(Pocket-lint) - The long-awaited new Mac Pro workstation PC is now available. And yes, it looks like a cheese grater - reminiscent of the Power Mac G5 and the early-generation Mac Pro design from 2006 onwards.
This new powerhouse is a superbly-designed machine - just flick through our gallery above.
As with the first generation of the Mac Pro, as well as the PowerMac G5, it features handles on top and a slide-off case design just like earlier cases.
Apple has now posted white papers for the Mac Pro itself as well as the Pro Display XDR. These comprehensive PDFs are designed to see off any questions from potential purchases about the high-end capabilities of the new devices. These could help some potential purchasers decide which model to go for.
They go through - in exhaustive detail - the full specs of the hardware including exhaustive details about expandability including recommendations about how to add extra memory, for example, without compromising performance.
How did the new Mac Pro come about?
The outgoing second-generation cylindrical Mac Pro that debuted in 2013 was a great idea, but it was something a Mac Pro shouldn't be - unable to adapt to changes in the computing landscape.
Apple's Phil Schiller admitted in 2017 to a small group of journalists that the design couldn't cope with increased thermal demands. In other words, it couldn't be upgraded because the design couldn't cope with the increased heat from ever more complex hardware. And that, in a rare admission, he suggested Apple had made a mistake.
But while 2017 saw a performance bump on that design, Apple also said at the same time that it would bring us a new Mac Pro. Schiller declared at that same meeting it was going to redesign the Mac Pro and make it modular.
The iMac Pro was released in the meantime, designed to fill the gap between the iMac and the Mac Pro. Apple pledged to better look after its pro-level users, a pledge which you have to say has been fulfilled - and not just for desktops.
The new design
So let's take a look at the new Mac Pro. Some unbelievably serious power can be installed in this modular system - up to 28-core Intel Xeon W processors can be specified at an astronomical cost, although you can also get 8, 12, 16 or 24 core chips, too. These are based on Intel's Skylake microarchitecture.
There are 12 physical DIMM slots for a whopping maximum 1.5TB of RAM - twice as many slots as its predecessor. Just think about that for a second; most everyday Macs are still running 8 or 16GB of memory. But then they won't be undertaking the kind of tasks the Mac Pro will be.
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The Mac Pro also boasts eight PCIe expansion slots (64 PCI Express lanes) and stacks of ports, too. Powering the whole thing is a 1.4kW power supply.
The bottom of the case can be fitted with wheels should you so desire, but these were originally designed as a non-user upgradeable once the system had been purchased. In other words, if you didn't book them at the beginning, you couldn't get them.
However, as Apple Insider notes, Apple is probably going to offer them as an aftermarket purchase soon.
One interesting point is that the wheels don't lock in place - so don't keep it anywhere it might fall. And definitely not on top of a desk; the wheels are meant for the floor!
Supreme graphics power
The system is, says Apple, as quiet as an iMac Pro. In terms of what you can do, Apple says it can happily handle three streams of 8K RAW video or 12 streams of 4K.
Of course, this machine isn't intended for mere mortals - professional-level video editing is going to be the Mac Pro's bread and butter. It's for those who need the best they can get.
The graphics power for video is worthy of particular mention - it's called Apple Afterburner, an Apple-designed card available on the top models. According to our sources, Apple designed the whole thing internally, which is quite remarkable for a company not used to producing graphics cards.
AMD graphics are available as standard in the form of the Radeon Pro 580X with the Radeon Pro Vega II further up the chain - you can specify two of these should you wish for 56 teraflops of graphics power.
Apple also announced a Pro Display XDR monitor as a companion to Mac Pro - it's a massive 32-inch Retina 6K display with P3 wide and 10-bit color, 1,600 nits of peak brightness, a 1,000,000:1 contrast ratio and a super-wide viewing angle.
Apple has also gathered together some reactions to the new Mac Pro from companies like Adobe, BlackMagic and Avid and you can read those here.
Mac Pro pricing and availability
The Mac Pro starts at $5,999 and is now available to order. The Pro Display XDR starts at $4,999. As was well publicised around the launch, the stand costs an extra $999 or it's $199 extra for a VESA wall mount.
The base-model boasts an 8-core 3.5GHz Intel Xeon processor, a Radeon Pro 580X GPU, 32GB of RAM and a 256GB SSD. You can customise almost every component, so there are stacks of possible prices.
Like the MacBook Pro 16-inch, the Mac Pro can have up to 8TB of storage onboard.