Customer Reviews: Apple Mac Pro MC560LL/A Desktop (OLD VERSION)
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on February 4, 2011
I stepped up from an 2010 iMac i7 to the 2.8 Quad Core Mac Pro after realizing that I wanted a system that can grow with me as new tech comes down the pipeline. You can easily upgrade RAM, videocard, drives, and even the CPU if you are careful. The base 2.8 model gives you the best bang for the buck. I bought from Amazon and got 12 GB of RAM with the money I saved vs. Apple and no tax. And now the machine flys with all the extra memory. I still can't believe Apple only includes 3 GB standard. Most of the apps I run including Photoshop, Aperture, FinalCut Express really don't take advantage of multiple cores and getting the dual core 2.4 would have been an unwise choice unless you really need to upgrade your RAM up to 64 GB. Plus the 2010 model can be upgraded to the Hex Core chip to future proof my investment once the chips come down in price. Overall, I feel that I made the right purchase even though the cost is higher upfront. The ability to customize and upgrade makes the Mac Pro an easy choice to make.

1)Industrial designed Chassis with good looks and ease of access for upgrades
2)Decently fast components (scores almost 9000 on 32bit version of Geekbench)
3)Quiet operation but not as quiet as an iMac
4)Ability to use whatever monitor you may want
5)Holds value well should you decide to resell later on

1)Expensive for the what you get vs. PCs of the same build
2)Performance already being matched by highest level iMac (i7 model)
3)USB 2.0 only
4)No built in eSATA port
5)Western Digital Black drive is a bit noisey
6)Apple upgrade videocards much more expensive vs. PC version
7)Not a cost effective option for someone who might want to do any gaming in Bootcamp
8)Only 3 GB of RAM with base model
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on September 21, 2010
I just replaced my five-year-old Dual 2.7 GHz PowerMac G5 with the Apple 2.8GHz Quad-Core Intel Mac Pro and what an improvement! The new Mac is at least three times faster doing processing tasks (exporting a movie from QuickTime, for example) than the old unit, and it's SILENT. Photoshop is a lot speedier and so is Quark (although the lengthy delay in startup hasn't changed--dang you Quark!). I've pushed it hard (transferring files from the old Mac while exporting a movie from QT, listening to iTunes, and working in Photoshop) without hearing the fans speed up even once! I have three 1-TB drives installed in the enclosure with one bay free, plus six 2-TB external drives hooked up via a Kensington USB Hub and file transfers happen reliably and quickly.

Tasks such as installing hard disks can be tedious on less well designed computers, but not on the Mac Pro! Fit and finish are perfect and the hardware shows the usual attention to detail for which Apple is renowned. For instance, to install a new disk drive in one of the four drive bays: simply lift the locking lever on the rear of the case and take the cover off, thereby exposing the bays. Remove one, attach it to the new drive and tighten the four captive fasteners, then slide it back into the Mac Pro enclosure--elapsed time less than a minute! Installing RAM and PCI Express cards is equally simple.

I'm not much for gaming but I do like playing Unreal Tournament 2003 online. There's not a native Intel version of UT2003, so it runs using the Rosetta translator, but the ATI Radeon HD 5770 graphics processor and Nahalem processors handle the load with barely a hiccup--there is a slight reduction in frame rates (noticeable but not annoyingly so).

In retrospect, I'd have bumped the RAM up from 3 GB, but that's the closest I can come to a regret with this computer.

There's been some little controversy over the last year as to whether the Mac Pro is worth the price premium over iMacs because they've been closing the performance gap. For me it was no contest: I needed as much internal disk storage as I could get, plus the flexibility to add RAM and monitors as needed was a crucial factor. The iMac is a great computer, but I'm happy with my Mac Pro.

I highly recommend this machine!

[edit] Removed link to 4GB RAM upgrade because it was incorrect.
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on April 23, 2011
This is a great computer -- no question about it. And if you need lots of monitor real estate, you have to go with this machine. It will handle three 30" monitors out of the box and will support three more with an additional graphics card. For those of you who miss the Apple 30" monitor, I recommend the Dell U3011. It's a better monitor and costs less than what Apple charged for theirs.

The MacPro graphics card has two Mini DisplayPort interfaces and one dual link DVI. The Dell monitor has Dual Link DVI and DisplayPort outputs. This means you'll need a Display Port to Mini Display Port adapter. I recommend the Accell B112B-001B UltraAV Mini DisplayPort/DisplayPort Adapter. It's inexpensive and works flawlessly.

