Video games and other things.

Dat New Mac Pro

I haven’t owned very many computers, but my first-gen, base-model Mac Pro Setzer has been the best of them. I got it back in October 2006 as a replacement for my aging Dell, Carbunkle, and still use it to this day. Setzer has helped me do all sorts of creative work, both freelance gigs and personal fan projects, and, built-in Ethernet ports notwithstanding, has never given me any major problems hardware-wise. In addition to OS X, it’s also been running Windows XP pretty much since I first got it, and has served me well for gaming.

Now, here in 2013, poor Setzer is getting on in years (for a computer). In general, my programs work fine, but at least one tool in Sketchbook Pro 6 lags a bit, and I constantly have to dial down the graphics settings for many current-gen games. Unfortunately, at the time when I started seriously considering either upgrading Setzer’s GPU or replacing the whole machine outright, the last new Pro that Apple had released was at least couple of years ago. Other Mac Pro users were in the same boat as I am, and Apple CEO Tim Cook assured us that we weren’t forgotten about. Then, this June, the new Pro was announced, and… it was different.

That keynote left me cautiously optimistic. The specs sounded great and the unusual design was interesting, plus it would be less of a space hog than the old G5s and Pros (it’s worth noting here that the other name I considered for Setzer was Umaro). However, it also looked less easy to customize—the original Pros are enormous in part because they’re so expandable. Also, there were no ports on the front of the thing, apparently no Nvidia card options, and once again… that design was weird. The one major detail left out of this sneak peek was the price, and it also happened to be the one thing left that I absolutely needed to know about this new machine.

Yesterday, there was a fresh new Apple keynote with a lot of announcements, including the base price for the Pro. Fortunately, this just reaches my personal limit, so chances are I will get one. However, upon considering how I’d actually use such a machine, more of the New Mac Pro’s limitations jumped out at me, with the biggest one being the lack of USB ports. There are only four USB 3 ports, while the still nascent (and expensive) Thunderbolt 2 gets six, and there’s no option to install a USB expansion card on this thing. On my current Pro, I typically have between four and five USB ports in use at any one time, and wouldn’t mind having more. Four ports means I’m definitely going to need some sort of USB hub.

Then there’s the hard drives. I want to reuse at least a couple of the drives I already have; there’s nothing wrong with them, they hold a lot, and sticking with them would save me quite a bit of time when I migrate to a new machine. However, on a New Mac Pro, that would mean using them externally, so I started looking at enclosures. The Thunderbolt ones are all ridiculously expensive, so I’ll probably go with a USB 3 solution of some sort.

I’ll also need an HDMI adapter for my monitor, though perhaps not, since I might already have one lying around somewhere; I’ve gotta check on that. Then there’s AppleCare, a copy of Windows 7, and… I think that’s it.

We’ll see what goes down once these New Mac Pros start shipping. I’ll probably check out some reviews once they do, and get a new desktop machine in January. Oh, and decide on a new name for the thing. My Air’s name is Celes, so if it is another Mac, then Locke, maybe? My Windows machines/partitions have used an FFVIII-based scheme, and after Carbunkle and Iguion, I’m really not sure what I would go with next.

Also, my older-than-my-Mac-Pro Wacom tablet seems to be a little flaky lately, but I have to run some tests with it to be sure that it’s the hardware and not something else. At least replacing that, should it come down to it, will be a much easier process.

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