The New Apple Mac Pro: The Ultimate Multimedia Machine - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 99 Old 06-13-2013, 12:49 PM - Thread Starter
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With the new Mac Pro, Apple has created a machine that offers a glimpse into the future of desktop computing in terms of physical form as well as capability. Apple squeezed a 12-core Xeon processor and dual pro-quality graphics chips into a compact cylinder that features a "Central Thermal Core," cooled by one single fan—potentially making it a very quiet choice for home theater use. The innovative design features a large number of external connections for displays, peripherals, and storage.


The Mac Pro is a true graphics powerhouse with a revolutionary new design

Normally, the introduction of a new desktop computer would not be worthwhile home-theater news, but Apple has created something special with the update to its most powerful computing platform. One specification in the Mac Pro announcement really got my attention:
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"The system can output to as many as three 4K resolution displays." - CNET

The Mac Pro features Intel's new Thunderbolt 2 connection protocol, which promises to convey video and data in one cable. Thunderbolt 2 has the capacity to carry 20Gbps of data in a single channel, enough bandwidth to handle 4K. The new Mac sports six Thunderbolt 2 ports, so there is plenty of bandwidth to spare, even if a user connects three 4K displays.
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"Not only does it feature a state-of-the-art AMD FirePro workstation-class GPU with up to 6GB of dedicated VRAM — it features two of them. With all that power, you’ll be able to do things like seamlessly edit full-resolution 4K video while simultaneously rendering effects in the background." - Apple

Adding speculative fuel to the 4K fire, a Mac wallpaper with a pixel resolution of 5120x2880 popped up recently, hinting that Apple may release a monitor—the rumored "Retina Thunderbolt Display"—featuring that pixel count. This makes sense since the Mac Pro looks to be a powerhouse video-editing platform, ideal for 4K video and movie editing. The extra pixels allow full-frame editing within an application UI, which is currently impossible. It's entirely possible that for the next decade, the majority of UHD content will come out of Mac Pro machines.

There is no price yet for the new Apple, which is going to be "made in the USA," but it is a Mac—so it will likely be expensive. However, it can act as a tremendously capable centerpiece for an advanced home theater of the future. Who knows, perhaps the mythical Apple Television will follow the introduction of this desktop supercomputer.
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"The product will be assembled in Texas, include components made in Illinois and Florida, and rely on equipment produced in Kentucky and Michigan" -source



What are your thoughts? Is the ultimate Mac also the ultimate HTPC?
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post #2 of 99 Old 06-13-2013, 01:25 PM
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I love Macs, but I think it would be waste to own a machine like this to use as an HTPC. This machine was built for photographers and videographers working some heavy duty material. Although no price was given, I'm sure this beast is going to cost a pretty penny. If I had the money, I would get it. Not sure it I would use it as an HTPC though. tongue.gif
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post #3 of 99 Old 06-13-2013, 01:33 PM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by VinnyS View Post

I love Macs, but I think it would be waste to own a machine like this to use as an HTPC. This machine was built for photographers and videographers working some heavy duty material. Although no price was given, I'm sure this beast is going to cost a pretty penny. If I had the money, I would get it. Not sure it I would use it as an HTPC though. tongue.gif

Even in a 4K future? How about the fact that a Mac can also run Windows, making the Mac Pro the ultimate video game machine as well? I have to admit—I will probably start saving up to buy one staring right now. And yeah, a nice 65" 2160p UHDTV is exactly what I'd want to connect it to. I've got more $$ than that computer will cost already invested in iTunes content. If Apple makes my current purchased movies available in 2160p, the same way they did when they added 1080p, I'll be one extremely happy fellow. I'd even be OK with an "upgrade" fee for those titles.

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post #4 of 99 Old 06-13-2013, 01:45 PM
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Originally Posted by imagic View Post

Even in a 4K future? How about the fact that a Mac can also run Windows, making the Mac Pro the ultimate video game machine as well? I have to admit—I will probably start saving up to buy one staring right now. And yeah, a nice 65" 2160p UHDTV is exactly what I'd want to connect it to. I've got more $$ than that computer will cost already invested in iTunes content. If Apple makes my current purchased movies available in 2160p, the same way they did when they added 1080p, I'll be one extremely happy fellow. I'd even be OK with an "upgrade" fee for those titles.

