Apple Afterburner Card for Mac Pro Now Available as Separate Purchase

Apple today made its $2,000 Mac Pro Afterburner Card available as a separate purchase, having previously been offered only as a build-to-order option when configuring a new ‌Mac Pro‌.


Apple Afterburner is a PCIe accelerator card specifically for the 2019 ‌Mac Pro‌, created to enhance Apple ProRes and ProRes RAW workflows for creative professionals by accelerating the decoding and playback of multiple streams.

Afterburner supports playback of up to 6 streams of 8K ProRes RAW or up to 23 streams of 4K ProRes RAW. It accelerates ProRes and ProRes RAW video codecs in Final Cut Pro X and QuickTime Player X, as well as supported third-party applications.

The Afterburner can be installed in any full-length slot in the 2019 ‌Mac Pro‌, but it delivers maximum capability in a PCIe x16 slot. Apple Afterburner Cards ordered today from Apple's online store currently ship in five to seven business days.

For more information on the ‌Mac Pro‌ accelerator card, check out Apple's Afterburner FAQ.
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ARM Processors with Mac Pro Level Performance Possible Today

Former Apple executive and Be, Inc founder Jean-Louis Gassée explores the possibility of Apple's move to ARM-based Macs in the near future.


The speculation comes amidst of increasing rumors that Apple will be launching ARM-based Macs as early as 2021.

Gassée explains he was previously skeptical about the ability for ARM-based processors to achieve performance parity with current Intel offerings, but now says he was "wrong". Gassée points to a startup called Ampere Computing that offers high-power ARM-based processors that compete head-to-head with high end Intel chips:
Ampere top of the line chips consume less power, about 210 watts, than a competing Xeon CPU needing as much as 400 wats, for about the same amount of computing power — hence investors' interest in a device that could progressively supplant Intel products in tens of millions of servers around the world. Ampere shows us that the ARM architecture can yield the class of chips a Mac Pro would need.
Apple, of course, designs their own custom ARM processors, but it seems at least one other company is pushing the limits of performance with the ARM architecture. Apple's custom processors have quickly ramped up in performance that is comparable to their recent Mac laptops powered by Intel processors.

Serious rumors about Apple replacing Intel chips with ARM chips in their Macs started in 2018 with a detailed report from Bloomberg. The most recent rumor has placed the transition at stating in early 2021.

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Mac Pro’s $400 Wheels Have No Locks to Prevent Rolling

Since launch, Apple's Mac Pro has been the butt of jokes because of some of its expensive add-ons, such as the option to purchase wheels for an additional $400.


As pointed out by MKBHD in a review published this morning, those super pricy wheels have no locking mechanism, which could be major problem if a wheel-equipped ‌Mac Pro‌ is placed on a desk or a slick floor.


In a demonstration video, MKBHD shows the ‌Mac Pro‌ rolling freely on a slick floor because of the lack of wheel locks.

Those who want to secure their wheeled ‌Mac Pro‌ models will need to use some kind of stopper to prevent accidents, though no lock won't be an issue on many surfaces as long as the ‌Mac Pro‌ is on the floor.


Right now, wheels have to be purchased as a $400 add-on when ordering a ‌Mac Pro‌ for the first time, but in a recent technical overview of the Mac Pro, Apple confirmed plans to begin offering feet and wheels as a "customer installable kit" in the future.

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Apple Shares Detailed Technical Overviews of Pro Display XDR and Mac Pro

Apple today shared two new "Technical Overview" white papers that take an extensive look into the technology and feature set of the Pro Display XDR and the Mac Pro.


Available as PDFs, the Mac Pro overview and the Pro Display XDR overview (via 9to5Mac) walk through key features and components, with ultra detailed rundowns on every component. The ‌Mac Pro‌ overview highlights the lattice case, Intel Xeon W chip, GPUs, PCIe expansion slots, MPX module, I/O, T2 chip, SSD, and more.

