When you see the actual cost of the internal configuration of the new Mac Pro just released by Apple, I believe it will be shocked by Apple's high profit margins. But when you understand why Apple sells so expensive, you must also feel that Apple's ability to make money is really dissatisfied.
If you want to buy a new Mac Pro just when it hits the market, you'll have to pay at least $ 5,999. And that's the price of an entry-level configuration. Compared with its top price, this price is actually very cheap. But in this article, we will analyze in depth what kind of Mac Pro we have spent so much money on, and why Mac Pro is not necessarily suitable for everyone.
In addition to the beautiful case and heat sink, we can also have power, processors, RAM, graphics cards, network cards and SSDs inside the Mac Pro. In general, these components are basically the basic building blocks of a tower PC. So let's take a look at the price and cost of each component to evaluate the Mac Pro premium rate comprehensively.
Let's start with the processor first. I spent a lot of time researching the configuration of the processor. Apple said that the Mac Pro entry-level configuration choice is a 3.5GHz Intel Xeon W processor, using 8 cores and 16 threads configuration, the highest frequency can reach 4.0GHz, and 24.5MB of cache.
So which processor does the Mac Pro use? According to Wikichip, it is unlikely to be SkyLake Xeon W. There is no 3.5GHz Xeon W version in the SkyLake product line, and Intel announced the Cascade Lake architecture the day after WWDC released the new Mac Pro.
Cascade Lake does have a 3.6GHz processor with a maximum frequency of 4.0GHz (although the maximum overclocking performance can reach 4.2GHz). This processor is model W-3223 and costs $ 749. But this is a relatively low-end processor, but it supports Intel's AVX-512 instruction set.
This extended chipset offers some advantages for science and machine learning applications. Nevertheless, the exact benefits and performance costs of using the AVX-512 expansion chipset are still somewhat controversial. It basically faces high-end application scenarios, but if you want to enable these extended areas, the relatively weaker and slower W-3223 model may actually cause some performance loss.
It should be noted that you may find other media interpretations of the Mac Pro pricing strategy, and the entry-level Mac Pro will offer the more expensive W-3225 processor. But I carefully cross-referenced all the detailed configurations provided by Apple with Intel's processor specifications and found that most websites' conclusions are wrong. Apple used the $ 450 Xeon W-3223 in the entry-level Mac Pro.
Because this processor has just been released, we don't have a clear score yet. And our best chance is to compare similar Skylake Xeon W processors. In the Skylake processor, the performance of the W-2123 at 3.6GHz may be the closest to that of the Mac Pro, but it has only 4 cores and a maximum of 8 threads. The closest 8-core 16-thread model in performance is the W-2145 at 3.7GHz.
As far as the consumer-grade Core i9 processor is concerned, the most comparable model is the i9-9900k, which is also clocked at 3.6GHz and uses an 8-core and 16-thread configuration. But this is what makes things interesting. According to the running score data from GeekBench, the i9-9900k exceeds the Xeon W-2123 and Xeon W-2145 in both single-threaded and multi-threaded performance. The Core i9 is also priced at $ 500, and the Xeon W-3223 entry-level processor used in the Mac Pro is priced at $ 750.
There is no doubt that the original design of the Mac Pro motherboard was not optimized for the low-end Xeon processing created in entry-level computers. If so, the Core i9 will be the upper limit of the series' performance for most tasks. Unfortunately, Apple does not indicate whether the entry-level version of the processor can be upgraded. If you want to choose a processor on this very expensive host, the best choice is actually the Core i9-9900K, not the relative performance. The weaker Xeon W-3223.
According to Apple, the entry-level Mac Pro is equipped with four 8GB DDR4 ECC memories. The Intel W-3223 processor in the entry-level Mac Pro is only compatible with 2666MHz memory, even if the machine itself is designed for 2933MHz RAM.
This may seem strange because there are four dimmers on a six-channel architecture. In general, if we have dual-channel RAM, we can get the best performance by matching at least two RAMs. In four-channel memory, best performance can be achieved by matching four memory sets. Therefore, in a six-channel memory, the best performance is obtained by using six memory.
But the entry-level Mac Pro is equipped with four 8GB of memory. Although the system does not gain the performance of moving six data channels at the same time, there is not much performance loss. All memory will simply return to four-channel mode, just as the machine itself is designed to be four-channel.
Nevertheless, Apple did not specify whether the entry-level version of this Mac Pro uses 2933MHz memory or slower and cheaper 2666MHz memory, but my personal guess is 2666MHz.
Apple said the new Mac Pro supports up to 1.5TB of ECC memory, but did not explicitly indicate whether the 32GB memory array is ECC memory. Some Xeon motherboards can use ECC or non-ECC memory, but we don't know yet about the new Mac Pro.
ECC is very valuable for system stability, especially at high speed and memory usage. But what about low-end models? If Apple also uses ECC RAM on entry-level models, it may not bring much benefit to users in terms of stability or performance.
When I bought 32GB of memory for the Mac Mini before, I paid $ 288 for 32GB of 2666MHz DDR memory. Today, it sells for $ 151 on Amazon. We don't know Apple's pricing strategy for RAM on the new Mac Pro, but when I chose to configure 32GB of memory on the Mac Mini and iMac, Apple increased the price by $ 600 on both computers.
