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BARE FEATS

Rob-ART, Main Mad Scientist
Bet-TAY, Special Features Editor


* Other World Computing has a 6Gb/s Solid State Drive that screams.
*
Trans International has new quad-port ProStor enclosures for both desktop and notebook SATA drives.

ARCHIVED QUICK TAKES

January 24th, 2012 -- It's a shame the latest Macs don't have at least one USB 3.0 port. The Kingston HyperX DataTraveler 'thumb' drive clocked 242MB/s READ and 117MB/s WRITE when we plugged it into the CalDigit USB 3.0 ExpressCard/34 we had installed in a 'late 2011' MacBook Pro. Plug it into a USB 2.0 port and the speeds drop to 30MB/s. See what we are missing?

December 24th, 2011 -- We're busy working on a "screaming dual bay notebook enclosure" article. We're using 6Gb/s SSDs and fast 6Gb/s host adapters to squeeze out maximum speed. One discovery is that sync SSDs can do Finder Duplicate of a larger folder of files 80% faster than lower priced async SSDs. We'll give you details soon.

November 30th, 2011 -- Seagate is shipping the second generation Momentus XT 750 GB 7200RPM SATA 6Gb/s 32 MB Cache 2.5 Inch Solid State Hybrid Drive ST750LX003. We will soon post a shootout comparing it to the first generation Momentus XT Solid State Hybrid Drive as well as to "normal" HDDs and 6Gb/s SSDs. If you can't wait, you can order yours now from Amazon or NewEgg.

November 19th, 2011 -- A reviewer commented on the jerky/sluggish graphics of the Kindle Fire. I did a little research. Turns out the Kindle Fire uses the same graphics processor (PowerVR SGX540) as the new Droid Razr and new Galaxy Nexus smart phones. Anandtech posted a GLBenchmark graph that shows the iPhone 4S and iPad 2 'smoking' the Razr and Galaxy. If the Fire had been included, it would have been smoked as well.

October 24th, 2011 -- Apple "speed bumped" the top models of MacBook Pro from 2.3GHz to 2.5GHz Core i7 CPU, went from a Radeon HD 6750 to 6770 GPU, and added a 7200rpm 750GB HDD option.

September 19th, 2011 -- The Apple Store USA is taking orders on the LaCie Little Big Disk Thunderbolt (dual HDD version). To get the fastest data transfer speed requires the dual 3G SSD version which should appear sometime in October. NOTE: LaCie lists the SSD version's read speed at 480MB/s and write speed at 245MB/s. Slashgear observed two LBDs daisy-chained clocking 827MB/s read and 353MB/s write. In both cases the write speed is much lower than read speed whereas the Promise Pegasus X4 Thunderbolt enclosure's write speeds are faster than the read speeds. Hmmm.

Meanwhile, you can enter a contest to win a free LaCie LBD Thunderbolt enclosure.

September 16th, 2011 -- Though it is not mentioned in the description, the MacBook Pro EFI Firmware Update 2.2 fixes the 6G SSD "slow and erratic" read behavior we observed in the 2011 17" MacBook Pro. We have an OWC 6G/s SSD running fast and stable inside our 17" 2011 MacBook Pro. Our tests show data transfers twice as fast as the Apple (Toshiba) factory 3G/s SSD.

September 14th, 2011 -- After the EFI Firmware Update 2.1 on the 2011 MacBook Air, we repeated our Target Disk Mode tests. The large document Finder copy measured 109MB/s. The QuickBench large block transfer test measured 117MB/s READ and 67MB/s WRITE. That's a 68% - 89% improvement over our July Target Disk Mode results, but still much slower than the full speed of the internal flash storage of the MacBook Air (270MB/s).

August 26th, 2011 -- Razer unveiled the "first true gaming laptop," the Blade. It features a 2.8GHz Core i7 2640M processor and GeForce GT 555M GPU. I'd like to have that GPU in the top MacBook Pro and iMac.

August 19th, 2011 -- Today HighPoint introduced RocketU Quad, a 4-lane, 4-port USB 3.0 host adapter. It supports various RAID modes and offers throughput of up to 2000MB/s -- or twice that of Thunderbolt. Hmm, I feel a shootout coming on...

July 4th, 2011 -- Thunderbolt Target Disk mode runs at one-tenth the speed of Thunderbolt enclosure in our testing. Why? External enclosures use OS X with multi-threading and multi-block DMA transfers. Target mode uses EFI -- no multi-threading, etc.

June 25, 2011 -- MacWorld UK sampled LaCie's LBD Thunderbolt dual drive RAID enclosure. Using Kona System Test, they observed 836MB/s read and 353MB/s write on a 2011 MacBook Pro's Thunderbolt port. (Correction: According to a video posted on SlashGear, it took two LBD Thunderbolt enclosures with four SSDs total to achieve 800+MB/s.)

June 22nd, 2011 -- ALERT: See the list of GPUs NOT compatible with Final Cut Pro X.

June 22nd, 2011 -- Today Hitachi GST announced the G-Connect, a wireless storage device for iPads and iPhones.

May 16th, 2011 -- THE SCOOP: Download Silverado's White Paper on Final Cut Pro X explaining how it utilizes memory, CPU cores, and OpenCL GPUs as never before.

