Last year we published our review of the 3GHz, eight-core Apple Mac Pro, but that's not the final chapter in the Mac Pro story. In addition to that PC, Apple also offers a 2.8GHz quad- or eight-core model and this, the final piece of the Mac Pro puzzle, an eight-core, 3.2GHz model. As you might expect, this machine, powered by a pair of 3.2GHz quad-core Xeon processors, is the fastest Mac we've tested yet.
This Apple Mac Pro 3.2GHz system has the same 320GB 7,200-rpm SATA hard drive, 2GB of 800MHz DDR2 fully buffered ECC memory and ATI Radeon HD 2600XT graphics card you'll find in Apple's recommended 2.8GHz eight-core system.
In our tests, we found the new Apple Mac Pro 3.2GHz to be nearly 9 percent faster than the 2.8GHz eight-core Mac Pro, and 4.6 percent faster than the build-to-order 3GHz system in Speedmark, our overall performance benchmark. The Apple Mac Pro 3.2GHz was 16 percent and 13 percent faster than those two systems respectively in our Cinema 4D render test - currently the best, pure processing test we have.
Other results show the Apple Mac Pro 3.2GHz to be faster than those systems in just about every application, including games tests. The exceptions: a couple of tests (HandBrake and Compressor) where the 2.8GHz model inexplicably took first prize.
In comparing the new top-of-the-line build-to-order Mac Pro with last year's fastest available model, a 3GHz, eight-core system, we find the Apple Mac Pro 3.2GHz to be 8 percent faster at Speedmark, 9 percent faster in our Photoshop test suite and 13 percent faster at Cinema 4D.
The one test where the older 3GHz machine bested the Apple Mac Pro 3.2GHz was in the Quake average framerate tests - in fact, even the Power Mac G5 turned in a better score on this test. The lower scores could be due to a lack of graphics driver optimisation, but the ATI Radeon HD 2600XT does represent the low-end of the graphics cards offered for the new Mac Pros. We've seen improvement in the past after subsequent OS X updates. We'll be sure to retest these systems again when the next updates arrive.
In most scenarios, the Apple Mac Pro 3.2GHz truly is Apple's fastest Mac yet.