If you have a Mac and intend to use the Apple Upgrade Assistant to transfer your files, I expect that you can do so without a problem. If you're a genius and are planning to sneak in some DIY action, here are some helpful hints:

Situation: You are a genius and have decided to purchase a high quality Solid State Drive from a third party rather than pay Apple's premium.

Problem: The four drive bays in the MacPro only support 3.5" drives. This is a problem since all SSDs are 2.5". Rail and sled conversions kits will not work.

Solution: Buy the IcyDock converter, which you can purchase at Amazon. It's not too expensive ($14.99 -- keep in mind how much you already paid for that uber fast SSD), is easy to setup and works like a charm.

Situation: You are a genius and have decided to purchase a high quality Solid State Drive from a third party rather than pay Apple's premium.

Problem: You've now blown your budget.

Solution: You can, from time to time, purchase refurbished MacPros from Apple. These are usually sold at a 15% discount (this varies by model and age)

Situation: You're a genius and decided to clone your existing drive using a utility like Carbon Copy Cloner. This means you can just stick the cloned SSD into your brand new IcyDock, slap that into your MacPro and will be up and running in no time.

Problem: You've just booted your MacPro for the first time and are staring triumphantly at the login screen when you realize that your old wireless mouse (or the wireless mouse that came with your MacPro) doesn't work.

Solution: You can use the tab key to select a user and login.

Situation: You're a genius and have just successfully logged into your MacPro without using a mouse. You're feeling a bit like MacGyver (there's a pun there), and feel that there is no problem that you cannot solve because, well, you're a genius.

Problem: You need to have a mouse to setup your wireless mouse.

Solution: You're a genius who has never thrown away any piece of computer hardware you're ever owned, so you have a spare USB mouse with which you can setup the wireless mouse.

Situation: You're pairing an existing wireless mouse with your MacPro.

Problem: You're not a genius. You forgot to unpair your old mouse.

Solution: If you're too lazy to boot up your old machine and unpair the mouse, you can try taking out the batteries and then putting them back in. For some unknown reason this works for mice but not for wireless keyboards. But hey, you're no longer a genius and can't be expected to know everything.

Situation: Your old computer was a MacBook(Pro) and you do a lot of voice chatting on Skype/IChat.

Problem: Your shiny, brand new, 33 pound MacPro doesn't have a built in microphone, so you can listen to your friends talk but you can't respond to them.

Solution: buy a headset, preferably before you click on the Voice Chat icon ;-)
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on March 27, 2011
I have been running Mac Pro / PowerMac as our primary desktop since 2003 and they continue to be very solidly built, well designed, dead quiet, and reliable workhorse desktops.

I very seriously considered trying to move to using a Mac Mini or MacBook Pro instead of a bulky tower, but every time I did the final evaluation, I kept going back to the Mac Pro, despite its price.

One reason I wanted to move to a smaller machine was power consumption, but given the organizational need to run 4 SATA drives at all times, that means running an external disk server or Firewire attached storage and the power consumption benefits of running a smaller machine go away.

The Mac Pro also supports 3 monitors by default now (with the annoyance that you have to use newer monitors that have DisplayPort (or compatible) ports. That meant replacing a monitor on each system, we use Dell UltraSharp 24s, which work well with these machines.

Overall, the speed of the lowest end Mac Pro 2010 is an improvement over the last generation, but it depends what you need all that background horsepower for. For light use, they are no better than the current Mac Mini or MacBook Air.

We installed 12GB of ram (purchased through amazon, Apple's prices are thousand-dollar-toilet-seat prices) and run a lot of background software, including full dev versions of several websites, apache, php, tomcat, mysql, etc, and those never noticeably slow down the UI experience. We also are normally running Adobe CS4 (photoshop and InDesign mostly), quicktime, jEdit, eclipse, firefox, MS Office 2011, a mail app, terminal windows, tunneling, IRC, etc etc. Without turning them off, one can drop in and out of Civ 5 or other recent game and not have to wait.

Make sure to get enough RAM, these machines are a bit of a waste if you are ever limited by your memory.

Seems like the next generation of these should include a small solid state drive for the boot space and leave all 4 drive bays for data. We looked into replacing one of the drives with SSD and decided against it for now.

This version of the Mac Pro uses substantially less power than the Mac Pro 1,1 which we upgraded from, we were very happy to see that. If you need more than 3 monitors, you'll need either a USB monitor adapter or to get another card, we haven't tried that yet.

