REM

Beneath the surface, the Mac Pro's compact, three-sided design is like nothing we've ever seen before—an example of what engineers can do when they think outside of the box. The Mac Pro is both small and repairable. In fact, it’s the most repairable Apple product we’ve seen all year. The hood pops off with the flick of a switch. There’s not a proprietary screw in sight and the RAM can be replaced without any tools. Impressively, the CPU is also user-upgradeable; intrepid fixers should be able to save considerably by upgrading from the base-level processor configuration.

Our chief demerit: There is no room or port for adding your own internal storage. Sure, it’s got heaps of Thunderbolt, but we'd rather use SATA if we could. Final repairability score: 8/10

See the full teardown!

Highlights:

• Looks like the Mac Pro has taken some design pointers from the recent AirPort Extreme and Time Capsule bodies: a thin, vertical design with individual boards on separate sides.

• A CPU upgrade appears entirely possible—and well worth it, with an alleged cost savings of $1050 for an upgrade to 12 cores.

• The dual AMD FirePro D300 graphics cards dominate the initial view. Their symmetry is broken only by the SSD cage nestled up alongside GPU number two.

• Amidst the usual processing power and cost comparison with a similar home-built desktop PC, these graphics cards (and a heck of a deal with AMD) may be the key to Apple finally undercutting homebrew systems on a pure power/cost basis.

• The dual AMD FirePro graphics cards are nearly identical twins reunited after birth. One has a GPU hailing from China, while the second is sourced from Taiwan, and also differs by hosting the single SSD slot. This seems to us like a potential opportunity for expansion—perhaps higher storage configurations make use of two of this variety, for doubling up on SSDs?

• A novel disc-shaped daughterboard ties everything together at the base of the machine.

• Notable ICs:

  • 3.7 GHz Quad-Core Intel Xeon E5-1620 v2 with Turbo Boost up to 3.9 GHz
  • Intel BD82C602J Platform Controller Hub
  • Elpida 4 GB DDR3L SDRAM
  • PLX Technology PEX8723 PCI-E switch
  • Intel DSL5520 Thunderbolt 2 controller
  • AMD FirePro D300 graphics processor
  • Elpida W2032BBBG 2 Gb GDDR5 VRAM
  • Samsung S4LN053X01-8030 (ARM) flash controller
  • Samsung K9HFGY8S5C-XCK0 flash storage
  • Samsung K4P4G324EB 512 MB RAM
  • Broadcom BCM57762 gigabit ethernet controller
  • Fresco Logic FL1100 4-port USB 3.0 host controller
  • Parade PS8401A HDMI jitter cleaning repeater
  • Cirrus 4208-CRZ audio codec