Here's some of the deep-dive copy from the Mac Pro review that I reserved for my on-line readers. I'm sure I made some formatting errors in copying it from [product W] to Ecto. I've deleted some text that points to the conclusion of the review. I'm not messing with you there. I can't share a review's conclusions prior to its publication, and I ask that you don't presume a conclusion from what you'll read here.
The best sub-$5,000 workstation ever made, Apple’s Power Mac G5 Quad, has been supplanted in Apple’s lineup by Mac Pro, a quad-core workstation based on Intel’s newest 64-bit Core Microarchitecture Xeon processor. Intel’s marketing promotes the new dual-core Xeon, nicknamed Woodcrest, as being faster and yet more power-efficient than the Netburst (Pentium 4) Xeon CPUs that preceded it. Woodcrest certainly is fast by Intel standards, thanks to its huge cache and cranked-up front-side bus. Intel and all of its OEMs are delighted about Woodcrest, but it nets Apple no advantage. It looks like Apple is setting Mac Pro up to be just another mid-tower Woodcrest box in a landscape choked with mid-tower Woodcrest boxes.
Mac Pro shares most of the external characteristics of Power Mac G5 models. I got my first tip-off that Mac Pro follows in the Power Mac tradition when I lifted it: It weighs a ton. Well, 60 pounds to be exact. Remember, the overall chassis design was cooked up (no pun) for 64-bit PowerPC, renowned for being fast as hell and twice as hot. Just before this chassis made the jump to Intel, it contained a pair of dual core, 64-bit IBM PowerPC CPUs, replete with massive heat sinks, routed airflows and a fluid cooling boost for those times when China Syndrome threatened. Workstation users are accustomed to trading heat and noise for performance, but to Apple's considerable credit, Apple’s engineers made Power Mac G5 Quad run markedly quieter than top-end Netburst Xeon, Opteron and RISC workstations. Design victories scored in Mac Pro make Power Mac G5 Quad no less stunning a machine.
So it’s almost sad to remove Mac Pro’s side panel, which still requires only the lifting of a lever on the back, and see all that heat and noise control ingenuity gone. The Mac Pro’s case, which is more holes than surface at the front and back, seems to have started life as empty box full of moving air. Apple wasn’t going to ditch the indestructible, interference-immune and familiar Power Mac case, so it set its engineers loose on useful ways to fill it.
Tricking it out
Apple’s Woodcrest motherboard is not a wee twist on Intel’s reference design, as is the prevailing standard among Intel’s OEMs. You needn’t take up my appreciation of circuitry as art to learn this yourself: Apple knows that workstation users are defined, first and foremost, by their insatiable desire for places to plug things in. Mac Pro’s back panel features an insane variety of connectivity ports: Three USB 2.0, two FireWire (one 800 Mbps and one 400), optical digital audio in and out, line-level analog audio in and out, and dual gigabit Ethernet. And just to cover the risk that users would run out of sockets for things, Mac Pro’s front panel has two FireWire (again, one 800 Mbps), two USB and one headphone/line level analog audio output ports.