I always wanted a Mac Pro but now it's time Apple canceled it

Apple Mac Pro from the side with the lid off
(Image credit: Apple)

The Mac Pro was always the Mac that us nerds wanted, whether we needed it or not. It was always the most powerful Mac you could buy and it came with a price tag that matched that prowess. But now? Now things are different.

Back in the day, you'd covet the Mac Pro with its huge chassis, expansion slots and bays, and Intel Xeon chips that ran so fast they'd bend even the worst build of Mac OS X to its will. That continued into the age of macOS as well, but the Mac Pro's time was already numbered at that point. Apple silicon was on the way.

And boy did Apple's chips change the game. In fact, it changed it so much that the Mac Pro is now a hugely expensive purchase that 99% of the Mac user base doesn't need. And now I don't just not need one, I don't want one anymore. And that makes me sad.

Boo hoo to you

Now, I get it. This is the very definition of a first-world problem. But Apple just launched a $3,500 Vision Pro AR/VR headset so cut me some slack.

The new Mac Pro is undoubtedly a fast machine, the recent benchmarks prove that. And at a starting price of two Vision Pro headsets (that's 6,999 of your American dollars) it's the most expensive Mac that Apple sells. It also has space for expansion cards, but it has a dark secret. Those expansion cards can't be of the GPU variety, and you can thank the Apple silicon architecture for that. You also can't add more RAM, either. Something else that's brought about by that M2 Ultra chip that beats at the heart of the new Mac Pro.

Considering those two things were the main reasons a ton of people bought the Mac Pro in the first place, Apple's beefy machine is in something of a strange spot. Because the M2 Ultra Mac Studio exists.

The new king

Mac Studio being used for design work

(Image credit: Apple)

The M2 Ultra Mac Studio starts at $3,999 which instantly makes it a better buy for anyone spending their own money and not their company's. It'll run all of your apps just as quickly, and it'll chew through video and audio editing tasks like its life depends on it. For 99% of people, the new Mac Studio is the best Mac you can buy right now. And it even looks pretty good in a kind of utilitarian, understated kind of way.

But what about the remaining 1%?

Those people need a Mac Pro, and they've probably already placed their order. The reason? Bespoke cards that are used for video and audio work that the majority of us have no idea even exist. Being able to plug those into a spare PCIe slot is what makes the Mac Pro worth every penny, but they represent such a small portion of the market I have to imagine that the Mac Pro is barely worth making anymore. Especially when it sits alongside the Mac Studio in Apple's lineup.

Which brings me back to my original point. I don't need to plug any cards into my Mac and while I would have liked to shove a gaming GPU in there, or maybe upgrade the RAM at a later date to make my $7000 Mac last longer, I won't be able to. And for that reason, I don't want a Mac Pro for the first time in a long time. I want a Mac Studio instead.

In reality, I don't need either. The M1 Pro 16-inch MacBook Pro I'm writing this piece on is already overkill for what I do every day. But that was never the point of my Mac Pro lust. And it's the same for my desire for a Mac Studio from here on out, too.

Mac Pro, the new Xserve?

So what next for the Mac Pro? My guess is that it'll be gone from Apple's lineup sooner or later. Will the M2 Ultra model be the last? I don't know, but it wouldn't surprise me.

The Mac Pro currently finds itself in the same space the Xserve once occupied. It's super cool in its own way and it's needed by a small number of people. But that small number probably isn't enough to keep an entire product alive. It might have been if Apple needed a halo product, like carmakers have one high-spec and super-fast model that few buy but still pulls people into normal cars. But Apple already has one of those.

And it's called the Mac Studio.

Oliver Haslam

Oliver Haslam has written about Apple and the wider technology business for more than a decade with bylines on How-To Geek, PC Mag, iDownloadBlog, and many more. He has also been published in print for Macworld, including cover stories. At iMore, Oliver is involved in daily news coverage and, not being short of opinions, has been known to 'explain' those thoughts in more detail, too. Having grown up using PCs and spending far too much money on graphics card and flashy RAM, Oliver switched to the Mac with a G5 iMac and hasn't looked back. Since then he's seen the growth of the smartphone world, backed by iPhone, and new product categories come and go. Current expertise includes iOS, macOS, streaming services, and pretty much anything that has a battery or plugs into a wall. Oliver also covers mobile gaming for iMore, with Apple Arcade a particular focus. He's been gaming since the Atari 2600 days and still struggles to comprehend the fact he can play console quality titles on his pocket computer.