April 26th, 2011 -- Saddleback Leather Company has a nice leather sleeve that provides added protection to the iPad 2 even with the Smart Cover still attached.

April 20th, 2011 -- FirmTek announced a 6Gb/s ExpressCard/34 for MacBook Pro 17" (380MB/s). If you have a 2011 MacBook Pro, you can boot OS X from the drives attached to it.

April 12th, 2011 -- Adobe is taking preorders for Adobe Creative Suite 5.5 which now supports HTML5. The Web Premium Suite supposedly enables you to create apps for the iPad and iPhone.

March 1st, 2011 -- NEWS FLASH: It's been confirmed that the internal SATA port on the 2011 MacBook Pro is 6 gigabit. One reader installed a Crucial C300 and got 362MB/s average read speed for large sequential transfers. We're looking forward to testing the Intel 6Gb/s 510 SSD and OCZ 6Gb/s Vertex 3 which should be even faster.

February 23rd, 2011 -- OCZ RevoDrive X2 PCIe based SSD -- 617MB/s READ and 619MB/s WRITE on our Mac Pro running Windows 7.

February 3rd, 2011 -- Our testing confirmed that Verizon iPhone has wider 3G coverage, but AT&T iPhone has faster 3G -- IF you have a strong connection.

January 5th, 2011 -- Verizon's Pantech UML290 4G USB modem works on OS X without drivers. We measured 20Mbps down and 8MB/s up. The LG VL600 4G USB modem has no Mac drivers yet, though we got it to work under Windows using Parallels 6 for Mac.

November 19th, 2010 -- Why is 3Gb/s SATA faster than 5Gb/s USB 3.0? And what can be done to "fix" USB 3.0 adapters to go faster? Read the "COUNTERPOINT" by Chris Karr of Western Digital.

November 17th, 2010 -- NEWS UPDATE: The Quadro 4000 for Mac has twice the VRAM at twice the cost of the Radeon HD 5870 kit. But is it twice as fast? Stay tuned for the answer.

2010 November 16th, 2010 -- NVIDIA announced the Quadro 4000 for Mac today. Apparently the drivers are included in OS X 10.6.5.

November 13th, 2010 -- Radeon HD 5870 kit status became "Ships: Within 24hrs" on November 12th, 2010, on Apple Store USA.

November 11th, 2010 -- NEWS FLASH: The OS X 10.6.5 ATI driver fixes the WoW problem where the Radeon 5770 and 5870 can only select "FAIR" quality. Now it lets you select all quality settings.

October 28th, 2010 -- We found a clever USB powered keyboard illuminator for the 2010 MacBook Air's keyboard and standard Apple keyboard -- both of which lack backlighting. It's the Logiix USB Flex Lamp with red LEDs. It's pricer than some LED flex lamps, but the red LEDs are less harsh than the white LEDs some flex lamps use. And the 10 LEDs are spread out on a tube so the light distributes better to the whole keyboard.

Silverado is offering BF readers a $500 discount on the Stardom 8-bay SAS enclosure. Enter "BFRAID" coupon code. They also have 20% off on the 2.26GHz 8-core Mac Pro.

October 11th, 2010 -- Frustrated by the short length of the Apple LED Cinema display Mini DisplayPort and USB cables? I found several sources. My favorite is the combo cable in 10 foot and 15 foot lengths from Gefen. I'm using two 15 footers in our lab to connect two 27" LED Cinemas to the 2010 Mac Pro.

October 5th, 2010 -- For less that the price of one 256G SSD, you can buy two 10K 600G Velociraptor HDDs. If you stripe them (RAID 0), you get the same sustained transfer speed as the SSD. But, alas, the SSD can process 14 times as many small random transfer requests per second. Then again, considering you are getting 5 times the storage of the SSD and 3 times the transactions per second of the fastest 7K HDD, it's is an interesting option for a boot volume.

October 2nd, 2010 -- Do three displays on a Radeon 5870 result in a performance hit? Now we have two 27" LED (2560x1440) and one 30" Cinema (2560x1600) running on one Radeon HD 5870. Motion RAM Preview runs 5% slower. If you enable Anti-Aliasing in X-Plane at 2560x1440, it slows by 6% going from one to three hi-rez displays. Try it at 2560x1600 and the screen goes white. Simple solution for gamers: use lower rez or unplug one of the three displays.

September 28th, 2010 -- In 2011, Apple's iPad will face three competing pads. The latest to be announced is the Blackberry PlayBook. Gizmodo has a four way comparison chart that you should check out.

September 18th, 2010 -- USB 3.0 Shocker: The Caldigit AV Drive connected to their USB 3.0 PCIe host adapter is producing 150MB/s transfer speeds for a single 7K HDD. Also surprising is the FireWire 800 write speed of 85MB/s which beats any other FW800 enclosure we have tested -- none of which attained more than 60MB/s.

September 8th, 2010 (Updated) -- The Radeon 5770 and 5870 support three displays on all models of Mac Pro from 2006-2010. Through experimentation and advice from "Pegasusrjf," I got three displays to work simultaneously with this setup:
1. 23" Cinema or 30" Cinema on the DVI port
2. 23" Cinema with MDP to dual-link DVI adapter* to first MDP port
3. 24" LED Cinema with direct MDP connection to second MDP port

On some occasions after powering up, only one display would light up. But when I would pull out one of the Mini DisplayPort cables, then two would light up. Plug it back in and now three were lit. So there is still some "ooga booga" with multi-display support.

