Final Words

The Mac Pro is pretty much everything the PowerMac G5 should have been. It's cooler, quieter, faster, has more expansion and it gives you more for your value than the older systems ever could.

If you were happy with your PowerMac G5, then you'll definitely be happy with the Mac Pro. And if you're a heavy multitasker, you will quickly be spoiled by the four very high performance cores that have found their way into the familiar looking chassis.

We did want a little more out of the system; for a company that usually embraces up and coming standards we wanted to see things like eSATA or CrossFire/SLI supported, but that's mostly for the geek in us that just likes playing around with interesting technologies. We would've also appreciated a more upgrade friendly setup; while we do appreciate how easy it is to install new drives and memory, replacing your CPUs is much more time intensive. Seeing as how you can now buy CPUs for your Mac from Newegg thanks to Apple using regular Intel processors, we'd assume that CPU upgrades will be done a bit more frequently especially as time goes on and prices drop.

From a performance standpoint, running OS X, the Mac Pro is truly Apple's fastest system by a long shot. Some of the performance advantages over the PowerMac G5 aren't enormous, but then you look at situations like iPhoto, Xcode or Final Cut Pro where the G5 is just put to shame. Rosetta performance is just about as good as it gets, the only real solution to that problem is for Adobe and Microsoft to hurry up and release updated software. Unfortunately since Apple isn't really a favorite of either company, it's not like greater than usual amounts of resources are being thrown at releasing new products specifically for the Mac platform.

Would we suggest staying away from the Mac Pro until all applications are available as Universal Binaries? No. But make sure you know what you're getting yourself into before you buy anything: emulated performance is bearable, but it's by no means fast.

One of our biggest concern about the Mac Pro is that users who don't need 8 memory slots or four cores would be better off if Apple released a single socket Core 2 based Mac tower. The memory performance of FBD on the Intel 5000X chipset is absolutely horrid and there's nothing you can do about it unless you switch entirely to an all serial interface or go back to using regular DDR2 memory.

The memory performance of the Mac Pro is noticeably better than the PowerMac G5 and competitive with other products in the Mac lineup (for now), but it's still significantly lower than where it could be. Intel seems married to its FBD strategy for now, which unfortunately means that as long as Apple wants two sockets for the Mac Pro, you'll need to deal with FBD. Our recommendation to Apple? Give us a Core 2 based tower. Our recommendation to Intel? Give us an alternative to FBD.

Power Consumption


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  • rockinphotog - Saturday, August 19, 2006 - link

    AS a matter of fact, I often use my apple keyboard for my digital camera, printer, syncing my treo and even my wacom tablet. Reply
  • aaronlyon - Friday, August 18, 2006 - link

    In next week's article, please evaluate Parallels Workstation for running Windows apps simultaneously with Mac OS. If this works smoothly, why not use Windows versions of Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator? That would be a good solution while waiting for Universal Binary updates.
  • Zebo - Friday, August 18, 2006 - link

    Great pics and article Anand.

    What a deal for such a clean system. They don't build PCs that pretty and this is the best yet from Apple's industrial design squad. I definity want one but don't need four cores.

    Can I run Windows fully with this machine? Or maybe I should wait until a single processor (dual core) version comes. If Apple sells $1500 Conroe boxes and it ran windows they counld'nt keep them in stock.
  • plinden - Friday, August 18, 2006 - link


    Can I run Windows fully with this machine?

    There's an issue with the speed of SATA hard drives, as Anand mentions here:">

    It will probably be fixed eventually but if you're relying on this to run Windows, you should wait.
  • FutureMedia - Thursday, August 17, 2006 - link

    You are not comparing the Quad G5 Rear Ports to the Mac Pro Rear Ports. Quad G5 has 3 USB 2 ports as well as 2 Gigabyte Ethernet ports just like the Mac Pro. IE the Quad G5 rear set of ports is IDENTICAL to the Mac Pro rear set - just laid out differently. Only the front adds a fifth USB 2 and second FW800 port not on the Quad G5 which is the same layout as what you show from OLDER not last generation October 2005 PowerMac G5s.

    Moreover I was looking forward to a Quad G5 comparison with the 2GHz and 2.66 GHz Mac Pros. That is what I want to know. Especially Is even the 2GHz Mac Pro faster than the Quad G5? Is the problem that you don't have a Quad G5 in house to compare it to? I am so bummed out that you didn't compare Mac Pro two bottom speeds with the Quad G5. Please can you do it after next week? I would really appreciate it. Thanks.
  • PhilG5 - Friday, August 18, 2006 - link

    Thank you so much for pointing that out! In fact, Anandtech uses mid-2004 PowerMac G5 (still using AGP graphics and DDR-400 memory!) and doesn't take into account the whole "late 2005" series (which first supported DDR2, PCI-E and had the "Antares" PPC970 core). If you look at Barefeats benchmark results ("> ) the Quad G5 still seems to be pretty much competitive with the new Mac Pros. Reply
  • Anand Lal Shimpi - Friday, August 18, 2006 - link

    We did not have a Quad G5 on hand, however the performance results woult not have been that different. The benchmarks that show little or no scaling between the Dual and Quad Mac Pros would show the same scaling between dual and quad G5s (which were most of the benchmarks). None of our tests were GPU bound, so difference in graphics interfaces should also minimally impact performance. The only real variable that could have changed things is DDR2, however seeing as how none of the DDR-DDR2 transitions we've seen on the PC side have done anything for performance, hopes aren't too high for a tremendous impact on G5 performance.

    Take care,
  • Konq - Thursday, August 17, 2006 - link

    Anand - I think something is wrong with the 2 vs. 4 core Xcode test. As with gcc, you can tell it to compile with as many threads as you like. This will compile 4 source files at the same time for instance on 4 cores (multitasking). Perhaps the code was too small to really see a difference, or the environment was not set right? Reply
  • Konq - Saturday, August 19, 2006 - link

    OK, now another interesting 4-core note: MacWorld did a test with iTunes and a quad core, 2.5 Ghz G5 beat a dual-core, 2.7 Ghz G5 system when converting 45 minutes of AAC files to mp3. Maybe this was due to having multiple files to work on? AAC->mp3 vs. Wave->mp3?

    One thing I am interested in now: An article that covers how to get the most out of 4-core systems. Which software benefits and how. Since 4-core processors are coming out soon, this will be needed in purchasing decisions.
  • Konq - Friday, August 18, 2006 - link

    I verified on the Apple Xcode users list that Xcode can indeed take advantage of every core. You might want to modify the test you do and configuration if needed.

    Great article btw. I enjoy reading reviews from you that can be counted on for true pro's and con's instead of overly rosey approach from fan sites.

    In spite of "horrid memory system", it sounds like the system kicks butt! One is in my future...

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