Pros Fast, easily upgradable, easy to work on, and dual I7 Xeon chips; up to 4 video cards if 3d performance isn't paramount. or you don't need additional PCI-E cards (fiber, RAID, secondary ethernet)
Cons No standard blu-ray drive (you can buy one though), video cards should have two displayports instead of 1 displayport and 1 dvi port, wish it had a second x16 PCI-E slot and 2 more x4 PCI-E slots
Summary First, to the whiners that complain about no blu-ray, would you rather pay $300 and easily install your own or give Apple $700? That's what I thought.
As for the machine itself, the slower processors (2.26 GHz) give mixed performance when compared to the last generation machines, but the high-end processors (2.93 GHz) dominate the previous generation 3.2 GHz machine in all but Photoshop (Adobe, when's multi-threaded Photoshop coming out?)
It also has a huge advantage of running much cooler than comparable machines, thanks to it's case design. The only part that even gets warm is the Radeon 4870 (if you get that option).
When paired with it's capability to run Windows, Linux, and other x86 or x64-based operating systems simultaneously with Mac OS X, this machine just looks better and better.
The only part that lacks, IMHO, is that Apple set the RAM limit at 32GB for the dual-socket machines and 8GB for the single-socket machines. Each processor currently supports 24GB of RAM (Intel design limitation), and even with neutering the single socket with 3 RAM slots, Apple should have went for 12GB and 48GB (respectively)
As for me, I've ordered mine with just the upgraded processors and ATI 4870 video card; 3rd party RAM is cheap, and the WD 2TB hard drives will be out real soon, which will lead to this being one heck of a HD video editing system and a halfway-decent gaming system as well.
Pros Expandability, computing power, Apple's customary design elegance
Cons 4GB DDR3 memory is very expensive, memory slots provided in multiples of 2 when the memory is best used in multiples of 3
Summary Personally, I am an OS X user, but professionally, Windows is what is in use in corporate markets. This machine is overkill for the former use, but for the latter requirement VMWare Fusion allows me to host multiple Windows development environments on a single box. To that end, this machine is perfect. I am running Windows desktop and server environments both 32- and 64-bit within Fusion and this machine handles those loads flawlessly. The other Apple products are essentially based on mobile architectures and are very limited in memory expansion possibilities, and it was that limitations that propelled me towards a Mac Pro.Just an additional thought on the subject of eSATA expansion. SInce 3rd party PCIe cards that support this functionality are readily available for OS X machines, I don't see this as an issue on the Mac Pro. I would like to see an eSATA port made available on the iMac or MacBook Pro machines though. I have a Sonnet Expresscard eSATA card for my MBP, but a built-in port would be a lot more convenient.
This machine is supplanting as a primary machine my late 2006 MacBook Pro with a 2.33 GHz CPU and 3GB of memory. I upgraded the machine with a 320GB 7200RPM internal drive, so the machine is pretty much maxed out. My primary personal use of a computer is Lightroom and Photoshop. The 3GB memory limitation of the MBP was significant for this application and I was utterly reliant on external storage. My new 2.26 GHz Mac Pro is considerably faster with LR and PS than the previous machine, and not being quite so reliant on external storage is a big plus. This machine is also a screamer when transcoding video material to H.264 and it's entertaining to watch 16 virtual CPU meters all humming along in the activity monitor.
An alternative to the new Mac Pro would have been to opt for one of the older 2.8/3/3.2GHz machines that are still available. In reading overviews of the Nehalem CPU family, they discussed some enhancements to the virtualization feature set that would be beneficial for this application. Since this represented my primary requirement for a machine in the workstation class, I found the arguments to be persuasive and I opted to go with the newer processor.
It is unfortunate that Apple couldn't find a way to fit memory slots into the machine in multiples of 3 since the 3 channel memory performs best when configured that way. I have 12 GB installed in my machine. If my applications become memory bound, then reverting to 2 channel memory by installing another couple of 2 GB chips is less limiting than going to disk and virtual memory. I sure hope 4 GB memory sticks come down in price too.
I'm not sure why the fanbois are complaining about the lack of blue-ray. Those comments are utterly irrelevant to a review of this or any other specific Apple machine and they ought to be removed by Cnet.
Updated on Mar 23, 2009
Pros The MacPro is a blazingly fast and very high quality machine. It is fully dual bootable and can run almost any operating system you can throw at it. Most users will stay in OS X 100% of the time, but you can also load Vista/Games without a problem.
Cons Some complain about no Blu-ray, but with HD downloads on the rise, Blu-ray becomes less important. If you really need Blu-ray, get an external burner and/or a PS3.
Summary Like most current Macs, the Mac Pro delivers great bang-for-the-buck. Just check the specs carefully and also consider the quality of the parts when you make the comparison. You can buy less capable, stripped Windows boxes for less, (Apple doesn't sell bare-bones computers) or spend a lot of time sourcing parts, building a machine yourself and then dealing with driver issues and incompatibilities... but if you are comparing ready-made systems, Macs are very competitively priced. .
Even with the old price-premium, Macs have always been cheaper when considering the Total Cost of Ownership. I know this since I've been using Windows, Mac and Linux machines for many, many years and currently work as a systems administrator working with Windows Server, XP, Vista, OS X and OS X Server.
Pros Can run both Snow leopard and Windows. Adding ram a piece of cake.
Cons There is nothing I do not like about this product.
Summary I own a few PC's . This was my first MAC. I must say that I am impressed with the intuitive OS , the ease of upgrading, and the support options. I highly recommend Bootcamp for those PC software programs. However. remember to ram up when using Bootcamp. I recommend 8+ GB ram.
"Powerhouse System"on by furutan
Pros Super fast with mulithreaded apps, expandable, excellent connectivity, superior design, unmatched OS, most bang for buck in price class, and the absolute best product support in the industry. The 16 data streams are more than a little impressive.
Cons Graphics support is very good but is not the top performer in high-end 3-D animation applications
Summary As a creative pro / CD and consultant, I run the widest range of applications of anyone I have ever known and, as a software / hardware reviewer, I am constantly pushing apps and peripherals to their extreme limits. I have found the Nehalem 8-core '09 to be is a great all-round professional workhorse.