Mac Pro ‘Surprisingly Modular & Easy To Disassemble’


iFixit has done a teardown of the new Apple Mac Pro, and gives it high marks (8 out of 10) for repairability and ease of upgrading. 

Key points:

  • Mac Pro Late 2013 Repairability Score: 8 out of 10 (10 is easiest to repair)
  • For being so compact, the design is surprisingly modular and easy to disassemble. Non-proprietary Torx screws are used throughout, and several components can be replaced independently.
  • The easily-opened case is designed to make RAM upgrades a snap.
  • The fan is easy to access and replace.
  • While it will require a bit of digging, the CPU is user-replaceable—meaning intrepid fixers should be able to save considerably by upgrading from the base-level processor configuration.
  • There is no room, or available port, for adding your own internal storage. Apple has addressed this with heaps of Thunderbolt, but we’d personally rather use the more widely compatible SATA if we could.
  • With some proprietary new connectors and tight cable routing, working on this $3,000 device without a repair manual could be risky.

Pricing, upgradeability and looks are the three greatest concerns we’ve seen raised by musicians about the new Mac Pros.

  • The new Mac Pros are priced competitively to comparable workstation computers – but they aren’t the inexpensive, upgradeable machines that many users want. And DIY machines built with standard PC components (vs workstation components) offer considerable savings.
  • iFixit’s teardown shows the new Mac Pros to be easy to fix & repair. Many power users, though, still want room for internal storage.
  • In terms of looks – many have commented that it looks like ‘Darth Vader’s trash can’. The bigger issue may be that the new Mac Pros don’t look like what we expect a high-end workstation computer to look like. It will be interesting to see if this is a real issue or if Apple will end up doing the same as it has done with laptops and phones, redefining the expectations for the form factor.

See the iFixit site for the full teardown.

53 thoughts on “Mac Pro ‘Surprisingly Modular & Easy To Disassemble’

  1. In 2006, the Mail on Sunday alleged that sweatshop conditions existed in factories in China, where the contract manufacturers, Foxconn and Inventec, operate the factories that produce the iPod.[1] The article stated that one iPod factory, for instance, had over 200,000 workers that lived and worked in the factory, with workers regularly doing more than 60 hours of labor per week. The article also reported that workers made around $100 per month and were required to live on the premises and pay for rent and food from the company. Living expenses (required to keep the job) generally took up a little over half of the worker’s earnings. The article also said that workers were given buckets to wash their clothes.[2][3][50]

    1. Also clients of Foxxconn:

      Acer Inc.
      Motorola Mobility

      They never seem to get mentioned in the reports though.

      1. I think those other companies don’t get mentioned, in part, because they don’t put out the same self-righteous air that Apple does.

        I don’t think Apple is any worse than those other companies. It just pretends it is SO much better.

        Also, we love to pretend our beloved technology doesn’t have some hidden cost to human rights, or the environment. Better to be aware of the big picture than to “dislike” anyone who mentions it.

        Does anyone know if the new macs are actually made completely in the US or are they just assembled from Chinese parts?

        1. So hiring sweatshop workers = moral or at least tolerable, provided you aren’t self-righteous and arrogant. Makes sense….

          1. That’s not what I said or even implied in any way.

            To be clear, there are two issues: 1. human rights 2. hypocrisy

            WRT #1, Apple is a little better than the other companies– but does a very large volume.
            (–again, not related to THIS Mac Pro!!)

            WRT #2, Apple puts on a pretty fresh PR face, and some (SOME!) consumers just trust them unquestionably to make the right corporate decisions without any grassroots pressure.

      2. If you really want to get into this, look up conflict minerals in the Congo, then go sell all your tech and do something to help with the money. We are all complicit in this, sadly.

      3. Those companies aren’t trading as happy clappy right on evangelical esque companies.
        Mac stink and those who buy there gear are very touchey about criticism.
        It is a laugh to see those suffering from being apples disciples defending their ‘masters’ work practises.

