Apple Mac Pro 2010 review

Full review: Apple's high-performance Mac tower

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Apple's tower Mac gets an exciting new refresh

Despite the recession, Apple is not neglecting its high-end Mac Pro range, for those users who demand the ultimate graphics and performance power. The mid-2010 refresh brings us three new models.

This 2.8GHz Quad-Core Intel Xeon here is the entry-level release, but for those who need even more power, there’s also Mac Pros featuring two 2.4GHz Quad-Core (£2800) or two 2.66GHz Six-Core Xeon (£4000). All can be custom-configured if you buy from the Apple Online Store.

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Xeon processors boast Hyper Threading, allowing two threads to run on each of the CPU’s cores, giving this model eight virtual cores. It can Turbo Boost too, shutting down idle cores and using the power to boost active ones, this particular chip can run at up to 3.06GHz with inactive cores shut down. This means its faster and more powerful than ever.

Apple Mac Pro 2010: Graphics

The graphics have received a welcome boost too. The Mac Pro’s new ATI Radeon HD 5770 is up to five times faster than the standard graphics cards offered by the previous Mac Pro generation, and even outperforms its speediest configure-to-order option.

During our tests the Mac Pro ran Doom 3 with all graphics options set to maximum at almost 180fps, and our five-minute test movie encoded to iPod format in just 129 seconds.

Most recent Macs iTunes-encode our test CD in around 380 seconds, their 8x SuperDrive optical disc drive proving the limiting factor, here the Pro’s 18x SuperDrive completes the task in a little under half this time. Although designed for professionals, there’s clearly an advantage in having a Mac Pro as a home machine.

Apple Mac Pro 2010: Customising

As well as being fast, it’s also very configurable. You can fit up to four hard drives, boost its memory from 3GB to up to 16GB (the two-processor models can support up to 32GB) and PCI Express cards can be added or swapped without tools.

If you need more graphical wellie, upgrade your graphics card to an ATI Radeon HD 5870, or even add a second HD 5770. Each card gives one dual-link DVI port and two Mini DisplayPorts, which can be used with DVI monitors by adding an adapter, so your Mac Pro supports up to three displays out of the box and up to six if you add a second card.

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.

Apple Mac Pro 2010: Conclusion

Almost £2000 is a lot for a tower system, but you’re getting a lot of Mac for your money. Our only real complaint is Apple still hasn’t seen fit to give us a Blu-Ray drive. Not that we expected one, though Apple is committed to providing HD content through digital downloads with iTunes, and seems very resistant to supporting high-density optical drives. Even so, it’s annoying that even this pro-level Mac doesn’t give us the latest disc technology, not even as a custom option.

All in all, the new Mac Pro is an excellent machine. Fast, configurable and attractive, it’s everything a Mac should be. You know you want one, but can you justify the expense?

The Mac Pro is available now, find out more from Apple

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SPECIFICATIONS

Processor: One 2.8GHz Quad-Core Intel Xeon
RAM: 3GB
Hard disk: 1TB
Ports: 4xFW800, 5xUSB 2.0,
Optical drive: 18x double-layer SuperDrive
Connections: N WiFi, Bluetooth 2.1,
Display: None
Graphics: ATI Radeon HD 5770 with 1GB GDDR5
Dimensions: 51.1x20.6x47.5cm
Weight: 18.1 kg

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