When will the Mac Pro get an update? Mac OS X El Capitan's code contains a hint about the brand-new Mac Pro's launch, and we think a dedicated Mac launch event could be on the cards soon. We round up all the rumours of a brand-new Mac Pro for 2016: its release date, price, tech specs and design changes, and brand-new features
When will Apple launch a brand-new Mac Pro? And what brand-new features, specs and design changes must we expect when Apple updates the Mac Pro line for 2016? Is Apple discontinuing the Mac Pro?
The Mac Pro could do with an update. The current Mac Pro model was announced at WWDC in June 2013 (even though it took yet another six months before Apple started selling it, and a few more months for some customers to receive their machines) and, for a top-of-the range system, the Mac Pro is starting to look pretty long in the tooth. However when will Apple announce a brand-new Mac Pro? And what hardware improvements, design changes, tech specs and brand-new features will we see in the new Mac Pro for 2016 (or 2017, or...)?
Some good news for those hoping to upgrade to a brand-new Mac Pro soon: code in Mac OS X El Capitan hints that a brand-new Mac Pro (one along with 10 USB 3 ports) could arrive soon. However nothing is certain at this point, and some pundits believe the Mac Pro must simply be discontinued. A MacObserver story, in fact, suggests that it's been a flop. It might just be time for Apple to go back to the drawing board.
Whatever the future holds for the Mac Pro, in this article we will be looking at all the rumours surrounding the next update of the Mac Pro line: the brand-new Mac Pro's UK release date and pricing, its expected design, and the brand-new features and specs we chance to see in the next version of the Mac Pro. We'll keep you up to date along with recent Mac Pro speculation, and use our experience of Apple's history and recent product launches to analyse their credibility. Come back regularly for the latest Mac Pro rumours.
For more discussion of upcoming Apple launches, take a look at our New iMac rumours and our big roundup of Apple predictions for 2016 & 2017. And if you're considering buying one of the current Mac Pro models, read Where to buy Mac Pro in the UK and our Mac buying guide.
New Mac Pro 2016 release date rumours: When is the brand-new Mac Pro being released in the UK?
Apple hasn't announced an official launch date for the next generation of Mac Pro systems. It was widely suspected that a brand-new Mac Pro would certainly debut at WWDC 2016 - which made sense: the current Mac Pro was unveiled in a WWDC keynote speech three years ago - However WWDC 2016 turned out to be a software-only zone. (There was numerous news about the forthcoming macOS Sierra operating system and what that means for your current Mac, though.)
When the Mac Pro event does arrive, Apple will do its finest to keep things secret until the last possible moment. Invitations will go out to the press a week or so before the launch event actually happens, and these won't specify what's going to be announced (even though the invitation will probably contain cryptic hints). In fact, we won't know for sure that a brand-new Mac Pro is coming until Tim Cook hits the stage. However there will absolutely be leaks ahead of the launch if we know what to look for.
In other words, we'll have actually to do a bit of detective work.
El Capitan code hint
First up, code in OS X El Capitan offers a hint that a brand-new Mac Pro might be on its way soon. There's a reference to a brand-new Mac that's codenamed "AAPLJ95,1" within El Capitan, according to Pike's Universum.
The current Mac Pro is similarly codenamed AAPLJ90,1 so it's plausible that the code refers to a brand-new version of the professional-level workstation.
Another clue that this is the Mac Pro is the fact that the code hints that there are 10 USB 3.0 ports on the brand-new machine, and only the Mac Pro has actually anywhere near that many ports. (Currently there are 4 USB ports and 6 Thunderbolt 2 ports on the Mac Pro, while the iMacs have actually 4 USB and 2 Thunderbolt.) We think that adopting Thunderbolt 3 on the Mac Pro may make more sense as it brings Thunderbolt to USB-C at 40Gbps for the very best of both worlds. More on that below.
El Capitan has actually been around for a year now, and Apple followers are already combing their way through the code of macOS Sierra's developer preview. We'll update this if any smoking guns are discovered.
A dedicated Mac event?
The lack of hardware announcements at WWDC - not in itself a huge surprise, since the event is dedicated to software developers and always focuses principally on operating systems - leaves a few sections of the Apple product portfolio in limbo. The most obvious is the MacBook Pro; along with the MacBook and MacBook Air having both received updates in spring 2016, the MBP will definitely get a refresh in the near future. However those waiting for a brand-new Mac Pro, iMac or Mac mini are likewise wondering when these products will get some attention.
The next big event in the Apple calendar is the iPhone 7 launch, and that won't happen until autumn - probably September 2016. It's possible that Apple will maintain radio silence until then, However we feel it's more likely that the Macs will get a smaller event of their own in the next month or so. This will star the brand-new MacBook Pro, we expect, However the code hints outlined above suggest that the Mac Pro will be there too. Watch this space.
