I’ve blustered on and on about how Apple doesn’t offer anything like a Shuttle PC for Pro Mac users who need something smaller- or something that is rack mountable, to easily integrate, remain connected to, and travel with all the other video gear.
Pictured here is Shuttle’s Quad-Core Xeon Processor. I pitted the Shuttle against the Mac Pro, similarly configured, and guess which costs more? Moreover, there’s an article on LifeHacker which can make the Shuttle (or any similar build your own) system the cheapest Mac Pro anywhere…
First lets talk CPUs.
This could be called an unfair match in many respects. The Mac Pro is a behometh of a machine while the Shuttle is designed to be as compact as possible. Clearly the Mac’s size makes it easy to hold as many as 8 cores (two quad-core processors) as well as four hard drives two opticals and three full-size PCI slots.
But what if you don’t need ALL of that. What if you don’t want to deal with a nearly 50-pound silver case that doesn’t easily fit anywhere, except the floor. What if you just need a single quad core, a single PCI slot, and three hard drives. What if you just need a box that thinks fast and hard.
Well, lets compare the two machines then.
Shuttle v. Mac Pro
I chose Windows XP X64 versus 10.5 Leopard
. . . (Apple gives no choice of a previous OS)
Intel Xeon Quad 2.66 GHz v. two 2.66 Dual Cores
. . . (Apple gives no single quad core choice)
8 GB RAM as 4 x 2GB sticks in both.
750 GB drives in all three bays in both
. . . . (Apple offers a fourth bay, I left it empty)
NVIDIA Quadro FX 4600 v. 4500
. . . (The closest match IMHO)
20x v. 16x DVD Burner
. . . (Despite Apple CEO Steve Jobs calling 2005 The Year of HD, Apple still does not offer any HD optical drives (wtf). Shuttle offers a Blu-ray for $545)
Front slot for floppy drive/accessory v. slot for another optical drive.
. . . (you could stick another hard drive in that floppy drive slot…)
PCI slot, PCI Express Mini slot v. three full length PCI Express slots
. . . (the big case does provide space for something)
Fingerprint security v. none.
Dual SATA ports on back v. none.
. . . (as much as this is a no-brainer, Apple still doesn’t get it)
One year Warranty on both.
WiFi B/G v. WiGi B/G/N No bluetooth on either.
Optical audio on both
. . . (Shuttle also offers SPDIF coax)
8 USB, 2 FW400 v. 5 USB, 2FW400, 2 FW800
. . . (only Apple keeps pushing on-board FW800)
Microsoft Office versus iLife/iWork.
And I threw in a Shuttle XPC black expandable carry bag for $45.
20 lbs. – 13" deep. 9" tall. 9" wide. – $4818.
Apple Mac Pro:
46 lbs. – 19" deep. 20" tall. 8" wide. – $7,672.
I dunno about you, but I find the Shuttle a lot easier to carry around. For portable productions where you need Pro horsepower, You could carry 2 Shuttles and accessories and have less weight than the Mac Pro. Ugh!
Maybe this is why Newtek uses shuttle-like PC’s for their Tricaster live video switcher / production systems. (though, with all the other rack mounted video gear, it would be nice for the Tricaster to play nice in the rack with everything else.) Don’t get me started on the 30" deep, 40 lb, and too noisy for words xServe as Apple’s only rack-mountable solution. Pros need silence!
The next Mac Pro ought to look like this:
But you can’t run X on the Shuttle?
BAH! I say.
A great article on LifeHacker.com details the process for putting Leopard onto a PC. This "Hackintosh" is not just a "skin" over windows, but the actual intel-based Mac OS on an Intel-based machine that you choose.
Adam Pash does a good job detailing the little niggles you have to go through to get this to work, and even then, because it’s a hack, it may not work perfectly. Kudos to those at the OXx86 Project who are working hard at doing what really needs to be done- giving end users the choice to use the OS they want on the hardware they want.
When a company that makes the quality software that Apple does, and gives you so much capability in their Final Cut Studio, it’s a downright shame that the only desktops they offer are an underpowered Mac Mini (the cheapest portable blows the Mini away) or a nearly three foot tall, nearly $8,000 behometh.
This, from a company that offered us as many as NINE different iPod models.
Try the 1 gig shuffle, 4 gig nano, 8 gig nano, 80 gig classic, 160 gig classic, 8 gig touch, 16gig touch, 4 gig phone, and 8 gig phone. Sure, they may not offer the 4 gig iPhone now, but you can bet there’s a 16 gig iPhone on the way.
So, if Apple is so adept at offering their customers a – w i d e – r a n g e – of choices, why does Apple stiff their "Pro" customers with such limited choices?
Why can’t you buy Final Cut Pro all by itself any more?
Why is there only one Pro desktop model?
Why hasn’t it been updated since the G5 days, several years ago?