(* The "plain" DVI to MDP adapter is adequate if only two displays are connected. For more on this issue, see Apple Tech Note HT4279.)

August 31st, 2010 -- FirmTek announced a 6 gigabit host adapter with two eSATA ports, Port Multiplier support, and S.M.A.R.T. support.

August 6th, 2010 -- Wish USB 3.0 drives worked on the Mac? Wish no more. Caldigit will soon ship a USB 3.0 drive that works on the Mac Pro and MacBook Pro using a special host adapter. Stay tuned for a full report.

July 27th, 2010 -- The iMac received some key upgrades this week. My favorite upgrade is the GPU. You get a Radeon HD 5750 with 1GB of GDDR5 video memory in the top model. See our 3D Game results at the native 2560x1440.

July 11th, 2010 -- Mac Performance Guide declares the WD RE4 2TB (WDGWD2003FYYS) to be the fastest 7K SATA drive tested to date. We recently re-tested the WD Caviar Black 2TB drive (WD2001FASS) and found it to be equally fast.

May 12th, 2010 -- Google and Verizon are reportedly working on an iPad-like product. Having played with various Android based smart phones, it would not be hard to create a competing product to the iPad.

April 12th, 2010 -- Wish your iPad had a camera? There is an app called "Camera for iPad" that turns your iPhone into a Bluetooth slave camera controlled by your iPad.

February 21st, 2010 -- Apple Store USA lists the ATI Radeon HD 4870 Graphics Upgrade Kit as being for the "Early 2009 or Early 2008 Mac Pro." But I assure you it also works on the Mac Pro 2006-2007 if you run Snow Leopard.

January 5th, 2010 -- Google's Nexus One (Android) phone has a few feature advantages over the iPhone 3GS such slightly larger screen with higher resolution (480x800), faster processor (1GHz vs 600MHz), multi-tasking, and 5MP camera with LED flash.

November 22nd, 2009 -- We recommend "RedLaser," an iPhone app which scans barcode and then looks up prices at various resellers. We scanned the Crucial SSD M225 256G box. RedLaser found 31 sources ranging from $667 to $881. BTW, AlwaysLowest and NewEgg had the lowest price.

August 12th, 2009 -- Crucial now has a 256G SSD (M225) with an MSRP of $599. That beats the generic OCZ Vertex by $100 and the Mac Edition by almost $200. We tested a sample which matches the impressive speed of the OCZ Vertex we tested. We plan to use it for "long term testing" in our 17" Unibody MacBook Pro. TransIntl.com has it listed at $588.

July 27th, 2009 - Western Digital announced a one terabyte notebook drive WDMET10000TN but initially it will only be available in a USB 2.0 enclosure. Also be aware that it has a low rotation speed (5200rpm) and is 12.5mm thick (which means it may NOT fit inside your MacBook or MacBook Pro).

April 2nd, 2009 (updated) -- Caution on GeForce 8800 GT in Nehalem: We've been trying all the different graphics cards in the Nehalem Mac Pro 8-core 2.93. I was puzzled when I installed the GeForce 8800 GT. The Core Image apps ran really great -- better than ever.

However, when shifted over to 3D games, I received a shock. It ran painfully slow. One third the speed of the GeForce 120 GT! We received a pre-release of a "repaired" driver that restores the GeForce 8800 GT to its former glory. See the results on our "eXtreme gaming" page.

March 26th, 2009 -- Silverado Systems is offering 8GB of RAM free to Bare Feats readers who buy a Nehalem Mac Pro.

March 9th, 2009 -- Diglloyd posted Performance Analysis of the 2.93GHz 17" MacBook Pro. Lloyd Chambers compares it to the 2.8GHz 15" MacBook Pro and 2.8GHz Mac Pro including some unique Photoshop benchmarks.

March 4th, 2009 -- MacTech compared Parallels Desktop for Mac with VMFusion. Find out which one does a better job creating a virtual PC in the Intel Mac.

March 4th, 2009 -- Mac Gamer is looking for writers. If you are an avid gamer and like to write about it, this just might be your cup of tea.

March 3rd, 2009 -- Radeon 4870 appears to be available soon in kit form. We were hoping it to be true when we saw the 4870 was a CTO option for the new "Nehalem" Mac Pro. A reader sent this link that shows it "currently unavailable" on the Apple USA store but the Apple Canada store shows it available for ordering at $419 with 5 to 7 week shipping. It is stated to be compatible with the "early 2008" and "early 2009" Mac Pro and requires OS X 10.5.7.

February 27th, 2009 -- AMUG posted an excellent review of the HighPoint RocketRAID 4322 SAS/SATA RAID PCIe adapter with up to 16 drives.

January 5th, 2009 -- Visit Wiebetech's website to read about the RTX400-QR four-bay quad-interface enclosure. Then enter their photo contest to win one.

December 31st, 2008 -- Torrey Loomis of Silverado Systems posted some interesting predictions regarding the next generation Mac Pro that is likely to be announced in January 2009.

