Apple's Mac Pro may be the red-headed stepchild of its computer lineup, with my ZDNet colleague Jason D O'Grady recently wondering if it's even a viable platform for Apple. Such speculation is due in no small measure to the fact Apple hasn't updated its hardware in some time, and beyond some vague promises, the company hasn't offered a firm timeline for a refresh.
So third parties appear to be filling in the void. A Kickstarter project was launched for a tower computer around the projectQ motherboard that can run OS X and be viewed as a poor man's Mac Pro. And now it looks like graphics card maker Sapphire is going to inject some more up-to-date video power into the aging desktop.
The company just showed off its Radeon HD 7950 Mac Edition board last week at CeBIT. While this card has been available for some time for Windows computers, it still marks a major update compared to the Radeon 5000-series graphics Apple is still selling the Mac Pro with. (That's when Radeon was still under the ATI brand name.) The 7950 offers 1,792 stream processors running at 800MHz and 3GB of GGDR5 video memory. Because it is a Mac-compatible product, it comes with a special BIOS and the familiar Apple white coloring (even if the Mac Pro has an aluminum chassis).
No release date has been announced, but pricing rumors floating around the internet indicate that it will cost about $450 for the add-in card. That may be a steep price to pay — though users already paid a steep price for their Mac Pros — but it does mean that creative professionals using the desktop will have more power for tasks like video editing, and gaming via Steam or the Mac App Store will be improved.
Would you upgrade your Mac Pro desktop with this new card when it becomes available? Let us know in the Talkback section below.