I hear ya. It would be cool. But then again, the whole point of getting a Mac is to stay away from MS Windows as it's a magnet for problems. I'm sure one can build a similar system for much less in a PC world. But I do agree with you that with iTunes and all of the downloads I've built up over the years, it would be cool. If Apple was smart, they would get into distributing 4K content, a little like the Sony 4K media player. If iTunes was offering 4K content through iTunes, I would also pay an 'upgrade fee' to convert my collection to UHD. Apple - are you listening? biggrin.gif

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post #5 of 99 Old 06-13-2013, 02:08 PM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by VinnyS View Post

I hear ya. It would be cool. But then again, the whole point of getting a Mac is to stay away from MS Windows as it's a magnet for problems. I'm sure one can build a similar system for much less in a PC world. But I do agree with you that with iTunes and all of the downloads I've built up over the years, it would be cool. If Apple was smart, they would get into distributing 4K content, a little like the Sony 4K media player. If iTunes was offering 4K content through iTunes, I would also pay an 'upgrade fee' to convert my collection to UHD. Apple - are you listening? biggrin.gif
Perhaps it makes me a contrarian but I would love nothing more than to turn that piece of hardware into an ultimate Windows machine. I do everything in Windows 8, I actually like it.
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post #6 of 99 Old 06-13-2013, 02:36 PM
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For HTPC it wouldn't do any better than $500 Windows machine.
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post #7 of 99 Old 06-13-2013, 02:39 PM
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Originally Posted by VinnyS View Post

I hear ya. It would be cool. But then again, the whole point of getting a Mac is to stay away from MS Windows as it's a magnet for problems.

If you purpose a Windows box to do one thing well and don't mess around with it you won't have issues. My 2.0 and HTPC are ran without even so much as anti-virus. I set them up, turn off all the OS B.S. (Windows Updating Automatically, Flash updating automatically etc...) and they simply run.
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post #8 of 99 Old 06-13-2013, 02:52 PM
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the thermal core is quite interesting on this thing. I dont expect it to take long before a modder tries to connect some sort of waterblock to it with an external radiator to try and keep it running cooling and overclock the components....However, I think you have to install windows in order to do that. I dont know if apple allows you to mess with the BIOS at all.

One of the advantages for the old Mac Pro though was that you could replace the GPU which is yet to be seen if that will be a possibility for this one.

It is certainly an interesting design.

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post #9 of 99 Old 06-13-2013, 02:55 PM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Jinjuku View Post

For HTPC it wouldn't do any better than $500 Windows machine.

I beg to differ. I have a $1200 windows machine—a recent build—and it's not going to come anywhere remotely close to that level of performance. Remember, we're on the cusp of 4K. For 4K gaming, channeling all that GPU goodness into one Thunderbolt 2-connected 4K display is a dream.

12-core Xeon = $750 retail BTW. The competing, hypothetical DIY PC is already over-budget on the CPU alone.

I built my own PC. I can appreciate how much performance can be bought for the money. The new Mac Pro is a compact, well engineered luxury product. That's the appeal. Plus there's always the option of running Mac OS, I'm sure Apple will continue to expand and improve their online multimedia ecosystem.

If the goal is to save money, a DIY PC is still a great route. The Mac Pro has other charms that may or may not be worth the price, depending on the user.

Ultimately, acting as a HTPC is only one of the numerous tasks I would assign to such a computer, as is the case with my current desktop.

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post #10 of 99 Old 06-13-2013, 03:10 PM
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Ultimately, acting as a HTPC is only one of the numerous tasks I would assign to such a computer, as is the case with my current desktop.

The title of the thread is HTPC. In my mind it's a Home Theater PC. Uber gaming isn't included in that. Watching a movie, music listening, Netflix/Hulu/Pandora/Vudu etc. In this case it isn't any better than a $500 machine. New video formats will most likely be supported by the GPU. My lowly Sempron 140 CPU with a good Radeon card handles 1080P no problems.
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post #11 of 99 Old 06-13-2013, 03:23 PM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Jinjuku View Post

The title of the thread is HTPC. In my mind it's a Home Theater PC. Uber gaming isn't included in that. Watching a movie, music listening, Netflix/Hulu/Pandora/Vudu etc. In this case it isn't any better than a $500 machine. New video formats will most likely be supported by the GPU. My lowly Sempron 140 CPU with a good Radeon card handles 1080P no problems.