December 17th, 2008 (updated) -- Leopard 10.5.6 does some graphics faster. The first thing we tried was the Motion RAM Preview of the HD "Blocks Detail" template which rendered so slow on the GeForce under 10.5.5. After the update, it renders 38% faster on the MacBook Pro's GeForce 9600M GT and 48% faster on the Mac Pro's GeForce 8800 GT.

As for 3D games, we tested CoD4, ET:QW, Halo, WoW, and Prey on the Mac Pro 3.2 using two different graphics cards. No gains. As for the MacBook Pro 2.8, the only game that ran significantly faster was CoD4 (by 15%).

December 10th, 2008 -- "Slim Down and Speed Up Your Mac" is the title of an article by ComputerWorld.

December 3rd, 2008 (Update) -- The "Silverado Special Edition Mac Pro" at Silverado Systems is arguably the "world's fastest Mac" with 32GB of 800MHz RAM, triple Intel X25-M SSD boot volume, Velociraptor 10K data volume, Quadro FX 5600 GPU, Blu-ray drive, and SuperDrive. During December, get a special discount using coupon code "SSD_01_DISC."

November 29th, 2008 -- Lloyd Chambers has launched the "Mac Performance Guide" for Professional Photographers and Performance Addicts.

November 22nd, 2008 (Updated) -- OWC is out of stock on the "Apple OEM" Radeon HD 3870. It is a full length card with a double-wide heatsink (quiet fan), but lacks a CrossFire connector and only works on "early 2008" Mac Pros. The Retail Mac and PC Edition (still in stock at OWC) works on all models of Mac Pro, has a single-wide heatsink, and does have a CrossFire connector (for extreme Windows gaming).

November 6th, 2008 -- We've received benchmark data from a reader who installed an Intel X25-M drive in his 13" MacBook. Not only is he getting "killer" sustained READ speeds of over 260MB/s but his small random transactions per second are "off the hook." Too bad it only comes in 80GB size and costs over $600!

November 6th, 2008 -- We confirmed on a 'late 2008' MacBook that the USB 2.0 speedup extends to that series. Stay tuned for full test results on the 2.4GHz MacBook.

November 4th, 2008 -- We benchmarked Sonnet's Dual CompactFlash Card Reader ExpressCard/34 using the Lexar Professional UDMA 300X CF card. We transfered various file sizes from 2MB to 10MB. We averaged 40MB/s READ and 42MB/s WRITE. A full report will soon follow.

November 3rd, 2008 -- BARE FEED?
In case you didn't notice, we now have a BARE FEATS RSS FEED or "BARE FEED"

October 29th, 2008 -- 'Late 2008' MacBook Pro supports up to 6GB of RAM.
W
hen we put one 4G + one 2G module for a total of 6GB in our 2.8GHz MacBook Pro, it is happy as a clam. Everything runs fast and the full 6GB is accessible. And it releases the memory when you quit the app. Read our FULL REPORT.

October 28th, 2008 -- HardMac has done some interesting speed tests:
1. USB 2.0 vs FireWire 400/800 on the 'late 08' MBP. (READ OUR REPORT)
2. GLview benchmark which compares the speed of OpenGL 3D on the MBP GeForce 9400M vs 9600M GT (SEE OUR GLview results)

September 23rd, 2008 -- Adobe Photoshop CS4 should benefit from a fast GPU. According to the "top new features" page (and the product manager), CS4 uses the GPU to provide "smoother panning and zooming and fluid canvas rotation." If you use the extended version, the GPU helps with display and manipulation of 3D objects. Once we receive our copy, we will certainly be benchmarking those capabilities with various GPUs. (You can pre-order your upgrade or full version which will ship on October 14th.)

BTW, the CS4 version of Photoshop will not be 64 bit. However, the Windows version will be 64 bit. Adobe insists that the slight performance gain does not warrant a major rewrite of the code. Plus Mac OS X Leopard's ability to allocate additional memory cache beyond the 3GB limit negates the memory advantage of a 64 bit version.

September 19th, 2008 -- Four 15K.6 Cheetah SAS drives = 650MB/s! We can confirm with the help of the "world's fastest" SATA/SAS host adapter, the HighPoint RocketRAID 4320, that you can get TWICE the transfer of the Apple (Pro RAID card). Look for detailed report in a day or two. (Both the drives and adapter will be available from OWC.)

August 13th, 2008 -- Western Digital now lists a "backplane-ready" version of the Velociraptor on their website. Based on the 360 degree view, it appears you will be able to mount it on the Mac Pro standard sled and plug it into the motherboard connectors like a regular 3.5" SATA or SAS drive. However, we believe the bare version of the Velociraptor coupled with the MaxUpgrades offset sled and heatsink kit allows more air to move above and below the drive, allowing it to run cooler. We plan to back up this belief by sampling internal and external temps during heavy operation in the near future. (P.S. We expect OWC to carry all versions of the Velociraptor.)

July 31st, 2008 (Update) -- Our sources tell us that Western Digital is will soon ship a "bare" Velociraptor (model WD3000GLFS) as well as a version that plugs into the Mac Pro backplane (WD3000HLFS). We will post links once our preferred resellers have them in stock. Good to see WD respond to consumer criticism of their original design.