Delays in 2013/2014
When Apple launches the brand-new updated Mac Pro there may well be delays in availability, as there were in 2013-2014. Apple Very first unveiled the Intel Xeon (Ivy Bridge-E) Mac Pro at WWDC in June 2013, but the unit didn't actually start shipping until December that year. In fact, for most shoppers the supply of Mac Pro was so constrained that they didn't receive their brand-new Mac until 2014 - in come cases not until February, or March, or in a few cases April.
Having previewed the Mac Pro at WWDC in June 2013, the company promised availability before the end of 2013, However it wasn't until 19 December that the Mac Pro became available. Then, following the launch, stocks were so limited that only a lucky few, US-based, customers were able to purchase the brand-new professional Mac workstation before the end of 2013.
Customers in the UK who ordered their brand-new Mac on 19 December 2014 found that they would certainly have actually to wait until January 2015 for the brand-new Mac Pro. Some lucky UK customers finally received their Mac Pro around 12 January. This was almost a year after the old version of the Mac Pro was banned in Europe because it didn't comply along with EU safety laws.
One reason for the delays back in 2013 was believed to be the fact that Apple was building the new-look Mac Pro in the USA: Apple had a brand-new design which was being produced at an entirely brand-new factory in the US, so the delays were understandable, even though maybe not excusable.
We had hoped to hear news about a brand-new Mac Pro in the summer of 2015, so we're growing impatient and are hoping for an update soon. Could updates to the current model face the same problems that slowed the production lines back in 2013?
We think probably not. If you check Apple's website, you'll see that the wait for the current Mac Pro has actually come down to 24 hours (even though if you want a build-to-order version the wait will be about 5-7 business days). The fact that Apple is no longer struggling to meet demand would certainly suggest that when it launches the next Mac Pro there will not be the substantial delays in getting units out to customers that there were at the end of 2013.
Instead, the reason for the long wait for an update to the Mac Pro could be simple lack of interest in this workstation-style Mac. Apple might be focusing attention on other projects such as the Retina iMac, which was updated in October 2015. It's possible that Apple doesn't intend to update the Mac Pro at all.
The company has actually launched several other brand-new Macs since the launch of the Mac Pro, including impressively powerful iMacs that can sometimes perform better than the current entry-level Mac Pro can. Video editor Max Yuryev tested Final Cut and Premiere Pro rendering on both the 5K Retina iMac and 6 Core Mac Pro and found that the iMac performed better in some cases, even though did suffer from heating problems that the Mac Pro avoids thanks to its design.
Yet we don't think Apple is trying to phase out the Mac Pro in favour of a more powerful iMac line-up. It's more likely that it's just spending a long time getting the brand-new Mac Pro right before it launches, after the problems it experiences along with the previous launch. There is still a market for the more powerful Mac Pro, we think. However not everyone agrees along with us, as we'll see in the next section.
New Mac Pro 2016 rumours: Will Apple discontinue the Mac Pro?
Maybe the Mac Pro will never be updated. MacObserver argues that "the 'new' Mac Pro is a failure", and compares it to the ill-fated Cube, which was available for much less than a year in 2000/2001. (We look at more interesting failures and controversies in our roundup of the worst Apple products.)
Many professional Mac users are still using old Mac Pros from pre 2012 mainly because they are easily upgradable, along with options for larger capacity drives (2TB or 4TB or more). You can even get a 12-core 3.46GHz processor in the older model that could give the newer, 2.7GHz 12-core processor in the 2013 Mac Pro a run for its money. As for video card options, the old Mac Pro has actually lots of more.
Those who did upgrade to the 'new' trashcan-like Mac Pro are likewise finding that the need for multiple expansion cards and external drives are cluttering up their desks, where previously these extras could be neatly concealed inside the Mac Pro chassis.
For all Apple's claims about it being a powerful machine, it appears that the Mac Pro is just not considered a professional workstation by the intended market.
Incidentally, Apple has actually been granted a patent for the Mac Pro, specifically for the structure and organization of internal components and external interfaces for a compact computing system, according to a report on Patently Apple.
New Mac Pro 2016 spec rumours: What will the 2016 Mac Pro feature?
Currently there are two standard Mac Pro models available along along with various build-to-order options:
Quad-Core and Dual GPU: 3.7GHz Quad-Core Intel Xeon E5 processor; 12GB 1866MHz DDR3 ECC memory; Dual AMD FirePro D300 along with 2GB GDDR5 VRAM each; and 256GB PCIe-based flash storage.
