PCs optimize

Meager Mac Pro upgrades worry enterprises

Mary Shacklett reports on the troubling lack of attention paid to the Mac Pro systems, largely ignored in Apple's most recent round of updates.

Apple servers and enterprise computing are rarely mentioned in the same breath but the fact is, there are some "niche" industries that rely on Mac Pro servers to host their mission-critical applications. Industries that traditionally have used Mac Pro servers for mission-critical applications include publishing, music and movie rendering/animation.

Stories abound of music studios, publishers and video animation studios placing rows of Mac Pro servers in their data centers to achieve the processing power needed to do their daily work. In most cases, they can probably find a PC-server alternative, but they choose not to, because the software and the ergonomics of the Mac in their eyes are unequaled.

For these enterprises and small businesses, Apple's recent announcements in June, which seemed to leave the Mac Pro behind in its product development plans, sounded an alarm. Upgrades were confirmed to replacement of aging CPUs, and seemed to be more in the spirit of just keeping the machine maintained. Even more revealing was Apple's exclusion of the same Thunderbolt data throughput upgrade that was announced for iMacs. MacBook Airs, MacBook Pros, and Mac Minis. Thunderbolt I/O technology matters because it moves data up to 20 times faster than  USB 2.0 and 12 times faster than FireWire 800.

"Companies reliant on Mac hardware -- especially high-end workstations -- need to be thinking about the day that there's no longer a new Mac Pro system to buy," said Adrian Kingsley-Hughes, an Apple industry analyst and blogger. "Unless the iMac hardware is adequate for their needs, they're going to have to go over to Windows. While that's likely to be a PR kick in the teeth for the Cupertino giant, it's going to mean nothing to the company's bottom line. Apple sells some four million Macs a quarter, and only a fraction of them are going to be Mac Pro systems. Apple has demonstrated time and time again that it is moving out of the specialist markets, instead giving preference to mainstream markets."

Unfortunately for enterprises that love Mac Pro and also hear this heralding of Mac Pro's demise, there is not even an opportunity to consider an iMac, since iMac is not designed for the data center.  The reason is simple: iMac doesn't have much scalability since its CPU has limited upgrade headroom.

Meanwhile, rumors are circulating that Apple is still planning to invest significantly in the Mac Pro, with upgrades that include solid state drives, native PCIE3 and yes, Thunderbolt. "There are plenty of internal upgrades that need to be made for it to be considered a computer that meets professional standards," said news commentator Alex Heath.

There is also argument that some "external" upgrades can be made, if enterprises are going to stay comfortable with Apple's commitment to Mac Pro. This begins when you walk into an Apple store, and have to strain yourself to find the Mac Pro-tucked unobtrusively against a side wall, while the iMacs, Mac Airs, Mac Books and Mini Macs take up most of the store's real estate. When the sales reps on the business side are asked questions about where Mac Pro is headed, they are unable to answer them.

"Apple operates under a cone of silence," said Kingsley-Hughes. "All we ever truly know about Apple is what the company announces and what appears in the stores. Apple had plenty of time to incorporate Thunderbolt into the Mac Pro --and it didn't. It's more than likely that we'll have to wait at least a year until the next Mac Pro update. If one appears, I would expect it to have Thunderbolt, but my guess is that the absence of it now doesn't bode well for a future update."

What are your thoughts about the future of Mac Pro?

About

Mary E. Shacklett is president of Transworld Data, a technology research and market development firm. Prior to founding the company, Mary was Senior Vice President of Marketing and Technology at TCCU, Inc., a financial services firm; Vice President o...

55 comments
egosumlux
egosumlux

Probably disregarded by most people commenting here is Mac OS simplicity which by itself is an enormous advantage. Sure there are faster computers around, and they were always there, sometimes more expensive than top tier Macs but if you plan on running a processor-intensive job under Windows 7 bend on your knees and pray that Winhell allows you to do so.

sharifchodry
sharifchodry

Still now Apple has a big problem with hardware and software compatibility issues and customer satisfaction. In order to gain trustworthy business, they should look forward to resolve those. And I am complitely aggree with the topic posted above by Mary Shacklett. Genious Bar at apple...............? Give me a brake.