No sir, the title of the thread is "The New Mac Pro: The Ultimate Multimedia Machine" At the end of the post, I posed the question if it was also the ultimate HTPC. Also, as I mentioned before, part of the attraction is the 4K capability, unrestrained by the current limitations of HDMI.

Decent 1080p is achievable for $50 with a STB or Blu-ray player these days, or with a $300 laptop. 2160/30p will be a part of the next-generation consoles, which cost $399-499. That's not what I'm talking about when I say "ultimate."

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post #12 of 99 Old 06-13-2013, 03:26 PM
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Originally Posted by Jinjuku View Post

For HTPC it wouldn't do any better than $500 Windows machine.

LOL good one man
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Originally Posted by Kimeran View Post

the thermal core is quite interesting on this thing. I dont expect it to take long before a modder tries to connect some sort of waterblock to it with an external radiator to try and keep it running cooling and overclock the components....However, I think you have to install windows in order to do that. I dont know if apple allows you to mess with the BIOS at all.

There's no BIOS to change settings, its UEFI and has been for years. I dont know of any Mac's in the last decade that you have been able to mess with settings to change processor frequency.
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post #14 of 99 Old 06-13-2013, 03:44 PM
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LOL good one man

500$ may be a bit low but he has a point. you don't need anywhere near the power of the macpro to act as a HTPC. nor do you need 2 cad lvl gfx cards. Small Mini and Micro ATX cases exist and you can easily build a very powerful HTPC for under a grand. also the mac pro lacks pretty much any expansion capability. no room for a TV turner or extra HDDs. everything has to be connect externally. pretty much defeating the small form factor.

also a round trashcan looking enclosure wont fit in most racks and wont fit in most AV cabnets

even as a "multimedia machine" its overkill in every aspect
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post #15 of 99 Old 06-13-2013, 03:45 PM
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Originally Posted by Jinjuku View Post

[The title of the thread is HTPC. In my mind it's a Home Theater PC. Uber gaming isn't included in that. Watching a movie, music listening, Netflix/Hulu/Pandora/Vudu etc. In this case it isn't any better than a $500 machine. New video formats will most likely be supported by the GPU. My lowly Sempron 140 CPU with a good Radeon card handles 1080P no problems.

For that stuff, all one needs is a $100 AppleTV and one's current MacBook.
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post #16 of 99 Old 06-13-2013, 03:50 PM - Thread Starter
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500$ may be a bit low but he has a point. you don't need anywhere near the power of the macpro to act as a HTPC. nor do you need 2 cad lvl gfx cards. Small Mini and Micro ATX cases exist and you can easily build a very powerful HTPC for under a grand. also the mac pro lacks pretty much any expansion capability. no room for a TV turner or extra HDDs. everything has to be connect externally. pretty much defeating the small form factor.

also a round trashcan looking enclosure wont fit in most racks and wont fit in most AV cabnets

even as a "multimedia machine" its overkill in every aspect

Overkill = "Ultimate"... just sayin'—even though I agree with you in principle. As noted, I have a powerful DIY PC. That doesn't make the Mac Pro any less impressive in my eyes. All that horsepower cooled by one fan is pretty awesome IMO, and might make up for the awkward form factor. To me, it's the sort of thing I'd want to showcase, not hide. Like a high-end amp or turntable.

Personally, I can justify it because I do creative work on my system and I use my HDTV as the main monitor. I think computing power has reached a threshold where a machine like that would last me for years, so even if the price is premium I'm cool with that.

Again, I love the PC platform—I have a liquid-cooled, overclocked CPU— and I really enjoyed building my last few PCs, but the Mac Pro wins me over with it's hyper-engineered chassis and forward-looking components. But again, I make my living with Adobe software, so I'm also in the actual target market for a machine like this. But in a world where people have the option of buying $15,000-30,000 84" UHDTVs, where one can drop two grand on an Onkyo, or $350 on a pair of "Beats" headphones... and where there are speaker cables that cost as much as a car, using a Mac Pro to run a home theater—and much more—is going to wind up seeming like a relative bargain to some people.

