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Saturday, 16 May 2009

The new Mac Pro (Early 2009 model)

Anyone who's used Mac OS X knows how quickly the OS starts up and is ready to use. Its stunningly quick. As always though, I'm looking at ways to shave off time and speed things up so I decided without even turning on the new Mac Pro, I was going to install a 300Gb WD VelociRaptor hard drive; what makes this drive special, is that it runs at 10,000rpm compared to the standard 7200rpm drives. This drive takes up one of the four internal bays and will only be used for the OS and applications. I've populated the others with larger 1Tb and 1.5Tb drives for storage. With this drive, the computer starts up fully in just over 30 seconds from pushing the power button! Programs start up in seconds!
Years ago I switched from Mac to PC as before Apple went over to Intel chips, the PC platform was quicker (on hardware). Back in those days I used to make my own workstations and would spend days wiring them up perfectly and arranging fans for the perfectly cooled system. So, yes, I admit that I'm a bit of a perfectionist when it comes to interior computer design and set-up. I was already amazed by the first Mac Pro's innards, but the latest model is a pure work of genius and a work of art. The way the processors and ram are arranged is superb. I upgraded the graphics card to the new Radeon and discovering the retention clamp and release mechanism did leave me speechless! Absolute genius. Ok, I'll stop this anorak tech talk now!
Although nothing new, MobileMe (or .Mac as it used to be called) still puts a smile on my face when. When you configure a new machine, all you need to do is put in your details and within minutes all your contacts, calendar appointments, Safari bookmarks, Keychains, Mail settings and more are automatically loaded in from the "Cloud" - simple, straight forward and genius!

I'll be setting this machine up as my main workstation for Aperture and Final Cut Pro. The older Mac Pro will be given over to server and storage duties and I've spent a while researching the perfect storage solution for my 350,000 (so far) picture archive, plus videos and sound, as I'd like to retire my PC server; watch this space to find out which company I've decided to go with and how I end up setting the system up. I'm also about to start scanning in negatives and transparencies from my 20 year career, so this new storage system is going to play a huge role.


  1. Did you look into installing an Intel X25-M SSD as your app/os drive? They are insanely fast. You can install it into the lower open DVD drive bay, leaving all four HD bays open. I was so impressed with the Intel SSD I put one into my new Unibody MacBook.

    Here's a video I made showing the speed of launching apps between the stock 7,200 rpm hard drive and the SSD. I picked up the quad 2.66 Nehalem a few months back to replace a dual 1.8 G5.

  2. I looked at SSDs but the cost factor was enough to put me off. I think at the moment the best value and proven fast speed HD has to be the VelociRaptor.
    I have an SSD in my MacBook Air and its very impressive; I'm a big fan of SSDs. I just think the cost needs to come down a fair bit and they need to prove themselves in the field.
    Your video was very impressive I have to say! Wow, what a difference!!

  3. Edmond,

    SSD prices have dropped. The 80GB Intel X25-M is now $315 at NewEgg on sale ($325 full price) and your Raptor is now $200 on sale ($230 full price). The 80 is plenty for an apps/os drive. I still have 43GB left on mine.

    I'm not so concerned about track record for flash drives. After running CF cards through the washer and dryer and still working, I think I can trust an SSD over spinning platters in a HD.

    If you have not read the AnandTech report on the Intel, check it out. Right now it's the only SSD I would buy.


  4. Hi Jim,

    Thanks for the link; interesting review. It certainly is reaching the stage where prices are becoming affordable; however, there's still some more to be done.
    The reliability is more the number of reads and writes (real world) that concern me. I'm sure its not an issue and my MacBook Air is still going strong after over a year's use.
    I think that the next time I change the system disk, its almost definitely going to be an SSD!