Apple explains the reason for design choices made for the ‌Mac Pro‌, does a deep dive into performance, and lists technical specifications. Much of this information has previously been shared in product pages and marketing info provided by Apple, but this is the single most comprehensive source for ‌Mac Pro‌ info.

The Pro Display XDR white paper is similar, detailing display panel components, LED backlighting system, timing controller, display accuracy, reference modes, enclosure design mounting, and technical specifications.


This information has also been previously shared by Apple for the most part, but again, the white paper is a useful place to see it all in one place.

These are useful resources for those who are interested in learning more about the ‌Mac Pro‌ and the Pro Display XDR ahead of purchase, and can be found through these PDF links: Pro Display XDR and Mac Pro.

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New Mac Pro Facing Lengthy Delivery Estimates, Possibly Due to Coronavirus

Last week, we reported that many custom iMac, iMac Pro, and MacBook Pro configurations are facing longer-than-usual delivery estimates on Apple's online store in the United States.

The reason for the delays is unconfirmed, but it could be related to the Wuhan coronavirus outbreak in China that has forced many of Apple's suppliers to temporarily close their factories and suspend production. While some factories are beginning to resume operations, initial production appears to be limited.


In any case, the delay has extended to the new Mac Pro. In many European countries, for example, the base model without any customizations is currently estimated for delivery on March 10. While the new Mac Pro is assembled in the United States for orders placed in the Americas, European orders are assembled in China.

The new Mac Pro also has a February 24-26 delivery estimate in the United States, despite being assembled in Texas, possibly because some components are still sourced from temporarily-closed suppliers in China.

The coronavirus outbreak is a fluid situation, so it remains unclear what its impact might be on upcoming Apple products. Last month, analyst Ming-Chi Kuo outlined his expectations for several new Apple products in the first half of 2020, including refreshed MacBook Pro/Air models, refreshed iPad Pro models with a triple-lens rear camera system, Tile-like item tracking tags, high-end wireless headphones, a small wireless charging mat, and a new lower-cost 4.7-inch iPhone.

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Rack Mount Mac Pro Now Available for Purchase Starting at $6,499

Apple today released the rack mount version of the Mac Pro, offering a design that is suited to a rack configuration. Priced starting at $6,499, the rack mount Mac Pro features all of the same configuration options as the standard ‌Mac Pro‌.

Rather than feet or wheels, the rack mount version of the ‌Mac Pro‌ uses stainless steel slide rails that allow it to be slotted into a rack. The machine features the same 3D lattice design for maximizing airflow and top handles for accessing the internals.


The base model of the rack mount ‌Mac Pro‌ is the same as the base model standard ‌Mac Pro‌ featuring a 3.5GHz 8-core Intel Xeon W processor, 32GB RAM, and 256GB of storage.

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Mac Pro Hands-On: Adding Additional SSD Storage Using a PCIe Slot

When the Mac Pro became available for purchase a few weeks ago, we bought a base model and have since been demonstrating upgrades with third-party components for those interested in boosting their ‌Mac Pro‌'s capabilities without having to shell out for Apple's upgrades.

We covered upgrading the RAM in a ‌Mac Pro‌ in our last video, and today, we're demonstrating how to add additional SSD storage using one of the ‌Mac Pro‌'s PCIe slots.

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The base model ‌Mac Pro‌ comes with 256GB of storage space, which isn't a lot in a professional machine. Luckily, it's easy to add additional storage if you purchase a compatible third-party SSD.

Completely replacing the SSD in a ‌Mac Pro‌ with a new one requires visiting an Apple Store or an Apple Authorized Service Provider because the built-in SSD is tied to the T2 chip that provides encryption and other security benefits, but the existing storage can simply be augmented if you have a free PCIe slot.

