folks who were unimpressed with the older Mac Pro’s design will be happy to know that Mac Pro 2019 has been crafted to be far more industrial and modular. The Mac Pro’s leanings are more traditional with the combination of brushed aluminum and heat sink holes festooning the outer shell, which sadly makes it resemble an industrial cheese grater.

It’s brutal and send the message that ‘this is for working on, not for looking good.’ However, it’s somewhat portable as it is rack-mountable, and you can screw wheels on the bottom to move it around an office or studio.

We’ll get to the performance of the new Mac Pro in just a moment, but one thing that’s worth a mention about the new model is how much innards you can cram inside such a small space.

In fact, one music producer told us that previously one would need to use multiple machines to mix a score, whereas those three or four could now be squished into the body of Apple’s Mac Pro 2019.

Apple has also fitted the Mac Pro 2019 with a unique cooling system to maximize airflow while keeping the noise down. Even with the massive fans, this powerhouse will not distract you from your work.

There’s also the advantage of the multiple Thunderbolt ports on top of the machine, allowing for easier access inside.

Mac Pro 2019 specs and performance

When it comes to specifications, Apple isn’t pulling any punches, cramming some seriously formidable hardware into the body of the new Mac Pro 2019.

Mac Pro 2019 and display

The rear view of both the Mac Pro and Pro Display XDR.

The base model packs a new 8-core Intel Xeon processor, giving you a lot of horsepower for multitasking. The Xeon line of CPUs are created for professional workstations – and, this can be configured up to a Xeon processor with an astonishing 28 cores.

The more cores, the better it can handle multiple tasks at once – so the processor powering the new Mac Pro will undoubtedly tackle even the most exacting creative tasks without breaking a sweat.

As with Apple’s other prosumer computer, the iMac Pro, the Mac Pro 2019 touts an AMD graphics card, starting with the Radeon Pro 580X and up to the Radeon Pro Vega II, which features 32GB of high-bandwidth memory – 1TB/s to be precise. That makes it the highest memory bandwidth of any GPU.

If that’s not enough, you can also deck it out with the AMD Radeon Pro Vega II Duo, which features two Vega II GPUs for a total of 64GB of memory – making it the world’s most powerful graphics card.

Mac Pro 2019's removable cover

The removable lid and shell via the semi-circle handle.

These GPUs are fitted into the Apple MPX Module, which easily slot into the Mac Pro, offering quiet operation while being kept cool by the Mac Pro’s own cooling system.

Impressively, the Mac Pro 2019 can have two MPX Modules installed at once. This means that if you have the need  – and the budget – you can have two Vega II Duos installed for an insane 128GB of video memory and 56 teraflops of graphics performance.

All this output requires a lot of power, which is why there’s a 1.4kW power supply powering the machine. However, the noise is pretty low despite the fans inside, and when seeing it running at full power, we didn’t feel a huge amount of heat emanating from the rear, nor heard anything like a light aircraft trying to take off.

This kind of graphical grunt will destroy most video encoding and rendering tasks – even at resolutions of 8K and above. While we’d love to imagine what the gaming capability of this level of firepower is like, this machine is going to be purely of interest to video professionals that need to render ultra-high resolution footage quickly.

Seeing it in real time, you could see and feel the raw power of the rendering capabilities of the Mac Pro 2019. 3D imagery could be manipulated in real time with multiple shading and lighting changes, meaning the need to ship projects off to a rendering farm won’t be necessary for many tasks in the future.

One creative artist estimated the raw power of the extra cores gave him around four times the performance previously available, meaning he had far more time to allot to his artwork and creative process rather than standing around to see if the images and videos had shown as intended.

Being able to manipulate 8K streams so flawlessly is more than impressive – an engineer we spoke to claimed that using the Mac Pro 2019 was akin to when ‘1080p was finally able to be used properly,’ meaning that the speed of manipulation was finally able to be used properly.

Mac Pro 2019 display and stand

Not a bad look for Apple’s newest professional gear.

Memory-wise, the Mac Pro 2019 supports six-channel memory and comes with 12 slots, which allows you to install up to 1.5TB of RAM. 

In a demonstration, this allowed a full orchestra-worth of instruments to be rendered within that RAM space, which means that a rack of PCs can now be replaced by a single Mac Pro unit, with the output slickly creating right in front of our eyes.

Again, this makes the Mac Pro 2019 a workstation that’s crafted to breeze through multitasking. PCI Express slots also make a comeback, with eight in total, to offer plenty of options to expand the Mac Pro’s capabilities in the future.

Even at the entry level with a 8-core Intel Xeon processor with a max turbo boost of 4.0GHz and 32GB of ECC RAM, you should be able to handle most situations. The Mac Pro 2019 is definitely not meant for everyday computing, not that most users would feel comfortable paying such a high price.

The entry model Mac Pro comes with a 256GB SSD, which is the only part of the specifications that seems a bit constrained since that doesn’t offer much storage space these days.

However, you’ll have the option to upgrade it with up to a 4TB drive. That’s a gigantic SSD and will be a major bonus to any video editors considering this machine. Unfortunately, you will be expected to pay at least $2,000 (about £1,580, AU$2,900) more to upgrade to such an enormous drive. On the upside, most creative professionals have their own, more powerful external SSD drives anyway, so a smaller storage space isn’t really a dealbreaker.

The fact that the new Mac Pro 2019 offers such high expansion possibilities is noteworthy, however. This desktop system boasts eight PCIe expansion slots, so you can keep the Mac Pro current with the latest hardware for the foreseeable future. This is backed up by the new Apple Afterburner accelerator card, which lets users play back multiple 8K RAW video streams. This should be especially handy for video editors that shoot in very high resolutions.

You’ll be able to upgrade the RAM as well. Even if you only pick up the 32GB model (which is expensive enough as it is), the new Mac Pro features 12 physical DIMM slots, so you can upgrade your system memory as your needs change.

Apple will facilitate new graphics cards with its new MPX module, a PCIe expansion card that not only allows you to slot in more powerful graphics cards, but will also feature native Thunderbolt integration and 500W of power. You can have two of these cards in the Mac Pro, allowing you to use two Radeon Pro Vega II GPUs at once.

The best part? Getting access to the innards of the new Mac Pro 2019 is remarkably easy, thanks to the unique chassis design. The outer aluminum housing is also designed for easy expansion, as it lifts off in one motion, granting easy access to the entire system. 

These specs certainly sound impressive on paper (if, perhaps, a little overkill for most people), and we cannot wait to see how the Mac Pro 2019 really performs in a full review.

Images Credit: TechRadar

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