July 31st, 2008 -- Other World Computing now has the Radeon 3870 Mac & PC Edition in stock.

July 10th, 2008 -- July 9th, 2008 -- CalDigit's RAID card supports up to 16 drives. We are currently testing it with four internal drives. It's a full length card that connects to the built-in mini-SAS connector the same way the Apple Pro RAID card does and offers an optional battery backup. The RAID Shield software allows you to set up RAID 0, 1, 5, 6, 0+1, and JBOD arrays. It is significantly faster than the Apple Pro RAID card, however, it currently only supports SATA drives. Stay tuned for a full report.

June 13th, 2008 -- Highpoint RocketRAID 2640x4 sets new price/performance standard for SAS Host Adapters. Not only were we disappointed with the performance of Apple's Pro RAID card, but the prices was stiff at $800. The RR2640x4 is producing 50% faster transfer speeds with four internal SAS drives, thanks to the dual data channel, at one-fourth the price (under $200). It supports both SAS and SATA drives. Stay tuned for a full report.

May 30th, 2008 -- MaxUpgrades offers a SAS/SATA Link. If you want to connect your Mac Pro's internal drives to a third party SATA or SAS RAID host adapter like the HighPoint RR3522 or RR2640x4, then you'll need a data cable to mate them. Visit the MaxUpgrades site to see details on the MaxConnect SAS/SATA Link.

May 1st, 2008 -- Performance Analysis of new iMac. There are some significant improvements that should affects peformance:
1. Faster core speeds (up to 3.06GHz or 9% faster)
2. Faster frontside Bus speed (1066MHz or 33% faster)
3. Faster memory bus (800MHz or 20% faster)
4. Faster graphics processor option with more VRAM (Geforce 8800 GS)
We look forward to testing it and comparing it to the previously fastest iMac as well as to the Mac Pro.

April 25th, 2008 -- ATI Radeon HD 2600 XTs can be run in CrossFire mode on your "early 2008" Mac Pro. We jumpered two 2600s and booted up Vista 64 bit. It ran 3D Games like Prey, ETQW, and Unreal Tournament III twice as fast as a single 2600. However, the GeForce 8800 GT ran the same games 50% faster than the dual 2600s. And Crysis did not respond to CrossFire.

April 25th, 2008 (Update) -- Corsair Low Latency memory for Apple laptops. We completed our testing of Corsair CAS 4 vs CAS 5 memory. See our report to find out if it really makes your Mac go faster and find out who else offers CAS 4 memory.

April 17th, 2008 -- Compressor's virtual clustering now works right thanks to Pro Applications Update 2008-01. Some of you have asked how we got virtual clustering to work in our testing. We hesitated to answer because it would not always work as advertised. This update includes a Compressor 3.03 patch which appears to have fixed our problems. Now when we open the Apple Qmaster preference panel, we are able to select as many instances as we have cores.

April 15th, 2008 --- You can now order the "legacy" version of the GeForce 8800 GT in a kit form for 2006/2007 Mac Pro owners. When you visit the Apple Store USA, click on "Displays" in the left column and look for the Geforce 8800 GT labeled "1st Generation." Let me remind you that our testing has shown this to be a strong 3D OpenGL gaming card but a weak Pro App card (Motion, Aperture, FCP). We believe a Mac OS X compatible Radeon HD 3870 would perform better for Pro Apps. We are urging ATI/AMD to release such a card and will alert you if and when that happens.

February 27th, 2008 -- CRITIQUE of the new MacBook Pro announced yesterday: The new 45 nanometer processor is significant in that it draws less power and has the SSE4 vector engine that handles 128 bit computations in a single clock cycle. It also has a larger L2 cache (6MB vs 4MB). I was hoping to see a CTO option for the 2.8GHz Core 2 Extreme.

The increased GDDR3 memory from 256MB to 512MB should come in handy when running apps like Motion and Aperture. Too bad it's still a GeFore 8600M GT instead of being upgraded to an 8800M GTX or dual 8700M GT in SLI mode (a la Alienware Area-51).

The standard hard drive choices are good but I was hoping the new Hitachi 500GB 5400rpm Travelstar would be offered as an option. Even the WD 320GB Scorpio would be nice.

February 5th, 2008 -- Microsoft Word 2008 is a slow spellchecker. We have a 100 page test file with one misspelled word at the end. It takes 21 seconds to find on the Mac Pro 3.2GHz. It took 28 seconds to find on the MacBook Pro 2.4. It only takes 5 seconds to find with MS Word 2004.

When we open the 100 page file, it takes MS Word 2008 13 seconds to "process" it before we can go the last page. With MS Word 2004, we can go there instantly.

January 29th, 2008 (Updated) -- The Radeon X1900 XT works* on the new "2008" Mac Pro! Following a tip from a reader, we installed the X1900 in our 3.2GHz Mac Pro. It works like a charm. (See our updated benchmarks.)

(* One user reported that the Radeon X1900 XT did NOT work in his 2008 Mac Pro. We didn't do anything special to get it to work in our 2008 Mac Pro. However, we do recall running the firmware update back in October 2007 when it was installed in our 2007 8-core Mac Pro.)