HypnoToad72
HypnoToad72

These companies don't exist to serve you. They exist to profit for themselves. If they drop you, too bad. Adopt another platform, the cost is your responsibility. Apple is not going to coddle you, even if its lobbyists demand the US government coddle it with taxpayer-funded subsidy and/or bailouts when the paradigm they helped create backfires on them.

spineres
spineres

It would appear that Apple has entered into some agreement/truce with Microsoft that for Exchange interfacing and support they would agree to abandon the enterprise market. This would account for their embracing Exchange in their iOS/OSX, adopting the Azure platform for iCloud, abandoning the XServe and MacPro models and neutering the MacMini server OS. Apple has always sucked at enterprise e.g. MobileMe and iCloud. Their contact manager and calendar is about as lame as a 2nd year programming students semester project. Apple is focusing on what they do best, consumer products, ease of use, high profile, pretty and enterprise is none of these. It is a shame that this has happened. I am a huge Apple supporter and feel that they have one of the few stable OS's out there e.g. Linux, OSX. This is life. The majority of people at Apple are RICH now and taking on enterprise would interfere with their wine, car, yacht, travel, philanthropy and art collecting activities. What we can hope for is that someone hungry and new will come out of the woods and reinvent enterprise like SugarSync, Boxee, Dropbox. There is a window (pun intended) that has been left open for someone like them to build a truly open source enterprise solution that works with everyone and leaves Apple and MS to the dinosaur playground of the 90's. Apple builds an awesome consumer product and MS builds a great ....? well, half backed enterprise/desktop solutions, that with a team of programmers and sys ops, can support a large corporation.

durocshark
durocshark

...to be in the big computing market. They dropped the XServe a couple years ago for the same reason. They want to focus on mobile devices. That's clearly their business model. And it's working for them so far.

bpress
bpress

The article specifically talks about movie rendering, music and publishing. Those are the industries that are using large quantities of Mac Pros. A majority of the video editing in the world is done on Mac Pros. Every Movie you watch was created primarily with Macs. It is a niche market. As mentioned in the article, Apple will not even blink at the miniscule difference in its bottom line., but it will significantly impact the entertainment business. All news is generated by the entertainment business. It will see far moremarketing impact than financial.

T3CHN0M4NC3R
T3CHN0M4NC3R

I have been working in the IT line for 5 years and never have I came across any companies having any Mac Server. I have also hunt for jobs for that 5 years and nothing relating to maintaining or administering Mac Servers. I do not believe Mac server is maintenance free.

Alex Gerulaitis
Alex Gerulaitis

The article is titled, "Meager Mac Pro upgrades worry enterprises", yet I didn't see a single example of an enterprise that expressed such worries, nor did I see an example of an enterprise grade application that would only run on a Mac. In other words, Mac (Pro) is hugely irrelevant unless there is a killer app that only runs on it, that enterprises need. What killer app is that? The only enterprise grade killer app I can think of, is Final Cut Pro 7 - but that was killed for good by Apple last year, prompting scores of professional editors (and some enterprises) to abandon the FCP ship and switch to apps like Avid Media Composer and Adobe Creative Suite. Both of those run on Mac or Windows, making Mac a disposable platform, vs. what used to be a "must have". Oh did I miss some other Mac-specific killer apps that would make enterprises worry?

HypnoToad72
HypnoToad72

Not sure why you'd received a negative, especially when they didn't respond citing why. I could, but it'd be inference and my guessing on their pet peeve doesn't help. The OS is based on FreeBSD, with closed source material added. There is no registry, and there is no file fragment-prone file system to compound problems with. Windows DOES have advantages with DirectX and game speed, and it's up to Apple to make professional 3D drivers for Maya and other apps such companies would use, since Apple controls the hardware. As those software apps can use the GPU, that's where Windows starts to have a significant edge. But it depends on the app in question as well; some ports are better-handled than others.

HypnoToad72
HypnoToad72

But putting in a negative and not being bothered to respond as to WHY is not going to convince me (or anyone else) to change opinions... and it shows mere cowardice on your part. So, what are you afraid of? A reasoned conversation? Or are you predicting your parroted memes might be countered with perception-shattering reality?

