In newer games, like Doom and Quake, the GeForce proved to be a much stronger gaming card, pushing through 41 more frames per second in our Doom 3 test and about 9.5 more frames per second in Quake. The graphics card is not a player, performance-wise, in the rest of our Speedmark tests.
All together now
In terms of Speedmark performance, the standard configuration earned a score of 301. Upgrading the RAM to 8GB increased the score by about 6 percent. Adding just the SAS RAID to the standard configuration boosted performance by 24 percent. Upgrading the standard configuration's processor to the 3.2GHz eight-core Xeon boosted Speedmark performance by nearly 9 percent. And as mentioned above, adding the Nvidia GeForce 8800 GT doesn't help a system's Speedmark score.
So what happens when you add it all together? Well, our system with the fastest-possible Xeon processors, four-drive SAS RAID 0, bumped-up memory, and upgraded graphic card raised the Speedmark score by 36 percent, or 107 points, over the standard configuration. For $9,949, you get the first Mac to ever break the 400-mark on our Speedmark tests, making it the fastest machine we've ever tested. Whether that's worth nearly $10,000 -- especially when you consider that the $2,799 Mac Pro is not exactly a slouch in the performance department -- depends entirely on your perspective.
James Galbraith is Macworld Lab director.