Macworld Buying Guides

Buying guide: Macs (2011)

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The Mac Pro has a ton of build-to-order options. You can add more RAM—up to the 16GB limit for each Mac Pro. Apple fills only one of the four hard-drive bays with the standard configurations, but gives you the option to add more hard drives or solid-state drives, and even to configure them as a RAID. You can also add a second SuperDrive and upgrade the graphics card. A complete list of options is available on the Mac Pro technical specifications webpage.

Performance: The Mac Pros excel when running software that takes avantage of multiple processing cores, such as high-end video-editing programs, 3D graphics applications, image editors, professional audio software, and so on.

But with general, everyday tasks (emailing, Web browsing, and running office applications), the Mac Pro performs on a par with the iMac. In our benchmarking tests, the $1999 27-inch iMac with a quad-core 3.1GHz Core i5 processor actually outpaced both the $2499 and the $3499 Mac Pros overall; however, when running applications designed to use multiple cores, those two Mac Pros were faster than the $1999 iMac.

Macworld’s buying advice: The Mac Pro is ideal for the most demanding user, one who uses high-end applications and wants hardware expandability. Yes, the machines are expensive, but they’re well worth it for professionals, and they’ll still be very usable four or five years from now. If you don’t need expandability but still need speed, consider a 27-inch iMac with a quad-core 3.1GHz Core i5 processor.

Read our complete review of the quad-core and eight-core Mac Pros

Read our complete review of the 12-core Mac Pro

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At a Glance
  • Apple iMac (Mid 2011) family

  • Apple Mac Pro (Mid 2010) family

  • Apple MacBook Pro (Late 2011) family

  • Generic Company Place Holder Apple MacBook Air MC505LL/A Notebook

  • Apple Mac mini (Mid 2011) family

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