Mac Pro/OS X 4K Display Compatibility ‘Like the Wild West’, Some 4K Monitors Unsupported

In its lengthy review of the new Mac Pro, AnandTech discovered that the Mac Pro’s current support for 4K monitors leaves something to be desired. The reviewer connected the Sharp 32″ 4K display that Apple currently offers on the Apple Online Store, expecting that OS X work the same way on that panel as Apple’s current Retina MacBook Pro models do.

On those machines, Apple renders the screen at full resolution but then renders text, menu and UI elements at 4x their normal resolution so they are the appropriate physical size for the user. It also offers multiple options to scale UI elements up or down as the user prefers. Instead, using the Sharp panel with the Mac Pro makes text and other on-screen elements – aside from photos and video – very small and difficult to read.

I was fully expecting all of this to be available on the Mac Pro when connected to a 32” 4K display. By default, there’s only a single supported scaled resolution: 2560 x 1440. Unfortunately it doesn’t look like Apple is running the same supersampling routines when you pick this resolution, instead you get a 2560 x 1440 desktop scaled up to 3840 x 2160 (rather than a 5120 x 2880 screen scaled down). The result is a bit of a blurry mess.

You can use tools like SwitchResX (or Quartz Debug or the necessary Terminal command) to enable a 1080p HiDPI mode, but then you end up with insanely low point density of around 68 PPI. Unfortunately it doesn’t appear to be possible to define your own HiDPI modes in OS X, you have to rely on those that Apple officially supports. I tried creating a 5120 x 2880 (2560 x 1440 HiDPI) mode but I couldn’t get it working under Mavericks. I’m not sure if I was limited by the OS or if Sharp’s EDID-specified max resolution of 3840 x 2160 prevented OS X from accepting what I was trying to do.

AnandTech also tried the new Dell UltraSharp 24 Ultra HD display but found that the display is not properly supported by the Mac Pro.

The reviewer calls OS X’s 4K display support „a bit like the wild west at this point“, though he anticipates Apple will fix things with both software updates and its own displays in the future – but urges early adopters to be aware of what they’re getting into.

I am disappointed that Apple didn’t enable any HiDPI modes on the 32” Sharp display. While I found 3840 x 2160 a great resolution for video work, for everything else it made on-screen menus and text a bit too small. I would love to see a 2560 x 1440 HiDPI option (rendering offscreen at 5120 x 2880 and but scaling down to 3840 x 2160 for display) but it looks like I may have to wait for Apple’s own display before I get something like that.

It’s been two years since Apple has updated its standalone display lineup, and the company is expected to come out with new models sooner rather than later. However, there are no concrete rumors suggesting when such an update might happen.




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Mac Pro/OS X 4K Display Compatibility ‘Like the Wild West’, Some 4K Monitors Unsupported

Entry-Level Mac Pro Offers Comparable Pricing Versus OEM PCs, DIY Systems More Affordable

Anandtech today published its comprehensive review of the Mac Pro, including a price comparison between the Mac Pro and similar systems from competitors HP and Lenovo.

When comparing the entry-level 3.7GHz quad-core Mac Pro with dual AMD FirePro D300s to both the similarly specced HP Z420 and the Lenovo ThinkStation S30, Anandtech found the Mac Pro to be competitively priced at $3248 (priced with AppleCare) vs. $4490 for the HP and $4373 for the Lenovo.

While there are some important distinctions between the computers, such as the fact that the HP system only offers a single FirePro W7000 and supports more displays, the pricing experiment suggests that Apple’s pricing is in line with other Ivy Bridge EP systems.

As I learned last time, there are typically some hefty discounts associated with workstation orders so take this pricing with a grain of salt. I also had to fudge the HP numbers a bit as I can only get a single FirePro W7000 in the Z420 configuration – I just doubled the W7000 adder in order to simulate what a theoretical dual GPU version would cost. There are other imbalances between the comparison (HP supports more displays, Apple features more Thunderbolt 2 ports, FirePro W7000 features ECC GDDR5, etc…), but the point here is to see if Apple’s pricing is out of touch with reality. It’s not.

While Apple’s pricing is competitive with similar PCs from HP and Lenovo, AnandTech found that building a comparative PC from individual parts was far less expensive, at least for lower-end systems. Pricing out an option with an Ivy Bridge E Core i7 PC with 12GB of RAM, two FirePro W7000 GPUs, and a fast SATA SSD came to $2730, a good bit less than the approximately $3499 a similar lower-end Mac Pro would cost from Apple.

AnandTech did not price out a higher-end DIY system, but earlier this month, FutureLooks attempted to build a PC equal to the top-of-the-line 12-core Mac Pro with 64GB of RAM, 1TB of flash storage, and Dual AMD FirePro D700 GPUs. Using similar parts (several Mac Pro parts – like the FirePro GPUs – were built exclusively for Apple) a PC equivalent to the high-end Mac Pro was actually priced at $11,530.54, far above Apple’s asking price of $9,599 for its professional workstation.

AnandTech‘s full review, which includes benchmarks comparing the Mac Pro to previous Mac Pros and other offerings from Apple as well as comments on 4K displays, is well worth reading.




