back to article Apple Mac Pro

The recent updates to Apple’s iMac and Mac Mini desktop systems rather suggested that the company was treading water. Both machines sported new graphics chips and faster system buses, but their processor speeds had barely changed and there was a steady trend towards higher prices that suggested Apple was planning to weather the …


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  1. Adrian
    Gates Halo

    All that power

    and they have to run 32 bit apps from Adobe because they don't understand 64 bit is the future. So, 16 virtual processors running and only one is actually working.

  2. Richard Cartledge
    Thumb Up

    It is nice

    It is out of my price range, but I suppose it is intended for professionals who can easily have £20k worth of software installed. For example, Comedy Central use them to make SouthPark animation. Snow Leopard OS update should unleash more of the useful power I would hope.

  3. Anonymous Coward

    Top Notch

    No one else builds machines with the same fit and finish as Apple. Every time I look inside a Mac Pro and then an average PC I wonder why PC manufacturers lack the ability to match Apple. The sheer attention to detail is staggering.

    But it doesn't end there. The OS is marvelous as well.

    And now, with this latest speed bump I think it's about time I got my boss to upgrade my work machine for me.

    I just need to make sure that I've got a copy of solitaire that will use all of those extra cores and 64-bitness :-)

  4. Luis Ogando
    Paris Hilton

    Yep, it's pricey...

    ..but I still want one!

    I'm sure the Anti-Mac Brigade will comment in abundance, telling us all how much better their 'gaming' machine is (and also how much cheaper). But, I like Macs. And I like this. So there!

    Paris, 'cos RAM, slot, etc. all have slightly sexual conoctations....etc...

  5. Ash
    Thumb Down

    No comparison...

    ... with the predecessor?

    Were the numbers not favourable enough?

  6. Christian Berger

    A mac like a PC

    Well the Mac Pro series seems to mimick PCs by allowing more than a single harddisk to be buildt in. This way you build a RAID and use the hardisks to store data.

    I don't worry about the software aspect of it. As Macs traditionally are appliances, the firmware manufacturers will soon adapt to the new hardware.

  7. Simon

    If money was no object

    If I was really rich, like astronaut rich, I would like one of these, with about 3 monitors attached to it.

    The design looks soo slick, as you say in the article I would be curious to see how well it plays PC games in boot camp.

    Gah, someones going to call me a fanboy now, oh well back to my Windows PC.

  8. Derek Hellam
    Thumb Up

    Good for all

    I used to have two machines. A PC for games, and a Mac mini as a safe home for photos, web development and music. Now I have just got one machine. A Mac Pro that does everything I could ask for, a real 8 core whore! Got cheap RAM for OWC in the States, an 8800GT for windows games. So now I boot into Vista64 for my "fix" of Day of Defeat, Halflife or Crysis. Whist still enjoying the raw Mac power for video work, CAD and photo editing. A good review guys, why not stick a 4870 in there, boot into windows 7 and give us some benchmarks for games. I must admit I'm still amazed that some of the PC case makers have not cottoned onto the drive bay features that these cases use, or perhaps they have and I just don't know about it?

    I no longer see my machine as a Mac, rather a machine where I can run any operating system, either natively or in virtualisation, or both...LOL

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Why I won't bother

    I can do anything it does on a PC half the price with the same specs, the ability to upgrade is crippled by costs and lock-in, repair costs and TCO are without doubt the highest of any computer and there is such a limited range of software for the Mac's you may as well just have windows.

    I do own & use Mac's but totally understand their massive short-comings. Great for posing and being "creative" but there it ends.

  10. jai


    how pretty does EvE Online look and does it play the native client without crashing?

  11. Shakje

    Even with...

    off the shelf PCs why not just get this and use the spare grand to customise it + get a monitor?

  12. Henry Blackman

    They scream!

    I've got one of these babies and believe me, they scream. The sheer speed of the processors just doesn't get touched with video encoding (H264 5 times faster than real time - love it), and yet the machine is responsive like it's doing nothing. It does show that the bottleneck is the disk, so you'll need a RAID to get maximum performance out of it!