On a $ 6,000 machine, it's hard to think of 256GB of solid-state drive SSD storage as an advantage, which is almost an unacceptable configuration. I own a Mac Mini with a 1TB SSD. But because it was soldered to the Mac Mini's system board, I had to do an official upgrade from Apple Inc. at a cost of $ 600.
Upgrading from 128GB to 256GB of storage on the Mac Mini costs an additional $ 200. On the other hand, you can buy a 256GB NVMe SSD on Amazon for less than $ 40. Therefore, at least for the entry-level Mac Pro, Apple will definitely not let users spend too much money on storage space.
When I tried to configure a Hackintosh with Mac Mini specifications, I encountered some difficulties because I couldn't find a 10GB network card that was both economical and easy to use. So I finally chose the Intel 2-port motherboard. It cost about $ 200 in December last year and is now $ 179.
Apple's upgrade is from 1GB to 10GB, which actually looks reasonable, with an increase of $ 100 in expenses.
The new Mac Pro has amazing video processing capabilities, but Apple didn't specify the price of the specific configuration. What we know so far is that the entry-level Mac Pro, which costs $ 5,999, is equipped with an AMD Radeon Pro 580X graphics card with 8GB of video memory.
I couldn't find a Radeon Pro 580X model on sale, but most of the specifications I found were similar to the Radeon RX 580 and Apple Mac Pro page description configurations. These cards cost less than $ 250, and many cost around $ 179.
Therefore, this graphics card used on the entry-level Mac Pro, except for the Pro in the name, seems nothing more special.
Let's refer to the known prices according to the upper limit:
Cascade Lake Xeon W-3223 processor costs $ 750;
32GB non-ECC RAM sells for $ 151, while ECC 2933GHz RAM sells for $ 209;
The storage space of Mac Pro is very small, the minimum cost is only $ 40;
You can also buy a graphics card with similar performance for less than $ 250;
So what we have seen so far is that the total cost is $ 1249. Of course, this is not all that the new Mac Pro has to offer, and we haven't factored in the price of the motherboard, power supply, chassis, or heat sink.
Choosing a power supply is easy. The Mac Pro's power supply is 1280W at 108-125V, 220-240V, or 100-107V. The commercially available Corsair HX1200i power supply meets these specifications, and its price is slightly less than $ 230, so the total price of the power supply is $ 1479.
Finding a motherboard that matches the specifications of the Mac Pro is not easy. So, for our price comparison, I just searched for "Xeon motherboard" on Amazon and then chose the most expensive one.
There are a bunch of $ 599 choices in the search results, and I found a very strange $ 799 product among them. It is undeniable that it does not support the chips we mentioned above, but it is the most expensive motherboard supported by Xeon processors on Amazon, so we can add this price.
The total cost now is $ 2278.
So what is left uncalculated? That's the fan and the case. You know, the $ 5,999 entry-level new Mac Pro doesn't even give the wheels under the case.
So let's figure it out together. With the exception of fans and cases, our basic Mac Pro and all other products have purchased the same or more expensive components for $ 2,278, which is $ 3,721 less than Apple's entry-level Mac Pro.
Unless the Mac Pro's case is made of gold or ceramic, and the fan is able to blow out "unicorn magic," the rest will never be worth nearly $ 4,000.
This may sound a little harsh, but the entry-level Mac Pro is very expensive, especially considering its configuration. Apple knows that in such a limited configuration, no one will buy an entry-level Mac Pro and use it.
Almost everyone who buys an entry-level Mac Pro has a reason, the biggest purpose being to upgrade from third-party parts. Therefore, Apple will not share the profits brought by these upgrades.
Therefore, Apple has not launched a relatively well-positioned Mac Pro so that individual developers and media creation professionals can fully realize the potential of the Mac Pro. Apple has built a high-end, enterprise-grade professional console for top media producers willing to spend money.
In order to ensure that Apple can profit from buyers who plan to use subsequent products to upgrade, especially for a more substantial profit, Apple has to significantly increase the price of entry-level Mac Pro.
Apple hopes to make a substantial profit from each fully configured Mac Pro computer. If users want to save money by adding configuration methods, then Apple has its own strategy, which is to make up for this profit in the entry-level Mac Pro. Loss. This is definitely Apple's smartest pricing strategy, but frankly, it makes people feel bad. But this is the apple of today.
Some people say that it also includes research and development costs and other comprehensive costs, but you admit it, it is a mainframe chassis. What is the research and development cost besides the design? To be honest, few hosts with this configuration cost more than $ 4,000. You may have your own question as to why Apple has to set such a high price, but for high-end configurations, this may be the right decision. But for the entry-level version, there is no real change to the new Mac Pro other than the more creative-looking case. The fact is, its price is far higher than its actual value.
In short, Apple's pricing policy is: "Well, you want to expand yourself? Then you have to pay a certain price for this expansion." In fact, whether it is to spend money now or later, as long as If Apple wants to earn your money, you have to be eager to be made by Apple.
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