The rumor mill has barely started churning for an Apple M1-based version of the company’s desktop tower-slash-workstation and there’s really little to go on at the moment. There’s little incentive for Apple to change the cosmetics of the original 2019 Mac Pro and it really should retain some backward compatibility with that model’s modular design, so, much of the news and analysis is likely to revolve around the Mac Pro’s switch to Apple’s M1 CPUs. Unless Apple decides to add an option for a new set of wheels in Rose Gold for $500 or a $100 polishing cloth, in which case those will likely overshadow the technical details.
When will the new Mac Pro be announced?
We’re almost certain a new Mac Pro will come this year — the Mac Pro and iMac 27-inch are the last left for Apple to hit its self-imposed two-year deadline to complete the switch from third-party processors to its own.
While we don’t know anything more specific than that, my guess is the new model will be announced at the annual Apple Worldwide Developers Conference, which usually happens in early June. If there are any new or unique capabilities that Apple’s planning to add with the annual operating system update, software developers need to be the first to know. The system itself probably wouldn’t ship until October at the earliest.
It’s always possible that the grand unveiling will take place at the annual event Apple usually holds in March, but that tends to be more education-focused.
What will be new?
This is anyone’s guess at this point. Apple needs to continue to support its existing installed base of Mac Pros with upgrades, because one of the points of a high-end, upgradable system like this is that it lasts more than a few years. That probably means Apple won’t redesign the chassis significantly, especially given that Apple updates its hardware designs infrequently under normal circumstances.
To switch to its own processors from the Intel Xeon CPUs and update to more modern, high-bandwidth standards (like PCIe 4 and DDR5) probably requires a redesigned motherboard, hopefully still retaining the socketed CPU design. We’ve yet to see how Apple plans to scale its M1 lineup to a system that traditionally relies on discrete graphics and more than the 10 CPU cores in its current M1 Max as well. Will Apple have a line of increasingly powerful single-die CPUs or will it double and triple up on the existing M1s? Will it create new graphics modules by spinning off the GPU integrated into the M1s or will it continue to rely on AMD’s Radeon Pro GPUs? Inquiring minds want to know.
There are rumors about the M1-based 27- or 32-inch iMac with a high-end display and an updated Mac Mini, but we’ve also been waiting patiently for a less pricey version of its Pro Display XDR. That might mean a midrange Mac Pro, which would be great, unless that’s the spot Apple intends an updated Mac Mini to fill.
When will we be able to buy a new Mac Pro?
In all likelihood this year, though the new Mac Pro desktop could possibly be in limited supply until early next year if the supply chain crunch continues for too long.