Saturday, April 28, 2018

Last thoughts about Apple and Mac Pro

Well there it is. Confirmed – Apple is working to replace all Intel chips with their own by 2020. They tried this approach before but they could not afford it – now they can, but I still think it is going to be a bad thing for high end users for these reasons:
Apple will try to shave down the processing power you use to do things with since it is cheaper for them to do so. Remember the time they made all the nice colour icons in your sidebars grey? That was a power shaving trick. Expect more of this. They will also try to make the Mac apps more the same as the iPhone and iPad since it saves them cash and puts less demand on the chips.
Apple noted recently that users don't want Mac and iPads to use the same software (I wonder why?) but I think they will try any way.

This also means that Mac software will diverge from Windows wares again as it was way back, and this will mean that many common apps will disappear.
Personally I think this is nasty:  the more Apple gets into this “walled garden” idea the less I like it. Maybe it will be more “secure” from hackers (or so some will tell us) but the price is the computing world will split.

You might not have noticed it but there were always some divisions between Mac and Windows – recently this was really shown up to me by my own webpages having dark and yellowy images on it because of the different way Apple and Microsoft define their colour spaces in the monitor controls.
I didn't see it until I got a Windows computer and tried both systems on the same screen with the same image.( see previous post here )

This sort of thing is partly handled by using software made by people independent of either OS maker – for example, Firefox as a web browser runs on all platforms so it doesn't favour either – but the more specialised Apple makes their hardware, the less other makers are even going to bother making a version just for Mac OS. If Apple moves away from Intel and (by inference) x86 architecture, they will need some serious attractions to get people to buy into it.

Apple is not, and has never been the biggest supplier of computers or OSes – although they dominate the phone market, that is something quite different. The more Apple goes toward fancier iPads rather than seriously powerful hardware, the less I want a Mac. Yes, OSX as it is now is still better in some ways that Windows 10 (see previous posts for details) and it has always been nicer to look at and easier to configure thanks to some neato apps and features (many of which came from BSD so I am told, and not Apple) – but Windows 10 is working just fine for me so far. It really is the same situation as OSX – to get it to do what I want it to do, I have to find and sometimes buy other software that gives me the features I need. Maybe I am just seeing OSX as better because I am so accustomed to it.


If you are wondering about the iMac Pro and how it compares to the “normal” Intel computers, check out this video: 

It turns out that the differences between Core i9 and Xeon W chips are not so great– and at the top end, in tests done by Linus Tech Tips, the Core i9 7980 XE is faster than the matching 18 core Xeon W 2195. but not by a lot. It looks to me like the differences are very small and not worth worrying about – well, apart from the prices. Makes me wonder how different they are on the Chip Fabrication line.

I sold my Mac Pro on eBay for $2000 – but only because I threw in a monitor and didn't leave out any of the bits. It arrived at the buyer two days later but thanks to eBay I don't get the money until two weeks later. The main source of trouble was due to Auspost not dealing with objects over 22 Kg: eBay has an automatic integration with Auspost which then could not send the item and there was no other option or button to get me to a service which didn't care about said weight limit – so I went outside to another site which subcontracted StarTrack which is (as it happens) a branch of Auspost. Why didn't they just send me there from the eBay page when it was over the weight limit? I have no idea.

I really thought that the last great cheesegrater Mac would be worth more - but what would I know? Just because people list their computers at price “X” does not mean anyone will buy them at price “X”. If I wanted to sit on it for months until I got sick of waiting I could maybe have got 3 or 4 grand – but I'm just not that tight – I'm just glad it went to a good home – a printing company. 

For me, there will never be another Mac Pro. It was noisy and heavy but it was reliable and more flexible than any Mac before or since. I still find Apple's approach to cooling a bit disturbing and if you really want to know about hardware issues with Apple gear check out Louis Rossmann's Youtube channel. He fixes a lot of Macbook Pro boards and can't help pointing out the things he regularly has to deal with. No, Apple isn't perfect but I'm not saying they are any worse than other hardware makers either: all have their faulty designs and product recalls. All of them. Read the reviews before you buy folks, regardless of the brand.

One last thing: there was one Apple item that I just couldn't let go: The Apple extended keyboard. I kept mine with it's silicon rubber cover because I just could not find anything better.

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