Mac Pro

Mac Pro

 

It's important to note that Apple uses FB-DIMMs that have different cooling requirements than standard, third-party FB-DIMMs. Apple says that if you decide to use standard FB-DIMMs instead of FB-DIMMs that meet Apple's specs, you run the risk of your RAM running too hot, resulting in more fan noise and your RAM clocking down its access speed in order to maintain a proper temperature, which could affect the performance of your Mac Pro. To see what would happen when using standard FB-DIMMs, we installed standard FB-DIMMs from Crucial (www.crucial.com).

 

We didn't notice an increase in fan noise, nor did we experience any systems crashes, despite performing several intensive tasks. We did notice that our Adobe Photoshop CS2 results with 2GB of RAM were 5 percent slower compared to our results with FB-DIMMs that fit Apple's specifications. Crucial does sell FB-DIMMs designed for the Mac Pro, as do Other World Computing (http://eshop.macsales.com) and Trans International (www.transintl.com).

 

To gauge the speed of the Mac Pro, we ran a comprehensive series of application-based tests. We used Universal versions of iLife '06, Final Cut Studio HD 5.1.1, Compressor, Motion 2, and Aperture 1.1.2. We ran all our tests on the Mac Pro and the Quad Core 2.5GHz Power Mac G5, which both had 2GB of RAM, a 500GB hard drive, and a 512MB nVidia Quadro FX 4500 video card. The Power Mac had its processor performance set to Highest.

 

In out Final Cut Studio HD 5.1.1 render test, the Mac Pro was 13 percent faster than the Power Mac. When encoding a video in Compressor, the Mac Pro was 7 percent faster. In our Motion 2 RAM preview test, the two Macs had similar speeds. When we used QuickTime Pro to convert a digital video file to a H.264 QuickTime movie, the Mac Pro was 3 percent faster. In Aperture we ran two tests, a 175 RAW file import and a 175-file TIFF export, and in both tests, the Mac Pro was 19 percent faster than the Power Mac. If you feel disappointed by the marginal speed gains with pro applications, consider that an Apple spokesperson assured us that the company is working hard to further optimize its code for the Intel Macs. Chances are good that we'll see new software revisions that will provide bigger boosts.

 

The new hard drive chassis and individual drive drawers (pictured) provide easy access to the Mac Pro's internal drives.

 

BONUS TIP: More SATA-faction
You can install up to four SATA hard drives in the Mac Pro, but there are actually two more SATA buses, for a total of six. The two mystery SATA buses, like the four known SATA connectors, are connected to the Mac Pro's southbridge I/O device and disk controller. But the two other buses don't have drive bay connectors. Sounds like a third-party opportunity - albeit a difficult one to implement.

 

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