  13. snafu

    No 64bit needed to use all cores

    Actually, you don't need 64bitness to take advantage of all these cores: Adobe After Effects, Modo, Electricimage and other 32bit apps get to use them all (by multithreading, by spawning renderer processes, by farming the output of several duplicates of the app, etc.).

  14. Chris


    It would have been nice to see a comparison with high end machines from other manufacturers rather than with other Apple models. For instance, it would be nice to know how this beast stacks up against the high end HP workstations. While some people may think this is irrelevant since they will generally be running different operating systems, there are a far number of us programmers out there who stick Linux or another Unix-like OS on these kinds of machines (I use a HP XW6600 which came with a Windows license but is currently running Linux).

  15. Mad Hacker

    Great! Add Blu-Ray authoring abilities and I'll buy one.

    Sounds good. Let me burn Blu-Ray discs on it and I'll take one.

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    @ Shakje

    The Alienware machine you linked to uses the desktop/consumer intel processors. Not the Xeon server class ones. Xeons are quite a bit more expensive and quite a bit faster.

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Nice Box

    Ignore the PC windows guys. They have always claimed to be able to do it better, cheaper, and faster. This claims carries no weight anymore as it has been trumpeted too often over the years. Unix/Linux is still here. I won't depend on windows pcs anymore. The have let me down too often and interfere with my being able to pay my bills. Paying more over the lifetime of a reliable system is negligible compared to the indirect cost of downtime and time wasted fiddling around with windows to get it to work.

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    re: Why I won't bother...

    We changed lock stock and barrel from Windows just over 4 years ago. We now have the hardware and most software from one manufacturer (apple) plus one more specialised app. With the sensibly priced applecare we get 3 years warranty on each machine (though reliability is pretty much perfect) and very little staff training needed. We don't need windows as there is pretty much nothing that isn't available for Macs now (and if you have some very specialised need run vmware). TCO is a fraction of when we ran windows boxes and apple's support is superb. It's a no brainer and the guy who claimed high upgrade and TCO costs clearly hasn't seriously run Macs. Are we Fanboys? You bet! It's cut our IT costs dramatically so call us what you like!

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @Christian Berger

    Mac towers have had room for multiple hard drives for ten years (starting with the Blue&White PowerMac G3).

  20. DG

    You Windoze guys will never understand..

    Listen. I might go out and buy myself a pair of Adidas or Nike trainers. They don't do any more than or last any longer than the Pro-300s down the local supermarket and while the branded ones are £80, the Pros are £15.

    I buy the premium ones because that's what I like. They look and feel good and do what I need them to do.

    Same for my car. The Ford I have does the same job as the Rolls Royce my MD drives. It doesn't look or feel as nice and is a fraction of the price but it gets me from A-B.

    So. Why can't I buy a Mac. It does the same as your PC for a little more money and looks/feels a thousand times better. Is that so wrong?

    Oh before you start typing a PC fanboy reply, if you've ever bought ANYTHING for a reason other than it's merits don't bother. Ignore the fact that you might actually like it cos that's obviously not a valid reason in your book.

  21. Ron Eve

    AC @ 11:37

    The clocks changed last weekend - but I reckon you need to bring yours up from 1998.

  22. Eric Hood

    Blu ray

    @ Mad Hacker.

    Blu Ray is already supported so add a drive to the second bay and you are good to go.

  23. Anonymous Coward


    I'd love to get one of these bad boys - I do 3D graphics for a living. Almost all the apps I use have OSX versions, with the notable exception of Eyeon Fusion.

    Sadly I can't/won't.

    Sure, I could pony up for a faster (necessary) 3D card for Mac.

    Thing is, the local Apple distributor in Turkey charges an arm an a leg extra for the brand's hardware. Like about 40% more. That's not counting all relevant taxes and such- a $1k notebook by, say, HP in the US is around maybe $1.1k here. But a 1000USD Mac is like 1200Euros. It's preposterous. I could just do a grey import deal, but support for workstations is A Good Thing.

    A self-servicable DIY tower for me, again.