I'm sure a new Mac Mini will follow, that will be suitable for home theater without being excessive, or "ultimate."

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post #17 of 99 Old 06-13-2013, 03:51 PM
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Assuming the 4k monitor is decent. I may have found my future teleradiology machine.
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post #18 of 99 Old 06-13-2013, 05:16 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by imagic View Post

No sir, the title of the thread is "The New Mac Pro: The Ultimate Multimedia Machine" At the end of the post, I posed the question if it was also the ultimate HTPC. Also, as I mentioned before, part of the attraction is the 4K capability, unrestrained by the current limitations of HDMI.

Decent 1080p is achievable for $50 with a STB or Blu-ray player these days, or with a $300 laptop. 2160/30p will be a part of the next-generation consoles, which cost $399-499. That's not what I'm talking about when I say "ultimate."

The read from the first paragraph is " very quiet choice for home theater use". I'll have to stick with that context. Back in the day when I was still doing Amiga installation, multi-media was typically meaning a machine that could handle all sorts of display and sound integration. While I'm in agreement that it's an awesome MM machine, also CAD, and render-ops...

It's over kill for HTPC use HT being mentioned for it's use. Just saying there are much more, just as quiet, economical machines out there that for 1080P and Audio will do just as well. I would love to own one personally.

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post #19 of 99 Old 06-13-2013, 05:17 PM
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Originally Posted by volta View Post

LOL good one man

In the context of the title article I can backup my point of view. The question is can you backup your unstated/read between the lines response to me?

*BTW I own an i5 Mac Mini with 8GB RAM and 512GB SSD after market. Love it.

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post #20 of 99 Old 06-13-2013, 05:22 PM
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Originally Posted by DS-21 View Post

For that stuff, all one needs is a $100 AppleTV and one's current MacBook.

Can you do cable card and OTA with the Apple TV?

MCE + MyMovies plug-in:

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post #21 of 99 Old 06-13-2013, 06:09 PM
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Unless you really need that form factor, which admittedly is awesome, you are wasting money here.

For one, I would wait till the new hdmi 2.0 spec is sorted and is included on the graphics cards. Who knows if thunderbolt is going to play nice with anything but monitors, and one look at those custom GPU's screams "non-upgradeable".

Two, you can buy more gpu horsepower right now than what is in the Mac Pro, and you wouldn't have to pay the premium for firepro cards which are way more expensive than Radeon cards. Radeon cards will give you the same rendering power for video at consumer prices, not pro prices and pro support.

Third, Xeon processor is going to be gross overkill and again is a server/pro solution.



Would it be a great HTPC today? Of course.

Is it optimal? I would say no unless you crave massive power in the tiniest footprint possible.

Is it cost effective? No. You're paying an extreme premium for pro/server level components and support to watch movies. Build one yourself with consumer parts if you want comparable performance for 1/4 the cost.
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post #22 of 99 Old 06-13-2013, 06:19 PM - Thread Starter
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Unless you really need that form factor, which admittedly is awesome, you are wasting money here.

For one, I would wait till the new hdmi 2.0 spec is sorted and is included on the graphics cards. Who knows if thunderbolt is going to play nice with anything but monitors, and one look at those custom GPU's screams "non-upgradeable".

Two, you can buy more gpu horsepower right now than what is in the Mac Pro, and you wouldn't have to pay the premium for firepro cards which are way more expensive than Radeon cards. Radeon cards will give you the same rendering power for video at consumer prices, not pro prices and pro support.

Third, Xeon processor is going to be gross overkill and again is a server/pro solution.



Would it be a great HTPC today? Of course.

Is it optimal? I would say no unless you crave massive power in the tiniest footprint possible.

Is it cost effective? No. You're paying an extreme premium for pro/server level components and support to watch movies. Build one yourself with consumer parts if you want comparable performance for 1/4 the cost.

Although I do expect it to be expensive, I hasten to point out that we don't know the price yet. And the key word here is still "ultimate," being an actual Mac is part of that.

