Apple’s pro lineup of Macs was getting long in the tooth. My Macbook Retina was announced back in at WWDC 2012 and the Mac Pro might be on the fossil record. It was time for Apple to change that. Today they announced a trio of new Macs at their event in San Francisco’s Yerba Buena Center for the Arts. Just so they’re not lonely, they decided it was a good time to release OS X Mavericks as well.
OS X 10.9 Mavericks was announced back in June at WWDC. While very similar to the 10.8 Mountain Lion that we’re using now, Mavericks brings a few new features to the mix like tabbed windows, updated tagging system, better notifications, powerful new multiple display support, iBooks/Maps, and powerful new underpinnings. In fact, just read about it in my article from June. What’s important is that Apple announced the pricing and availability for Mavericks. You’re going to like what they said. Mavericks is available today and don’t bother to reach for that credit card. From now on, OS X will join iOS in having free yearly updates. Having to pay went out with the cat names. If you have a 2007 iMac/Mac Pro with the discrete graphics or newer, you’re good to go.
Macbook Pro Retina
When the MacBook Pro with Retina was released a year and a half ago, I considered it a halo product that was underspecced and too expensive. Having owned a 15-inch model for several months, I couldn’t live without it now. They blend power and portability like no other machine I have seen. In these months since the initial release, things have changed and a new generation technology has appeared. Today, the MacBook Pro got its upgrade. Today also marks the death of the non-Retina model.
The new MacBook Pros still come in two configurations: 13 and 15-inch. Those who were excited by the rumors of a revived 17-inch model will be disappointed. The 13-inch model has been tweaked to become slightly thinner and lighter with the 15-inch model largely left the same. I suggest the latter is because of the quad core chip and the discreet graphics chip. 13-inch models are powered by the Haswell dual-core chips while the 15-inch models get its quad core cousin called Crystalwell. While speed improvements should be modest, the ‘well cousins bring about much improved battery life. The 13-inch will give you 9 hours while the 15″ gives you 8. For a workhorse machine, that extra battery life is very much appreciated.
Where there is going to be more than a modest gain is in the graphics department. The 13-inch features Intel’s new Iris graphics while while the 15-inch has Iris Pro. Like the Nvidia integrated chips Apple used a few generations ago, these offer capabilities comparable to lower end discrete graphics. There have also been tweaks to let the Iris IGPs dynamically use RAM resources. The 15-inch also has the Nvidia GeForce 750M for even more graphics capability I/O ports are generally similar to last year except for the addition of the new 20gbps Thunderbolt 2. The SSD drives now go right to the PCI-E bus instead of the SATA controller. Lastly, the wireless is now 802.11AC.
The New MacBook Pros start at $1299 for a 2.4ghz dual core 13-inch model with 4GB of memory and 128GB of storage and $1999 for a 2.0ghz quad-core 15-inch with 8GB of memory and 256GB storage. That’s $200 less than the 2012 models. There are other configurations and BTO configurations.
The 2013 Mac Pro might be the most controversial Mac Apple has ever produced. The only thing this Mac Pro has in relation to the machine that came before is the name. It is like no other pro workstation before it. The tower has been replaced by what resembles a designer trashcan. The drive bays and PCI-E slots are gone replaced by Thunderbolt 2, network storage, and a single PCI-E bus SSD. The new Mac Pro will be available in 3.7GHz quad core and 3.5GHz six-core variants using Ivy Bridge -E CPUs. 3.0GHz 8-core and 2.7GHz 12-core CPUs are BTO. GPUs are all workstation class AMD Fire Pros and each Mac Pro comes with a pair. The D300 is standard with the D500 and D700 BTO. For those wanting this as a portable gaming machine, you’re out of luck, though the capability is there should Apple want to go that direction.
The new Mac Pro will ship in December. For $2999, you get the quad core CPU, 12GB of memory, Fire Pro D300 graphics and a 256GB SSD. Capacities of 512GB, and 1TB are optional. An extra grand gets you the 6-core, 16GB the D500s, and that same 256GB SSD. From there, you have BTO options up to the stratosphere.
Apple’s late-2013 announcements were very much based at the pro-segment of their user base. If you’re looking at a new high-end MacBook Pro or a professional workstation, now is the time to buy. Just note with the Mac Pro, you’ll probably need some add-ons and NAS storage with it. Please leave your thoughts on our social media pages or below. While you’re at it, don’t forget to check out our coverage of the iPad and software announcements.