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Overview of the Features in Apple’s Mac Pro

If you are considering moving from the PC world to the Mac world and need lots of computing power, Apple has the answer. As its name suggests, the Mac Pro is Apple’s most capable Macintosh.

The base model comes with a quad-core Intel Xeon processor. Maxed out, it can hold dual Intel Xeon six-core processors, 8TB (8 terabytes) of hard drive space, and 64GB of RAM in eight DIMM slots that incorporate error-correcting codes (ECC) for greater reliability. That’s 12 very fast computers in one box.

Although most Macs are designed with the expectation that their cases will never be opened, the Mac Pro is a major exception. It’s built into a full tower–size case that opens easily to give you access to most Mac Pro components.

The Mac Pro opened up. [Credit: Photo courtesy of Apple, Inc.]
Credit: Photo courtesy of Apple, Inc.
The Mac Pro opened up.

Also unlike with other Macs, you have room inside for expansion. The units contain four hard drive bays, and you can install dual SuperDrive optical drives. Apple typically offers several configurations for the Pro with different graphics cards for high, very high, and extreme performance.

Three additional full-length PCI Express (PCIe) slots are available for plug-in cards, which allow expansion of your Mac’s capabilities. These are the same types of expansion cards used in newer PCs. They aren’t compatible with the older PCI, PCI-X, or ISA cards, however.

The PCI Express slots can hold high-speed communications cards, such as Fibre Channel, or as many as three more graphics cards for a maximum of four. A total 300 watts of power are available just to power these cards. The whole Mac Pro can draw 12 amps at 120 volts — half that at 240 volts.

The Mac Pro has two connector panels: a main one in back and a smaller one in front.

Mac Pro from the back, showing slots and cable connections. [Credit: Photo courtesy of Apple, Inc.]
Credit: Photo courtesy of Apple, Inc.
Mac Pro from the back, showing slots and cable connections.

The rear panel includes

  • Three USB 2.0 ports

  • Two FireWire 800 Mbps ports

  • Optical digital audio input and output Toslink ports

  • Analog stereo line-level input and output minijacks

  • Two independent Gigabit Ethernet ports

The front panel conveniently supplies

  • Two more FireWire 800 Mbps ports

  • Two more USB 2.0 ports

  • Stereo headphone minijack

Bluetooth and Wi-Fi are standard on the Mac Pro.

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