Mac Pro

Mac Pro

 

Adding PCI Express cards proved to be a tricky task due to some tight quarters, but it's no different from adding cards into a Power Mac. Adding a full-length card such as the nVidia Quadro FX 4500 video card (a $1,650 option) requires finesse and patience, but it'll fit. And we absolutely love the lock-down bracket with built-in screws that secure your PCI Express cards. No more dropped screws rattling around in the processor bay. Hooray!

 

Another feature that we absolutely love: the four SATA hard-drive bays. Compared to the Power Mac's bays (which always confounded us with their slide-in-and-up design), the new bays are much more accessible, making it easier to swap and add drives. The latch that releases the Mac Pro's side cover also releases the hard drive bays; you simply attach a chassis to a drive (they're numbered 1 to 4 so you can keep your drives in order) and slide it into the bay until the connector clicks into place. When you replace the side cover and close the latch, the hard drives are secured. Fortunately, you get four drive chassis even if you buy your Mac Pro with a single hard drive.

 

The Mac Pro comes with two bays for optical drives, one with a 16x, double-layer SuperDrive preinstalled. The chassis for the drives fits snugly at the top of the Mac Pro; pull it out, and you'll find a pair of ATA/100 connectors and a pair of power connectors. All you have to do is screw in your drive, attach the connectors, and slide the chassis back in its slot. Easy enough. Like the hard-drive chassis, the optical drive chassis locks into place when you close the rear latch.

 

The RAM installation is another example of user-friendly Apple design. The Power Mac had RAM slots directly on the motherboard, and it wasn't hard to reach in and install RAM - though for ham-handed folks, the space may have been cramped. However, the riser cards that the Mac Pro uses make a world of difference; it's more convenient to pull out a riser card and access the RAM slots out in the open (the riser cards are located in line with two fans located at the front of the Mac Pro; air travels through the processor bay, over the RAM, and out the back).

 

Plenty of places to stick whatever you want stuck.

 

BONUS PORTS: Easy Access, Front and Back

Front: Below the power button is a headphone jack, two USB 2.0 ports, a FireWire 400 port, and a FireWire 800 port. Back: Connections galore! Three USB 2.0 ports, FireWire 400, FireWire 800, optical audio-in and -out, microphone and audio-out jacks, and two Ethernet ports.

 

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