Tips and Tools


What is Inside a Mac Pro?

The ability to choose between the different processor options, and to change them if you need to have more power, gives people more freedom to create a system with just what they need. Let’s look at what you are going to find inside the modern Mac Pro on the market today. With the most recent version of the Mac Pro, you will be able to choose from the following processors:  a quad-core,two quad-cores (8-core), a 6-core, or two 6-cores (12-core.). All of the processors that are on the market today have Hyper Threading. What does this mean? It is possible to have two threads on the cores. All of the processors on the market today also have the ability to use Turbo Boost from Intel. This increases the clock rate of the cores.

The Memory

The first Mac Pro had 1 GB of memory made up of two 512 MB FB-DIMMs. It was possible to expand the memory all the way up to 32 GB. Of course, the entire reason for someone to get a Mac Pro is so they are able to add as much memory as possible. They want to be able to have machines that are faster and more powerful so they can do more. The majority of Mac Pro users out there today start with 16 GB minimum, then upgrade to 48 GB, 64 GB, and even all the way up to 96 GB.
mac pro inside
With the 5,1 Mac Pro you will find on the market now, you’ll see you have more memory and more options. The model from 2010 had a base configuration of 3 GB of memory on board, with 3 DIMMs of 1 GB each for the UP quad core. They also offered a 6 GB option with six 1 GB DIMMs for the 8-core machines. In 2012, the "beefed up" version of the machine included 6 GB of memory with three 2 GB DIMMs for their quad core and 6 core machines. They even offered a 12 GB configuration with six 2 GB DIMMs for the 12-core machines. As you can imagine, these machines with more memory are going to be quite fast and powerful.

The sheer upgradability of the Mac Pro is what makes so many professionals and tech lovers enamored with the machine. It is capable of going above and beyond other products in the Apple line, and you will not find them on the desks of the casual computer user.

Hard Drives

Another thing to look for when buying a used or new Mac Pro is the hard drive. The Mac Pro Model ID 1,1 came with a 250 GB Serial ATA drive. The Model ID 3,1 hard drive was 320 GB Serial ATA that had an 8 MB cache. The Mac Pro 4,1 quad-core or 8-core featured a 640 GB Serial ATA (with a 16 MB cache.) With the 5,1 Mac Pro models, a 1 TB Serial ATA drive comes with the machine. However, it is possible to expand the capacity. All models of the Mac Pro feature four drive bays. One could upgrade each bay with any 3.5" SATA hard drive, or even a solid state drive.

SSD is generally going to be the best option and is well worth the investment. Users will often run their applications off a 480 GB SSD with a 2.5" SATA3 adapter and store their data on a traditional hard drive.

It is a good idea to understand a bit about the basics when it comes to the benefits of HDD, RAID, and SSD. Traditional HDD technology is safe, but those who want something a bit faster will choose software RAID. This is going to be about 10% faster. Hardware RAID is faster and more reliable still with the solid state drives being the fastest option available. That is why so many Mac Pro users are choosing it today.

Expansion Cards

The current Mac Pro on the market has four PCI Express 2.0 expansion slots. These additional slots offer more spaces to customize and upgrade the machine. It is possible to reconfigure cards and offer more bandwidth, for example. This is also where your graphics card is. Because the slots are doublewide, the graphics card is not going to cover one of the nearby slots.

What External Connectivity Does It Provide?

The Mac Pro also has a number of options for external connectivity. First, you are going to find 5 USB 2.0 Ports, as well as four FireWire 800 ports. The models on the market today also have a number of other options including Bluetooth and Ethernet ports. They offer Mini Display Port connectors on their PCIe graphics cards, as well as a dual link DVI port. They have digital audio and analog audio connections for sound in and out. You will find these connections on the front of the machine as well as the back of the machine.

One of the things you will find is different with the Mac Pro is it does not have an infrared receiver as so many of the other Macs have. This means it does not work with the Apple Remote. You will be able to control Front Row with the keyboard, however. This could be helpful if you have an older OS. Front Row is no longer used with the release of Mac OS X Lion and onward.

What Operating Systems Does It Run?

You will find the Mac Pro is able to operate a number of different operating systems, so you will be able to upload and utilize the OS with which you are the most familiar. Most people are going to want to keep the system that comes with the computer, but that’s not always the case. The Mac Pros on the market are able to utilize OS X 10.4.7 and newer. It is also able to use Microsoft Windows (XP, Vista, and 7.) The Mac Pro is able to run a number of other x86 operating systems including Solaris, BSX, and Linux x86. The Boot Camp drivers that come on the machine are only going to support Windows, and not the other systems, even though it is possible to use them.

It is possible to have a multi-boot option for your machine; this can be tricky when you have just a single hard drive, but it is possible to partition the drive. If you want to have a machine that offers you the ability to use more than one OS, it is possible to do with the Mac Pro.