Apple quietly slipped a shiny, new computer onto store shelves last week, and it's super fast and really small. Geared toward pros as an engineering marvel, the new Mac Pro is clearly one of the great ones from the house of Apple. It's the fastest, most powerful computer Apple has ever produced, yet it fits easily on a shelf, replacing the old Mac towers.
It looks striking -- like an ultra-shiny round trash can -- but, oh, if only our trash cans had this kind of power.
I've been playing with an early review unit for the past few days and can report that this new, top-of-the-line and pricey computer (starting at $2,999) is as fast as Apple says, and really quiet. It's a joy to use.
The specs are amazing: It's just 9.9 inches tall (that's smaller than the entry-level 11-inch MacBook Air laptop when extended fully) and 6.6 inches in diameter, and it weighs 11 pounds. By comparison, the earlier Mac Pro model was 20 inches high and weighed 40 pounds.
The new Mac Pro has quad-core or 6-core processors, depending on your model and dual graphic cards. They start with 12 gigabytes of RAM (compared with the 8 GB of RAM that come standard on the top-of-the-line iMac) and room for expansion up to 64 GB.
Apple promises a performance speed that's two times faster -- which is what I found in my tests. For instance, it took five minutes to transfer a 20-GB folder of video onto the Mac Pro, vs. 10 minutes on my souped-up iMac.
An export of a video file from Final Cut Pro X video editing software took three minutes to complete on the Mac Pro, vs. six minutes on the iMac.
The Mac Pro is aimed at the "creative professional," videographers and editors, photographers, architects, designers, animators -- folks who work with really big files and can't afford to wait around for their computers to slowly process them.
Its release seems mostly oriented toward video professionals, many of whom Apple lost when the company re-jiggered its Final Cut video editing program to an easier-to-use "prosumer" program in 2011.
New Final Cut features were added to coincide with the release of the Mac Pro, most notably the ability to edit high-resolution 4K video footage and export an uncompressed file for viewing directly onto one of those new, ultra HD 4K TVs.
(The changes only work if you have Apple's latest operating system upgrade, Mavericks, which is available for free.) (continued...)
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