Apple

Speculation: Could the new Apple Silicon bring back the Mac Pro 2013?

This is pure speculation. A total hypothesis. A complete, "What if". But, what if the new Apple Silicon could bring back the Mac Pro 2013, or at least the form factor, as a bridge between the Mac mini and the Mac Pro 2019?

Currently, there is no "Mac." There is an iMac, iMac Pro, Mac mini, and Mac Pro, but not a desktop machine called "Mac." Something that is more powerful than the Mac mini, but not the set your hair on fire specs of the Mac Pro.

For example, a desktop machine that allows both memory and video card upgrades. The Mac Pro form factor would a good choice for it's design and use of space.

So, what if Apple made some tweaks, revamped the video cards, offered a higher ceiling for the ram, upped the internal SSD and re-offered the 2013 model as a "Mac"?

It could easily be an 8-12 core machine, like the final high end 2013 model was. It could support 64-256GB so as to go beyond the mini, but not upset the Pro. It would support the same dual video cards for higher video performance running multiple screens. Cards that could be upgraded, so it has some room to grow, but again, not the same cards as the Pro. And finally, 1TB-4TB internal SSD for storage with enough ports to hook up external drives.

The base Mac Pro doesn't really have enough power to justify the cost. Instead, you are buying all the technology and expandability of the motherboard and ram. Not to mention the massive powerfully, processor upgrades, ports and other upgrade options.

A cylinder Mac would allow ram and video upgrades, the processor would stay static, except through some incremental upgrades.

There is a lot of room to work with from the (2500 price point of kitted out Mac mini that can't be upgraded and the )6000 of a Mac Pro, that already needs to be upgraded.

I would love to buy a machine like that. I want to get a new machine, but I really don't want a Mac mini, yet I don't really need a Mac Pro. The size of the 2013 Mac Pro would be a great form factor to work with. It's compact but can still deliver plenty of power, especially with the refinements that have been made over the years.

I'm really excited over the possibilities of Apple Silicon, and I'd really like to see a "Mac" come onto the market.

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MiniNote Pro for quick note taking

I already have a couple of note taking apps, Notebooks, Outline, but MiniNote Pro is a great scratchpad for those quick and dirty notes I don’t need to keep for very long, like the link to a site or a shell command I need to edit.

It sits in the menubar and pops up with a click or with a keyboard command. From there I can add as many notes as I like or search through what I’ve written. If I want my notes available on another machine, there is a sync function.

The options are simple, but that’s the beauty of it. MiniNote gives me a convenient place to store items until I decide what needs to be done with them. In most cases, they stick around for a few minutes and then I don’t need the anymore. But it’s extremely handy.

MiniNote Pro on the App Store

mininotepro

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An handy little windows organizer called Magnet

As I get my feet wet with the Mac, or rather, start to building a library of hand utilities, I came across a good one for organizing the app windows. When using DisplayFusion, there are hotkeys for snapping the window to a certain position. This is handy to putting two applications side by side or stacked on top of each other.

The task will now be handled by a little app called Magnet that I found on sale for $0.99 in the App Store. It’s normally $9.99, which would still make it pretty handy for the price, but less than a dollar is amazing.

I grabbed a copy, have it running and can already see the benefit. It comes preconfigured with hot keys to move a window to the left, right or center, as well as maximize, or set it 2/3 of the window.

Pretty handy.

Magnet window manager

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Switching from Windows to Mac OS – The Software

With my change in OS comes a change in desktop software, at least to a certain extent. There are plenty of apps with native Mac counterparts and in some cases, they’re better than the original. A standard set of software would be – an Office suite, video editor, screen capture tool, chat client, password manager, note taker and web editor. I now have a native Mac app for each one.

For example, Microsoft Office was easily replaced with LibreOffice.

Outlook was replaced by the built in Apple Mail.

And OneNote was replaced with Outline.

While Write replaced Word, I will be using Scrivener that I got a few years ago.

Here is a short list of how it’s worked out so far.

Word -> Scrivener

Microsoft Office -> LibreOffice

OneNote -> Outline

Outlook -> Apple Mail

Irfanview -> Pixelmator.

MediaMonkey -> iTunes

Notepad++ -> TextWrangler

O&O DiskImage -> Time Machine

This is the short list of the apps with native Mac equivalents.

Atom

SnagIt

Camtasia

Scrivener

Scapple

Notebooks

Wordweb

Dropbox, Google Drive

Trillian

Paprika

Virtualbox

WordPress

Roboform

Slack

Github

And of course, Firefox and Chrome.

I also brought in some welcome additions. I have the desktop version of Appigo ToDo to sync with the iPad and TypeIt4Me, a fantastic text expander that’s extremely beneficial for writing, creating templates and filling in forms for some of the testing I do.

One loose end is a replacement for Corel Paintshop Pro. I know there is Photoshop, Photoshop Elements, Lightroom and even Affinity Photo, but I’d like a native Mac version. Maybe one day.

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Switching from Windows to Mac OS – The Hardware

Buying a Mac is actually a tricky affair. Because of the expense, my first thought was to build a Hackintosh. I love the idea of it, but it requires some specific hardware, some specific procedures and a bit more dedication to the cause than I’m willing to give. And, if I needed new hardware, I would rather get a real Mac and know full well it works.

But where to start? Any machine would need to have at least 8 cores and 32GB of ram. That’s what I have now and anything less would be a step back. I also need to add quite a bit of hard drive space. That eliminates the Mac Mini.

The iMac, especially the new one with 18 cores, meets the power criteria, but lacks the hard drive capacities and the price tag for that model is in the stratosphere.

The MacBooks are nice, but it doesn’t have the cores or ram, and I’m not keen on having a laptop as my main machine.

It’s down to the Mac Pro, but, with a catch.

The current Mac Pro is impressive, but, you need to think ahead on the hardware you want. However, the previous generation of Mac Pro still has a few tricks. The innards of that big aluminum case contain hardware that is powerful and expandable.

They aren’t produced anymore, but they can easily be found on eBay. Once I started looking, I found the Mac Pro of 2010 and 2012 are far more powerful than I ever imagined. When completely loaded, they support multiple processors with multiple cores per processor and can be fitted with huge amounts of ram and high end video cards.

After comparing prices and specs, I decided to go all-in and bought the biggest machine I could find, which crushes what I have now. It sports 2x 6-core processors at 3.54 Ghz, 128GB of ram, a 1TB SSD main drive, a 1TB data drive, and a staggering Nvidia Titan X video card with 12GB of ram. As a gaming rig, it would set your hair on fire.

But, this will be an application workhorse, so with 128GB of ram, I will create virtual machines bigger than my physical machines. I could also make a massive ram drive so as to stuff dozens of programs into pure memory.

The Titan X won’t be used to it’s full capacity, but it supports multiple monitors and my video won’t lag for years to come. And I’ve already added two 3TB hard drives for more data storage.

It could be overkill, but it has some brutal power. Apps take mere seconds to install and switching between them is near instantaneous. Plus, apps will never starve for ram. When the day comes to retire it out, it will make one hell of a media or web server if nothing else.

I consider it an acceptable upgrade. It goes beyond any Hackintosh or Windows based machine I could have built on my own or ordered for anything close to the price. It will be some years before a machine comes along that has big enough specs to make me upgrade. From here it would need to be 18 cores and 256GB of ram.

mac-system-properties

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