The New Mac Pro

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The New Mac Pro

What looks like a cross between the Star Wars robot R2D2 and a futuristic vacuum cleaner? The new Mac Pro, that’s what!

You can forget the oblong metal box that set the standard for the traditional desktop computer. The new Mac Pro is an innovative piece of design with a cylindrical aluminium case, measuring just 6.6 inches x 9.9 inches, covering a triangular layout of boards arranged around a central heatsink.

But the clean, tubular look is not just designed to look beautiful; there are practical reasons behind the concept. A single fan draws air up from the base of the unit through the heatsink and expels the warm air through the top, ensuring all components stay cool at all times.

With the boards arranged around this central heatsink, raising the outer cover gives easy access to all the components. Not that you’ll want to delve inside the Mac Pro too often, as the machine offers vast opportunities in connectivity, so any configuration changes will probably be made at peripheral level.

The connectivity options include 6 Thunderbolt 2.0 ports, 4 USB 3.0 ports, dual-gigabit Ethernet, HDMI, WiFi and Bluetooth 4.0. The Thunderbolt connections include DisplayPort 1.2 support so you can, if you really want to; drive 3 x 4K display monitors.

Internally Apple has opted for the faster PCIe flash storage alternative over SATA3. There are 4 DIMM slots available for RAM, again easily accessible once the cover is removed.

The Mac has long been the standard for video editing and the Mac Pro is clearly designed for professional use. Dual AMD FirePro processors each with 6GB of VRAM should provide all the graphics grunt required by the most fastidious graphics professional.

However, the design concept of the central heatsink surrounded by three daughter boards has one limitation which may deter potential purchasers of the Mac Pro, expandability.

Many users like to swap around components inside their computers, upgrading video cards for example. The Mac Pro has limitations in this respect, particularly as the video cards are fixed. While there is no doubt that they are high powered, the thought of not being able to upgrade video capacity for the life of the machine is certain to be a deterrent for some user

The use of flash technology for the system storage, through a custom daughter card, means that there is no option to mount an additional internal 2.5-inch drive in the case if required.

Overall, though, the new Mac Pro promises to be one fast machine and Apple will argue that any expandability issues can be addressed via the Thunderbolt ports. But will it suffer the same fate as the Power Mac G4 Cube? Only time will tell.

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