Vulpinemac
Vulpinemac

Unlike all the rest of the companies, Apple has never pushed for an enterprise market; they've relied on the performance and quality of their machines to drive their market. DotMac, MobileMe and iCloud have never been nor were ever intended to be "enterprise" services. Yes, they did abandon the XServe, but when you consider that Apple now sells a much less expensive Mac Mini Server, it makes sense. You complain about Apple's contact manager and iCal yet you apparently haven't noticed that both of those apps have changed with Mountain Lion and to tell you the honest truth, Outlook's services were little better--sometimes posting meeting appointments hours after the meeting itself is over. Microsoft is little, if any better than Apple based on that argument. For that matter, I will argue that Microsoft builds anything better than half-hearted solutions; Office should never have become the standard document format and over the years has only become worse, not better for all the supposed time and effort put into it. I far prefer Apple's iWork package for its simplicity and efficiency for writing novels, creating video presentations and yes, even for spreadsheets. They're not bloated with so much unnecessary fluff and they always print out the way they're visualized on screen as long as they're not converted to the dotDoc format.

HypnoToad72
HypnoToad72

Yeah, one area's profits aren't as large, but on a base level, to throw out ANY customer is really a bad idea. Then again, historically speaking, this is a company whose CEO was told by an engineer about a new phone's antenna and was ignored... and when users reported said problem, they were rudely told "YOU'RE HOLDING IT WRONG". Any SMB owner treating their customers like that would not last very long, and such an attitude is antisocial to begin with...

Charles Bundy
Charles Bundy

I'll agree that there are a lot of folks earning a living using a Mac on the front end. But from what I have read it is due to baby duck syndrome. Most state that they are productive on that platform and don't want to switch. On the back end UNIX rules for rendering, whether that be OSX, Linux or *IX. Not certain why but I suspect that large clusters are cheaper at those scales using *NIX over Windows. That however is more $$$ than technical deficiency. Speaking of dollars, I came from an era in which most affordable rendering was done using AmigaOS. So I'm not really attached to any particular platform. :)

OH Smeg
OH Smeg

Not at the place that I support. They use a 6,000 CPU IBM Blade as the server with various high end Unix/Linux workstations that are far above the Mac Pro's specification. Granted I only support the one place but they are big and the software that they use to render Movies is a Unix Only Piece of software if I remember correctly. It may have been ported to run on BSD/Mac whatever OS but it was originally written for a Unix/Linux depending on the place that it's used. Even the biggest Mac Pro can't hope to compete with that Blade no matter how they are configured. Let alone considering the cost of the thing. Col

Alex Gerulaitis
Alex Gerulaitis

"A majority of the video editing in the world is done on Mac Pros." Simply not true. Not for the US, and especially not outside of it - regardless of the segment - professional, consumer, or enterprise.

HypnoToad72
HypnoToad72

And pretty much anything that requires a good GPU or multiple cores and such scaling requires a Mac Pro. Macs with quad cores might be good enough for SMBs trying to eke out a buck and students learning the apps, but only the Pro line has what the large studios need. The ramifications of Apple avoiding a certain market, never mind one that helped prop it up, are staggering.

Alex Gerulaitis
Alex Gerulaitis

"I do not believe Mac server is maintenance free." Agreed. Mac servers have been killed by Apple - a while ago, and that includes xServe, xRAID, Final Cut Server. Yes you can install OS X Server on a Mac Pro - but it can't be rack-mounted, doesn't have redundant power supplies, has no enterprise class support network. Power supply died? Your "server" is down, probably for days; replacing it is less fun than changing diapers - and takes way longer than that. On an HP or Dell server? A 30-second affair.

Vulpinemac
Vulpinemac

"Enterprise grade app that runs only on a Mac." How about, for one, Final Cut Pro X. When you consider how many movies--both big screen and small screen--are consolidated and edited with Final Cut, that would be a huge example. But then, I really don't see that any enterprise really wants to buy new PCs every couple of years like they do with Windows-based machines. If the existing hardware holds up, why replace it? There are other apps that meet similar needs in other areas; graphics aren't Apple's only strong suit. Unlike hobbyists, enterprise buyers really want their hardware to last as long as possible and Apple's hardware has definitely proven that ability.

HypnoToad72
HypnoToad72

mymacbookpro2011 and ifixit and other sites have shown the quality put into the Macs is not there. Even the 2009 iMac I sold, the purchaser contacted me a couple years later to report the screen had yellowed with burn marks due to heat and was thankful I bought the extended warranty... given that issue was a widespread issue, Apple is selling the IMAGE of quality. Plenty of websites, like those I'd mentioned, go into plenty of detail.

