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.