    2. nothing new, go back in american history and see the same (song “16 tons” is based on this) and other places in the world

    3. If you knew anything about the working culture in China then you would know that living in the factory you work in is rather commonplace for certain economic classes of people. For those who cannot afford to commute or to live elsewhere these factories actually provide shelter and rather decent living conditions. Also why are we quoting things that are almost a decade old? Get with the times my friend. Oh and the 60 hour work weeks have pretty much been eradicated.

      1. The working conditions in China have risen because of western companies, not because of the Chinese government. The people hurt by outsourcing aren’t the Chinese, it’s the blue collar American workers.

    4. Well the quote above is correct but only part of the story…

      Here is the link to the article referenced from 2006:
      And here is a link to the Wikipedia page quoted:

      Quoting from the Wikipedia page:
      “In 2006, the Mail on Sunday alleged that sweatshop conditions existed in factories in China, where the contract manufacturers, Foxconn and Inventec, operate the factories that produce the iPod.”

      But also:
      “Immediately after the allegation, Apple launched an investigation and worked with their manufacturers to ensure that conditions were acceptable to Apple.[51] In 2007, Apple started yearly audits of all its suppliers regarding Worker’s Rights, slowly raising standards and pruning suppliers that did not comply. Yearly progress reports have been published since 2008.”

      The Mac Pro is assembled in the US in Austin which may be an attempt to move manufacturing to a country that presumably has better rights for workers and better regulation of working conditions, or maybe you may have a different take on it. Either way debating stories from 2006 is deliberately misleading.

      1. How can it be misleading when “2006” is in the first sentence?

        I don’t doubt that some progress has been made. But I think the extent and severity of the problem was clearly more than could be “adjusted” and solved with simple audits.

        Improvements CAN and SHOULD be made.

        But what is both frightening and disappointing is how some people will reflexively try to suppress any mention at all that there is a problem.

        It is similar to how carnivores will not permit even the slightest discussion of animal abuse in modern farming. Animals can be killed for food as they are in nature, but they needn’t be subjected to a lifetime of terror and torture.

        I make the comparison because Apple users (I’m one) might feel like they aren’t allowed to speak up, since we are complicit.

        It is certainly a positive step that manufacturing is being done in the U.S. where labor & environmental standards are better.

        1. Sorry to disappoint you, but nobody is ‘suppressing’ our censoring your views. The only comments that I’ve ever seen Synthtopia delete are ones where the comment was a personal attack.

          Instead of pretending that you’re being persecuted for your beliefs, maybe you should consider the possibility that criticizing a product that’s made in America for being made by slave-people in China comes across as both ignorant and offensive.

          There are plenty of design choices in the new design worth discussing and debating that you might want to consider, if you want your comments to rise above trolling.

          1. I’m not referring to this forum withdrawing posts. This forum is really good.

            I’m just talking about the reaction people have to this subject of human rights WRT manufacturing of high-tech devices. But your point is a good one. Since this is about a particular device that is NOT related to labor abuses in China, the comment was off-topic.

            I was impressed to see that it is not merely assembled in US, but also made of U.S.-made components.

            We can speculate about what the cost of the computer would be if it was manufactured by Foxxcon.

            The problems with thing made in China relate to labor practices (both in China and with resources – in Congo, for example), environmental impacts of manufacturing and shipping. Apple has clearly done some things Differently®, and better. It is a very complex problem, that can’t be solved simply. It won’t be solved at all until people are willing to have an uncomfortable conversation about details.

            1. but again, this is about iPads, iPhones, Androids, PC’s, Tablets, Cameras, Scanners, Drives, Interfaces, Microphones, Speakers, etc.

              … but NOT about this Mac Pro.

            2. That is to say, it WON’T be solved, because there’s no way we’re giving up our way of life to actually change it enough to reverse our course. We’re doomed. DOOOOOOMED.

    1. > “how many people need a 3k workstation for doing audio anymore?”

      Not me. All I need for music and video work is a workstation with 4 processors that I can easily plop high capacity drives into, which has a lot of USB2, USB3 and Firewire connectors, and if it doesn’t have Firewire connectors, at least has PCIe slots so I can add them.

      My Hackintosh does all this and only cost $700, a great value.