January 17th, 2008 -- FireWire 800 on the new "2008" Harpertown Mac Pro is faster than on the 2006/2007 Mac Pro. We did a quick test with the LaCie Little Big Disk (dual 7K notebook drive RAID 0). On the 2006 Mac Pro, we get 55MB/s READ/WRITE. (100MB blocks, QuickBench) With the 2008 Mac Pro we get 75MB/s READ/WRITE!

We understand this gain is due to the fact that the FireWire interface is now on the PCI Express bus.

January 12th, 2008 (Updated) -- The GeForce 8800 GT comes in a kit but will *NOT* work with your old Mac Pro, as we first thought. It only works with the "Early 2008" Mac Pro.

WHY? The ROM only has a 64-bit EFI driver in its ROM. It could be made compatible with the older Mac Pros by putting both a 32-bit and 64-bit EFI driver in the GeForce 8800 GT's ROM -- assuming there's room for both. Otherwise, a special legacy version will have to be created by Apple or a third party.

If you still want to order the GeForce 8800 GT, go to the Apple Store USA and search on "MB137Z/A" to find the kit. The price is $349. If you are very unhappy about it not working on your "old" Mac Pro, then sign our petition asking Apple to create a version that will. We also suggest you give feedback to the Mac Pro folks at Apple.

By the way, the Radeon HD 2600 XT works on all Mac Pros. We tried it and can assure you it works in all our Mac Pros. Search on "MB198Z/A" when you visit Apple Store USA ($149).

December 27th, 2007 -- Solid State Disks are fast but pricey. In recent testing, they booted the OS and apps 4 times faster than a 10K Raptor. But a 64GB SSD runs $1500 and 128GB SSD costs $3000!

December 19th, 2007 -- We use the Belkin Laptop Cooling Stand and the Targus Notebook ChillHub under our MacBook Pros. The ChillHub dropped our 17" MacBook Pro's CPU dual core temp by 36 deg F and the GPU temp by 24 deg F. You can get the Belkin for $20 after rebate. The Targus ChillHub costs more but features dual fans and includes a 4 port USB 2.0 hub. We've seen it as low as $25 after discounts.

December 19th, 2007 -- Apple Did A "Silent" Upgrade On The MacBook Pros back on November 1st. You can now specify 2.6GHz instead of 2.4GHz on both 15" and 17" models. You can also specify a 200GB 7200rpm drive (instead of a 160GB 7200rpm drive). Cinebench 10 CPU render runs 8% faster on the 2.6GHz compared to the 2.4GHz which is right in line with the clock speed difference. We're holding out for the rumored Penryn based MacBook Pro.

November 15, 2007 -- Leopard speeds up gaming on the newest iMac! We reran our 3D accelerated game test suite after installing Leopard and iMac Software Update 1.3 on our Aluminum iMac 2.8GHz (24"). We used High Quality at 1920x1200. The frame rates improved as much as 18%, depending on the game.

Yet we're told there is work going on to squeeze even more speed out of the Radeon HD 2xxx GPU used in the newest iMacs. We'll report on that as soon as it happens.

November 1st, 2007 -- Performance Analysis of New 13" MacBooks: Glad to see the Santa Rosa chipset adopted which supports up to 4GB of RAM. The graphics processor has been upgraded to a GMA X3100, which is a dramatic architectural change from previous GMA 950, but it still lacks dedicated video memory. (See our INDEX of latest for GPU intensive test results.)

October 28th, 2007 -- Early Leopard Performance Measurements compared to Tiger: (This posting has been replaced by a "Shootout" article.)

October 27th, 2007 -- Leopard is in the Lab! We are in the process of performance related testing with the final release of Mac OS X "Leopard."

October 27th, 2007 -- The Bare Feats Lab survived the San Diego "Inferno." We are still running on backup generators connected to the lab and to the water well. Electricity restoration is at least two weeks away due to damage to power lines and power poles. At least the roads are now open so we can go get supplies and receive shipments. Our Verizon cell phones and Verizon broadband modems helped keep us in touch with the outside world during this past week. (The AT&T iPhone was useless during the whole ordeal -- no service since the fires started.) Thanks for keeping us in your prayers and thoughts.

October 17th, 2007 -- Have air card, will travel -- and share. If you want to share your Verizon and Sprint broadband modem with your colleague or wife or hotel roommate when on the road, there's a new travel router that gets the job done. It takes up very little space and even runs on batteries. Visit EVDOinfo to read all about it.

September 28th, 2007 (Update) -- Quick Analysis of NEW iPods
This posting has been replaced by our full analysis.

September 25th, 2007 -- FYI LINKS
Lloyd Chambers published a comparision of the Nikon D200 with the D2X
and
There are various utilities to recover songs and videos from your iPod (when they are accidentally deleted from your Mac). We like iPodCopy very much since it gets the name right and has a very friendly interface.
and
AppleMacanix.com has many hard to find Mac compatible graphics cards for sale on eBay

September 25th, 2007 -- My new favorite Mac mouse: the Razer Diamondback 3G (1800 dpi). It is flat black with a choice of green, red, or blue glowing LEDs. Works with the Mac drivers for the Razer Pro Click (1600 dpi) mouse that comes only in white. The Pro Click matches the Mac white keyboard color better but "attracts" finger prints on the grey buttons. (Hey, maybe Apple should release a black keyboard to match the Razer!) It certainly looks "right" with the aluminum clad MacBook Pro or black MacBook.

