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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  • Anand Lal Shimpi - Wednesday, August 16, 2006 - link

    Could you show me how to get Dell to take $149 off for the monitor? Whenever I try to configure it if I select the "No Monitor" option it lists a cost of $0, meaning I don't gain or lose anything.

    The Dell protection plan is truly enterprise class however the point of the comparison was to look at things from a purely hardware/cost of components perspective, which is how these Mac vs. PC price comparisons are usually done. Once you go above and beyond that then you get into this slippery slope argument of how much you should tack on for the price of being able to run OS X, etc...

    Take care,
    Anand
    Reply
  • delta53 - Wednesday, August 16, 2006 - link

    The "they" was referring to Apple namely at the WWDC6, no offence Anand. The option is given under the Medium and Large business section, but your point is well taken that exact price is impossible in that section.

    Keep up the good reports,

    Kyle
    Reply
  • Furen - Wednesday, August 16, 2006 - link

    I was under the impression that Cinebench had very light memory usage. It looks to me that what will make or break Woodcrest's "power efficiency" is going to be FBDIMM power so perhaps loading up the ram will paint slightly different numbers... Reply
  • TamarinMonkey - Wednesday, August 16, 2006 - link

    Now that we can run both OSX and XP on the same hardware, I'd be interested to see some of the benchmarks run on both OSs and see how they do. Any plans to do this in a future article?

    ~Tam~
    Reply
  • retrospooty - Wednesday, August 16, 2006 - link

    I am pretty sure this has been done, and OSX has been found to be lacking, especially in 3d games. The speed advantage of PC over MAC was not that Intel/AMD were so much faster than IBM G4, then G5, but the OS and drivers are much finer tuned. Reply
  • Tegeril - Wednesday, August 16, 2006 - link

    It was definitely not so much about the OS/Drivers being finer tuned in regards to 3D gaming. It was definitely a DirectX versus OpenGL issue. Reply
  • psychobriggsy - Thursday, August 17, 2006 - link

    More specifically, Apple's OpenGL implementation on PowerPC was/is severely lacking.

    I wonder if the Intel Mac OS X drivers are better - i.e., the ATI/Nvidia drivers ported to Mac OS X.
    Reply
  • Konq - Monday, September 11, 2006 - link

    I just played WoW last night on my Quadro 4500-equiped Mac Pro. An ATI version should be similar. I was in a 40 man raid for my guild. This thing screams in OS X. I get 30-40 fps in a crowded IF, 50-100 fps flying, and I peaked at 135 fps looking at the sky. All at 1920x1200. The drivers sure have improved and I think are better on intel. I have a 2.3 Ghz dual core G5 and this is twice as fast even thought the G5 had a 7800 GT card. Oh - and I never noticed the fans spin up during the raid even though I had low sound volume.

    Rumor has it that OpenGL will be much improved when it goes multithreaded in 10.4.8. We will see. :)
    Reply
  • Konq - Monday, September 11, 2006 - link

    I forgot to mention: the Mac Pro loaded the WoW AQ40 instance in about 2 seconds! Faster even the second time. I can't express how impressed I am with this machine.

    As a side note, I used Office in Rosetta, and it is as fast as my G5. Maybe 4GB of RAM helps here but I was worried after reading Anands' report.
    Reply
  • Pirks - Wednesday, August 16, 2006 - link

    Please use XP x64 benchmarks as well, since it's uberinteresting to see how both 64-bit OSes from MS and Apple compete. XP 32-bit is okay, but a bit boring. Reply

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