    2. Not many. I think this is only really aimed at pro-level recording studios and people working with video.

    3. $3k not including screen and 256 gig drive. If this is such a modular system, the entry price is way too high. It’s great that it has connectivity – but that means you have to buy more stuff.. By the time you have a screen and expanded drives, increased RAM, etc. you are probably more toward $5k.

      I’d say I’m disappointed but, unfortunately, this is what we have come to expect..

  2. It doesn’t really look much there for 3 grand, does it? Don’t forget you have to add your own drives, etc and that in itself jacks up the price and frees Apple from drive warranties.

  3. To those bemoaning the fact that it doesn’t quite ‘look’ like 3 grand: do the 909/808 machines look like more than 100 bucks?

    1. Yeah, but.. is the Mac Pro a legendary piece of dedicated music hardware with its legacy built across decades? Or is it just some computer from some company in a world where there are plenty of computers and companies and not at all comparable to the 808?

  4. – they sould have offered a corei7 or even a core i5 option
    via motherboard replacement

    if you have a external soundcard ( asio ) you really do not need this much power

  5. I am horrified to see apple users criticsing price. They have been having the piss taken out of them for years , so why is this heap of overpriced crap any different.
    I won’t buy cause of Apples scummy marketing practices(and working conditions) but yes this is very expensive.

    1. First of all, nobody is forcing you to buy one.

      Secondly, you might want to do a bit of research before spouting off like an uninformed buffoon. Anandtech published a review of the Mac Pro, including a price comparison between the Mac Pro and similar systems from competitors HP and Lenovo. It is actually competitively priced from a hardware perspective. If you include the superior Mac OS compared to windows it practically makes it a bargain in comparison.

    2. To be fair you have no idea where any of the hardware you use comes from or what the labor conditions are like for workers in their factories. Does anyone know what conditions are like in Akai, Behringer, Yamaha or Roland factories? Behringer has what it calls their own city:

      “But MUSIC Group City is so much more than just a factory—it’s a city in every sense of the word. With its living quarters, restaurants, sports facilities, a library and even an on-site medical facility, more than 3,000 enthusiastic MUSIC Group people call MUSIC Group City their home.”

  6. Made in Texas, a beautiful product of USA. Thank you Apple for no more bluescreen and flawless Ableton and VST’s. But I would like a disc player and hard drive in it, I don’t need more wires on the floor. Nevertheless I will buy one when my current one dies or gets obsolete.

  7. You vote down anything that is a criticism of Apple. Silencing credible discussion around their company (theirs not yours) So how long would any facts last on here that backs up peoples legitimate dislike for apple?

    High quality global journalism requires investment. Please share this article with others using the link below, do not cut & paste the article. See our Ts&Cs and Copyright Policy for more detail. Email [email protected] to buy additional rights.

    But complaints of excessive overtime increased in the wake of a demanding production cycle last autumn for the iPhone 5 and updates to the iPad and Mac computers, culminating in a 2,000-worker riot at factories operated by Foxconn.
    Tim Cook, Apple’s chief executive, vowed last year to move some of the company’s manufacturing to the US in 2013 to address some of the instability in overseas low-cost labour. “We want to be as innovative with supply responsibility as we are with our products,” he said in December.

  8. Serious discussion of the Foxconn issue can be found on various IT and tech sites which I’d have thought that a lot of Synthtopia reader may have already seen. It’s good to bring these issues up in case some people aren’t aware of what is going on but it should also be noted that talking about issues from 2013 is far more relevant than bringing up issues from 2006. The references to events in 2006 are factual but other information was omitted, for example that Apple quickly tried to address the issues in hand.

    I wouldn’t dispute that the information provided is factual and it was easy enough to find the source, but it was a presented as a one-sided soundbite rather than as part of an informed discussion. No-one has removed factual links from these comments. I don’t think you could criticise the response to the first comment as somehow censoring credible discussion when the first comment wasn’t starting a credible discussion, it was just trolling.

  9. More off-topic rambling: I don’t have direct experience with other companies mentioned above, but I would expect that Apple is serious about their foreign labor, environmental, and ethics policies – it was part of the company culture and also made pretty clear to everyone who worked there. Good people were fired for what I considered rather minor infractions of Apple’s squeaky clean policies. I think the company was also paranoid regarding lawsuits and anything which could tarnish Apple’s public image.

