Apple’s gorgeous new pro-level Mac is extremely expandable. We round up some of the most interesting compatible add-ons
One of the key features of the Mac Pro is its expandability. The old-style pro level Mac could be opened up, so you could add or swap storage drives, or slot in a new PCI Express card. The new design allows user access to internal components such as the SSD, graphics card and memory sticks, but most of its expandability is done through its six Thunderbolt 2 and four USB 3 ports. The speed allowed by the Thunderbolt 2 protocol means externally-connected peripherals can match internal components for performance, and because you can daisy-chain up to six devices per port, you can have up to 36 Thunderbolt peripherals connected at once.
Here we take a look at some of the more interesting and high-end devices for you to plug in and use with your new Mac Pro.
ASUS PQ321Q 31.5-inch 4K
Ultra HD monitors such as this one have a pixel resolution of 3840×2160, which is four times that of a Full HD, 1080 display. It gives an incredible clarity, and is perfect for power users such as video editors, CGI animators and game developers. It’s not as pretty as Apple’s displays, but it doesn’t look too bad next to your Mac Pro – and remember, the Mac Pro has the power to drive up to three 4K displays at once. 4K video is catching on, but given the growing popularity of Ultra HD displays, they’re likely to drop in price in 2014.
Little Big Disk Thunderbolt 2
If it’s super-fast portable storage you’re after, look no further than LaCie’s Little Big Disk Thunderbolt 2. It uses the fastest solid state drive on the market, and when used with a Thunderbolt 2 connection, we’re promised speeds of up to 1375MB/s, which is several times faster than any mobile USB 3 hard drive and twice as fast as the previous-generation Little Big Disk. The new drive makes several other improvements over its predecessor. To accommodate the super-fast SSD, its interior design has been optimised to ensure it stays cool, while still running almost silently. Its fetching new black metal finish is a great match for the Mac Pro, too.
Harman Kardon Nova
These gorgeous Harman Kardon speakers are perfect match for the Mac Pro’s jet-engine aesthetic. They’re powerful (80 watts), and because they’re Bluetooth you can position them anywhere within wireless range. Alternatively, connect them directly to your Mac using a 3.5mm connector cable. They have performance-tuned 2.5-inch drivers and 1.25-inch tweeters, and if you like your music with plenty of bottom end, switch on the Nova’s Bass Boost function.
According to manufacturer Promise Technology, Pegasus2 is the world’s first and fastest Thunderbolt 2 hardware RAID storage solution. With speeds of up to 20Gb/s, it’s certainly fast enough to seamlessly edit and stream 4K (Ultra HD) video. It’s available with up to eight drive bays, and with 4TB hard drives slotted in each bay, it can give you an incredible 32TB of storage.
The Mac Pro doesn’t have an optical drive, and isn’t supplied with input peripherals of any description – you have to provide your own. Chances are you’ll want to use Apple gear, but off the shelf, Apple’s keyboards, Magic Mouse, Magic Trackpad or USB SuperDrive are all aluminium-coloured and/or white. Ideally you’d want to get your hands on black versions to match your new Mac, right? Minnesota-based ColorWare know the score. ColorWare disassembles peripherals such as Apple’s and spray-paints them any colour you like. You can buy ready-sprayed products directly from ColorWare, or send them your own for recolouring. As you can see here, Apple gear in jet black looks pretty damned good, too.
This rack-mountable Thunderbolt video capture and playback solution is fast enough for even high-resolution video, including Ultra HD 4K. As well as Thunderbolt, it also offers SDI, HDMI and analogue video connections, and is compatible with popular video applications such as DaVinci Resolve, Final Cut Pro, Avid Media Composer and Adobe Creative Suite. UltraStudio 4K supports popular compressed video formats such as ProRes and DNxHD and 10-bit uncompressed video, so you’re not locked into a single file format. It boasts an elegant design too, with a built-in LCD that shows what input you’ve selected, and it also displays video.