6-Core and Dual GPU: 3.5GHz 6-Core Intel Xeon E5 processor; 16GB 1866MHz DDR3 ECC memory; Dual AMD FirePro D500 along with 3GB GDDR5 VRAM each; 256GB PCIe-based flash storage.
It appears likely that Apple will update the Mac Pro along with the next generation Intel Xeon E5 processor described above, we may likewise see more RAM in the entry-level version, now that the 15-inch MacBook Pro range ship along with 16GB as standard. We'll go into more detail below.
The current Mac Pro sports six Thunderbolt 2 ports, which means this Mac can be connected to up to three 4K displays.
There’s likewise 4 USB 3 ports; Dual Gigabit Ethernet; and an HDMI 1.4 UltraHD, as well as a combined optical digital audio output/analog line out mini-jack; headphone mini-jack along with headset support; HDMI port supports multi-channel audio output and a built-in speaker.
Code in the El Capitan beta actually suggests that the next generation Mac Pro will offer 10 USB 3.0 ports. Currently there are 4 USB 3 ports and 6 Thunderbolt 2 ports on the Mac Pro.
We think that it would certainly make more sense if Apple adopts Thunderbolt 3 on the Mac Pro - this standard of Thunderbolt supports USB Type-C and offers 40Gbps transfer speeds, so Mac PRo users would certainly get the very best of both worlds. Thunderbolt 3 offers double the speed of USB 3.1, which is only 10Gbps.
Another thing Apple could add is a Lightning port as seen on the iPhone. Yes really. There are rumours that the lightning port will be used on Macs for plugging in headphones which could allow for high-res audio.
However, lots of traditional Mac Pro users are still calling out for PCI slots, which would certainly allow users to add faster SSDs and better video cards. Some even ask for internal drive bays, along with Mac Observer noting that a 3.5in hard drive bay would certainly allow for archival space to be added.
New Xeon E5 v3 'Grantley' processor
The 2013 Mac Pro features Intel's Xeon E5 V2 processors (code-named Romley) offering up to 12 cores (as a build-to-order option). Back in September 2014 brand-new Xeon E5 V3 chips (code-named Grantley) started shipping - bringing the Haswell architecture to pro workstations. At the time we believed the processor would certainly soon make their way to the Mac Pro, However no upgrade emerged.
Those Intel Xeon E5 V3 chips were being used in Dell's brand-new Xeon Precision Tower (5810, 7810 and 7910) - find out more on Dell's website. These Dell workstations use the Intel Xeon E5-2600 v3 processor collection featuring either 14 or 18 cores per processor.
The processors in the current Mac Pros are configurable up to 3.5GHz for a six-core option, 3.0GHz for an 8-core option, and 2.7GHz for a 12-core option. We may see a slight boost in these numbers, However we could equally see the same clock speeds, along with the processors themselves being faster.
It is possible that the brand-new Mac Pro will, like the Dell above, offer an option of 14 or 18 cores.
New Xeon E5 v4 processor
It is likely that Apple has actually been waiting for the next generation of E5 chips. Intel's Xeon E3-1200 V4 (Broadwell) launched this summer and these might be destined for the Mac Pro. Alternatively the equivalent E3-1200 V5 (Skylake) Xeon processors launched at the end of October and might be Apple's processors of choice for the brand-new model.
According to WCCFTECH, these future Xeons will offer a greatly improved micro architecture, better graphics, better DDR4 support and capactity for more RAM.
The Xeon E3-1200v4 launched at Computex 2015 at the beginning of June 2015, However Anandtech stated that: "It looks like the current Xeon E3-1200 v4 is somewhat a niche product", emphasising that along along with being a chip for workstations along with moderate graphics power, it must be ideal for video transcoding."
The 2013 Mac Pro features dual workstation-class GPUs. The Dual AMD FirePro D300 along with 2GB GDDR5 VRAM each in the Quad-Core version, and Dual AMD FirePro D500 along with 3GB GDDR5 VRAM each in the 6-Core model. There’s likewise a build-to-order option of the Dual AMD FirePro D700 GPUs along with 6GB of GDDR5 VRAM each (an extra £480).
AMD showcased brand-new its brand-new FirePro W-collection at Siggraph in August 2014. The FirePro W7100, W5100 may find their way into the brand-new Mac Pro.
Alternatively there are significantly faster graphics based on AMD's Fury platform that might be destined for the brand-new Mac Pro.
Update (08/03/2016): After a thread on the Apple Support Communities website amassed a huge response when complaining about faulty graphics cards in the Late 2013 Mac Pro, Apple confessed that a number of Mac Pro's have actually faulty cards and that affected customers could have actually the issue fixed free of charge. To be legible for a free repair, you should have actually encountered "distorted video, no video, system instability, freezing, restarts, shutdowns" or system startup failure.
