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How the Mac Pro Works

Mac Pro Specs

What, exactly, are you getting with a Mac Pro? Knowing a computer's technical specs can help you choose the right model, so let's get down to business. As far as physical space goes, the Mac Pro is not small. It's a bit larger than 20 inches (50 centimeters) high, 8 inches (20 centimeters) wide and almost 19 (47.5 centimeters) inches long. It weighs about 40 pounds (18 kilograms), depending on what kind of processing power you opt for. While smaller is typically better when it comes to computers, the Mac Pro is an exception due to its heavy-duty capabilities [source: Apple].

Let's start with the operating system and processors. The Mac Pro runs on OS X Lion, which is a UNIX-based system. Apple explains the benefits of using a UNIX-based system for the Mac Pro, pointing out that it can compile and run the user's existing UNIX code in a stable manner. There are a number of configurations to choose from when it comes to processors; there are four basic models, with a choice of a Quad-, 8- or 12-Core, plus a Server option. All four machines (which can be further customized) come with Intel Xeon processors: the Quad-Core with one 2.8GHz Quad-Core Nehalem processor; the 8-Core with two 2.4GHz Quad-Core Westmere processors; the 12-Core with two 2.66GHz 6-Core Westmere processors; and the Server with one 2.8GHz Quad-Core Nehalem processor [source: Apple].

Next, storage and memory. the hard drive capacity for all the baseline models is 1TB except for the Server, which comes with 2TB. The upper limit for all four models is 8TB. And for memory, the Quad-Core has 3GB; the 8- and 12-Cores have 6GB, and the Server has 8GB. The Quad-Core can be customized with up to 32GB, while the other three can support up to 64GB [source: Apple].

Then there are graphics: The Mac Pro comes with a double-wide, 16-lane PCI Express 2.0 graphics slot with either an ATI Radeon HD 5770 or 5870 card installed. There's also an option to get two 5770 cards installed, which gives the Mac Pro the capability of supporting six graphics displays. (Without the two cards, it can support three.) The Pro supports digital resolutions of up to 2560 by 1600 pixels; for analog, the upper limit is 2048 by 1536 [source: Apple].

Now that you know what the Mac Pro is made of, let's see what you can do with it.