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11/13/2006
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Review: Apple's New Mac Pro Blows Away The Competition

Apple's latest desktop proves itself a winner in design, performance and flexibility.

After two weeks with one of the new Mac Pro desktops, I've got only one word: "Wow. The new Apple Mac Pro desktop is one of the best-designed, highly-performing desktops currently available at any price. Not only does it run Mac OS X and OS X applications at absolutely blazing speeds, but if you install Parallels Desktop for Mac (or Apple's Boot Camp), the Mac Pro makes a better Windows workstation than almost any other Windows desktop out there.



Apple's new Mac Pro
The attention to detail, as well as substantial improvement over the previous Power Mac G5, is obvious. Below the front-mounted power button and light are a complete set of I/O ports: two USB 2.0 ports, one FireWire 400, one FireWire 800, and a headphone jack. This full set of front ports saves a great deal of time crawling around the back of the device. Two front panels allow the inclusion of dual optical drives, another key improvement.

On the back, three more USB 2.0 ports and an additional pair of FireWire ports (one 400, the other 800) are joined by S/PDIF optical digital audio in/out, and 1/8-inch line in/out ports. Two Ethernet ports can be used separately, but the Mac Pro also supports link aggregation and VLAN 802.1q tags (VLAN tags are used to allow 802.1q tunnelling and routing), allowing for a wide range of networking and networked storage options.

The case design is very similar to that of the previous Mac tower on the outside, but the differences inside are impressive. A single lever on the rear of the case allows the side panel to rotate up simply and quickly, giving easy access to up to four direct-attach internal drives, which slide into the side of the frame securely with almost no effort. A double-wide PCI Express slot for the graphics card keeps the other three full-size PCI Express slots free for other uses, and the system RAM is easily accessible via a pair of easily-removed riser cards.

The test machine came configured with top-of-the-line dual 3 GHz Dual-Core Intel Xeon processors (the base configuration has a pair of 2.66 Ghz CPUs), 4 GB of 667 Mhz FB-DIMM RAM (expandable up to 16GB), and four 500GB SATA drives (maxing out the four drive bays), for a total of 2 Terabytes. The ATI Radeon X1900 XT graphics card that came with our Mac Pro is a solid performer. It's not quite as fast as the NVIDIA Quadro FX 4500, which has the advantage of also being able to drive the 30-inch Apple Cinema HD display, but reasonably-priced and much more capable than the stock NVIDIA GeForce 7300 GT. (The two Nvidia cards are the other two options for the Mac Pro.)


More Info On Apple's New Mac Pro


•  Windows On the Mac: Boot Camp Vs. Parallels Desktop for Mac


•  The Mac Pro In Detail: Image Gallery

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