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Apple's new tower of power.
There's one thing we'll truly miss about the Power Mac: its name. Power Mac is - was - a damn cool name, much more commanding than the Mac Pro moniker. But in the whole scheme of things, a name change is a minor lamentation; the Power Mac is already fading from our memory because we've discovered the ultimate Macintosh in the new Mac Pro. It's a burly engineering masterpiece that blazes new territory in Mac history.
Chances are that you've read all about the two dual-core Xeon 5100 processors, the FB-DIMM RAM, and the other specifications, and you've seen the industrial design (if you haven't, go find your Oct/06 copy of MacAddict and turn to p18). Be sure to look at the blue specifications box at the end of this review to see what kind of Mac Pro we tested; we're going to focus this review on our hands-on experience with the Mac Pro.
While lifting our Mac Pro out of its box, we discovered that it's one hefty machine: It weighs in at 42 pounds. Our first thought was to write a thank-you note to Apple for the additional front USB port; the front FireWire 800 port is a nice touch, as well. However, the included keyboard, with its two USB 1.1 ports and weak power output (it can't provide enough juice for some flash and micro hard drives), is outdated. Time to update this overlooked piece of hardware, Steve.
When we first opened up the Mac Pro, we took a moment to marvel at its spiffily uncluttered interior design. True, the Power Mac wasn't a rat's nest, but its G5 processors needed king-sized cooling devices that were space hogs - the Quad Core Power Mac, for example, had nine fans and a liquid cooling system; the Mac Pro has a mere four fans. And whenever you ran intensive tasks on the Power Mac, it sounded like a plane was taking off from under your desk. The Mac Pro's fan noise was always at a consistent level; the fan from the Mac Pro's power supply made the most noticeable noise, which we could hear when the Mac Pro was under our desk. Audible, yes, but nowhere near the noise level of the Quad Core Power Mac. Also, the Xeon processors don't require liquid cooling like the G5 processors in the top-of-the-line Power Macs do.
Everything's in its proper place.
BONUS TIP: Coupled Pairs
Apple says you'll get better performance when you add RAM in coupled pairs. For example, if you install 2GB of RAM, you should use four 512MB FB-DIMMs. Install a pair in the first bank of the top riser card, and install another pair in the first bank of the bottom riser card. Why does Apple use a single pair of 512MB FB-DIMMs in the core Mac Pro configuration? Because 256MB FB-DIMMs aren't available.