The technology gap between the old and new Mac Pro could cost you a Mini

While innovation is certainly a good thing most of the time, it ends up costing more when the strides that innovation takes are long and wide.  The problem for old Mac Pro owners is that the innovation that went into the new Mac Pro is happening all at once.

The old Mac Pro for the most part has remained the exactly the same for the last four years. A few minor bump-ups in processor performance, memory speed and graphics, but its mainly the same machine.  Making the jump to the new Mac Pro will require some changes in how you operate and use it. Most notably will be how you choose to store your data.

Migrating all your storage to Thunderbolt

The one thing missing from the new Mac Pro is storage space. They may be fast, but they don’t have much space to store things. Especially if you have been utilizing the four internal drive bays of the old Mac Pro. Your two choices for accessing external storage on the new Mac Pro are USB 3.0 or Thunderbolt. If you have been using FireWire 800 external drives on your old Mac Pro, you will need to change. You will be hard pressed to find many modern drive enclosures that support both FireWire 800 and Thunderbolt.

Mac Pro and Drobo 5D

What you will likely end up with is something that supports both USB 3.0 and Thunderbolt like the Drobo. The Drobo 5D costs $850 and has five internal drive bays that would serve as a good desktop replacement for your old Mac Pro’s four internal drive bays. That, and it comes in matching black for those who pay attention to such things. Supporting both USB 3.0 as well as Thunderbolt, it can serve to bridge the data storage gap as you plan on upgrading to the new Mac Pro.

USB 3.0 for your old Mac Pro

The old Mac Pro however only supports USB 2.0, and that is not fast enough. In order to access your new external drive solution using a method that provides the best speed possible, you will need to utilize one of the internal expansion slots. All Mac Pros from early 2009 (MacPro4,1) forward have PCIe 2.0 expansion slots.

CalDigit SuperSpeed

To bridge the gap and access your data using USB 3.0 consider adding a CalDigit 2 Port USB 3.0 Host Adapter for $87.99. This will add two USB 3.0 ports to your old Mac Pro and allow you to access your new external storage solution as you wait to upgrade to the new Mac Pro.

Accessing your hard drives once they’re out

One of my favorite Mac Pro accessories is the NewerTech Voyager SATA drive docking solution for $74.99. It looks like a toaster and allows you to swap out SATA hard drives like they were removable media.  This solution will allow you to continue accessing your files stored on the internal drives after you remove them from your old Mac Pro.

Voyager Q

It supports both Firewire 800 and USB 3.0, which help it serve both the old and new Mac Pros right out of the box. Of the options available, it is certainly the cheapest way to bridge the external data storage gap. It also allows you to access all of your files via the fastest interface that comes with both the old and new Mac Pro.

Mountains of optical discs still exist

With the Mac Pro, Apple will finally remove the last computer from its lineup that comes with a SuperDrive. While burning discs may be a thing of the past, it is still likely that you have a formidable stack of old discs that you will want to access from time to time. Backups of old photos, documents and even music files that you thought you would never need access to again. When you do discover that you need to access these old discs, you will have to purchase something like the Apple USB SuperDrive for $79.00.

With a fully stocked new Mac Pro costing as much as $10,000 each, investing $1,000 in your old Mac Pro may be a more economically feasible, short term option.  This may even give you some time to make the transition to the new Mac Pro a much easier task.