Vulpinemac
Vulpinemac

When it turned out to be such a non-issue. Apple neither recalled the phones nor even slowed production; the phone still sold more than any previous model and more than any competing model that year. Maybe they were holding it wrong--or the people it affected most have a certain skin condition that caused a resistive short across that gap. (It does happen, you know.) For as big an issue the media made out of it, it sure had no affect on sales or use.

Vulpinemac
Vulpinemac

Don't get me wrong, groups like LucasArts and other big-name studios use Unix-powered machines that are not Macs, but if you pay attention to a lot of TV shows and documentaries nearly every one of them gives credit to Apple for one thing or another.

Vulpinemac
Vulpinemac

You don't want to know. The MBP is a surprisingly effective video editor using the exact same software as the Mac Pro itself.

Alex Gerulaitis
Alex Gerulaitis

"And pretty much anything that requires a good GPU or multiple cores and such scaling requires a Mac Pro." Actually non-Mac PCs leave Mac Pros in the dust on GPU and CPU power, memory and storage expansion, compatibility with industry standard GPUs - and much more. You can't even put a GTX-680, or a Quadro 6000 in a Mac Pro. Not compatible, for one. Not enough juice for multi-GPU (e.g. dual Quadro 6000) configurations, two. Mac Pro doesn't have enough POWER to be an enterprise class high performance system. You ever heard of Z800 and Z820 systems from HP? How about Dell? Boxx? SuperMicro? Amazing malarkey people come up with.

Vulpinemac
Vulpinemac

... which is far more compact than the majority of Windows servers.

Alex Gerulaitis
Alex Gerulaitis

You are confusing FCPX with FCP7. FCP7 is the one that was used in major motion pictures. FCPX on the other hand was the reason a vast number of editors and studios abandoned FCP altogether. "But then, I really don't see that any enterprise really wants to buy new PCs every couple of years like they do with Windows-based machines." Right. What's the percentage of Macs used as servers in the enterprise? High performance workstations? Probably lower than the number of professional editors considering FCPX as a feasible choice.

Vulpinemac
Vulpinemac

All you have to do is look at the blogs and commentary about the event. However, as I've stated more than once, for roughly 98% of users, the antenna issue was--no issue. You practically had to force your grip to reveal any effective signal loss. This doesn't mean it didn't affect anybody, only those whose bodies have a lower skin resistance due to any number of acidity or sodium problems. I, for one, can't wear a standard wristwatch of any kind--windup, battery, whatever--because they simply die after a few months. Pocket watches last longer, but rarely more than a year. I have one of those body types yet even I could not force my iPhone 4 to lose signal after I purchased it and to be honest I chose to buy a protective case (with battery backup by Mophie) simply to keep the phone in pristine condition. Compared to a lot of phones I see--especially Android phones--my iPhone 4 still looks brand new after almost 2 years of use. The only dropped calls I ever had with it were specifically my fault for carrying it into no-signal areas. Yes, even with modern technology there are still places even close to cities that receive no signal due to terrain or going underground. I do blame those users for pitching such a row. It was a very small contingent that complained and those complaints got picked up by anti-Apple zealots to the point it became a media feeding frenzy. Apple made no change to the hardware and the iPhone 4 is still one of the top-selling smartphones around the world, though obviously not as much so as the current 4S. It wasn't a "spin tactic" simply because it wasn't an issue in the first place.

HypnoToad72
HypnoToad72

but no CEO should be blindly blaming customers for anything. ESPECIALLY if evidence shows the CEO was wrong and had set up the situation. The antenna issue (where did this "gate" suffix come from anyway, is Apple a politician? Oh, wait, with their lobbyists they can buy all the politicians they want, but I digress...), while small in some ways, still showed a lot more. The CEO was wrong to blanketly criticize customers, and only later - after being found out - play a spin tactic. That spits on ethics, and if he was hiding that apparently non-issue, then what REAL issues did he act identically over? As for sales and use, some say the same thing over the customers drug dealers service. Populism is a curse, not a blessing. After all, if one lemming jumped off a cliff should the others?

Vulpinemac
Vulpinemac

... no. Just pay attention to the History Channel, the Science Channel, the Military Channel and so many other cable channels that produce new programming on a regular basis. I believe you'll find Apple's name in those credits far more often than you expect.

