Apple Mac Pro (late 2013) review
3.7GHz Intel Xeon E5-1620, 12GB RAM, N/A display, OS X 10.9
If the desktop market is doomed, nobody seems to have told Apple. With its long-awaited update to the Mac Pro, Apple has crafted a desktop computer that's both staggeringly beautiful and desirable. In fact, it's the only desktop computer we've ever seen that attracted a crowd to watch us unboxing it.
As soon as we saw it, it begged the question, why can't all desktops look this good? Its cylindrical body, finished in polished aluminium looks absolutely stunning and, until you've seen one in the flesh, it's hard to believe just how small Apple has made it.
Of course, it's got those nice touches that let you know that this is a product that has been thoughtfully designed, rather than just built: the power cable sits flush in the case thanks to its shield, and the ports light up when you move the computer so you can see what you're plugging into where.
Our one slight disappointment is that you don't even get a keyboard and mouse in the box. For a computer like this, we were kind of hoping that Apple would release a keyboard and mouse that matches the Mac Pro's new colour scheme.
Beautiful as the computer is, the new design isn't just there to look good. It's also eminently practical and has let Apple distil the truly important part of a Mac Pro - power - into a tiny and quiet case. This truly is an end to big square boxes and hello to 21st century computing.
The added advantage of making a computer so small, is that it's extremely portable. For people shooting 4K video professionally, it means that it's now easy to carry around the editing kit, too, providing a way to check footage and make a first edit onsite. This kind of flexibility hasn't been seen in a workstation before and certainly not in one that's this powerful.
Thanks to the lip underneath the top of the Mac Pro, the computer is also extremely easy to pick up and move around. Our one piece of advice is to make sure that the case lock switch is engaged, otherwise picking the Mac Pro up this way will just release the outer casing, which could prove a costly mistake; fortunately, with the lock engaged, the outer case is completely secure.
MAC PRO INSIDE
Flick the unlock switch and disconnect all of the cables, and the slender metal exterior lifts off in a single smooth motion, unveiling the true smartness of Apple's design. Rather than using a traditional desktop layout, the Mac Pro consists of three circuit boards arranged standing up, with a triangular footprint. On the boards are the CPU, dual graphics cards, memory and SSD.
The beauty of this layout is that there's a single thermal core, requiring a single fan to cool it. The fan draws air up through the bottom vents and out of the top, shifting hot air out of the computer. A single fan in any desktop computer is impressive, but when you're talking about a machine with an Intel Xeon E5 processor and dual GPU graphics, that's actually quite staggering. And, boy does it work: in operation, the Mac Pro is super quiet; even at high loads, you'd have to strain to hear the fan over office air conditioning.