After teasing that a new Mac Pro was coming more than a year ago, Apple went almost radio silent when it finally unveiled the M2 Ultra computer during the WWDC 2023 keynote. Not only did it share the stage with the new Mac Studio, but it was tough to learn anything about this new machine in the wild.
While BGR already reported an unboxing of the M2 Ultra Mac Pro, we were still lacking a review of this product. Fortunately, Apple did hand off a few review units for journalists, and The Verge had access to an M2 Ultra Mac Pro with 128GB of RAM. The publication tested the product and also talked with what it considered “Pro customers” that Apple is aiming at to understand whether they think this upgrade was worth it.
Long story short, it isn’t. One of the reasons is that Apple MacBooks are too good. Apple Silicon, in general, is impressive, and many Pro customers can perform their jobs with no problems with an M1 Max or M2 Max MacBook Pro. The other issue is that the Mac Pro lost what was so convenient about it: being an upgradeable machine after purchasing it. That being said, a Mac Studio is more than enough for 99,9% of Pro customers since their specifications are identical.
When comparing the 2023 Mac Pro with its 2019 counterpart, it feels like Apple’s most expensive machine is having an identity crisis, just like many MacBook models had during 2015 and 2019. Apple changed their design, removed all the ports, added a flawed Butterfly keyboard, and never cared to update the webcam. It was only with the M1 family of Macs that Apple finally corrected its past mistakes and delivered a good computer again.
Since Apple has been continuously delivering impressive Macs over the past few years, this is why the M2 Ultra Mac Pro feels so controversial. The Verge notes:
The 2019 Mac Pro was endlessly configurable, and ports could be swapped out and upgraded as users needed. Much has changed. Spec choice is now more limited (there are only two processor options, for example, and memory is now capped at 192GB where previously up to 1.5TB was available). The 2023 Mac Pro’s memory is not upgradeable after purchase for the first time in the model’s history.
With that in mind, I’m sure Apple will need some extra time to deliver a proper Mac Pro to very demanding customers. It did the same with the MacBook Pro by adding more ports, HDMI slot, SD card slot, and MagSafe in 2021, and it could totally bring back the upgradeability of the Mac Pro – including more RAM support – with new iterations of Apple’s own silicon in the future.