Mac Pro: Initial Impressions

We declare that the splendor of the world has been enriched by a new beauty: the beauty of speed.– The Futurist Manifesto. F. T. Marinetti, 1909.

After processing a small set up RAW files with the new computer last night, I'm left with one overriding impression: speed. Between the quad 2.66GHz processors and the 9GB RAM, the new setup delivers on nearly all my expectations with regard to performance.My biggest concern with the new computer was the performance of Nikon RAW converter, Nikon Capture, which has been plagued by slow performance throughout its version history.Even in its latest incarnation, while an improvement, received many complaints for its slow performance against programs like Adobe Lightroom or Camera Raw.

I'm tremendously pleased to say that even Capture NX performs very responsively with the new Mac Pro. Files open immediately and changes to the image are made in near-real-time. File saving performance is particularly improved on the new system: NEFs save in a few seconds, and JPGs save in less than half a second. Once a pain to use, Capture NX is now 100% usable in terms of speed. If the new computer magically improved the UI, I'd be set.

Similarly, the speed increases seen in Adobe Photoshop CS are very welcome, if less dramatic. No more watch icon: effects are produced and things just happen. Nice.

Aside from increases in performance over my old setup, the dual 23″ screens are a huge change from the modest 17″ Apple display I've been using. With a large increase in real estate, turning my head to see scan all of the open windows is something to which I'll have to adjust.

Compared to my workstation at the office, which sports the same processor set, the additional 6GB of RAM definitely seems to make the performance just a little smoother overall. I doubt I'll be itching to bump up the RAM anytime soon, but there are two free slots should I feel the need.

Aside from a bug in OS X 10.4.10 that is causing trouble with USB storage devices, everything on the new machine is running well.

I'll be reporting back once I've had some more time with the new setup, but at first blush, I'm excited about the increase in efficiency this computer will mean in my digital photography workflow.