Mac Pro Enthusiasts Raise Concerns Over Upgrade Limitations of Apple Silicon

The new Mac Pro coming later this year is expected to feature the same spacious modular design as the 2019 model, but with fresh concerns over its lack of upgradeability surfacing, some users are beginning to wonder what the transition away from Intel architecture actually means for Apple's most powerful Mac.

Mac Pro 2019 Apple
The current Intel Mac Pro that Apple sells is popular with creative professionals because of its modular, highly upgradeable design. It accepts Xeon processors with up to 28 cores and 64 PCI Express lanes, and up to 1.5TB of high-performance memory. It also has eight PCIe expansion slots, while the APX Modules can be configured with six different GPUs. All of the components can be upgraded after purchase.

Given that Apple's high-end M2 Extreme chip has reportedly been cancelled, the new Mac Pro is expected to feature a new M2 Ultra chip, which is essentially two ‌M2 Max‌ chips connected together,‌ featuring up to a 24-core CPU, up to a 76-core GPU, and at least 192GB of unified memory.

But it is just this unified architecture that is raising doubts about the Mac Pro's modularity among prospective owners. Earlier this month, Bloomberg's Mark Gurman revealed that unlike the current Intel-based ‌Mac Pro‌, the upcoming model will not feature user-upgradeable RAM because the memory is tied directly to the M2 Ultra's motherboard.

Now, Gurman has seemingly doubled down on this limitation of Apple's unified architecture by suggesting that the next Mac Pro "may lack user upgradeable GPUs" in addition to non-upgradeable RAM. As he points out: "Right now Apple Silicon Macs don't support external GPUs and you have to use whatever configuration you buy on Apple's website."



Apart from space for media and networking cards, that leaves only storage as the main user-upgradeable component in the Mac Pro. As for the seemingly large empty space that would remain in the unchanging tower case, Gurman suggests it could accommodate a larger cooling system, which would differentiate it from the Mac Studio by affording significantly faster performance.

Mac Pro tower inside
It's worth noting that on the subject of non-upgradeable GPUs, Gurman appears to be reaching this conclusion based on logical reasoning rather than specific insider information. But if it turns out that he is correct, it could dissuade would-be buyers from investing so much money in a machine that does not offer the same future-proofing expandability.

The ‌Mac Pro‌ currently starts at $5,999, with the potential to price it up to over $52,000 in custom configurations. The base model Apple silicon ‌Mac Pro‌ with the ‌M2‌ Ultra is almost certain to cost more than the high-end ‌Mac Studio‌ with the ‌M1 Ultra‌, which starts at $3,999.


Apple has already teased the launch of the first Apple silicon Mac Pro, so it is undoubtedly coming regardless of the rumors. Indeed, Apple is already testing one of the new ‌Mac Pro‌ models, and it is running macOS Ventura 13.3, an updated version of ‌macOS Ventura‌ coming out later this year. Timing wise, ‌macOS Ventura‌ 13.3 is expected to come out around March or April, so we could also see the ‌Mac Pro‌ launch in this timeframe.

Related Roundup: Mac Pro
Buyer's Guide: Mac Pro (Neutral)
Related Forum: Mac Pro

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Top Rated Comments

dantracht Avatar
18 months ago
Apple really is trying to see how far that loyalty will go. Either do the pro right or don’t do it at all. Sheesh.
Score: 98 Votes (Like | Disagree)
MGrayson3 Avatar
18 months ago
It's a straw man that doesn't even exist yet. Let's all panic!

"Based on nothing other than some past mistakes, and because I have no real information, let's consider the worst thing that could happen."
"Did you hear that? Apple might do the worst possible thing."
"They're almost certainly going to do the worst possible thing. They did it before!"
"I can't believe it. Apple did the worst possible thing AGAIN?"
"I know, right? They're doomed.

Rinse and repeat.
Score: 41 Votes (Like | Disagree)
TheYayAreaLiving ?️ Avatar
18 months ago
If you are going to pay a hefty price for a Mac Apple should let you consider customizing it the way you want. It’s simple as that.

Why else do we pay premium prices for Apple products?
Score: 28 Votes (Like | Disagree)
oofio2461 Avatar
18 months ago
A 53k Mac that doesn't have upgradeable parts. Think about that. And Apple thinks you can trade in the old model in for only $970!
Score: 28 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Apple Knowledge Navigator Avatar
18 months ago

It's worth noting that on the subject of non-upgradeable GPUs, Gurman appears to be reaching this conclusion based on logical reasoning rather than specific insider information.
That’s all Gurman does anyway.
Score: 27 Votes (Like | Disagree)
1557750 Avatar
18 months ago
Until the Fans quit buying them, Apple will continue this trend. They will never allow users to have the option to upgrade certain components over a 5-10 year span, when they can force them to buy every 3-5 years to keep up with what’s needed.
Score: 27 Votes (Like | Disagree)