Two ethernet ports are actually handy if you do stupid networking things.

Otherwise, if you are looking at this machine, you probably know what you need or want and will be deciding between this machine and the next faster model. For us, this single processor (4 core) Mac Pro is a good compromise between power consumption and speed. The main thing we don't do with our machines is video editing, perhaps the faster Mac Pros are really key for that kind of work, but for our heavy print and web dev needs, these machines are great desktops that won't power off until we replace them with something else in 3 years.
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on November 20, 2012
After years of waiting/saving and serendipitously having a career requirement to upgrade my computer, I finally made the investment in this desktop. I know this is the lower-end model of the Mac Pros at the time, but it is definitely fulfilling my needs. Yes, I wish encoding could be a bit faster and that I had more processors to work with when I'm running and utilizing dozens of different apps along with Parallels and Windows 7, but it's generally not an issue.

If you're looking at desktop computers, you're probably already thinking along the lines of, "how long is this going to last me before I NEED to get something new?" You're also probably something of a fan of Macs since there is a bit of a premium versus a windows-only machine.

With this in mind, I find this to be a great investment. Unlike an iMac where you're stuck with what you have unless you're willing to pay people to upgrade your RAM or internal HD, adding these components, audio cards, video cards, specialty cards, additional drives, optical drives or other add-on you find you'll want down the road is a piece of cake. I already had a high-end display I was working with, so buying a computer with a built-in display seemed like a bit of a waste.

If, in a few years down the road, I really need a processor boost, OWC has a great upgrade program that will give this machine some longer legs:
Up front, the upgrade may not be cheap, but it cuts out some of the Apple Store point-of-purchase premium and lowers the Total Cost of Ownership by increasing this machine's longevity.

We'll have to see if Apple continues to make minor revisions to the Mac Pro spec, but I can see them supporting this architecture with their most current OS years out.

My experience with Macs has shown them to function years longer than their counterparts. Even 10-year-old Macs can still function with recent software. Now for my work, I'll be looking for performance in certain areas, but I expect to get a comparable useful lifetime out of this machine.
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on December 26, 2010
First things first...this computer is fast. I have been using a 2007 Macbook Pro and 2010 iMac along with a with a expensive Windows rig for awhile now... and this computer blows them away. I use Adobe Illustrator, Soundbooth, and Premiere Pro on a daily basis on it and it works great.

Apple OS X (duh!)
Sexy aluminum case
Extremely well constructed
Easily upgradeable
Easily hook up dual displays (that aren't glossy!)
Lots of power for years of use

Price (
Only 3 GB of ram (Really Apple???? Even the cheapest iMac has 4GB!!!)

I am hoping to get close to 5 years of use out of this computer like I have with my last Macs, so the price isn't such a big deal if you look at it that way. And when is the last time that a Windows computer lasted you 5 years without slowing down?
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on October 30, 2010
I got the MacPro to edit home videos, so I also got Final Cut Pro. I expected the machine to be fast, which it is. But I was concerned that it would be noisy. It is NOT noisy; quiet in fact. I use the MacPro with a 24-inch LED display. The combination is GREAT.
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on March 12, 2012
A lot of this has to be abridged for confidentiality purposes.

I am working on a project of genuinely historic significance (designed to make a huge impact on America's most underserved geographic community). The total cost of the project will end up in 9 figures. I (my new company) was blessed enough to land a critical role in the project. One of my duties involved data. I bought a Mac Pro. It failed within two weeks. It failed at a time when certain auditors and inspectors were planning to review data - no data and the project is over for lack of proof. The word nightmare is rather less apt than "front page news", or "devastated citizens", or "people out of work due to critical failure", etc. These things are all true.

I called Apple. Why did I call Apple instead of Amazon? There is a store relatively near and I wanted to exchange it there. I was emboldened by the fact that in the last 5 years I purchased or have purchased the following hardware (I am going to leave out software for the sake of brevity) 1 powerbook, 4 MacBook Pros, 4 iPhones, an iPad 2, 2 AEX, 1 Axpress... i.e., well more than $15k of gear. I have been a member of the ADC (Apple Developer Community). My 3 year old thinks that monsters live in Windows machines (and, oh yeah, she has an iPod Touch). I have been an Apple evangelist. Probably, the other Apple evangelists are going to jump down my throat for writing this, which isn't really even hostile, but let 'em jump. I only mention Apple to emphasize Amazon.

Back to the facts: The Apple store would not help.

