Pixelated Ecstasy and Breakneck Processors – My Mac Pro Workstation
In January of 2004 I bought my first Mac. A 12″ 1.33GHz PowerBook G4. It was my first step into the world of print and web design. My PowerBook was so sweet and so fast that I never thought I’d buy a desktop. But – like many others accross the world – everything changed when the Mac Pro was announced in 2006.
Recently I began to see that my G4 wouldn’t cut it for much longer. I originally had plans to upgrade to a 15″ MacBook Pro. But since my PowerBook was still working (just not for design work) I started looking at the 24″ iMacs. But as I did the research I realized the Mac Pro was the obvious choice. I worked several extra freelance jobs and pinched my pennies. Finally, just a few weeks ago in May, I bought my dream machine.
- Mac Pro Quad 3.0GHz Intel Xeon – “Woodcrest”
- Two 3.0GHz Dual-Core Intel Xeon processors
- 4GB (4 x 512MB) / (2 X 1GB) memory (667MHz DDR2 fully-buffered DIMM ECC)
- 250GB Serial ATA 3Gb/s 7200 rpm hard drive
- 16x SuperDrive (DVD+R DL/DVDÂ±RW/CD-RW)
- ATI Radeon X1900 XT with 512MB memory
- Affectionately Named “Azlan”
- Apple Cinema HD Display
- 23-inch (viewable)
- 1920 x 1200 optimal resolution
- 16.7 million colors
- DVI Display Connector
- 2 port USB 2.0 Hub
- 2 FireWire 400 ports
- VESA mount compatible
Why This Setup?
- The Mac Pro’s Upgradeability: I can’t imagine needing a more powerful machine. But the ‘upgradeability’ of the Mac Pro is one of it’s most attractive characteristics. Getting more RAM and/or more hard-drive space is extremely simple and affordable if I am ever in need of them.
- The Beauty of the Apple Cinema Display: There is quite a bit of talk out there about what brand screen to buy – Dell or Apple. I went with the 23″ Apple Cinema HD Display for one main reason: I sit at my desk, working at my screen for several hours a day, and I wanted be proud about the screen I was working on and staring at. I wanted it to be worthy of the powerhouse it was plugged into. The idea of setting up a Dell display with my Mac felt odd to me. Sorta like eating a veggie burger – all the components would have been there, but something’s not right. That’s why the extra cost for the Apple Display was worth it. So that my work and play experiences while at my desk would be as enjoyable as possible.
Working on my Mac Pro
Two words: Smokin’ fast.
The speed jump from my 1.33 GHz G4 PowerBook to the Quad Core was outrageous. Like driving a clunky Volkswagon Rabbit, and then sitting down behind the wheel of an 850 Horse-Power Shelby. I cannot imagine a faster, more powerful machine.
It begs to be pushed to it’s limits simply so it can show off – and without even breaking a sweat.
When no apps are running, Photoshop CS3 will start up in about 3 seconds. When I drag a file over the mail.app dock icon, it starts up Mail and opens the new message with the attachment almost as soon as I let off the mouse. I can easily have Photoshop and Illustrator running with several large files open in both programs while smoothly tabbing between them without a hiccup (or beach ball).
When it comes to getting things done, it’s one thing to have a focused work flow and an organized system, but there is something that a Mac Pro will do for your productivity that nothing else could.
P.S. It’s Refurbished
I saved a substantial amount of money by getting my Mac Pro and Cinema Display through Apple’s refurbished online store. I had the money ready to spend, and so I waited. Each day I would check the refurbished page to see what was for sale. Then one day the 3.0 Quad Core and the 23″ Display showed up, and I bought them right away.
I didn’t have to settle on what computer I would purchase. In fact, I was able to buy something better than I had originally priced out for much less than I would have paid for a new model.
The Mac Pro came with 2 Gigs of Ram already installed, so I bought two more gigs through Crucial to finish the setup.