The mid-2010 refresh's entry-level Mac Pro is a very capable machine. Its 2.8GHz quad core Intel Xeon CPU boasts Hyper Threading and Turbo Boost features that help it make the most of its processing power. The graphics card is certainly impressive.

Off the shelf it boasts an ATI Radeon HD 5770 with 1GB of GDDR5 memory, allowing you to connect up to three displays. This can be upgraded to an ATI Radeon HD 5870, or augmented with a second HD 5770. A dual graphics card set-up can support up to six displays.

The Mac Pro is designed with configurability in mind. Components are easy to reach, and can be upgraded and replaced by the end user. This particular model can take up to 16GB of memory (the other two Mac Pros can handle up to 32GB), and there are four cable-free SATA bays for hard drives, giving up to 8TB storage.

In our tests, it performed admirably. When rendering 3D images, it almost matched a 3.2GHz iMac in a single-core test, and roundly trounced it when all available processors came into play. Its 18x SuperDrive makes short work of ripping CDs to iTunes too, and you can fit a second if you wish.

We liked

There's plenty to like about this new Mac Pro. Although the entry-level model, it's still blisteringly fast. Dock applications such as iCal and iPhoto open after a single bounce, and tasks such as video and music encoding are handled much quicker than with other Macs.

And although even a high-end Mac will never be the gamers' computer of choice, if you like the odd blast, this new Mac Pro is quite capable of pushing around the polygons with the best of them.

We disliked

The only real drawback here is that the new Mac Pro still doesn't bring us Blu-ray support. Apple is famously pushing HD downloads and probably feels a Blu-ray drive would cut into its sales through iTunes, but many Mac owners lament the fact that they can't play their Blu-ray movie collection on their Macs as well as their under-the-TV Blu-ray players.

Verdict

The entry-level mid-2010 Mac Pro gives us little cause for complaint. A Blu-ray drive would be welcome but was never on the cards, and it's expensive, but not poor value for money. It's great to see that even in the midst of a recession, Apple isn't neglecting its high-end range.

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