September 14th, 2007 -- The "Aluminum" iMac Update 1.1 installs a later version of the Radeon HD 2400/2600 driver (1.5.8.9 - build 4903), but it is NOT faster than Update 1.0's driver. See our detailed report called "SHOOTOUT: iMac Update 1.0 versus 1.1."

September 6th, 2007 -- Analysis of new iPod touch:
a) iPhone without the phone (for those unable or unwilling to switch to AT&T?)
b) iPod without the wheel; pinch and swipe is sexier
c) Bigger, wider screen than iPod classic, but one-tenth the storage and one-half the battery life for audio playback

Analysis of iPhone $200 price drop: What? How do you feel about the 33% price drop two months after the intro? Is it because the iPhone isn't selling as well as hoped? Is it because it costs less than $300 to build?

Whatever was Apple thinking? It was clearly a betrayal of the loyal early adopters to drop the price that much so soon after product launch. I'm thankful Steve listened to the overwhelming negative feedback and decided to at least offer a $100 store CREDIT to soothe our bruised feelings. A $100 REFUND would make things more right. A $200 REFUND would be even "righter."

September 3rd, 2007 -- USEFUL UTILITY: iToner enables you to use your tunes to as iPhone ringers. Very simple to use. Apple may start selling ringers on the iTunes Store, but I prefer using my existing tunes -- and supporting third party software developers.

September 1st, 2007 -- AMUG has an excellent review of the RocketRAID 2314MS. If you are interested in RAID 5 storage systems, this is a must read. We will be posting our own review on Monday, September 3rd.

August 9th, 2007 -- Analysis of the new iMac Aluminum: I'm happy to see the aluminum version of the iMac released. I never warmed up to the white plastic version. The CPU bump is welcome. So is the new ceiling of 4GB of RAM. The only concern is the performance of the Radeon HD 2600 Pro graphics processor. See our 3D Game Shootout with the new iMac.

July 17th, 2007 -- Quick Take on 250GB 5400rpm notebook drive. We finally got our hands on the Western Digital WD2500BEVS notebook drive. We will post full results soon but wanted you to know that the 200GB 7200rpm Hitachi notebook drive is 22% faster on large sustained transfers and 35% faster on small random transfers.

By the way, both Firewire 800 and SATA interfaces squeezed as much as 71MB/s out of the 200G 7K drive. But connected to the USB 2.0 interface on the MacBook Pro, it never achieved higher than 21MB/s.

July 17th, 2007 -- TransIntl announced today they are shipping their miniXpress825s "quad" interface enclosure for notebook drives. It can be connected to FireWire 800, FireWire 400, USB 2.0, and SATA ports. The FireWire 800 and SATA connection is the fastest -- achieving up to 71MB/s with the newest 7200rpm notebook drives. Though FW800 and FW400 run off bus power, the SATA and USB2 interfaces require an external A/C adapter, which is included. You can purchase the miniXpress825s empty or with a notebook drive pre-installed.

Wiebetech has a similar enclosure called the ToughTech XE mini.

July 5th, 2007 -- Adobe After Effects CS3 is shipping -- but it seems Adobe has taken out OpenGL from Mac version altogether. That means things like motion blur and shadows will NOT run under OpenGL on Mac.

June 29th, 2007 -- iPhone's EDGE Mobile Broadband really has no edge. Read our rebuttals to the 3 lame excuses given by Apple and AT&T for not supporting 3G.

June 20th, 2007 -- 4 Gigabyte FB-DIMMs for the Mac Pro are now available from Trans International. Now you can bump your Mac Pro's total memory to 32 Gigabytes! We tested these modules in our 8-core Mac Pro. Read our full report.

June 20th, 2007 -- MaxUpgrades has a new product called "max_flow" that keeps your Mac Pro memory cool. Tests show it lowers the temperature of your FM-DIMMs significantly without raising the noise level of your Mac Pro. Read more about it in our report.

June 11th, 2007 -- We were pleasantly surprised by the 17" MacBook Pro 2.4GHz "Santa Rosa." It ran 3D accelerated games as much as 11% faster than the 15" 2.4GHz model. That tells us that the GeForce 8600M GT graphics processor is clocking up higher in the 17" than in the 15" model, a phenom we observed in the late 2006 MacBook Pros. See our updated 3D gaming shootout.

June 8th, 2007 -- 13" MacBook benefits from matching 2GB pairs. Not only can you configure your MacBook up to 3GB of main memory, but if you use two 2GB SODIMMs, you get a slight speed advantage over unmatched 1GB + 2GB module configuration. Other World Computing has done extensive testing to demonstrate this.

June 7th, 2007 (Updated) -- The NEW MacBook Pro 2.4GHz: This is the "Santa Rosa" model we speed freaks have been expecting. The key performance enhancements include:
a) faster frontside bus (increased from 667MHz to 800MHz)
b) faster GPU (from Mobility Radeon X1600 to GeForce 8600M GT)
c) greater memory expansion (from 3GB to 4GB)
d) bigger 7200rpm hard drive (from 100GB to 160GB option)
See our 3D GAME page and CPU CRUNCHING page.

