We at DLP have long been Apple supporters, and will continue to be for some the foreseeable future. That said, we now own very few of their products.
For a long time now, Apple has represented a higher caliber of computer for us and the #1 spot for computer vendors. They had better hardware and significantly better consumer grade operating systems than other offerings on the market. For the general public at large, they still hold that title. Things are simpler with most things in MacOS. We can sit even the most computer illiterate person down in front of a Mac, and most things are easily discovereable by pure instinct alone. But for the tech enthusiast or pro user – they simply do not hold the same place anymore.
For over a decade, most of our workstations have been Mac Pro’s. I remember getting my first G4 Power Mac and how happy I was with how quickly I got even the most complex of workloads done. I moved us from those to Power Mac G5’s. Then when Apple moved to Intel processors, I happily traded those in for a dual Xeon Mac Pro’s.
We typically keep our workstations for around 5 years, upgrading small parts as we go. Late in 2011, I had found that our Mac Pro’s were starting to show some signs of age as things started to slowly deteriorate and software progressed while our hardware had not. However, there were no real ground breaking upgrades in the Mac Pro line, so we did some basic upgrades to solid state drives and more memory and decided to wait and see what Apple could come up with.
In June of the following year, Apple announced a newly redesigned Mac Pro that was more reminiscent (in appearance) of a droid from Star Wars than a professional workstation. I was not too keen with the move to a locked in system that made upgrades close to impossible, but Apple promised to keep the parts coming. They never did.
At that point, our old Mac Pro’s were now 7 years old, and we were desperate to get new workstations. So, we went ahead and purchased the new models, along with countless adapters and external drive arrays for storage. In hindsight, that was probably the worst move I have ever made with my company.
The new machines were plagued with small issues. Proprietary drive types (rather than using the standard NVME drives the rest of the industry adopted) made things more complicated, and under intense load, we would often find the machines starting to overheat. Things eventually smoothed out, and we had a few decent years with our ‘trash can’ Mac Pro’s. I made the decision at some point during those years that we were never again buying a locked in system like the Mac Pro, iMac, and others.
But just like before, the 4 year mark approached, and no new machines had been announced. Apple started to hear the outcry from their professional users, and breaking from tradition, made a rare public statement in April of 2017 that they were working on a brand new modular Mac Pro. We decided to wait again. While Apple never gave a time frame for this new machine, the speculation from industry insiders all pointed to early to mid 2018.
In the fall of 2018, with machines that were now starting to show significant issues (which is what happens when you have a machine that gets massive heavy use, and has thermal problems), I made the decision to allow each of our employees to choose their own workstation, whatever it was. This was the second worst decision I have ever made with my company.
The few that decided to go the notebook route and pick up the newly released Macbook Pro (which was extremely impressive on paper) instantly regretted their decision. I was one of them. The keyboards were terrible and showed issues from day 1. The thermal throttling was mind boggling. If there were 2-3 of them together in one office doing something intensive, you could easily close your eyes and think you were on the flight deck of an aircraft carrier from all the fan noise that was being produced. Today, less than 6 months later, none of those laptops are still here. They were all either returned, or in one case, sold off to someone else.
Those of us that had not succumbed to the move to Windows quite yet were still holding out hope that some new Mac Pro was around the corner. Unfortunately, we didn’t make it long enough. As of today, there is still no new Mac Pro launched, or even announced. It has been 2 years since Apple told the professional market it was coming.
Last month, we built the final workstation to replace the last Mac Pro in our company. Like most of the others, the thunderbolt ports start to die (which indicates a mainboard failure, usually caused by warping under the stress of the heat) and it could not go further.
While Apple still make a great product for most consumers, they no longer make great products for everyone. Hopefully one day, they will get past this stumbling block that has tied them up for the last decade and be able to produce some great machines again as we really do miss MacOS. Windows 10 and Ubuntu (Linux) have made great strides over the years, but still pale in comparison with Apple on the software front.
Image shows the 12South horizontal stand for the 2013 Mac Pro