August 21, 2006
The latest model sets a new speed mark
Written By James Galbraith
Macworld Lab’s 3GHz Mac Pro arrived at our (Macworld’s) offices, and, as expected, the desktop equipped with the fastest Xeon currently available to Mac users outpaced the 2.66GHz Mac Pro.
If you remember, that standard offering of Apple’s new desktop tallied the best score ever in our Speedmark test. That record didn’t stand for long, as the 3GHz machine posted a score of 313, setting a new standard for our system performance test suite.
When Apple added Intel-built Xeon processors to its line of professional desktops, the company offered only one standard configuration featuring two dual core Xeons running at 2.66GHz, a 250GB hard drive, an NVIDIA GeForce 7300 GT graphics card with 256MB of video memory, 1GB of fully buffered DDR2 system memory, and a 16x dual-layer capable Superdrive. Of course, with an impressive list of available options, custom configurations number in the millions. We ordered a few custom models and the first two—standard configurations powered by two 2GHz and 3GHz chips, respectively—arrived just hours after our Mac Pro review was posted.
Because processors represent just one piece of the performance puzzle, we found that the 3GHz machine posted an improvement over the 2.66GHz Mac Pro of about 5 to 6 percent on most tests, even though the 3GHz chips have a 13 percent faster clock speed. With all of our Mac Pro systems sporting the same drives, bus speeds, memory size, and graphics cards, only CPU-intensive tests like our Cinema 4D render times approached that 13 percent improvement. The 3GHz beat the 2.66GHz model in all tests, but usually just by a few seconds. That’s an important consideration for users contemplating paying the extra $800 above the 2.66GHz Mac Pro’s $2,499 asking price.
As we’ve come to expect, applications like Photoshop not running natively on Intel Macs run slower than on systems with G5 processors.