Apple says no problem to side-mounting the new Mac Pro, but why?

Want to use your new Mac Pro on its side? No problem, says Apple

In case you were wondering, you can use your new Mac Pro on its side, according to a recent post on Apple's Knowledgebase. But why would you want to? Read on to find out.

The fan system works both horizontally and vertically, according to Apple, though users are cautioned to accommodate for unrestricted airflow into the base and out the exhaust at the top. Apple also recommends placing them side by side - not end to end - and leaving a gap of several inches between them.

The round shape makes the Mac Pro prone to rolling on its side, obviously, so Apple also recommends securing them. Apple also suggests keeping the I/O port panel - normally oriented on the back of the device - accessible if you lay the Mac Pro on its side.

So Apple has blessed the use of the Mac Pro on its side, but the question is why? In short, Apple is guiding for the use of the Mac Pro in server settings.

The Mac mini remains Apple's go to solution for workgroup and small business server configurations; you can order a quad-core Mac mini for $999 and get a system that includes an unlimited user license and all the software you need for e-mail, file server, publishing web content and much more.

But the Mac Pro has practical applications for companies looking to build render farms for large-scale visual effects processing, and organizations doing scientific research and other tasks that scale well with the Mac Pro's parallel processing architecture. The Mac Pro's Thunderbolt 2 expansion ports can also serve as a direct network bridge, further enhancing the system's ability to carrying large amounts of data across a network.

We're still waiting for third parties to unveil specific rank mount gear for the Mac Pro, but I'm willing to bet it's only a matter of time - probably once the Mac Pro is in more widespread use, once Apple's manufacturing backlog has been dealt with.

Are you interested in setting up a Mac Pro render farm or some other large-scale installation? Sound off in the comments, I want to hear from you.

Peter Cohen

Managing Editor of iMore, Mac and gaming specialist and all-around technologist. Follow him on Twitter @flargh

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Reader comments

Apple says no problem to side-mounting the new Mac Pro, but why?

12 Comments

Yes, we are setting up render farms, but we're going to use our old Mac Pros to do that with, initially, and use the new Mac Pros as our workstations.

If people do have a use for Mac Pros as a server, I wonder if we have any data or use cases for how many Thunderbolt-to-Gigabit Ethernet adapters are supported on one machine.

I cannot imagine racking these with other gear just yet - I'd like sonebody else to experiment with proper storage and cooling first. Even if/when acceptable racks come out, I'd have to see some specialized software optimizations (which, admittedly, are likely coming) before id put one of these in a farm over multiple beige boxes. Someday, though - just not yet.

People with racks of servers buy rack mount servers rarely "beige boxes" the reason to go Mac Pro even though it's not standard rack mountable boxes is that it may turn out that computer power/sq. cm may actually be more efficient with Apple's thermal core.

Also the question isn't on gigabit adapters, it's if there are 10 gigabit adapters and fiber cards are available for thunderbolt. Server rooms have been moving to these for a couple of years now.

Possible, but blade servers already allow a lot of power/cm2, and some of those 1U and 2U enclosures are beige :)

A single Mac Pro on its side is likely going to take 4U by itself - maybe you could fit two side-by-side in a 4U enclosure, but that still seems like a lot less general purpose power than you could pack in the same space. Of course, the Mac Pro has a vastly different architecture, so software optimized for it could change the equation, at least for some fields.

And the thermal core is more question than answer in a rack - it aids cooling by allowing heat to escape vertically - something not possible in a rack setting. How well Mac Pros can run full and stay cool in a rack is a complete unknown.

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The article is about horizontal mounting, in this position the thermal core works with a hot aisle/cold aisle data center layout and reduces height of the computer.

Increased power efficiency may help as well. Would need to see real numbers but I wouldn't dismiss data center usage out of hand.

I agree but these things are really designed to be upright. One part of the core will become hotter than the other on the side, we'll see how big the difference is once testing is underway. As the core is triangular you wouldn't want the heat accumulating in the point. BUT, maybe once on the side the point is down, but then the cords will need to be pointing at 45 degs?

I can imagine a wine rack style server rack, with shiny Mac Pro's resting on their side, protected by something soft, firm and grippy for scratch resistance and a bit of, well, grip. It would look pretty darn cool if you had a few of these beasties.

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rack this mac pro? really? I'd have to laugh at the idiots that buy this and rack them in numbers . Stupid waste of space and money.

This should help those company that have many in racks. Should make it easier to get to the machine.

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