Mac Pro

After pushing my hard-working but showing-its-age '02 G4 to the limits with several animated shorts last year, I've finally made the jump to Intel and the new Mac Pro, which arrived yesterday.

The box was fairly beat up, with a sizable chunk gashed in the bottom corner. That made me a little nervous, but true to Apple form, the computer was boxed and packaged very well and all is good, it seems. No visible damage on the MP itself.

First impressions even before I got it hooked up?

This thing is (HUGE! MASSIVE!) quite big.

As you can see in the picture above, I had my G4 nicely tucked into a hand-made computer shelf/desk leg where it was accessible but out of the way. Problem is, the Power Mac doesn't fit - it's too tall by at least two inches. So I'll have to modify that shelf before I can get this thing off my desktop. Although... it's a desktop computer... but whatever. I feel like I've got the monolith from the movie 2001 looming over me. That's gotta change.

Now, as alarming as the size is, it's not without its benefits. First off, the computer is really really quiet - whisper quiet. That's thanks to the way the enclosure is set up to allow maximum airflow and cooling with minimum help from the fans. And they have a lot to cool: two quad-core 2.8 GHz Intel Xeons, four hard drives, a 512 MB graphics card (which has its own fan as well...) plus various computery bits and pieces. (That's a technical term; computery, and sorry for throwing that one down on you lay people, but try to keep up.)

Just being able to get four internal drives in this thing is a cool capability in my book. Lots of hard drive space, less of those cluttery power bricks taking up outlets. I could only get two drives in my G4, and they weren't nearly as easy to install. Not that it was hard, but that's just how easy it is to put a drive in the MP. I almost felt cheated, not being able to put all that hard-won technical experience to use. Remember, I'm an artist, not a tech, so any tech experience is hard-won by default.

Setup was easy as could be. I chose to manually re-install my applications and configure my communications stuff. You can let what's known as the "Migration Assistant" take care of those things for you, which makes the process even easier, but coming from a PowerMac (Motorola) to a Mac Pro (Intel), I wanted to keep things simple and lean without importing a bunch of settings and applications that would just clutter things up.

Before really digging in, I ran Software Update to get the much needed (actually, absolutely necessary, for the most part) .2 part of the update to Mac OS 10.5 which fixed many of the oddities of 10.5.1. Additionally, after 10.5.2 is complete, you should be aware that you need to run Software Update again (as in right away) for the "Leopard Graphics Update" which... takes care of, um, graphics. Moving on...

After system updates, Adobe CS3 Production Premium installation and updates, configuring and all, it was about a 3.5 hour operation. Still some things to do, such as installing the remaining drives, RAM and adding the second monitor (my Apple LCD is stuck with the old G4 - I didn't want to fork out the $100 for the ACD to DVI adapter I would need to hook it up to the MP... as a result I'm stuck with one second-rate 17" LCD for now... yech) but I'm ready to roll for now. If all keeps working as well as it has for the first day, I'm really going to dig working on this new Mac.

Should you be looking at a Mac, these are the things to consider regarding a Mac Pro:

Pros (heh):
• expandability (adding hard drives, expansion cards, etc...)
• powerful (and it's powerful, too!)

• huge (as in really big) which could pose a problem for users with smaller spaces, unless, like me, you don't have a choice.
• pricey - unless you use it for work or are a well-heeled hobbyist, it's costly, but relatively speaking, of course.

There are other cool things (or uncool, depending on what you like) like the keyboard - it's the thinnest, flattest thing I've ever seen for an external keyboard. Think "laptop thin". I'm not sure if I dig it yet. So far it's not bothering me, and I may grow to really like it. For now, I'm undecided.

At any rate, I'm off to put this thing to work.

Good luck!


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