You can purchase a faster 3D card from Apple, but you'd have to pay a minimum of around £2,060 to upgrade even the less-expensive four-core Mac Pro. If gaming on a Mac is your goal, you still have to pay a disproportionate amount compared to a Windows desktop with the same level of 3D performance. The default graphics card will certainly let you dabble in 3D games, although you're better off with lower resolutions and image-quality settings, as well as less-demanding titles.
As we've said, our performance results apply only to the new eight-core Mac Pro in its default configuration. Apple offers various CPU, memory, hard-drive and other upgrades for both the four- and eight-core model.
As with Apple's new iMac, you can also buy the Mac Pro with a keyboard that has no numeric keypad, although the default configuration gets you the standard full-sized model. The Mac Pro also has no default wireless networking -- not a must-have in a traditional desktop -- but you can add an AirPort Extreme card for an extra £40. Other options include various mini DisplayPort adaptors, as well as different Fibre Channel PCI Express cards and professional software packages.
In addition to the video ports mentioned earlier, the new Mac Pro also gives you a handful of digital and analogue audio jacks, as well as USB 2.0 and FireWire 800 ports on the front and back. We'd still rather see Apple adopt the external eSATA standard for even faster external-hard-drive transfers than FireWire 800.
Design professionals should find the new eight-core Mac Pro a worthwhile purchase, thanks to multitasking and digital-media performance that's a marked improvement on that of previous models, as well as a number of useful design tweaks.
Additional editing by Charles Kloet