Alex Gerulaitis
Alex Gerulaitis

I don't have it but I do recall reading sales stats and surveys about two years ago; Hollywood was the main hub of FCP users; where the rest of the country and the world - not; number of FCP copies sold was dwarfed by competing products. I doubt the picture changed much since then. You have the evidence to the opposite, of course, outside of "paying attention to TV shows"?

AnsuGisalas
AnsuGisalas

Except maybe a Moderator will decide to put the one abusing the flagging system on probation... I know I would :^0

Charles Bundy
Charles Bundy

I went to the HP site and came up with $4695 for a Z820. Dual E5-2620, 16 gig of ram and AMD FirePro v7900. 1TB 7200 HD. And it's an LGA2011 based system opposed to a 1366 solution on the Apple side. Again I'm not playing favorites but there are a ton of hackintosh sites. Why would there be such a market for this info if Apple was superior in price/configuration? ADDENDUM: Because I'm a curious sort I sourced a MacPro with the above spec and came up with a figure of $4398. The GFX solution was an 5870 which is about $200 cheaper than the FirePro v7900. Taking that into account you are talking a $100 delta. I still haven't been able to come up with two factor difference in price between HP and Apple offerings. For a third option I decided to spec a hackintosh w/ a Gigabyte Z77 MB that by golly supports Thunderbolt (Apple doesn't on the MacPro). Only did a quad-core xeon, but added 16G for a total of 32G ram and a GTX580 GPU. Build was ~ $1400.

NickNielsen
NickNielsen

because Alex mentioned them in an earlier post while making a comparison to the Mac Pro. Not being familiar with either model, I assumed they were of roughly equal capability when configured similarly. All other choices were made based on that assumption. I chose the lowest level dual processor models (the Energy Star model of the Z800 would have made the comparison even more in favor of the Mac Pro). That was my unbiased comparison: exactly what the man in the street who doesn't know about HP's Smart Buy program would do. The URLs I used to make the comparisons are: Apple - http://store.apple.com/us/configure/MD771LL/A HP - http://h71016.www7.hp.com/dstore/MiddleFrame.asp?page=config&ProductLineId=433&FamilyId=3007&BaseId=30036&oi=E9CED&BEID=19701&SBLID= Both Alex and Vulpinemac have been around TR for a long time. Both have strong opinions. My suggestion, since it doesn't appear either will ever agree with the other on this subject, is to just let it go.

Charles Bundy
Charles Bundy

a $4000 dollar Quadro 6000 to a $400 Radeon 5870... That said the price difference is still substantially in Apple's favor, BUT there may be other components in HP's design that explain the remaining $3K. P.S. I need to finish reading threads :)

Alex Gerulaitis
Alex Gerulaitis

ATI Radion HD 5870 - under $500. nVidia Quadro 6000 - $4700 on hp.com. Is Quadro 6000 available for anything Mac? If not, why on Earth would you choose it for this comparison? Yes a SIMILARLY configured Z800 (or the newly released Z820 which runs circles around a Z800 - or a Mac Pro) - say, with Quadro 2000, will cost around $6.6K on hp.com. Minus a 20% discount offered right there on hp.com - $5.9K. Configuring it through HP "smartbuy" system - under $5K, for those who prefer unbiased comparisons.

michaewlewis
michaewlewis

Check out the Dell Precision T3500 and compare specs/prices. Also, without knowing the full mobo specs of the mac pro, I would guess that the HP Z420 is a closer match than the z800.

Vulpinemac
Vulpinemac

You're not the first person to confirm that fact and you won't be the last.

Vulpinemac
Vulpinemac

-- as long as you at least explain why you're flagging. Otherwise I'll simply ignore it.

NickNielsen
NickNielsen

I went to both the Apple store and HP's website and configured a Mac Pro and an HP Z800 as closely as possible–processor, RAM, storage, and graphics–and made no other changes to the default configuration presented by the vendor. That produced the following results: The Mac Pro, with dual 2.66 GB Xeon processors, 12 GB RAM, 1 TB 7200 RPM SATA HDD, and ATI Radion HD 5870 graphics was $5199. The HP Z800, with dual 2.66 GB Xeon processors, 12 GB RAM, 1 TB 7200RPM SATA HDD, and NVidia Quadro 6000 graphics was $11,162.