  24. Frank Bough


    Apple is conspicuously NOT supporting Blu-Ray, in fact. It's incredibly annoying that they're putting their stupid iTMS profits ahead of their core creative market. Twats.

  25. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Need new picture

    Where is the drool picture????

    (Yea I know 10k is a lot but damn that is a nice bit of hardware)

  26. Anonymous Coward

    @Christian Berger

    Ah dude - I have an eight year old G4 533 MHz tower that is raided with two 180 G HD. (Of course the system is so old it only reads the first 128 G of each HD) It has been humming along just fine thank you. (I have been looking at the Mac Pros as a replacement....)

  27. Big Bear

    Where's my damn Gov bailout?

    Sweet machine... pity with this damn recession I can't justify/afford getting it...

  28. stizzleswick
    Thumb Up

    Blueray and multiple HDs

    Actually, BR burners are supported by MacOS X 10.5.2 and up, if I remember correctly. Chuck one in and start working.

    As for the capability to equip a Mac with multiple discs, you can go back all the way to the Mac II f/fx, which could fit up to three (the third would sit in the second floppy bay), and I still remember a Quadra 950 with five HDs stuffed into it. The PowerPC desktops generally had 2 hard drive bays; some of the towers were prepared for more. The G3s and later could take on 4 hard discs.

    As for those claiming that one could buy a machine specced to this level from a different manufacturer for half the price, check your data sheets. The nearest Dell (which does not quite equal the performance) is a good bit MORE expensive.

    As I'm moving more and more into video and DVD editing, this one's definitely in the running.

  29. Monkey

    Windows People

    I am a Windows person but only because that is what I need. I've used software originally wrote for Macs, on Macs, and the versions that have been ported over to Windows... and there is NO comparison (Logic on Mac performs better on a lower spec Mac than on a higher end PC!). Software optimised for Macs goes like stink and if it's your job you buy the absolute best you can. That's it, period.

    If the best for you is a high end Windows environment you buy that. If it is high end Mac work stations, like this, you'll buy this.

    You can bleat all you want about the price, and cry 'Mac-tard', but if raw performance is what you need to get the most out of specialist software, people will pay the price of this, and I for one don't blame them one little bit.

  30. iamapizza


    I am incompetent and do not know how to work a simple computer, therefore it must be the PC's fault. I will now support my decision by exclaiming excessively my adoration for the Mac world.

  31. Jay
    Jobs Horns

    Very nice, but not all the way there

    I got a previous-gen MacPro in Dec and does everything I need (with a bit a virtulisation).

    As soon as I got it I threw in 4 of my own (bigger) disks and upgraded the RAM (from those nice people at Crucial). That was all accomplished very quickly as Apple has really thought about how disks and DIMMs are accessed.

    It's a bit annoying about BluRay. It is possible to throw a BR drive in and then use something like Toast to burn data to it, but if you're after watching a BR then forget it

    Evil Jobs, as we haven't all got mega speeds for broadband so constantly downloading HD video (via iTunes?!) isn't going to happen, *That's* why we want BluRay!

  32. storng.bare.durid


    Why didn't you do it? Put this thing thru' its paces in games. I for one would be interested to see how it fares as I have heard conflicting information.

    1. I hear you need bootcamp to run windows natively and the drivers supplied (which I understand are the only ones you can use) are not as good (? slower) than generic windows box drivers,

    2. When virtualised, ie VMware I'd be interested to see what sort of performance degradation occurs. While inevitable, it may be small enough to be negligible possibly, depending on the demands of the game.

    I don't have a mac that can game (no decent gfx card) so I can't really put this to the test. Would make a good article.

    My guess is this top of the line thing will probably not differ too much from the performance you get from a similarly rigged up quadcore generic windows box which would possibly cost 1/2 the price at best, or even lag behind, if what I have heard of the bootcamp drivers is true. Nevertheless....

    Compare this to, say a an Alienware Dell XPS gamer whatsit or an Acer gamer thingie... assuming similar storage/RAM/GFx card setup. Or heck you could even build your own. But this sounds more like a tomshardware article I guess.

