Apple Mac Pro Dual-Core Xeon 5150 2.66 GHz review: Apple Mac Pro Dual-Core Xeon 5150 2.66 GHz

For example, on CNET Labs' iTunes and QuickTime tests, the Mac Pro won, but Apple wrote both programs, and they originally came out for the Mac OS. But on our DivX video-encoding test, the Windows-based test bed won. The DivX video codec has only recently been out for the Mac OS, but it's been available for Windows for years. We think these tests have value, because they tell you how these popular applications will run on the various platforms. But we can't say that our Mac Pro is unequivocally better at video encoding than the Windows test bed, because it depends on which application you use.

Apple QuickTime video-encoding test (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
Apple QuickTime video-encoding test  
Note: QuickTime for Windows version 7.1; QuickTime for Mac version 7.1.2

Apple iTunes encoding test (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
Apple iTunes encoding test  
Note: iTunes for Windows version 6.0.4.2; iTunes for Mac version 6.0.5

DivX video-encoding test (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
DivX video-encoding test  
Note: DivX for Windows version 6.3; DivX for Mac version 6.5

As usual with the Intel-based Macs, Photoshop is a controversial test to run because Adobe hasn't converted the current version of Photoshop to run natively on Intel CPUs. This means it runs in Apple's Rosetta emulation mode and, as such, will be slow. It's valid because if you want to run Photoshop on an Intel-based Mac, that's what you have to deal with (Boot Camp aside) until Adobe comes out with an Intel-native Mac OS Creative Suite (due sometime next year). We didn't expect the Mac Pro to excel on this test, but to its credit it did better than we thought; the Mac Pro trailed the Windows test bed by only 45 seconds.

Adobe Photoshop CS2 image-processing test (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
Adobe Photoshop CS2 image-processing test  

We think the most telling test in this suite is CineBench, which lets us test each system's video-rendering capability with one CPU thread, as well as with multiple, simultaneous CPU threads. On the single-threaded test, the Mac Pro won by a decent margin. But on the multiple CPUs test, the Mac Pro dominated, nearly tripling our Windows test bed's score. On the one hand, that's not a surprise, you'd expect a PC that supports up four concurrent threads to be faster than a PC that supports only two on a test that puts all available CPU cores to work. But what's important is that you can't currently buy a Core 2 Duo-based Windows PC that has four CPU cores. So this test lets us show that, all other things being equal, for programs that truly take advantage of multithreaded CPUs, the Mac Pro should give you a leg up over any consumer-level PC.

CineBench 9.5: Rendering Multiple CPUs
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
Single CPU rendering  
Multiple CPU rendering  
Windows XP test bed
371 
565 
Mac Pro
440 
1437 

PyMOL molecular-modeling rendering test (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
PyMOL molecular-modeling rendering test  
Note: PyMOL for Windows version 0.99rc6; MacPyMOL for Mac version 0.99rc6

Our Quake 4 test is not exactly apples-to-apples because our Windows test bed used a GeForce 7600 GT 3D card, which has faster clock speeds than the Mac Pro's GeForce 7300 GT. We don't feel that bad about the disparity, though, because the next step up from Apple is a $350 ATI Radeon X1900 XT card. So unless you're serious about Mac gaming (chuckle), the 7300 GT is it for the Mac Pro on the lower end of the 3D scale, while your Windows 3D graphics card options are wide open. That said, Quake 4 on the Mac Pro is perfectly playable, even at the more demanding 1,600x1,200-resolution setting (albeit, less so), where it clocked 31.6 frames per second. We maintain that the Mac is not a good gaming platform, but the Mac Pro has so much raw CPU power that it can give you a nice boost.

3D gaming performance (in fps)
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
Quake 4 1,600x1,200, 4xAA 8xAF  
Quake 4 1,024x768, 4xAA 8xAF  
Windows XP test bed
50.5 
90.3 
Mac Pro
31.6 
62.3 

Find out more about how we test desktop systems.

System configurations:

Windows XP test bed
Windows XP Home SP2; 2.93GHz Intel Core 2 Extreme X6800; 1,024MB 667MHz DDR2 SDRAM 667MHz; 256MB Nvidia GeForce 7600GT; 74GB Western Digital 10,000rpm serial ATA hard drive

Mac Pro
OS X 10.4.7; 2x 2.66GHz Xeon 5150; 1,024MB 667MHz DDR2 FB-SDRAM; 256MB Nvidia GeForce 7300GT; 250GB Western Digital 7,200rpm serial ATA hard drive

Apple's service and support is still weak, especially for a high-end system such as the Mac Pro. The default plan gets you a year of hardware parts-and-labor coverage but only 90 days of phone support. For an additional $249, you can bump both the warranty and the phone support to three years via the AppleCare Protection Plan. Apple's forums continue to provide a wealth of product help, and Apple's own support page also has a decent amount of information.

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Apple Mac Pro Dual-Core Xeon 5150 2.66 GHz

Part Number: MA356LL/A Released: Aug 7, 2006
MSRP: $2,499.00 Low Price: $18.90 See all prices

Quick Specifications See All

  • Release date Aug 7, 2006
  • Environmental standards EPA Energy Star
  • Graphics Processor NVIDIA GeForce 7300 GT
  • OS Provided Apple MacOS X 10.5
  • Video Memory 256 MB DDR2 SDRAM
  • Monitor Type None.