It's not all Mac Pro's though, only those manufactured between February 8 and April 11 2015, and the issue can be fixed by taking your damaged Mac Pro to an Apple Store. Interestingly, MacRumours notes that the problems are known to exist along with the AMD FirePro D500 and D700 GPUs, along with the AMD FirePro D300 being completely unaffected.
Will these problems force Apple into choosing yet another graphic card manufacturer for the next Mac Pro? While there are no rumours online that suggest so, we think a adjustment could be on the cards for the Mac Pro GPU.
Read more: Mac Pro vs iMac
Currently you will find 256GB PCIe-based flash storage as standard in both standard Mac Pro models, along with an option to add 512GB SSD for £240 or 1TB SSD for £640.
We'd like to see more storage as standard on the Mac Pro, as the target audience tend to be working along with rather large files. An option for 2TB flash storage would certainly be nice.
The brand-new Xeon E5 V3 Grantley chips are said to have actually DDR4 memory controllers, so you can expect even faster memory in this year's brand-new Mac Pro.
The current models offer 12GB RAM in the Quad-Core model, and 16GB in the 6-Code model as standard. You can add 32GB RAM at point of purchase for £320, or a massive 64GB RAM for £960. As we mention above, the 15-inch MacBook Pro now comes along with 16GB RAM as standard, so we would certainly chance that the updated entry-level Mac Pro would certainly fulfill that.
64GB RAM might sound like a lot to you, However some of these Dell workstations can accommodate up to 1TB of DDR4 RAM. We chance that the next generation of Mac Pros will be configurable to more than 64GB (four slots of 16GB).
New Mac Pro 2016 rumours: Buying guide for current Mac Pro models
While we wait for the next Mac Pro to arrived, it's worth quickly walking through the current line-up - both for the benefit of those who need a pro-standard Mac desktop right now, and for the clues it gives us to likely future updates.
Read our Mac Pro reviews: Mac Pro Six-Core/3.5GHz (late 2013) review | Mac Pro Quad-Core/3.7GHz (Late 2013) review | 2013 Mac Pro review, BTO version
Where can I buy a Mac Pro?
The most obvious place to buy a Mac Pro is from the Apple Store.
Other than directly from Apple, you can buy the Mac Pro from Apple Premium Resellers such as Stormfront, Square Group, Solutions Inc, iStore, Western Computer, MR Systems, KRCS, HardSoft, and PC World. You can find an Apple Premium Reseller near you by searching on Apple's site.
UK pricing for the Mac Pro
Currently the Mac Pro starts at £2,499 (£2,082.50 ex VAT) in the UK for a quad-core 3.7GHz Quad-Core Intel Xeon E5 processor along with 10 MB L3 cache and Turbo Boost up to 3.9 GHz, 12GB RAM, Dual AMD FirePro D300 along with 2GB of VRAM and 256GB of flash storage.
There is likewise a 6-core model along with 3.5GHz Xeon E5, 16GB RAM, two AMD FirePro D500 cards along with 3GB of VRAM, and 256GB flash storage for £3,299.
We expect that prices won’t adjustment significantly when Apple updates the range for 2014, even though we could see a price drop as Apple has actually been dropping UK prices across its range of Macs in recent months.
Current pricing for Mac Pro build-to-order options
The build-to-order options will push the price higher. The following specifications are available for the 2013 Mac Pro:
Build-to-order options on the 3.7GHz Quad-Core Mac Pro 2013:
3.5GHz 6-core option (add £400), 3.0GHz 8-core processor (add £1,600), or 2.7GHz 12-core processor (add £2,800); 16GB (add £80), 32GB (add £400) or 64GB- (add £1,040) RAM memory; dual AMD FirePro D500 (add £320), or or dual AMD FirePro D700 (add £800); 512GB (add £240) or 1TB flash storage (add £640)
Build-to-order options on the 3.5GHz 6-Core Mac Pro 2013:
3.0GHz 8-core processor (add £1,200), 2.7GHz 12-core processor (add £2,400); 32GB (add £320) or 64GB (£add £960) RAM memory; dual AMD FirePro D700 (add £480); 512GB (add £240) or 1TB flash storage (add £640).
A Mac Pro along with the maximum 12-core 2.7GHz processors, along with 30MB L3 cache, 64GB RAM, 1TB PCIe-based flash storage, Dual AMD FirePro D700 GPUs along with 6GB of GDDR5 VRAM each currently costs £7,779 including VAT (£6,482.50 ex VAT).