  33. Anonymous Coward
    Jobs Horns

    Bootcamp issue

    I just bought one of these things with 32GB memory and I'm having trouble with Bootcamp and Windows ME, my OS of choice.

    I'm so disappointed with this useless piece of junk....

  34. Justin Clements

    @CB & @AC

    Try 1991. Quadra 900 had multiple internal drive bays.

    Anyway, get over yourselves trying to out nerd each other on internal drive bays. Get a girlfriend or something. Meet other humans.

  35. cliff

    BootCamp and ME

    A quick look at the BootCamp page on Apple's web site would tell you that it only supports XP and Vista...

  36. Steven Raith
    Thumb Up


    I think there may have been some sarcasm involved in Gobots post.

    Also, for all those saying that you can't spec a PC to the Mac for a comparable price, A little experimentation shows that you can get a T610 for about the same price/spec, all the important bits [dual nehelams, 6gb RAM, etc] minus the GPU [which you can add yourself, natch] but with space for eight hard drives, and support for RAID10.

    I'd rather have the RAID10 and eight drive bays myself, but I can certainly see the appeal of the Mac Pro as a workstation platform, it's a nice bit of kit and as value for money goes, it really isn't bad at all given the design.

    Is it VMware certified, though? ;-)

    Steven R

  37. snafu
    Jobs Horns

    Blu-Ray yes, Blu-Ray Video, sadly, no

    Which is double plus idiotic in such a DTV production box. You can do BD-Video authoring through some apps from Adobe and Roxio, but you won't be able to test your titles on it.

    (Devilish Jobs because I like being a Mac heretic, too many years of RDF exposure for it to work anymore)

  38. E


    Well, really, the interior of a computer is irrelevant if it has proper cooling and offers reasonable physical access when parts need to be changed. Apple makes gorgeous interiors, but why should I pay for that - I never look at it?

  39. Giles Jones Gold badge

    @Why I won't bother

    You can't run Logic or Final Cut Studio. Two industry leading applications.

    You can't run OSX, a stable OS that run professional video and audio applications well. Even a Macbook plays HD well out of the box, with 'doze you have to experiment with drivers and driver settings etc.

  40. N
    Thumb Up

    once youve had Mac theres no going back

    As a Mac Pro owner, I can honestly say that theres an 'oh my God' feeling when you part with so much cash. Personally, I think its a small price to pay to be rid of the drivel that MS ship.

    In use, it all starts to make sense, it just does the job & rapidly. As far as I can remember I dont think mine has ever crashed once. Everything works with ease, the most intensive tasks a breeze. Ive had disks that PCs wont recognise, slot them in the MacPro & it mounts them right away & a few people see their data again due to this unswerving ability of this machine to do this & any job its given

    No fuss, no 'are you sure?' no stupid daft Microsoft bollocks. Switch on & its ready to go in 25 seconds it just works & never runs out of steam.

    Would I ever go back to using a PC?

    I think Id rather have root canal treatment without aesthetic, thank you.

  41. John Watts

    @Luis Ogando

    Well said that man. Well said.

  42. Anonymous Coward


    I'm running the early-08 version of this machine, and it plays Half Life nicely under VMWare Fusion - no need to shut down OSX boot into Windows. Gameplay is quick and smooth in 16:10 ratio cinema mode thanks to the high end GeForce card, and Ooooooh, that monitor!!

    Having previously only had a PC at home, I can honestly say I've not started up the old PC even once since I took delivery of the Mac, since I've found a good Mac equivalent of every single app I used to use on the PC, and porting my data over was painless.

    My two complaints about the machine would be -

    1. The Apple RAID card is a pile of shit. I've got 4 x 500G SATAII drives in Raid5 configuration ... the machine frequently bottlenecks on disk access. Am considering rebuilding the machine in mirrored 2x2 configuration to improve parallel disk access, but at the expense of around 500G disk space.

    2. ECC memory is unaffordable, even at Crucial. I would be able to reduce the swapping disk access and associated application hangs if I could afford to extend the 2GB that the machine came with.

  43. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    Memory and other extras

    I have a 2008 model and it goes like the preverbal off of a shovel. The main problem is that I'm waiting for Snow Leopard to release the full potential.

