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Latest in Black betty camera. Image credit:. From around the web. It would be an understatement to say that Apple's Mac Pro workstation was getting a little long in the tooth. As of summer , it was missing Apple's own Thunderbolt ports, not to mention Redesigned from the ground up, it's now much smaller and lighter, with a space-age cylindrical shape, an overhauled cooling system that's significantly quieter and a spec sheet that includes standard dual GPUs, PCIe SSDs, 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.
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. There isn't another computer we know of that's this powerful and also this compact. 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. 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 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. Speaking of the sort, the machine is light enough, at 11 pounds, that you could conceivably take it with you to your next shoot. Left uncovered, you'll want to handle it gingerly, of course, but if you keep the original box with the foam inserts, you should have no problem carrying it in the crook of your arm.
In fact, that might not be such a bad idea: The glossy aluminum finish is also quite the fingerprint magnet, much more so than any other Apple products we've seen. If you do carry this around by hand, be prepared to wipe off some smudges now and again. Swinging back to the ports for a moment, these include headphone and mic jacks, four USB 3.
As a nice, even more futuristic touch, the power button glows white briefly when you turn on the machine, as do a few other accent lights around the ports. The LEDs even fade as you shut down the computer, and flick on again one by one as it's booting up. Additionally, you'll find a locking switch that keeps the removable aluminum enclosure in place you can't actually power on the machine unless the cover is on.
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One thing you won't find here: This makes sense, in a way, given that pros aren't big on SD cards, and there are simply too many other formats to accommodate on one small chassis. Six paragraphs so far and I've only described the removable case. Slip it off and you get to the heart of the machine, a tall, three-sided board Apple is calling the "thermal core.
I'll get to performance and configuration options in a moment, but for now, suffice to say you can configure this thing with two AMD FirePro D GPUs and 12GB of video memory, amounting to up to seven teraflops of computing power the last Mac Pro maxed out at 2. Combined, these can accommodate up to 64GB of DDR3 memory, with bandwidth of up to 60 gigabytes per second.
I still wouldn't recommend that the average person replace the GPU himself, but then again, the Mac Pro isn't exactly for the average consumer in the first place. Speaking of thermal performance -- this is the thermal core, after all -- Apple designed a cooling system whereby air is sucked in at the base of the machine, and gets pushed out of that large hole in the top. Rather than use multiple fans, Apple went with just one, tweaking the size, shape, speed and spacing of the blades.
In the end, the company's engineering team settled on backward-curved impeller blades, which spin at fewer revolutions per minute than on the last-gen Mac Pro. The idea, of course, is for the blades to effectively cool the system, but also to make less noise in the process. According to Apple, the new Pro reaches 15 decibels while under load, versus 30dB on the last edition.
And when the machine is idle, it simmers down to just 12dB -- very similar to the lower-powered Mac mini. As I'll discuss later in the review, the machine is indeed as quiet as advertised, though that may or may not come at the expense of some warm operating temperatures. With the newest version of Final Cut Pro X, which has been specifically optimized to take advantage of the Mac Pro's dual GPUs, I saw the machine play back 16 picture-in-picture 4K streams simultaneously.
Editing is a seamless affair too -- you can apply a filter to a video and see it go into effect immediately. Zero rendering time here. Ditto for previews: You can instantly see how an effect will look without having to wait for the machine to catch up. Last example: Retiming a four-and-a-half-minute clip to just a few seconds was also instantaneous -- I could immediately play back a much shorter version of that same footage. I'm no videographer, as you all know, but if I were, it would be nice not to have to wait while I had a director or client looking over my shoulder, asking me to make changes.
As ever, too, the Pro's glass trackpad is smooth and flawless, with precise tracking and fluid handling of all your favorite multitouch gestures. Incidentally, when we installed Windows 7 on a separate partition, the trackpad worked just as well in Windows as it did in OS X. Although the MacBook Pro's Retina display is important enough that it belongs in the headline, it's nothing you haven't seen before.
This is the same 2, x 1, IPS display used in last year's model, and it's as lovely as ever. Color reproduction is good; viewing angles are wide; and individual pixels are, indeed, impossible to make out when you're sitting a natural distance from the screen. Even if the resolution was lower and we could spot some pixels, it would still be a nice panel, thanks to the very low-glare finish.
