Apple’s radically redesigned Mac Pro will be heading to the market later this year but, like most of Apple’s other Macs, the new version ditches the optical drive. A missing optical drive can be easily justified for ultra-portable computers like the MacBook Air, but professionals who are interested in, and will be able to afford, the new Mac Pro may still need the capability to read and burn CDs, DVDs, and Blu-ray discs.
Any one of a number of external USB or FireWire (via a Thunderbolt adapter) drives will work, of course, but the new Mac Pro is all about style, and a boxy external optical drive on your desk may kill the mojo. Thankfully, Minneapolis-based FastMac has just announced a neat solution: an external optical drive built specifically to match the new Mac Pro’s design and footprint.
Update [2013-07-17]: Readers should note that the company discussed in this article is FastMac LLC, a new company that is unrelated to Fastmac Performance Upgrades, Inc. at FastMac.com. Our calls to FastMac LLC have gone unanswered but we spoke with FastMac Performance Upgrades, Inc. and they confirmed that the two companies are unrelated.
Update 2 [2013-07-27]: Due to the name confusion mentioned in Update 1, above, FastMac LLC has changed its name to NuMac and is now located at NuMac.co. Links in this article have been updated to point to the new address.
The drive, designated FMBDR6x, is a bus-powered USB device that sits directly underneath the Mac Pro and is encased in black aluminum to match the cylindrical computer. It supports CD (up to 24x), DVD (up to 8x), and Blu-ray (up to 6x) reading and writing.
Perhaps the only drawback is the price, which is $159 for pre-orders through September 1, 2013, after which the price jumps to $179. This is quite a bit more than the cost of some basic external Blu-ray drives, but if you’re willing to pay an as yet unknown, but certainly high, price for the upcoming Mac Pro, a bit extra for a matching optical drive may be worth it.
The FastMac FMBDR6x ships by the end of September (although we’re not sure if the Mac Pro will be out by then), and can be pre-ordered now from the company’s website. Although designed to match the new Mac Pro, it’s technically compatible with any Mac running OS X 10.6 or later and comes with a two-year warranty and 60-day return policy.