Restoring Geek Pride or Why My Next Mac Could be a Mac Pro

For awhile now, I’ve been unhappy with Apple and their stuff. Not unhappy WITH Apple or angry with them. But just not happy. I can’t put my finger on it. I still love the company and it’s products of course. But there are times that I just grow so unbearably irritated and tired. Whenever I almost accidentally bump into some person who’s walking and watching a movie on their 9.7 inch iPad. Or the people who look so ridiculous taking a photograph in broad daylight with their iPad. Or how more and more geek, tech, gaming and accessory shops are increasing taken over by stores and stores selling nothing, nothing but iPhone and iPad covers. That’s it. That’s their business model. A whole shop, selling, COVERS. And don’t even get me started on the “Apple has changed the mobile gaming space forever”, “Nintendo is doomed”, “the future is touchscreen gaming” rant

This is the price of success?

This is what I get for rooting for Apple and the Mac for almost twenty years?

Then a few weeks ago. I started to get an epiphany – in stages. I listen and read a lot to some very smart and eloquent Mac enthusiasts. People like John Siracusa and Marco Arment. They discuss, critique and review a ton of Mac stuff. A heck of a lot. And I’m guessing that they own quite a bit of them. What started striking me as strange, was when John Siracusa on his talkshow (Hypercritical) started talking at great length (like for hours, and for shows) in reviewing, rationalising, and debating the tiniest details on Apple’s products like the iMac, the fusion drive, the iPhone 5, the lightning connector, the pricing, the positioning, the materials, just about every detail about almost everything. But then he would always let slip about how he was still pining for a new Mac Pro.

Hmm.

This happened once, new Retina MacBook Pro, very nice. Still waiting. New iMacs with fusion drives. Almost perfect storage tech for the present. Yet, Siracusa would never buy an iMac. Still using an outdated, several years old, Mac Pro.

I started doing some research. (Epiphany was starting to set in). Marco Arment. Creator of Instapaper Same thing. Long, long unhappy blog posts on his site that at one point uses the term “pathetic” to describe the lack of attention and update Apple was giving the Mac Pros.

These are real honest-to-goodness and long suffering Mac users. Who make some parts of their living as far as I know using and / or writing about Apple products.

But all this Mac Pro stuff was getting interesting. My curiosity was piqued.

And then. I went to Geekbench.
http://browser.primatelabs.com/mac-benchmarks

Pause.

Breathe.

Oh man.

At the time of writing. Seven of the top ten performing Mac machines, of ALL TIME, are Mac Pros.
Of those seven, two are 2009 models, four are 2010, and the top performing Mac is of course the 2012 Mac Pro with 22260 points. The modest speed bumped one that was described as “pathetic.”
Some more fun stats. The MacBook Pro 15-inch Retina is a great machine and sneaks into the top 10. It’s about 400 points off it’s nearest rival. But how many points is it from number one? More than 10,000 points. It’s also more than 10,000 points behind the 2nd place Mac Pro which was released in 2010.

More stats.
There are only 2 iMacs in the top 30. The 2nd of which is at number 30, and it’s no slouch running a 4 core 2800 MHz Intel Core i7.

There are a lot of MacBook Pros in this range, but they are in fairness running at the fastest chip they can run on and their models only go back to 2011. That’s last year. There are no 2010 MacBook Pros even close to this group. And another point to be made. A majority of the MacBook Pros hover around the 10k point range. Only two break into 11k and the outstanding new Retina MacBook Pros produce two that go into the 12k mark, almost 10,000 points off the top machines.

That’s it. Excluding the discontinued Xserves, everyone else is toast.

I love my MacBook Airs. Where does my beloved 11-inch 2011 MBA sit?
In 78th place and I had a personal score lower than advertised one of 4.7k.

The current 13-inch 2010 MacBook Air I’m currently using for work? 139th position! One Hundred and Thirty-Nine.
It’s nice to know, it sits two places lower than a 2006 iMac or has a score that beats a 2007 MacBook by 105 points.

This is ridiculous. Not so much that it’s false advertising or false comparison (which much of it is). But it’s a comparison nonetheless. Of raw power versus age versus durability.

The point is, this doesn’t really say as much about Apple or their product line as it does about me. How could I not know this sooner. How could I not have cared?

When did I change?

When did I stop caring about specs and upgrades and options?
When did I let myself get carried away with the latest talk about about 5mm smaller or 1/2 pound lighter or “aluminium grade sturdiness!”

I used to work in a Mac shop nearly twenty years ago. I remember giving everyone the same advice. “Buy the most expensive Mac your budget will allow, so you won’t regret it and you will be happier over time with how much longer your investment will last.” I made a pact with my wife years ago, after two broken white iBooks that we would never, NEVER buy another iBook – because they were inferior to PowerBooks. Then Apple renamed them all to MacBooks, and slowly removed the distinction between the lines.

When my wife and I got married more than ten years ago. She moved in with me and budget was tight. My mother very sweetly let us swap rooms so that we would then live in the master bedroom of the household. The one thing we did during our small renovation was to paint the walls of the master bedroom blue and white. In preparation for the purchase of a Blue and White PowerMac G3! I can’t believe we did that. Sadly we never did get the G3. My local MacShop offered us a brilliant deal on a WallStreet PowerBook and we decided to get it – we could never afford a Mac laptop up till then. And then it’s been pretty much laptops for us all the way through, apart from the “new” 2010 iMac which I’m writing this on and which sits in 55th place in the charts and has trouble keeping up with iPhoto and my wife’s Photo Book project.

So where do I go from here?
I’m not sure of course. Apple would like me to believe in a new iMac with fusion drive, with thunderbolt, perhaps even with a retina display. And when that goes slow, coincidentally with the expiration of my AppleCare and some new iMac release – I would just get that newer one too.

By why not try and live on the edge a little bit more?
Maybe I’ll wait and see and read and hear what John Siracusa and Marco Arment have to say when / if Tim Cook delivers his promise of delivering “something special” in 2013 for Mac Pro users.
I must be crazy to need that kind of power. I won’t ever need that kind of expansion.

I really don’t know. Is that really true either? I’m not so sure. I can say that I’ve bought two MacBook Airs and one iMac in the last two years alone. I’ve also bought an expensive iomega USB drive and a 3TB firewire drive because my iMac has run out of space. Let’s not count the monies spent on two iPads, two iPhone 4s and one iPod Touch.
Is a MacPro such a ridiculous investment? I wonder if the users who bought their Mac Pros in 2008 / 09 / 10 would beg to differ.

But this really isn’t the hardware of course. It’s about me and my sense of what it is to love the Mac again.
It’s about identity and about trying to recover that little sense of ownership or Mac geek pride, when all Apple seems to want to do is sell you a little pretty sealed up box meant for masses of consuming millions.

I’ll tell you what. It certainly is interesting contemplating a Mac Pro with a Xeon Processor and a real graphics card my PC friends won’t sneeze at. A machine that will let me expand it in time, the way I’d want to or at least have the option to think I’d like to. A machine that won’t fall flat on it’s face on the Geekbench chart after being a year old.

A machine that may help me start to think different again, for the first time in a long while.

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