    Don't buy any extras from Apple. Get the memory from Crucial. Was well under half the price. Same with extra HD's, monitors etc. Apples Cinema displays are overpriced as well so look at some of the top end Dell monitors instead.

    But it's a great box. Had never had an Apple before but it's great. Superb build quality and a pleasure to use. Only downer is the lack of Blu-Ray. I know Apple want to push their own movie store but the kind of people buying these machines will want to author Blu-Ray. Even bloody Final Cut Studio only offers HD-DVD authoring!

  44. N

    @ AC

    I know Apple charge a lot but elsewhere its much less

    I wouldn't call approx £75 expensive for 4Gb of ram

  45. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    I just bought the low end 8 core that recently came out (early 2009). Ordered 16g of memory from Crucial and an extra video card from MacConnection. This box is a beast, and the case design is amazing. My now scavenged XP box had a case I really liI bought the 30" monitor and run my 2 old 24"s to the left and right side of it. It's an amazing rig. I run everything Mac except Visual Studio 2008, Cisco VPN, and some other work items, which I run in a VMWare image. I'm a recent convert after being with PCs since 1990 and Commodores and Trash 80s before that.

    When I was building it (software build), i had a VMWare XP with 2g of dedicated memory running, XCode downloading, eclipse installing, playing world of warcraft in windowed mode all seamlessly.

    This is an amazing box with an amazing OS. Since it's UNIX, it's the best of all 3 worlds. OSX, Linux/Unix and Windows all on the same desktop. It's definitely not cheap, but if your work involves creating things on computers, treat yourself to one of these and you'll be thrilled, even after the big chunk missing from your bank account. If you can't come up with the scratch, at least try a cheap iMac and get comfortable with the OS. The "easy to use" OS runs on top of UNIX, so it's got a lot of geek love hidden but easily accessible through a terminal.

  46. Chris

    PC is the future

    We wait for an pc Nehalem equivalent at work to replace the Power Mac G5. We simply can't & won't afford the silly prices Apple is demanding.

  47. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Memory Bandwidth?

    Why 8 dimms and not the Nehalem standard multiples of 3? Are Apple playing around with the QPI connect to spread the memory access across the 3 channels? And is any of this of any importance in the creative industries?

    It would be very interesting to see the figures of the real top-end 2.93GHz processors if it was equiped to access the memory running at the full 1333MHz with 6.4GT/s.

  48. Sarah Baucom

    @Memory Bandwidth

    Yes, that does seem to be an oversight on Apple's part. You'd get the best performance with RAM installed in 3s, but 8÷3 doesn't work too well. Unless you start hitting the scratch disk, you'd be better off with 6x4GB DIMMs than 8x4GB DIMMs due to interleaving.

    I got the Early 2008 model a little less than a year ago, and I've been extremely happy with it. I actually LOLed when I read the comment about the Mac Pro mimicking PCs by allowing multiple hard drives. I've been using multiple drives in my Macs for at least 15 years.

  49. TMLutas

    pulling out the hard drive

    For large file transfer between Mac Pro units, pulling out the hard drive and slotting it in at a printer's Mac Pro is exactly how some service bureaus are going to handle things. In other words, your 'accidental removal' exposed a feature, not a bug.

  50. Paul


    and I'm not a fanboi.

    If i had 10 grand It would dual boot for me too.

  51. Christian Berger

    @George Schultz

    Well of course, the top notch Macs always had the possibility to have several harddisks. However the smaller ones didn't. You always have to mess around with external USB disks.

  52. Anonymous Coward

    mactards, wintards, fucktards the lot of you.

    I hate apple, because of their evil monopolistic nature. (as well we MS). I have greater familiarity with windows than OS X or linux/unix/anything else.

    Right, disclaimer out of the way - this is a bloody good looking machine, and that's the claimed price/performance.

    Looks aren't too bad either.

    I might get one and boot camp it into windows permanently just because it's damn good hardware.

    but I still hate apple (but not as much as MS - I had to support Win ME - they will never be forgiven).

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