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Apple Mac Pro: Hands-on preview

The new Apple Mac Pro is the new professional-grade workstation desktop for content creators, engineers, and people who need to get their billable work done right away.

It's a gleaming, chamfered metal tube with a powerful but quiet workstation built into its chassis. At yesterday's Apple event, we were allowed a sneak peek at the system, which is expected to launch in December. Physically, the Mac Pro hasn't changed too much from the preview we got at June's WWDC, but we now know what's under the hood.

The Mac Pro can be equipped with an Intel Xeon E5 with four, six, eight, or twelve cores. All Mac Pros come with dual AMD FirePro GPUs, and it's up to the buyer to choose a pair of D300, D500, or D700 GPUS.

Cracking the case is as easy as pushing a tab, then sliding the tube vertically up and off the internal frame. That internal frame is a load-bearing triangular skeleton with heatsink material and fins built into its structure. The Xeon processor and GPUs are permanently bonded to the frame, which means you can't upgrade these parts later – you can only configure them to your current and future needs at the time of purchase.

The system's memory DIMM slots and Flash storage slot are easy to access, so you can upgrade memory or swap Flash storage drives without any fuss. This gives the deadline-conscious user the ability to swap a malfunctioning Mac Pro out for a working one while still keeping their OS, apps, files, and working environment intact. Flash storage swaps are the new hard drive swaps.

The system is dead quiet, especially at idle. Even under load, streaming sixteen 4K video streams, we couldn't hear the system over the ambient room noise, which was admittedly lively in the demo room. Still, this system will appeal to video and music professionals who need to work in a quiet studio.

Dual 4K monitors were shown, but three 4K displays are supported out of the box. The Mac Pro is primed to be a multitasking editor's dream machine. With a £2,499 starting price, it's a professional-grade desktop likely to please power hungry businesses and proprietors that can write off a significant capital investment.

Look for our full review of the Apple Mac Pro soon. Until then, check out the hands-on video above.