By Neil Bennett | on October 30, 2006
Price When Reviewed: 1905 . 4178
Pros: Very powerful. Well-designed chassis. Low cost for spec.
Cons: Lack of application support from high-end suites.
The base-level Mac Pro is aimed at graphic designers, photographers and other primarily 2D-focused creatives. This model sits at the other end of the scale. It costs over twice the price and delivers the kind of power required for high-end 3D modelling or HD and film editing and compositing
Over half of the price difference is due to the workstation-class Quadro FX 4500 graphics card. This is the most powerful graphics card for pro applications ever made available for the Mac. However, there’s less choice on the Mac platform if your needs are greater.
The rest of the price is split between the upgraded chips and three 500GB 3Gbps Serial ATA hard drives. These were in a striped RAID configuration using the Mac Pro’s software RAID. This gives you a throughput wide enough for some uncompressed HD work, or for lots of DVCPRO HD or HDV streams.
The drives – plus the standard 250GB system drive – take up the four bays that sit along the top of the motherboard. This is double the storage bays of the Power Mac G5, and the cableless docking system makes changing drives a doddle.
As with the base model, the only problem with the Mac Pro is application support – which is even more important with high-end suites that require certified hardware to get support. While Apple’s Final Cut and Shake are already native, the likes of Maya, LightWave, and Avid’s tools aren’t. We expect to see these appear by the end of the year, and most high-end users will want to wait until then before investing in a Mac Pro.
Processor: 2x Intel Xeon 5160 (3.0GHz)
RAM (standard/max): 4GB/16GB
Graphics card: nVidia Quadro FX 4500
Connector: PCI Express
Hard drive type: Serial ATA 3Gbps
Size: 250GB + 3x 500GB (in a RAID 3 configuration)
Removable media drives: dual-layer DVD±RW drive
Soundcard: on board
OS: Mac OS X
Keyboard: Apple Keyboard
Mouse: Apple Mighty Mouse