Apple Mac Pro review

Apple's 2.8GHz, quad-core MacPro puts in an excellent performance

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Enough about the new Mac Pro range. Let's take a closer look at the entry-level, 2.8GHz quad core Xeon model and see what it can do. Its Xeon processor, like the Core-i series used in the current iMac range, has a feature called Hyper Threading. This allows each of the processor's four cores to run two threads simultaneously, giving a total of eight virtual cores.

Workload can be shared more evenly, maximising its use of resources and delivering enhanced performance. Naturally, not every software application is capable of using every available core. The Xeon's Turbo Boost feature shuts down idle cores and boosts the clock speed for those that are active. The quad core Xeon can reach a clock speed of up to 3.06GHz in this way.

The Mac Pro's speed advantages don't end with the processors. Its new ATI Radeon HD 5770 with 1GB of GDDR5 memory is up to five times faster than the graphics cards offered by the previous generation, and even outperforms its speediest configure-to-order option.

If you want something faster still, you can upgrade to a ATI Radeon HD 5870 using the online custom order option, or even add a second HD 5770 card. The 5770 offers a single dual-link DVI port and two Mini DisplayPorts, which can be connected to a DVI monitor using an adapter, giving a potential three-display set-up, or up to six displays if you fit a second graphics card.

A bidirectional point-to-point connection called QuickPath Interconnect gives the processor quick access to the Mac's various subsystems, such as the hard drive. This helps to reduce latency, allowing the CPU to get on with processing data instead of waiting for it to arrive.

The Mac Pro is built with configurability in mind. Its interior is designed to make access as simple as possible, giving the end user the freedom to change or upgrade components without professional assistance. Fitting extra hard drives is a simple task, or you can use some or all of its four cable-free SATA drive bays for solid state drives instead.

They're easy to fit – just attach the drive carrier to the drive and slide it in. RAID 0 and 1 are supported out of the box, and you can add a RAID card for additional configurations. You can fit and swap PCI cards without tools too, and because the Mac Pro uses a double-sized graphics slot, your graphics card won't block an adjacent port.

Like all modern Macs, the new Mac Pro comes supplied with OS X (specifically, 10.6: Snow Leopard), and the latest version of the iLife application suite. It's bundled with a full-sized USB keyboard, and Apple's Bluetooth Magic Mouse.

Tech Specs

Product TypeWorkstation
Green CompliantYes
Processor ManufacturerIntel
Graphics Controller ManufacturerATI
Graphics Controller ModelRadeon HD 5770
BluetoothYes
Wireless LANYes
Optical Drive TypeDVD-Writer
Number of Processors Installed1
Total Hard Drive Capacity1 TB
DVIYes
DisplayPortYes
Product FamilyMac Pro
Processor ModelW3530
Operating SystemMac OS X 10.7 Lion
Brand NameApple
Processor Speed2.80 GHz
Processor TypeXeon
Standard Memory3 GB
Processor CoreQuad-core
Green Compliance Certificate/AuthorityENERGY STAR, EPEAT Gold
Number of Total Memory Slots8
Optical Media SupportedDVD-RAM/±R/±RW
Dual-Layer Media SupportedYes
Graphics Memory Capacity1 GB
Wireless LAN StandardIEEE 802.11n
Number of Processors Supported1
Hyper-ThreadingYes
Ethernet TechnologyGigabit Ethernet
FireWire/i.LINKYes
Total Number of USB Ports7
Memory StandardDDR3-1066/PC3-8500
Height510.5 mm
Width205.7 mm
Depth475 mm
Memory TechnologyDDR3 SDRAM
ManufacturerApple, Inc
Product ModelMC560B/A
Product NameMac Pro MC560B/A Workstation
Product LineMac Pro
Controller TypeSerial ATA/300
Manufacturer Part NumberMC560B/A
Manufacturer Website Addresshttp://www.apple.com/uk
Marketing Information

The easy-access interior of the Mac Pro feels like the well-organized workstation it is. No rat's nest of components here. You don't need to turn the system on its side or struggle to reach into awkward spaces to make changes. Just remove the side panel for instant access to everything. Slide out the processor tray to add memory. Slide out drive bays to add storage. Slide a simple bar to change up to four expansion cards at once. And with plenty of I/O ports both front and back, you'll have room for all your external devices.

Maximum Memory32 GB
Package Contents
  • Mac Pro MC560B/A Workstation
  • Power cord
  • Keyboard
  • Mouse
  • USB keyboard extension cable
  • Install/restore DVDs
  • Printed and electronic documentation
  • 4 x Internal drive carriers
Weight (Approximate)18.10 kg