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post #23 of 99 Old 06-13-2013, 06:50 PM
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Originally Posted by imagic View Post

Although I do expect it to be expensive, I hasten to point out that we don't know the price yet. And the key word here is still "ultimate," being an actual Mac is part of that.

Hmm, I would argue that Windows is the "ultimate" OS for media playback. While the universal heatsink is a nice design, lets not act like the Intel and AMD components inside can't be had elsewhere.

I think this is as "ultimate" as it gets right now:








https://steigerdynamics.com/
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post #24 of 99 Old 06-13-2013, 07:22 PM - Thread Starter
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Hmm, I would argue that Windows is the "ultimate" OS for media playback. While the universal heatsink is a nice design, lets not act like the Intel and AMD components inside can't be had elsewhere.

I think this is as "ultimate" as it gets right now:








https://steigerdynamics.com/

That's hot! Love how the slogan is "Revolutionizing the Living Room," and yet some are questioning the value of a super-powerful—yet quiet—computer in such a context. It looks like the price points will be similar.

Yes, they are Intel and AMD parts. That's why the Mac Pro will be able to run Windows. I never said anything different. Those are pricey components, I don't even foresee the Mac Pro's cost being much different from an equivalent PC.

As noted, I am a Windows user, and a DIY PC builder. No argument from me, Windows is a tremendous platform for multimedia. I would still gladly run Windows on the new Mac Pro.

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post #25 of 99 Old 06-13-2013, 07:24 PM
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No mention of 3D capability. A Ultimate Multimedia Machine is definitely a misnomer if the Mac Pro will continue to neglect 3D media support.
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post #26 of 99 Old 06-13-2013, 07:31 PM - Thread Starter
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No mention of 3D capability. A Ultimate Multimedia Machine is definitely a misnomer if the Mac Pro will continue to neglect 3D media support.

How's that? It's a PC. Run Windows and PowerDVD 13. Problem solved.

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post #27 of 99 Old 06-13-2013, 07:34 PM
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Originally Posted by emcdade View Post

Hmm, I would argue that Windows is the "ultimate" OS for media playback. While the universal heatsink is a nice design, lets not act like the Intel and AMD components inside can't be had elsewhere.

I think this is as "ultimate" as it gets right now:








https://steigerdynamics.com/

I just died a little from not having this in my house... It's freaking gorgeous! I will leave the R2D2 looking thing to you Mac guys and take one of these.

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post #28 of 99 Old 06-13-2013, 07:35 PM
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Originally Posted by Sibuna View Post

500$ may be a bit low but he has a point.

Thanks, Sometimes someone else is needed to point out I'm stating an obvious thing. I think you can do it for $500 if you are savvy because I've done it. Starting to feel like Polk Audio forum all over again.

An audiophile likes to talk about how much they spent and how good it sounds.

A DIY'er likes to talk about how little they spent and how good it sounds.

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post #29 of 99 Old 06-13-2013, 07:36 PM
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Originally Posted by imagic View Post

How's that? It's a PC. Run Windows and PowerDVD 13. Problem solved.
No Mac to date has 3D support capability for PowerDVD 13 or any other media program. It should be mentioned for future possibilities if capable.
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post #30 of 99 Old 06-13-2013, 07:37 PM
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This is a Mac Pro turned inside out. There is nothing much internally expandable beyond RAM and switching out the PCIe card drive for a larger one. Everything is on the outside now.

As for HTPC use - while it may be overkill for video the two issues that remain are - ability to properly handle true frames per sec 23.9xx and what has plagued all Macs in the past - no ability to (thanks to OSX) pass through or decode natively HD audio. At best one can use apps that use the core audio only (example DTS-Master outputs only regular DTS). This is a big deal for those that want to use this as a top of the line HTPC. The only way around it would be to load the Mac Pro with either Linux or Windows which both can provide HD audio.

This new Mac Pro is interesting looking and very powerful in connectivity. The single fan spells trouble if it should fail as several internals would be subject to over heating and possibly cease to function. Hopefully, the OS along with hardware will give the end user a good set of tools to check the "health" of this Mac Pro. We shall see.

In the meanwhile, I'll sit back and continue using my Mac Mini until this Mac Pro arrives and then decide whether to get it or the traditional Mac Pro.
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