The ‌Mac Pro‌ has eight PCIe expansion slots, which allow for extra USB ports, graphics cards, audio cards, and more storage, so that's an easy way to get additional storage space. Note that what we've done here means the SSD we're installing is extra storage space and not a boot disk - it's been added in addition to the existing 256GB SSD the base ‌Mac Pro‌ ships with.

We added a 4TB NVMe SSD from OWC, which is priced at $950. That's a good deal cheaper than the 4TB SSD upgrade option from Apple, which is priced at $1,400. You don't need to use OWC, but third-party SSD options are much more affordable than what Apple is offering.

Installing a new SSD is as simple as popping the case off of the ‌Mac Pro‌, unlocking one of the PCIe slots, unscrewing the brackets and inserting the card. That's all there is to it. Once the case is back in place and the ‌Mac Pro‌ is booted up after installing a new SSD, the drive will show up on the desktop.

The OWC Accelsior 4M2 SSD we installed claimed to offer transfer speeds up to 6000MB/s. In our testing, we didn't quite see those speeds, but we did see write speeds at 4786MB/s and read speeds of 5360MB/s, which is much faster than the built-in SSD, which hit write/read speeds of 1312 and 2232MB/s, respectively.

When it comes to real life usage, that meant we were able to transfer 50GB of RAW video files to the OWC SSD in just about 20 seconds, a process that took 40 seconds with Apple's SSD. So it's entirely possible to get a faster SSD than what Apple's offering at a lower price. An OWC model is not required, of course, and for those with a ‌Mac Pro‌ interested in upgrading, it's worth doing some research to find the best price to save money.

We'll have more ‌Mac Pro‌ videos coming in the future, including a look at the Promise Pegasus R4i MPX RAID storage module designed for the ‌Mac Pro‌.

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Apple Now Offering $2,600 8TB SSD Upgrade Option for Mac Pro

When the Mac Pro was released on December 10, Apple promised that an 8TB SSD option would be available in the near future, and as of today, it's possible to choose the 8TB upgrade option when customizing a ‌Mac Pro‌ on Apple's site.

The 8TB SSD upgrade option is priced at $2,600 when adding it to the base ‌Mac Pro‌ model, which ships with a 256GB SSD. The previous top tier SSD was a 4TB upgrade that cost $1,400.


It's not entirely clear why Apple needed to delay the 8TB SSD storage option for the ‌Mac Pro‌ as it became available just a little over a week after the ‌Mac Pro‌ launched.

Apple has also promised that Radeon Pro W5700X and dual Radeon Pro W5700X GPU options are also coming soon, but those did not get released along with the 8TB SSD upgrade option.

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Demo: Upgrading the RAM in the 2019 Mac Pro After Purchase

Apple designed the Mac Pro to be modular and upgradeable, and it's possible to upgrade components that include the SSD and the RAM.

We purchased a base model ‌Mac Pro‌ with the intention of upgrading the RAM after the fact using hardware from OWC, and in our latest YouTube video, we demo swapping out the RAM, which is a straightforward process, but still needs to be done carefully.

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The base model ‌Mac Pro‌ ships with 32GB 2933MHz RAM, but the machine supports up to 1.5TB and has a total of 12 DIMM slots. For the maximum amount of RAM, you do need the 24 or 28-core processors, as the 8, 12, and 16-core options are limited to 768GB of RAM.

Upgrading RAM can be done with other LR-DIMMs or R-DIMMs, but the different memory types can't be mixed with one another. Apple recommends ‌Mac Pro‌ owners make sure to use the same type of memory when installing additional DIMMs or replacing DIMMs.

Apple also recommends using Apple-approved DIMMs purchased by visiting an Apple retail store or an Apple Authorized Reseller, but Apple RAM is super expensive and most upgraders are likely going to want to go with something that saves some cash.

DIMMs can be installed in configurations of 4, 6, 8, or 12, and Apple has a visual aid on how different setups should work in its support document.

