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Mac Pro Review

Summer 2010 Mac Pro Review – 3.33 GHz 6-Core Mac Pro Review

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Summer 2010 Mac Pro Review – 3.33 GHz 6-Core Mac Pro Review

2010 Mac Pro with side panel removed.

Mac Pro Review: Review Configuration

I ordered a new Mac Pro on the day Apple made the 2010 Mac Pros available in its online store. Unlike some other Apple products I've reviewed here, this Mac Pro is going to be my own personal desktop Mac, replacing an original 2006 Mac Pro. Because this will be my personal workstation, I custom configured the Mac Pro to meet my needs.

Even though this is a review of a custom configured Mac Pro, the configuration is based on a stock single-processor model, with just a processor change from the stock 2.8 GHz quad-core Intel Xeon Nehalem processor to the 3.33 GHz 6-core Intel Xeon Westmere processor. Additionally, I upped the standard memory configuration from 3 GB to 6 GB (3 x 2 GB modules), using third-party RAM.

Configuration As Tested

  • 3.33 GHz 6-Core Intel Xeon Westmere processor.

  • 6 GB (3x 2 GB) 1333 MHz DDR3 ECC DRAM.

  • 1 TB 7200 RPM Western Digital WD1001FALS-41Y6A0 hard drive.

  • 18X SuperDrive HL-DT-ST DVD-RW GH41N.

  • ATI Radeon HD 5770 1 GB DDR5 RAM.

  • Apple Magic Mouse.

  • Apple Keyboard with numeric keypad.

  • Microsoft Digital Media Pro Keyboard.

Mac Pro Review: Arrival and Unpacking

The Mac Pro arrived a day early, which was great news. I'm not sure who to thank, Apple, Federal Express, or the customs clearing house in Anchorage Alaska where, according to the Federal Express shipment tracker, the Mac Pro spent less than an hour in customs before it was on its way again.

When the Mac Pro was delivered, I performed the usual inspection, looking for evidence of drops, dents, and gouges in the external packaging box. None were present, so a quick signature for delivery and the Mac Pro was mine.

With that out of the way, it was time to break out the camera and snap a few pictures as I unpacked and set up the Mac Pro. Packing was up to the usual Apple standards: well boxed with good packaging to prevent damage, yet easy to open and gain access to the Mac Pro and the accessories that shipped with it. All of the accessories were housed in a single box only slightly larger than the Apple extended keyboard, which was tucked neatly inside it.

Setup was uneventful. After clearing a spot on top of my work desk as a temporary location, I set about connecting the display, a Dell 2407 (24-inch 1920x1200). I also connected the Apple extended keyboard, made sure the batteries were installed in the Magic Mouse, and plugged the Mac Pro into a wired Ethernet port in the office.

With all that taken care of, it was time to switch the Mac Pro on for the first time.

Mac Pro Review: First Startup

The first startup of any new Mac takes you through the initialization process, where you create an administrator account and register the Mac with Apple. If you prefer not to register your Mac, you can just cancel out of the registration process and finish the configuration. I like to register our Macs because Apple keeps track of all of the Apple products registered to our company, and it's easy to use the registration information to track any future service or repairs.

While the Mac Pro was starting up for the first time, I listened for any unusual noises, vibrations, and chimes, anything that might indicate a problem. The Mac Pro came to life with no issues, and was very quiet, something that's important to me. Later, while I was benchmarking the new Mac Pro, the system was still silent, even as I pushed all of the processor cores to their limits. In the past this has caused some Macs to increase their fan speeds to dissipate heat buildup. This made me wonder whether there may be a fault with the fan cooling system. Additional testing confirmed there's nothing wrong with the cooling system; the Mac Pro is just mostly quiet (more on why I say “mostly” in a bit).

Mac Pro Review: Configuring the Mac Pro for My Usage

With the first startup out of the way, it was time to get down to business and configure the Mac Pro as my main workstation.

Erasing and Testing the Startup Drive

This involves booting from the supplied system install DVD and erasing and reinstalling the startup drive. The reason for this is to test the hard drive and ensure there are no bad blocks that could cause problems later on. I do this by running Disk Utility, which is included on the install DVD, to format the startup drive with the option to "Zero Out Data." Once the drive was erased, I reinstalled Snow Leopard, the developer's tools, and all of the iLife applications from the install DVD.

It was then time to go through the first startup process again, since I reinstalled the OS. Once that was done, it was time to move email and browser bookmarks from my old Mac Pro, move my user data over, install all of my basic applications, and get ready for some performance testing. One thing to note: I didn't use the Migration Assistant to move data from my old Mac Pro. I don't like the idea that some hidden debris from my old Mac could make it through the migration process and take up residence on my new Mac. Instead, I reinstalled the applications and moved just the user data I need over from the old Mac.

Go on to Page 3 for performance tests of the 2010 Mac Pro.

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