“Trashcan” Mac Pro: A look back at one of Apple’s most controversial designs after nine years | Jobs Vox


Apple launched the controversial “trash can” Mac Pro nine years ago, introducing one of its most criticized designs during a period of widespread dissatisfaction with the Mac line.

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The redesign took the Mac Pro in a whole new direction, topped by a polished aluminum cylinder unofficially dubbed the “trash can.” All of the Mac Pro’s components were mounted around a central heatsink core, cooled by a single fan that drew air from the bottom, core, and top of the case. The fan can spin slower than smaller fans and keep your Mac extremely quiet, even during intensive operations.

Apple announced a radically redesigned Mac Pro at WWDC 2013. During the announcement, Apple’s Phil Schiller infamously remarked, “I can’t innovate, my ass.” The comment was aimed at armchair critics who pointed to the lack of updates to previous ‌Mac Pros, claiming that Apple had largely abandoned its professional user base and was out of ideas.

Schiller Mc ProPhil Schiller introduced the redesigned Mac Pro in 2013

Apple said the new ‌Mac Pro offered twice the overall performance of the previous generation while taking up less than an eighth of the volume, thanks to its unified thermal core. The Mac Pro combines Intel Xeon processors with dual AMD FirePro workstation GPUs, allowing it to deliver seven teraflops of computing power.

While the striking design was undoubtedly ambitious, users were unhappy that almost all expansion had to be done externally via Thunderbolt 2 ports. Professional users who depended on powerful hardware couldn’t get over the Mac Pro’s lack of internal slots for adding graphics cards and memory.

The result was a device that couldn’t keep up with changing hardware trends. Even Apple didn’t know how to offer a significant hardware upgrade to the ‌Mac Pro–back in 2019, it was possible to buy a trash ‌Mac Pro from Apple without any updates to the device for six years after its release.

This prompted Apple to make a rare admission of product failure during a press conference in April 2017, detailing why the device did not succeed as it had hoped. In 2019, Apple’s full mea culpa came in the form of another ‌Mac Pro‌ redesign, which returned the machine to a highly modular tower form factor with eight PCIe slots and three impulse fans.

However, in many ways, what the 2013 Mac Pro set out to achieve—a small, powerful computer for professionals with only external expansion—lives on and is accomplished more effectively by the 2022 Mac Studio.


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