Quad core and eight-core Mac Pros (Mid 2010) full review

New graphics

ATI Radeon HD 5770 replace the Nvidia GeForce GT 120 with 512MB of video RAM. Apple claims this card is up to 5 times as faster than the Nvidia GeForce 120 that was the default graphics card in the previous generation of Mac Pro.

For £170 more, you can configure your Mac Pro with an ATI Radeon HD 5870, a higher-end card that Apple says claims to be 70 per cent faster than the standard issue ATI Radeon HD 5770. Each card can support up to three monitors, with two Mini DisplayPorts and one dual-link DVI port.

Test results

Compared to the previous £1,940 Mac Pro with its single quad-core 2.66GHz Intel Xeon “Nehalem” processor, 3GB of RAM, a 640GB hard drive and NVIDIA GeForce GT 120 with 512 MB of GDDR3 memory, the new 2.8GHz system was 13 per cent faster overall. Most tests were just a few seconds faster on the new Mac Pro, though there was a big gain in graphics performance, with the ATI Radio HD 5770 able to display 87.7 frames per second in our Call of Duty test, while the Nvidia GT120 in the older system managed to display just 49.3 frames per second. iPhoto importing was 18 per cent faster and iMovie exporting was nearly 30 per cent faster on the new 2.8GHz Quad Core Mac Pro.

The new 2.4GHz 8-core model was only 3 per cent faster overall, than the new 2.8GHz quad-core Mac Pro. (In our initial look at the new 8-core’s performance (link to benchmark article) we were unable to get Parallels to run on the Westmere system. Parallels has since fixed the problem and the build is available on their website.) Looking at individual test results, however, we see that the 8-core system is much faster at the those higher-end applications that take full advantage of multiple cores. MathematicaMark, for example, scored nearly 44 per cent higher on the 8-core system than the new 4-core system. Cinebench was 28 per cent faster on the 8-core system. In many applications, however, having fewer, but faster processors was preferable – giving the quad core 2.8GHz system an edge over the 8-core 2.4GHz model in tests like Aperture, iTunes, and Photoshop. Even our Compressor test showed the quad core model to be 4 per cent faster.

Quad core and eight-core Mac Pros (Mid 2010)

Comparing the new 2.4GHz Westmere 8-core system to the 8-core Nehalem 2.26GHz system from last generation, we see 15 per cent improvement in our overall system performance test suite, Speedmark 6. Time for the new 8-core system were faster performance across the board, again with the biggest gain coming in our graphics tests.

Comparing the new Quad-core 2.8GHz to the highest end standard configuration iMac, a £1,649, 27-inch quad-core model with a 2.8GHz Core i5 processor, we see the Quad core Mac Pro scoring almost 6 per cent higher, overall, with wins in Photoshop (10 per cent), Cinebench and MathematicaMark (17 per cent for both). Both iMovie tests and the Finder Unzip tests were also faster on the Mac Pro. The iMac finished the compressor test a little less than 3 per cent faster than the quad core Mac Pro and was 11 per cent faster at the iTunes encoding tests.

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