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2019 Mac Pro has clever thermal management and draws on past Mac designs

Software developer and designer Arun Venkatesan has taken a look at the smart thermal management features of the upcoming 2019 Mac Pro.

He also shows some of the past Mac technology Apple has drawn on in the design of the Mac Pro and its accompanying monitor …

The 2019 Mac Pro of course draws heavily from the design of the Power Mac G5, aka the cheese-grater Mac Pro. Venkatesan notes that the machine was one of the very first tower computer systems to create multiple thermal zones within the casing for more efficient thermal management.

The G5 is divided into four thermal zones using walls and a plastic air deflector. In each zone, low-speed fans intake air through the front and over components and through heatsinks. Then, hot air is exhausted from the back.

That was almost revolutionary when compared to the average desktop tower at the time that was basically one big thermal zone.

Separating the one big space into smaller zones allows each one to be individually monitored and cooled. Fans will spin up only when a particular component they are responsible for actually heats up. The end result is quieter, more efficient cooling.

Apple takes a similar approach with the new design.

In the new Mac Pro, Apple is using a metal plate they are calling the “Sea wall” and the motherboard itself to divide the interior into two thermal zones. In the larger space in front of the motherboard, three large impeller fans intake air from the front, over the CPU heatsink and expansion cards and out the back.

On the other side, a blower style fan pulls air through the memory, solid state storage and, power supply and out the back.

The lattice grille is also key to heat dissipation, a clever design meaning that it’s actually more air than metal.

An array of hexagonally tessellated spheres is carved from one side of the aluminum slab and another offset array is carved from the other. These voids overlap to allow air to flow through. This process removes more than 50% of the material, leaving behind a strong structure that is in fact mostly air.

2019 Mac Pro lattice grille design

Venkatesan also notes that the Pro Display XDR’s stand looks kind of familiar.

2002’s iMac G4, the first flatscreen iMac, debuted with an arm connecting the hemispherical body to the flat panel. That arm was so strong that Apple actually recommended it be used as the handle for moving the computer around.

Old and new monitor arms ...

The whole piece is well worth reading.

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Avatar for Ben Lovejoy Ben Lovejoy

Ben Lovejoy is a British technology writer and EU Editor for 9to5Mac. He’s known for his op-eds and diary pieces, exploring his experience of Apple products over time, for a more rounded review. He also writes fiction, with two technothriller novels, a couple of SF shorts and a rom-com!

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