The 'modular' Mac Pro is the solution to a problem that Apple itself created

As is the case with most things related to Apple, there's a lot of buzz surrounding the anticipated 'modular' Mac Pro. But who really wants a 'modular' Mac?
Written by Adrian Kingsley-Hughes, Senior Contributing Editor

Over the past few days, the Apple tech blogs have been buzzing with what are almost certainly fake renders for a 'modular' Mac Pro. It's fake because, for one reason, this mythical Mac Pro is packed with super-cutting-edge components such as DDR5 (which hasn't yet seen commercial release), PCIe 4 slots, and something breathlessly referred to as an "Apple X2 accelerator."

So yes, it's a fake. But why are people so excited by a 'modular' Mac Pro in the first place?

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It's because a modular Mac Pro is the solution to a problem that Apple itself was at least partly responsible for creating.

Think about the old desktop PC. This was the quintessential modular system. You could throw different parts at it and upgrade it with off-the-shelf parts.

Life was easy.

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Then companies – Apple being one that paved the way – started cramming PC components into smaller and smaller systems, and then began integrating separate components onto a single board, making upgrading some aspects of a system impossible.

And this culminated with the modern all-in-one system, of which systems such as the Apple iMac and iMac Pro are probably the most well-known.

But now Apple is going full circle it seems and wants to go back to a modular design again.

But you can be guaranteed that the new Mac Pro won't be modular in the traditional sense. Rather than being able to go to your favorite parts vendors and buy components to install, you're going to have to buy ready-made – and no doubt reassuringly expensive – proprietary modules to create a stacking system whereby you can add more storage, GPUs, and more I/O.

While I'm sure the new Mac Pro will be pretty, easy to use, be a performance beast, work exceptionally well – and be expensive – it's essentially a solution to a problem that Apple itself created. I mean, sure, adding storage and GPUs isn't something everyone can do, but the price you'll pay for the new Mac Pro will make hiring someone to carry out an upgrade on a computer seem cheap.

Would I buy a 'modular' Mac Pro?

I have to admit that my issue with this comes down to how committed Apple is to the design. I mean, the existing trash can Mac Pro was released to much fanfare, but once the initial buzz had died down, the idea withered on the vine as Apple essentially ignored it.

The idea of being able to buy upgrade modules is a compelling one, but will Apple be updating the modules as time passes to keep up with the changing tech, or will the system serve as a time capsule to what cutting edge looked like at the time of release? Will modules released in a few years be compatible with the older systems, or will they require a total upgrade? If that's the case, the modularity is a gimmick and buyers might just as well buy a complete system built to their spec in the beginning.

Lots of questions, and as of yet there are no official answers.

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What do you think about a 'modular' Mac Pro? Share your thoughts below!

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