Throughout testing, I used the MBP in a variety of lighting conditions, from a harshly lit office to an airplane seat, with sunlight streaming through the window next to me. Regardless of the situation, I could easily read the display. And when I found myself dipping the lid forward while working on an airplane tray, I could still follow along with everything on the screen. When we reviewed the first generation of Retina display MacBook Pro, we complained that not all applications were optimized to take advantage of that 2, x 1, experience.
While we've hardly surveyed every program in the Mac App Store, we found that every app we installed scaled gracefully to full-screen so that they weren't blurry, and none of the objects looked disproportionately tiny two different problems we've found with super-high-res screens. Everything here looks sharp and, for lack of a better term, "normal-sized" at full-screen. That means you won't get any additional screen real estate because of those extra pixels, but at the same time, most apps look like they belong there.
All in all, this is still a stunning screen, though it feels less novel than it used to. That's partially because it's the exact same screen as on the last generation, and partially because Apple's competitors have started to catch up. Take Samsung, for instance. The company's new ATIV Book 9 Plus Ultrabook rocks a inch, 3, x 1, screen that rivals the Retina display in both resolution and viewing angles.
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Lenovo's new Yoga 2 Pro has a 3, x 1, panel as well. Acer's Aspire S7 is also available with a 2, x 1, display option, albeit not in the US. And that's not even counting models that haven't come out yet. All that being said, there's nothing we'd change about Apple's Retina display -- it's simply a gorgeous screen.
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We just can't pretend it's alone in its class. As before, the speakers sit beneath the keyboard, with no obvious openings. The volume itself still gets decently loud, and the quality is balanced enough for casual listening I had Pandora to keep me company as I wrote most of this review.
Still, being the thin-and-light laptop it is, it's still predictably a bit weaker with bass notes than a heartier system would be. Additionally, it's one of relatively few systems to make use of Intel's new Iris graphics, which promises to be a touch stronger than the Intel HD chipset usually found in Haswell laptops. Indeed, the graphics are robust enough that we were able to play Batman: Arkham City the Game of the Year edition at max resolution with relatively little stuttering. With the detail level set to "medium" and anti-aliasing at a medium setting of 4x, we logged an average frame rate of 24 fps, with frame rates running the gamut from 18 fps to 31 fps, depending on what scene we were playing.
Even then, the action was fairly smooth, though there were a few instances when we noticed gameplay briefly slowed down. Fortunately, disabling anti-aliasing more or less solved the problem: Once we did that, average frame rates climbed to a more playable 32 fps. So, our outlook for gaming is good, given that this is actually one of the more graphically demanding titles and it still managed to run decently well. As it happens, it was only when we were playing games or running graphics benchmarks that we heard any fan noise.
Even then, we couldn't hear the sound over the music from our game, though if you're attempting to, say, edit video in silence, you might notice the machine getting a bit loud. Thankfully, even when the fans started to spin, they quieted down again just a minute or two after we closed out of our full-screen gaming session.
What's more, though the keyboard and bottom side started to heat up, they never got more than lukewarm. So at least you know that fan noise isn't for naught; the ventilation system does a good job of keeping the system cool. The other big change here, aside from that big graphics bump, is the move to solid-state drives based on the PCI Express standard.
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We ran the test with workloads ranging from 1GB to 5GB, and repeated the test around 10 times on each setting. Additionally, after installing Windows 7 on a separate partition, we ran ATTO, the benchmark we use to test transfer speeds on Windows machines. Which makes sense: We already know that Intel's fourth-generation Core processors provide a bigger boost in battery life and GPU strength than they do on CPU performance.
You can see that in the modestly better Mac benchmark scores see that first table above , which show just a small improvement over the Air on CPU tests. Additionally, as we said, we installed Windows on a separate partition, where we ran the same tests we normally run on PCs precisely so that we could compare the performance more directly.
All told, the biggest difference is in graphics performance, but you already knew that. The inch MacBook Pro with Retina display is rated for up to nine hours of battery life, compared with seven hours on the non-Retina model. As it turns out, though, that's actually a rather conservative estimate: We were able to eke out an impressive 11 hours and 18 minutes of continuous video playback.
So, the battery life is even better than expected -- not to mention, better than on last year's model, which only managed 6: Then again, we can't say we're that surprised: Haswell has been known to dramatically improve battery life. Also, Apple has a history of making conservative battery life claims on its website see:
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