"Powerful and expandable"4.0 starson by Cliff3
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