    On the other hand, back home in Cupertino there was also a culture of overwork and inadequate work/life balance, which seems to be the norm for high tech companies. Apple is not perfect, but the incentives seem to be there for them to do the right thing in several areas.

    1. If Apple had no light shone on their dubious practices,they would continue . The way that they avoid responsibility is by blaming suppliers. Now how could any company of any worth , not know their suppliers business inside out? . They need to be 100 percent aware of their suppliers business structure in order to rely on them . Being critical of them is intelligent , as most of us see technology and use technology hopefully in a positive progressive way . I teach and would not and do not use their products in the class room as they are price prohibitive , and their working practises are at odds with the ‘lifestyle/brand prestige ideology’ So in education apple is not a runner .
      It seems that the discussion about apple is almost taboo , I see a parallel with the evangelical
      christians , happy clappy apple users, horrified by their white goods being looked at unfavourably.
      There is something going on with the the issue of brand prestige that is meeting the needs of insecure people who seem to want to appear ‘hip’ on one hand , but really aren’t clued up on the cultural context of technology. . From Black power, anti Apartheid, anti racist , pro gay rights, anti zionist,society develops its idealogy and concept of fairness. If people think that the technology we use does not have a direct negative (and postive affect) then they are misguided and will see the discussion they want to avoid come back to bite them on the arse, Rare earth minerals is one tricky number that will be a problem for us all.
      Any serious music fan,finds them selves realising by default that they are into musicology , that is understanding the context , social history , economic history that music is made in, (Jazz,Funk,Punk,Techno,Northern Soul,Hip Hop, Reggae,Skiffle,and shit like lady gaga)
      Their is a dissenting voice in all music , and that voice is genre creating, and at the core of societal development. People I know who use apple products seem to squirm and go bright red when any criticism is fetched up. The colours clash!!
      Blind conformity does not give us anything creative or funkey .

      1. Me and most of my musical cohorts use Apple computers for music making. None of us are blind, pie-eyed fanboys. We are comfortable with criticisms of Apple when they are due.

        On this particular thread, (even though I have chimed in with vague support of the topic) it does not relate to this mac.

        Let’s bring it up with the next Windows, HTC, Samsung, Sony, or other product launches. Now I’m really curious about Behriinger’s little town.

  10. Kind of disappointing to see the lack of audio input on this model.

    Audio input disappeared from the laptops a couple years ago. I didn’t use it often, but it was useful because it meant that I didn’t always need to lug an interface around for little things like recording a synth part into GB, or plugging the output of a mixer or effects box directly into the computer. I would also use it for various misc. tasks like spectrum analyzing.

  11. before Job’s passed on, i was a fan of apple, just not the price. i’m still running vanilla kernal 10.6 on a intel Q8300. i’ve been thinking of upgrading again even though the hardware is still stable. i’ve also noticed that since the passing of Jobs that the newer versions of the OS has had some issues with my hardware and the “OEM” hardware is less robust than it used to be. the other thing that i’ve noticed is the fact that apple as a company is starting to neglect the music making community with the builds that they have been releasing as of late. if i do run MAC as a desktop again, you can be sure that it will another custom built hackintosh at half the price.

  12. Life isn’t fair. Boo hoo.

    I really don’t care how Apple gets their products made. I’d buy a Mac Pro made from dead babies if it was reliable and cheap. Jeez…. I’d pay for a Mac Pro with the blood of innocent virgins if that were legal…

    Just kidding…. no I’m not.

    Yea. I am.

    1. I am actually running Mountain lion on a 4 DB (dead baby) chip with lions blood HDs (for compatibility with the OS)

      It’s never crashed in 4 years and the design is much better than this one in my opinion (more like an Urn rather than a trash can)

      *** word of advice. If you can raise the babies on penicillin before installation it acts as virus protection.

  13. this tech is gonna be rad as hell when it filters down to the mini line. dump the super GPUs, put a consumer grade CPU and offer it in a range of colors.

    and put a cup holder in it! ;p

    i mean you could carry it around with a macbook air or iPad and use that as the “monitor”.

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