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Entry-Level Mac Pro Offers Comparable Pricing Versus OEM PCs, DIY Systems More Affordable

Last Chance! Get The Merry Mac Bundle: 8 Of The Most Advanced Media Apps To Make Your Mac Bump [Deals]

If you’ve looking for a great sounding deal during the holidays, then with no further. The Merry Mac Bundle: Beats + Media Edition features 8 killer apps that will make your Mac handle allsorts of media like a pro. And…Read more ›



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Last Chance! Get The Merry Mac Bundle: 8 Of The Most Advanced Media Apps To Make Your Mac Bump [Deals]

Apple Denies Knowledge of NSA’s iPhone Spying Program

Yesterday, it was reported that the National Security Agency was able to capture live data from compromised iPhones including live camera, GPS, cell tower location and more.

Apple has now issued a statement denying that it ever cooperated with the NSA, according to AllThingsD.

Apple has never worked with the NSA to create a backdoor in any of our products, including iPhone. Additionally, we have been unaware of this alleged NSA program targeting our products. We care deeply about our customers’ privacy and security. Our team is continuously working to make our products even more secure, and we make it easy for customers to keep their software up to date with the latest advancements. Whenever we hear about attempts to undermine Apple’s industry-leading security, we thoroughly investigate and take appropriate steps to protect our customers. We will continue to use our resources to stay ahead of malicious hackers and defend our customers from security attacks, regardless of who’s behind them.

According to yesterday’s report, the NSA could install special software onto iPhones as part of a program called DROPOUTJEEP, that provides significant access to user data and other relevant information. The leaked documents describing the program were from 2008, so it is unknown how effective the NSA’s current iPhone efforts are.




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Apple Denies Knowledge of NSA’s iPhone Spying Program

Teardown of New Mac Pro Reveals Surprising Amount of Accessibility, Circular Daugtherboard

iFixit has performed another one of its traditional high-quality teardowns on the new 2013 Mac Pro, revealing a host of very powerful components and a design that allows the computer to be surprisingly accessible and repairable.

The new Mac Pro includes a rear lock switch that allows the device’s cylindrical casing to be removed with ease, allowing the user to easily access and replace components such as memory modules, SSD drives, and more. A teardown performed by Other World Computing (OWC) earlier this week also revealed that the Mac Pro includes a removable CPU, which may be useful to users who want to upgrade their machines in the future. Non-proprietary Torx screws are also found throughout some parts of the machine as well, which makes for easier repair.

Another internal to note in the Mac Pro is its power supply, which appears to be located in between the I/O panel and the logic board. The power supply itself appears to be rated at 450 Watts, and relies solely on Apple’s highly touted single fan cooling system in the Mac Pro to keep a low temperature. This, in unison with the triangular heat sink that cools the graphics card and GPU, allows the Mac Pro to idle at a quiet 12 dBA.

Furthermore, the logic board, dual graphics cards, and I/O port board found on the machine appear to connect to a single daughterboard, or interconnect board, found at the base of the machine. However, unlike the other parts of the computer, the daughterboard appears to use a tight cable routing system and various new proprietary connectors.

As is tradition for iFixit’s teardowns, the company has assigned a repairability score to the 2013 Mac Pro based on the accessibility of the various components. While iFixit disliked the inability to add additional internal storage and the tight cable routing system in some places, the new Mac Pro’s repairability scored a high 8 out of 10, with the firm crediting the computer for having non-proprietary Torx screws, an easily accessible case, and a user replaceable CPU.




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Teardown of New Mac Pro Reveals Surprising Amount of Accessibility, Circular Daugtherboard

External Compliance Monitor: Apple is Blocking Interviews, Disrupting E-Book Antitrust Investigation

Michael Bromwich, the external compliance monitor assigned to Apple as a result of its e-book antitrust case, has filed papers in a U.S. District Court accusing the company of being uncooperative and obstructive in his investigation, reports The Wall Street Journal.

The lawyer stated that Apple characterized his team’s activities as a “roving investigation“ with no worthwhile purpose, even going on to say that individuals within the company purposely blocked him from interviewing top-level officials and senior executives.

On Monday, Mr. Bromwich said he routinely met with top management at the three organizations he previously monitored and had „never before had a request for a meeting or interview in a monitoring assignment rejected or even deferred.“

„This is far less access than I have ever received during a comparable period of time in the three other monitorships I have conducted,“ Mr. Bromwich said.

According to the emails filed by Mr. Bromwich, his relationship with Apple was rocky from the start. After Mr. Bromwich sent Kyle Andeer, Apple’s director of competition law, an email detailing his rates and the contours of his oversight, the wide gaps between the two party’s expectations came into focus.

The news follows a formal complaint filed by Apple last month over Bromwich’s handling of the case, stating that the lawyer charged exorbitant fees that the company was unhappy with. Following two weeks of work, Bromwich sent Apple an invoice of $138,432, which the company described as „unprecedented in its experience.“ Apple also spoke out against Bromwich’s requests for interviews with high level officials, stating that the lawyer was overstepping his bounds.

In July, Apple was found guilty of of conspiring with five publishers to raise the retail price of e-books, following a lawsuit brought by the United States Department of Justice. As a result of its punishment, Apple was ordered to hire an external compliance monitor to ensure that the company complies with all antitrust requirements in the future.

Apple also continues to deny that it engaged in price fixing and filed a notice in October to appeal the case, with the company likely to submit its formal arguments in early 2014.




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External Compliance Monitor: Apple is Blocking Interviews, Disrupting E-Book Antitrust Investigation