Apple Mac Pro review (2013): small, fast and in a league of its own

Engadget by Dana Wollman

It would be an understatement to say that Apple's Mac Pro workstation was getting a little long in the tooth. As of summer 2012, it was missing Apple's own Thunderbolt ports, not to mention 802.11n WiFi. Finally, though, Apple released an updated version, and it addresses a little more than just the wireless card and I/O options. Redesigned from the ground up, it's now much smaller and lighter, with a space-age cylindrical shape, an overhauled cooling system that's half as loud and a spec sheet that includes standard dual GPUs, PCIe SSDs, 802.11ac WiFi, up to 64GB of RAM and the latest Intel Xeon processors, once again going up to 12 cores. In short, these are specs that bring the Mac Pro into the modern age -- and make it ready to handle the coming onslaught of 4K content.

If you're a professional photographer, videographer, audio engineer, animator or what-have-you, you might actually be considering spending $2,999 on one of these -- maybe as much as $9,599, if you have the means. Or maybe you're just like my colleagues here at Engadget, who don't need one, and won't ever buy one, but covet it just the same. Either way, you'll want to read on to see how this thing actually performs (though you probably already have an idea).

If the Mac Pro really does look like a trash can, as everyone says, it's much nicer than any rubbish bin I've ever owned. Starting with the shape, which seems to have earned it so much ridicule, the Mac Pro is basically a squat little cylinder, with a large circular opening up top where the heat creeps out. Between that and the glossy gunmetal "Space Gray" finish, it does indeed look like some sort of futuristic wastepaper basket.

Then, of course, you turn the thing around and notice the Apple logo, power button and a cutout in the anodized-aluminum exposure, making it easy to access the various ports. Not exactly a garbage can, that. All told, the Mac Pro is a compact little thing, standing 9.9 inches tall and measuring 6.6 inches in diameter. For whatever reason-- the photography on Apple's site, perhaps -- it feels smaller and shorter than I imagined it. To give you some perspective, the Pro stands around half as tall as a 27-inch monitor, like Apple's own Cinema Display, and has roughly the same footprint as an office phone. So if you have room for a landline, you almost certainly have room for the Mac Pro. And if you have enough room for a landline, you can probably get away with using the Mac Pro in other small spaces, like a music stage or the corner of a film set. read more...

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