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Hands on: Apple's Mac Pro is the fastest Mac ever

Michael deAgonia | March 6, 2014
One thing is certain: You won't mistake Apple's powerful new Mac Pro for any other desktop computer. And it has the computing chops to match its high-style look.

There's a "better" version of the Mac Pro that starts at $3,999 if you want more performance and don't want to pick and choose options a la carte. It comes with the 3.5GHz 6-core Xeon E5 chip, 16GB memory, 256GB of PCIe flash storage and dual AMD FirePro D500 GPUs with 3GB of VRAM each. As with the base model, you can add more storage, faster processors and better GPUs.

If all of this sounds like overkill to you, it probably is — if you're not drooling at the hardware specs, it's safe to say that this machine wasn't designed for you. I suggest you check out Apple's iMac models instead.

My setup

The Mac Pro I tested was an 8-core Xeon E5 model clocked at 3.0GHz, with 32GB of memory, a 512GB SSD and the dual AMD FirePro D700. As configured, this Mac Pro costs $6,799; if you include a Thunderbolt display, you'll spend $7,798.

Since I already had an older generation 27-in. LED display with a DisplayPort connection, I used one of the available Thunderbolt 2 connections to create a dual-monitor setup.

Getting up and running is easy, especially if you are moving from one Mac to another. On first boot, there's a setup assistant that guides you through the process of connecting to a network, Wi-Fi or otherwise, and transferring data from another Mac or Windows PC. You can set up your Apple ID and iCloud information, as well as time zone settings and the option to choose whether or not you want to automatically send Apple diagnostic and usage data.

The Mac Pro in use with dual monitors. Every Mac Pro supports up to three 4K displays and six Thunderbolt-capable displays. (Image: Michael deAgonia)

To make setting up this Mac simpler, there is a screen that offers you the chance to connect to iCloud Keychain, which stores all of your passwords in an encrypted file on Apple's servers. This option theoretically allows you to start using the Mac to access websites, encrypted storage, and anything else that Keychain supports automatically.

Once I logged into the Mac, iCloud began syncing data. Within a moment, I was receiving calendar notifications of upcoming birthdays and events; email accounts loaded and Mail began to build a local cache of emails; and Twitter, Facebook, AIM and Vimeo accounts were automatically configured. Contacts, reminders, notes, Safari bookmarks, as well as my Finder tags and documents stored in iCloud, were all transferred over as well. I then logged into Apple's App store to download my apps.

I've said this before, but it bears repeating: If you're already in the Apple ecosystem, moving from one Mac to another is really easy.


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