Phil Schiller took the stage for the October 22nd fall Apple announcement to provide the professional crowd more information about the upcoming Mac Pro release.
While stunning in both design and performance, it has been criticized for its apparent lack of internal upgradability.
Mr. Schiller did spend a large portion of his time talking about the Thunderbolt 2 expandability and all the external ports, there may be a hint of good news in the presentation for people looking to upgrade internally. Several of the slides mentioned user accessibility.
System upgradability has been one of the principal reasons why people in the past purchased a Mac Pro. The full desktop tower design offered easy access to the main system board, upgrade PCI slots, and extra hard drive bays for storage. Because the case was easy to access, and all the components relatively standard, a technician or enthusiast could easily upgrade the Mac Pro to stay relevant.
Thanks to the extended hiatus of a new Mac Pro, combined with the leaks of a design that may not be upgradable, some people have considered switching to a Windows-based PC for their high-end computing needs. For those who are already using Adobe’s Creative Cloud, many of the apps play to the strengths of a Windows machine. Looking at the above “New Project” screen in Adobe Premier Pro, the software encourages that user to have a high-speed “scratch disk,” typically a SSD, to help the overall performance of the project.
Many production machines have a large internal drive for storing data, and then a smaller SSD for high-speed processes like boot and scratch disks. With the new Mac Pro, there is only one internal disk, and additional can only be added through the Thunderbolt 2 ports.
Looking at the Mac Pro information page, the internal memory appears to be stored in four separate memory modules. While most of the Apple line appears to be stuck with memory that is soldered to the main system board, the Mac Pro’s memory appears to be upgradable.
The internal hard drive, which is a PCIe-based SSD can be ordered with up to 1TB of storage. However, unlike other Macs, it does not appear to be soldered to the main system board. This would mean that the drive is upgradable over time as drives grow, or easily replaced if there is a failure of the SSD drive.
It is unclear at this point if the graphics cards are upgradable, and we probably will not find out that answer until the machine ships in December. It is very unlikely that they are, since use accessibility is not being mentioned on Apple’s site. However, for those worried about some of the basic computer components and their ability to be replaced or upgraded should not be as worried as they were before.