Apple Mac Pro review

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

Mac Pro
Apple's new Mac Pro can be specified with up to 12 cores

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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.