Rack mount your new Mac Pro with these third-party accessories

With the Mac Pro shipping in ever larger quantities, accessory makers are beginning to offer rack-mountable solutions for Apple's oddly shaped professional tower.

New Mac Pro

Last month, I highlighted a few ways to beef up the Mac Pro itself, such as adding external storage, more RAM, or upgrading the processor.

Since then, a number of products have been announced to help professional Mac Pro users rack mount their machines to make them more — or less — portable. For thieves, the Mac Pro is a lot easier to pick up if it isn't in a rack. For entertainment professionals, especially concert technicians and video crews that need computing power in the field, installing the Mac Pro in a portable rack mount is a necessity.

Sonnet recently announced a pair of rack mount enclosures for the new Mac Pro. The first, called the xMac Pro Server (Figure A), adds a number of power user expansion options to the mix.

Figure A

Figure A
xMac Pro Server.

The xMac Pro Server includes space and power for three PCIe slots connected via Thunderbolt 2, supporting up to three full-length, full-height, single-width cards, or one double-width and an additional single-width card combined. A 300-watt power supply plus an auxiliary 75W PCIe power connector allows users to use nearly any power-hungry specialty card, along with an additional mounting kit to install HDD/SSD, tape, or optical drives and more inside the 4U enclosure.

Automatic variable-speed fans keep everything cool, while three rear-mounted USB 3.0 ports, along with dual Gigabit Ethernet and an HDMI port allow for extensive connectivity. On the front, a single USB 3.0 port and a power button round out the case. It's available for pre-order, shipping in June for $1500 (USD).

The second, simpler case is called the RackMac Pro (Figure B). It allows one or two Mac Pro units to be installed in a 4U space, with individual front-panel USB 3.0 and power switches for each machine, along with rear-panel connections for HDMI, Gigabit Ethernet, and USB 3.0.

Figure B

Figure B
RackMac Pro.

There's enough room to snake Thunderbolt 2 cables from the Mac Pro out the rear of the device, and there is mounting support for specialty Thunderbolt adapters like the Promise SANLink Fibre Channel adapter.

The single-machine RackMac is available for pre-order for $600 (USD), with an add-on to mount a second Mac Pro available for an additional $300. Shipping is estimated for June.

Rounding out the party is a new Thunderbolt 2 8-bay 1U rackmount storage solution from LaCie, called the 8big Rack Thunderbolt 2 (Figure C). The rack, available in hot-swappable 12 TB, 24 TB, and 48 TB configurations, promises read speeds of up to 1330 MB/s, with write speeds maxing out at 1060 MB/s. Dual Thunderbolt 2 ports make for easy daisy-chaining of multiple TB2 devices.

Figure C

Figure C
8big Rack Thunderbolt 2.

LaCie says a full rack of 36 8big Rack would have 1.7 petabytes of storage inside, connected to the six Thunderbolt 2 ports on the Mac Pro.

Shipping is estimated for Q2 of 2014, in 4 or 8-disk configurations. Pricing will be available closer to launch.

The new Mac Pro is available for order from the Apple Online Store as well as third-party retailers. Orders placed today with Apple are estimated to ship in 3-5 weeks. See the website for pricing information.

Do you plan to purchase a new Mac Pro and one of these rack-mountable solutions? Let us know in the discussion thread below.

By Jordan Golson

Jordan Golson is an Apple Columnist for TechRepublic. He also writes about technology and automobiles for WIRED and MacRumors. He has worked for Apple Retail twice and has been writing about technology since 2007.