Mac Pro

This isn't merely the ultimate Mac, but an impossibly idealistic concept for a fast, green, silent, rugged, expandable, and affordable top-end workstation, made real

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Apple Mac Pro
  • Apple Mac Pro
  • Apple Mac Pro
  • Apple Mac Pro

Pros

  • Fast, green, silent, rugged, expandable

Cons

  • Expensive

Bottom Line

If my take is right, then the 2009 Nehalem Mac Pro hardware platform, once purchased, is one that should stay stable and upgradable until, say, PCI Express 3 becomes an imperative.

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In addition to the SATA hard drive bays, there is a front-facing bay for a second 5.25-inch, half-height optical drive. I have not tested this assumption, but I suppose you could mount another SATA hard drive in there using a standard mounting bracket. That, by the way, is the only expansion operation that might require you to look at a cable, much less handle one. Connections between system logic boards are made via short headers, none of which you need to mess with. Getting rid of all that cable helped Apple get the toxins out of Mac Pro's recipe.

The bit that took my breath away, not only for its elegance but for its implications, is the processor tray. One lightweight tray holding the CPUs and RAM is the most easily removed module in this fully modular system. With this arrangement, it takes Apple no time at all to custom-build a Mac Pro to your specifications. It takes you no time at all to reprovision (i.e., swap trays among machines according to need) or effect repairs on-site without moving machines or pulling cables.

As I see it, the tray also allows Apple to track Intel's tick-tock architecture updates without subjecting the entire system to another redesign, or subjecting Mac Pro buyers to requirements for unique spare parts. Anything that Intel changes, even the size of the socket or the speed of the RAM, should be limited to the processor tray.

This is the sort of forward-looking, longevity-focused engineering invested in very high end systems. If my take is right, then the 2009 Nehalem Mac Pro hardware platform, once purchased, is one that should stay stable and upgradable until, say, PCI Express 3 becomes an imperative.

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