Alex Gerulaitis
Alex Gerulaitis

The CPUs aren't even half the deal - see my previous post. Apple was always keen on minimizing variations across their hardware offerings, and that meant artificially limited hardware choices, especially in GPUs. The power of Apple was always in killer apps first; design, elegance, stability, advanced features like Retina displays second; streamlined attractive OS way third. Once there is no killer app like FCP7, the rest becomes irrelevant, it all becomes about prices, on which Apple can't compete. Which is why Apple is hell-bent on suing the competition out of iPhone and iPad markets (where iOS is the killer app), whereas their desktops are largely ignored.

Alex Gerulaitis
Alex Gerulaitis

this is so far removed from any semblance of reality, I think I am going to start flagging your posts. :)

HypnoToad72
HypnoToad72

I was hyperfocused on "iMac vs Mac Pro" and you were comparing Mac Pros with comparable PCs (e.g. Dell Precision).. But I wouldn't do processing on any MacBook... or iMac... as both of those models use notebook-grade GPUs. And, yeah, the Mac Pro's ATI 6850 is pretty out of date (and almost was when it was finally introduced to replace the grossly outdated 4850 of the time...) But Mac Pros, in 2010, had the same Xeon CPU models as the Dell Precision models... but it HAS been a couple of years and Apple has left the Mac Pro stagnate. But if Apple drops a certain market, its customers won't be happy and Apple isn't going to care.. Maybe Apple can prove us all wrong in that area. :)

Vulpinemac
Vulpinemac

... not productivity. I believe you'll also find the Mac Pro prices in at about half that of a PC workstation fielding those cards.

Alex Gerulaitis
Alex Gerulaitis

...unlike iTunes. Makes so much more sense for a server OS. What's its market share, again? Let me guess... It's even more compact that WS2008 R2 Core or Hyper-V? And it only works on the most advanced and powerful hardware in the world, the awesome and fearsome Macs? Uhm, what's its market share, again? :)

AnsuGisalas
AnsuGisalas

Surely, SURELY, a reference to a consensus that one does not provide evidence for, SURELY that's enough to back most ANY claim!

NickNielsen
NickNielsen

You have yet to back your assertions with data...

Charles Bundy
Charles Bundy

It is far cheaper to build a high end "hackintosh" MacPro than to buy the equivalent Apple hardware. Lots of non-linear editor folk go this route...

Alex Gerulaitis
Alex Gerulaitis

"FCP-X is the logical descendant of FCP7" Parallel lines must only be parallel until Vulpinemac sees them. After that, they suddenly become perpendicular.

Alex Gerulaitis
Alex Gerulaitis

Vulpinemac would never be able to back something like that up, but hey, it's the Internet, and trolling is not yet illegal.

michaewlewis
michaewlewis

I just put together a list from Apple and Dell with as close to the same specs as I could find. The Dell Precision T3500 came out $500 cheaper and had two high end *professional* video cards (unlike Mac Pro), 8gb more ram, and built-in 3 year on site service. There was even more options to max it out higher than any possible Apple solution.

Vulpinemac
Vulpinemac

... for years. Even now, the Mac is considered the best Windows computer on the market when matched against spec-for-spec, feature-for-feature non-Apple computers. When it comes to the Mac Pro, the so-called equivalent non-Apple workstation priced in at over $10,000 from Dell! Granted, that was about a year ago, but the fact remains that benchmark testing has proven the Mac's capabilities against those 'equivalent' non-Apple brands.

Alex Gerulaitis
Alex Gerulaitis

"the Mac as a workstation is nearly unbeatable for the price" What facts are you basing this on? There is such a wide consensus on exactly the opposite - that Mac products are vastly overpriced and underpowered compared to their PC brethren, that I am at a loss, where these statements come from. Or is this the usual Apple fanboi trolling?

Vulpinemac
Vulpinemac

FCP-X is the logical descendant of FCP7 and is intended to make the video editing process even easier. Yes, I do know how effective FCP7 has been and once editors get used to it they'll see much better throughput of their efforts. I'm not going to argue about Macs as servers, because companies like HP have a much stronger basis to work from. On the other hand, I've personally seen where some of the other server providers have really done damage to some high-profile businesses over the years. It may simply be a matter of time. On the other hand, the Mac as a workstation is nearly unbeatable for the price.