Swapping out or adding RAM to the ‌Mac Pro‌ requires the machine to be off, cool, and unplugged. Pulling off the outer aluminum casing is required, and then from there, the DIMM slots are accessible. Existing DIMMs can be accessed by unlocking the DIMM covers, sliding them open, and then using the DIMM ejectors to push it out of the slot.

Putting in new DIMMs can be done by adding a DIMM to an empty slot, seating it in place, and then making sure the DIMM ejectors click closed.

Apple has a very detailed support document that outlines replacing the RAM, and for ‌Mac Pro‌ owners, we recommend reading it thoroughly and following each of Apple's specific steps. Apple warns that causing damage by replacing components in the wrong way won't be covered under warranty, so it's best to use caution and be thorough when upgrading a part.

Apple has a bunch of support documents and tutorial videos dedicated to the ‌Mac Pro‌, which we've rounded up. Apple covers everything from installing new RAM to swapping out GPU modules to replacing the power supply and I/O card.

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Hands-On With Apple’s New 2019 Mac Pro

Apple last week finally launched its long awaited 2019 Mac Pro, providing its professional user base with the high-end high-throughput modular machine they've always hoped for.

We picked up a base model ‌Mac Pro‌ and in our latest YouTube video, we unbox it and share some initial first impressions.

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The ‌Mac Pro‌ arrives in an absolutely massive box weighing over 85 pounds, so getting it out of the packaging is no simple task. There are tabs, lids, velcro straps, and more to contend with, ensuring the machine is secure in its packaging.

Even out of the packaging, the ‌Mac Pro‌ is a heavy duty machine made from quality components, and that "cheese grater" design looks great in person. In reality, the lattice look is functional and meant to maximize airflow for quiet performance.

We have the base model ‌Mac Pro‌, priced at $5,999, with an 8-core 3.5GHz Xeon W processor from Intel, 32GB RAM, a Radeon Pro 580X GPU, and 256GB of SSD storage. We didn't opt for upgrades, but you can add everything from a 28-core processor to 1.5TB of RAM to 4TB of storage (soon to be 8TB), with a maxed out machine costing upwards of $52,000.

Luckily, this is a machine designed to be highly upgradeable, so most of the components can be swapped out later. iFixit gave the ‌Mac Pro‌ a repairability score of 9/10, and said it was a "masterclass in repairability," which is definitely a first for an Apple product.

We can swap out the GPU, add RAM, and take advantage of the eight PCIe slots, though upgrading the SSD will require Apple's assistance because they're tied to the machine's T2 security chip. We're going to be upgrading the RAM in our machine quite soon, so make sure to keep an eye out for that video.

Taking the casing off of the ‌Mac Pro‌ is a bit difficult because it's a tight fit and again, it's heavy, but once the casing has been removed, all of the internal components are easily accessible.

There are both single wide and double wide PCIe slots, with the half-length slot preconfigured with Apple's I/O card. The I/O card features a 3.5mm headphone jack, two Thunderbolt 3 ports, and two USB-A ports. There are also two HDMI ports, a spot for the power supply, and two 10GB Ethernet ports. You'll find two additional Thunderbolt 3 ports at the top of the tower near the power button.

Going back to that lattice design, the ‌Mac Pro‌ is indeed as quiet as Apple promised. There are three fans on one side to optimize airflow, and the housing has been designed to act as a tight seal with internal ducts to maximize the thermal capacity.

The ‌Mac Pro‌ comes with a nice braided power cable, a Lightning to USB cable with the same braided design, nifty black Apple stickers, and a high-quality instruction manual. It also ships with a silver and space gray aluminum Magic Mouse and Magic Keyboard, which is a design unique to the new ‌Mac Pro‌.

The ‌Mac Pro‌ is an impressively built machine, and we're excited to put it through its paces and see what it can do. Stay tuned to MacRumors for more ‌Mac Pro‌ coverage, and let us know what you think of Apple's new machine.

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