But, thank God, this one time I didn't buy my computer from Apple; I bought it from Amazon.

I called Amazon. I hand't finished telling Rebecca, my representative, what had happened before she had her supervisor working on an exchange for immediate shipment. Really - I hadn't even finished. Two minutes, total, and it was done. She sent me a personal email commiserating about my situation. I probably should not divulge this, and it is not a lie: they managed to expedite the expedited shipping. I don't know who got on the phone to talk to who, but when Rebecca and I got off the phone, somebody at Amazon talked to somebody at FedEx and persuaded FedEx, already the fastest carrier, to go even faster. Someone somewhere broke some rules I'm sure.

Do I need to say that I think Amazon appreciated the magnitude of my problem and cared just a little bit about helping me and those that I hope to help? Thank you, Rebecca and Amazon. I mean, wow... seriously, just wow. Wow!!! Truly, I am near tears writing this; I am overjoyed for the project, the people the project is serving, the people working on the project and their families, and, to be honest, my family, myself and my little company.


I have always tried to shop exclusively with Amazon. I don't mean the Amazon marketplace, I mean Amazon. At this point, if Amazon sold food I wouldn't ever buy anything anywhere else. I am not an Amazon customer, I am an Amazon loyalist. An Amazon fanboi (is that right - "fanboi?").

As for Apple: the thing speaks for itself. I still like Apple products and I think I just got a bad Mac Pro - it happens in life. But I will never forget what happened, and I have lost all respect for Apple the company.

As for the Mac Pro as a machine, it works, bus OS X Lion does not, so its hard to give an in-depth review. When it works properly, it is a great machine. It was very fast with the 3 x 120 GB and 1 x 240 GB Intel 520s I put in (you'll have see my review of the 120 GB and 240 GB Intel 520 for more on them). The OEM drive was a very fast WD Caviar Black, so Apple is definitely not skimping on the H/W.

Amazon... wow!!! It may be naive but I still feel like Rebecca, and Amazon, looked out for me the way friends would. And, frankly, I don't care if it is naive because Amazon sure TREATED me the way a true friend would.
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on October 20, 2012
I use this computer with 16GB of ram primarily for photoshop and final cut. I have problems with both unexpectedly closing whenever this diva of a machine doesn't want to render simple filters. Here's the final straw I've had with this Machine: This morning I arrived at work to work on a newsletter I was hired to bang out. It couldn't wake it up. Mind you, it's on, it just won't wake up. This has been one of a million tiny things that drive me crazy about this machine. So now, when it goes to sleep it won't wake up. I tried everything. Unplugging the mouse and keyboard and plugging them back in, etc. I finally had to pull the plug on the machine and loose my most recent unsaved changes. I know that sounds like a fickle argument for a $4000 machine but this is a prime example of the constant glitches I experience. For instance, I put a 1TB drive on the sled a few months back and it often has problems copying data over to it, sometimes its unable to read. It often randomly ejects externals too. I had an ongoing issue where everytime I hit print in photoshop , it would freeze and crash. A year of 5 different IT guys trying different things and they finally gave up and got an older version that worked. I've replaced the mouse twice due to failure, and the keyboard already once as well. I've had issues with color matching screens (staying consistent... and with clients like McDonalds who need a very specific red, for instance this is a huge problem), the disc drive can be very unresponsive (won't open or close often with that stupid eject button on the keyboard) and the system freezes often as well. Here's another zinger: when I got mountain lion last month, paralls no longer worked, nor did my entire Microsoft office because of OS incompatibility so I had to end up spending a grand in addition to the os update. That may not be unique to macs so maybe that last one was unfair but frustrating nonetheless. In the end, its decent enough but I have noticed that this machine ages like a human in that when it was brand new, it flew at lightning speeds but every 6 months or so I notice it slower... and sloooower.... and slooooowwwweeerrrrrrr... I've only had this machine a couple years but it is at half the speed of when I got it and that's just not right for what we paid. Our IT dept assures me its super lean and clean but I spend 15 hours a day on it so I know my mac and these things just fade on your like a dimming light. I have the iPhone 5, latest ipad, macbook pro etc so don't get me wrong, I'ma fanboy but why can I get the same specs in a PC for 1/4 the price and still be dissapointed in this machine? Mac users will ramble off a list of unique mac functionality but PC users might have a better argument. I'm starting to wonder...
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on May 22, 2011
We use these at my old school. Everyday, i looked forward to comp. lab. You can do so much with a mac! If you can afford this, you should get one.
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