updated 10:44 pm EST, Thu December 19, 2013
Promise RAID arrays, Sharp 4K display among earliest accessories
Now that the redesigned Mac Pro is finally out, buyers lucky enough to get one of the early ones will also be shopping for accessories. While a number of third-party manufacturers have already begun ramping up to support the new tower, offerings specifically targeting Mac Pro buyers are still thin on the ground. The online Apple Store, however, has an UltraHD (4K) display monitor, new black Thunderbolt cables and existing storage expansion solutions on offer.
As reported earlier, Apple chose to offer a Sharp 4K display monitor as an option (alongside the unchanged Thunderbolt Display) and now offers matching black Thunderbolt cables in 0.5 meter (1.6 feet, $29), two meter (6.6 feet, $39) and 10 meter (33 foot, $330) lengths. While Apple continues to offer its 27-inch Thunderbolt Display for $999 as a potential display option, the Sharp 32" PN-K321 4K LED monitor is the chief Ultra HD option, connectable to the Mac Pro through HDMI or DisplayPort.
The Sharp 4K monitor, at 32 inches, costs $3,595. The Apple Thunderbolt Display offers a 2560x1440 resolution, while the Sharp has 3840 by 2160, meeting the requirements for broadcast 4K television. Apple notes that the late 2013 MacBook Pro is also able to drive the Sharp monitor (through the HDMI port only), and that it uses Sharp's IGZO technology to reduce power consumption. Dell has also planned a line of various-sized 4K monitors, with two of the three models available now starting at $1,399 and $3,599 (24- and 32-inch, respectively). The company also plans a sub-$1,000 model at 28 inches for early next year.
Mac accessory vendors OWC have already announced RAM kits that is compatible with the new unit, offering upgrades to 32GB or 64GB that cost up to 31 percent less than Apple's build-to-order options, though the company does not yet have an instructional video of how to disassemble the new Mac Pro in order to add new RAM to it. The 32GB kit (four 8GB modules of 1866MHz EEC quad-channel RAM) sells for $449, a 10 percent discount versus the factory upgrade, while the $895 64GB kit (four 16GB modules) saves 31 percent over Apple's pricing (see image below). Some additional savings can be had by trading in the factory-installed RAM.
Expanding the limited storage options of the Mac Pro are likely to be top considerations for buyers, since built-in options top out at 1TB (albeit using PCI-e SSD drives, some 10x the speed of conventional hard drives. The generous bandwidth of Thunderbolt 2 along with its expansion options allows for using legacy RAID arrays as well as new storage enclosures that provide built-in Thunderbolt 2 compatibility, erasing bottlenecks. The Promise Pegasus 2 line of RAID enclosures (starting at $699 and on up to $4,599) offer various capacities and storage solutions connected through Thunderbolt 2 and offer up to 32TB in a single enclosure.
Finally, video professionals interested in working with HD and 2K or 4K video will want to check out the tweaks made to Final Cut Pro X 10.1, now available from the Mac App Store. The $300 program, along with Compressor and Motion, now offer dual-GPU playback and rendering, video monitoring at 4K resolution via Thunderbolt 2 or HDMI, and support for 4K content such as titles, transitions and generators. BlackMagic Design offers its UltraStudio 3D breakout box, which takes advantage of Thunderbolt speed to support 2K and 3D HD video capture, though a 4K-compatible Thunderbolt 2 model is likely coming soon.
BlackMagic UltraStudio HD