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Apple’s M2 Mac Pro showing it’s still the king – better late than never…

As the dust settles I find myself spoiled for choice…

Apple silicon M2 Mac Pro

The morning after the night before

Apple’s WWDC certainly didn’t disappoint!

Somehow they managed to squeeze everything – and there was a lot – into the regulation two hours. Apart from not drawing breath, I have no idea how they did it!

Yesterday passed in a blur. It started as every day does with writing the days column but then it took a turn. In the afternoon I went live on YouTube for the first time as a test for what was to come later in the day. I’d banked for being online for about 10 minutes – just long enough to check everything was in good order. Well, I was still going an hour later as people randomly joined in for a chat!

Come WWDC time I was back live this time with Marcus as we waited for Apple Vision Pro to be announced and the day finished with me being asked to join MacRumors on their post-show Twitter Spaces round-up.

And then to this morning and trying to decide the best way to start to unpack everything that had gone on. The obvious choice would be to look at Apple Vision Pro, but instead, I thought I’d cover the Macs.

Up until yesterday’s post, I wasn’t convinced that we’d be seeing any new Macs other than the 15-inch MacBook Air – but hey, what do I know right?

Over the next few days, I’ll be looking at the highlights from Apple’s packed event and doing my best to throw some light on events.

But for now, how about looking at those Macs…

Mac Pro

As much as I got this one wrong, Hartley Charlton from MacRumors was spot on. Yesterday morning he tweeted that he thought we’d see an Apple silicon Mac Pro.

Apple finally broke cover on the long overdue Mac Pro yesterday and announced that it would be getting the all-new M2 Ultra chip and perhaps more surprisingly that it would be available today.

The outgoing Mac Pro started with an 8-core CPU and could be configured upwards from there but now every Mac Pro will come with a 24-core CPU and also starts with twice the memory & SSD storage. Keen to push its true Pro credentials, Mac Pro can be configured with up to a massive 192GB of memory. To satisfy the demands of high-end video professionals the Apple silicon Mac Pro comes with seven Afterburner cards. The M2 Ultra be it in this Mac Pro or the Studio allows for up to 22 streams of 8K video. The mind honestly boggles…

So to the question of modularity. Apple answered that by bringing seven PCIe slots to Mac Pro which means owners have more flexibility to customise & personalise after purchase. This should satisfy both video & audio pros who’ll now be able to utilise their digital signal processing & serial digital interface I/O cards.

Connectivity was always going to be another key area for the Pro. It now comes with eight Thunderbolt 4 ports and can support up to six Pro Display XDRs (which would cost £30,000 – but let’s not harbour on that point!), two HDMI ports and a pair of 10Gb Ethernet ports.

Alongside the announcement of the Apple silicon Mac Pro, they also added an SSD upgrade kit to their online store too. The kits come in 2TB, 4TB or 8TB versions, will cost either $1000, $1600 or $2800 and are available from 9th June.

This Mac will only ever appeal to a very select number of pros, but Apple has kept the legacy alive. As to whether that was a good idea now in the Mac Studio era only time will tell.

The new Apple silicon Mac Pro is available immediately with prices starting from £7199 and topping out at just a touch over £13,000 – about a quarter of the price of the old Intel Mac Pro. And yes…the wheels still cost an extra £400!

Mac Studio

Mac Studio got given the same high-end chip as the Mac Pro and also is available with M2 Max. Apple is saying this M2 generation of Mac Studio is around 50 per cent quicker than the first gen Mac Studio.

M2 Max can be spec’d with up to 96GB of unified memory while M2 Ultra can go all the way up to 196GB of memory. Connectivity wise the Mac Studio comes with four Thunderbolt 4 ports, two SD card slots an HDMI port, two USB-A ports and a 10Gb Ethernet port.

Prices start from £2099 for the M2 Max Studio or £4199 for the M2 Ultra model and are available immediately.

MacBook Air

The world’s thinnest laptop just got bigger!

The M2 MacBook Air is now available with a 15.3-inch Liquid Retina panel and an upgraded speaker system.

Much about this new MacBook Air is unchanged from the model I have – battery life, connectivity, mics, media engines & camera specs are identical and apart from the size the specs of the display are unchanged too. The extra size has bought only a tiny bump in weight – up from 2.7 pounds to 3.3 pounds and virtually no difference in thickness which means it is still super portable.

The main change for the 15-inch MacBook Air is the new six-speaker setup. It now has two tweeters & and a pair of force-cancelling woofers giving this sound system on this ultra-portable MacBook Air some serious amounts of bass. As before it comes with support for Spatial Audio.

Sonoma

I will be writing in greater detail over the next few days about the changes to the new macOS that these Macs will be running come the fall. On the face of it though it would seem the big takeaway is that Sonoma will become easier to personalise with more widgets, improved video call capabilities and an updated Safari – but as I said, I’ll go into more details soon.

Wrapping up

So Apple did it all – they pulled the impossible out of the hat.

In a sharp two-hour set not only did they manage to cover all the new OS including tvOS and showcased Apple Vision Pro but they also unveiled three (or I guess technically four) new Macs.

I was convinced coming into WWDC that if the 15-inch MacBook Air was released I’d order one, but today I find myself lingering with it in the basket – should I or shouldn’t I? Other than screen size I can’t see there would be much for me to cover or compare. I hardly ever use the onboard speakers as I always wear AirPods Pro or Max when I use my MacBook Air and it is the audio setup that’s changed the most.

Now I am wondering if trying a base M2 Mac Studio to compare against my high-end M1 Max MacBook Pro may not be more of an interesting comparison. Top of the range M1 Max versus entry M2 Max. Desktop versus laptop. Thoughts?

Either way, Apple delivered yesterday – and I’d love to know what your highlights were.

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