In June of last year, Apple announced that it would migrate all of its systems to Intel platforms by its World Wide Developer Conference (WWDC) in 2007. Earlier this week Apple announced that the transition was complete, finalized by announcing the brand new Intel based Mac Pro and Xserve systems for professional workstation and server customers respectively. A full year ahead of "schedule", very few expected to take until 2007 to complete the transition considering the x86 version of OS X had been in development in parallel with the PowerPC version for the past 6 years.

It's been a long and not always as exciting road, going from the PowerPC G4 and G5 based systems to the new Core Duo and Xeon based Macs. Externally, little has changed with the new Macs, but on the inside these things are full blown PCs running Mac OS X. The entire transition has honestly been quite impressive on Apple's part, as switching CPU architectures this seamlessly is not easy to do.

We've looked at previous Intel based Macs, the MacBook Pro and the new iMac, and generally have come away quite pleased with the move to Intel. There are still some hiccups here and there, mostly thanks to applications from companies like Adobe and Microsoft that have yet to provide Universal Binary support but for the most part the end user isn't aware that Apple's OS and software have gone through dramatic changes over the past year.

We will be bringing you full coverage of the new Mac Pro, including a complete review of the system compared to other PCs as well as its predecessors, however we found ourselves talking a lot about the specs of the new Mac Pro that we decided to put that discussion in an article before our review goes live. We're still awaiting our review sample and hope to begin testing in the coming weeks, but until then there are a number of items worth discussing about the new Mac Pro. We'll examine the price impact of Apple's choice of Xeon over Core 2 processors, fully explain FB-DIMMs and what they mean to you, as well as talk about the chipset, graphics and storage options on the new platform (while offering some cheaper alternatives to Apple's Build-to-Order upgrades).

Unlike the outgoing PowerMac G5, the Mac Pro only ships in one standard configuration with the following specs:

 
 
Apple Mac Pro

CPU

2 x Intel Xeon 5150 Processors 2.66GHz

Memory

2 x 512MB DDR2-667 ECC FB-DIMM
Graphics
NVIDIA GeForce 7300 GT
Hard Drive
1 x 250GB SATA 3Gbps
Optical
1 x SuperDrive (DVD+R DL/DVD+-RW/CD-RW)
Price
$2499 ($2299 with Educational Discount)

The point of this article is to help those of you ordering today, analyze and understand the specs, as well as provide some of the necessary background information for our review that will follow in the coming weeks. Without further ado, let's talk about one of the most important aspects of the new Mac Pro: the CPUs.

CPU Analysis
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  • saneproductions - Sunday, August 27, 2006 - link

    I just picked up a 2.66 MP 2GB and got some SATA-eSATA PCI plates to route the 2 hidden SATA ports to my eSATA drive and it was a no go. I tried both having the drive powered up then booting (system hung at the gray screen) and powering on the drive after the MP was up and running (nothing happened). any ideas?

    Mike
    Reply
  • blwest - Monday, August 14, 2006 - link

    I received my Mac Pro last Friday afternoon. It's absolutely wonderful. It's also absolutely silent.

    The 7300 card also isn't that bad either. I could play World of Warcraft at 1600x1200 at reasonably high settings. Expose worked very smoothly, overall the system's performance screams in comparision to Windows XP. Running stock setup like on Anand's review.
    Reply
  • mycatsnameis - Monday, August 14, 2006 - link

    I see that Crucial is shipping 4 gig FB PC5400 DIMMs. I wonder if these can be used in a Mac Pro? In the past the max memory capacity that Apple has quoted (for pro or consumer machines) has generally been conservative and related more to the size of DIMMs that are generally available than any actual h/w limit. Reply
  • nitromullet - Friday, August 11, 2006 - link

    With boot camp and a Windows XP install, is the Mac Pro Crossfire capable? I don't imagine that OS X has drivers for that, but that wouldn't be the point anyway - use the Windows install for gaming and the OS X install for everything else... Reply
  • dcalfine - Saturday, August 12, 2006 - link

    I imagine that getting crossfire to work is a matter of simple firmware flashing. With SLI, the motherboard supports it, but the Mac OS doesn't. But because crossfire depends mostly on the crossfire card, flashing the card with Mac firmware, which often works with other cards, (see Strange Dog Forums, http://strangedogs.proboards40.com/index.cgi?board...">http://strangedogs.proboards40.com/index.cgi?board... should allow it to work. I'd be interested in trying this, if I had the funding.

    Apple should be doing something to get dual- or even quad-gpu solutions on macs, since now each mac pro is a quad-processor.
    Reply
  • tshen83 - Friday, August 11, 2006 - link

    Hey anandtech, the more interesting option for GPU is actually the QUAD 7300GT powering over 8 screens. I was wondering if Apple's OSX is able to push 3D or overlay stuff on all 8 screens like Linux could. Reply
  • michael2k - Friday, August 11, 2006 - link

    As far as I know, Apple's been able to do this for far longer than Linux could :) Reply
  • tshen83 - Friday, August 11, 2006 - link

    Hey anandtech, the more interesting option for GPU is actually the QUAD 7300GT powering over 8 screens. I was wondering if Apple's OSX is able to push 3D or overlay stuff on all 8 screens like Linux could. Reply
  • OddTSi - Thursday, August 10, 2006 - link

    Are there any plans for non-ad hoc, fast serial RAM or is Rambus the only one even attempting something like that with their new XDR memory? Reply
  • kobymu - Friday, August 11, 2006 - link

    There is QDR.... Reply

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