May 21st, 2007 -- HighPoint Technology has launched a "Mac only" website for their Mac Pro and Power Mac compatible SATA RAID host adapters. You might recall they are the first (and only) company shipping Mac compatible SATA host adapters with RAID 5 support at the card level.

May 16th, 2007 -- New MacBook 13" Performance Analysis
GOOD NEWS: Faster CPU cores, faster/bigger hard drive, more standard memory, and 802.11n support.
BAD NEWS: Still hamstrung with the slow Intel GMA 950 integrated graphics chip, no FireWire 800 support

May 5th, 2007 -- EV-DO Rev A update. For those of you following mobile broadband developments, we're very excited about the latest ones. Not only were we able to obtain the V740 Rev A ExpressCard/34 from Verizon for our MacBook Pro, but we just found out that the router we were using (Kyocera KR1) with our KPC650 now supports Rev A PC cards and USB modems -- thanks to the latest firmware update. Once we do the upgrade, we will move our USB based U720 Rev A modem from the Mac Pro to the KR1 router.

The big deal with "Rev A" is the increase of upload speed from 50Kbps to 400Kbps. We've recorded bursts as high as 800Kbps.

April 28th, 2007 -- The Quadro FX 4500 messes up in Maya 8.5. According to the Alias engineering support "qualified hardware" page, the FX 4500 (and GeForce 7300 GT) fails to render shadows properly in the Hardware Renderer and in the High Quality Viewport. However, there are no problems with the Radeon X1900 XT. The same is true for the Quad-Core G5 Power Mac. The only card without limitations is the Radeon X1900 XT "G5 Edition."

That's ironic when you consider that Apple promotes the FX 4500 as the "ideal choice for high-end scientific visualization."

April 23rd, 2007 -- Blu-ray optical drives are springing up from various sources. Other World Computing has a tray load external FireWire Blu-ray drive. MCE Technologies offers a tray load model that installs in the second optical bay of the Mac Pro. FastMac is offering a slot load model for various Mac laptops and desktops. One feature missing in all cases: the ability to play commercial Blu-ray HD movie discs. That support will not come until either OS X "Leopard" is released or Apple releases a special update of DVD Player that supports it.

April 12th, 2007 -- PC World published a review of the 1 Terabyte Hitachi Hard Drive. It tested fastest in 3 out of 5 tests they ran. Seagate promised to send us early samples of their 1 Terabyte drive, too. We hope to post a 1 Terabyte shootout between both drives in the near future.

April 3rd, 2007 -- HighPoint has added Port Multiplication support to their new RocketRAID 2314 SATA II RAID Host Adapter. Stay tuned for a report on it using a 10 drive RAID 5 set, which we expect to exceed 400MB/s even when the volume is full.

March 30th, 2007 -- Still have an original G3 iMac in operation? Give it a bargain boost with the $99 G4 upgrade from Daystar.

March 28, 2007 (Updated) -- Adobe Creative Suite 3 -- All or partly Universal Binary? Adobe's FAQ on CS3 states, "Many of the CS3 applications are universal binary..." That implies that not ALL of them are UB.

We've done some digging and confirmed that Photoshop CS3, Illustrator CS3, InDesign CS3, DreamWeaver CS3, Lightroom 1.0, Acrobat 8 Pro, Contribute CS3, Flash CS3 Pro, FireWorks CS3, Premiere Pro CS3, After Effects CS3 Pro, Encore CS3, and Soundbooth CS3 are either Universal Binary (run on both Intel and PPC Macs) or "Mac-Intel Native"(run only on Intel Macs). That latter term applies to CS3 apps (like Premiere and Soundbooth) that may be labeled "Universal" on the Adobe website but I can assure you they only run on Intel Macs.

March 28, 2007 -- Need an 802.11n Upgrade for your iMac or Mac mini? QuickerTEK has 801.11n upgrades for the Intel Mac mini, Intel iMac, and MacBook.

March 16th, 2007 -- If you have a MacBook Pro and plan to use Verizon's mobile broadband data network, you will want the V740 Rev A ExpressCard/34 being released on March 30th. Verizon is in the process of upgrading their 3G data network to "Rev A" which will increase upload speeds from 100Kbps to 400Kbps. The V740 takes advantage of this whereas the currently shipping V640 ExpressCard does not. (EVDOinfo.com gave us a heads up on this. Their 3GStore is offering it for $109.99, or $70 less than Verizon Wireless direct.)

If you have a 13" MacBook (with no ExpressCard slot), Verizon has a USB modem (U720) which is 3G Rev A rated. If you have a PowerBook with a PCMCIA (Cardbus) slot, the Verizon PC 5750 card is 3G Rev A rated.

March 14th, 2007 (Update) -- New 160GB 7200rpm Notebook Drives: Fujitsu has announced they will start shipping their new higher capacity 7200rpm 2.5" drive in second quarter 2007. Seagate announced on March 12th that their 7200rpm 160GB Serial ATA 3Gbps Momentus 7200.2 notebook drive (ST9160823AS) is available in the distribution channel. Expect the price of the 100GB version (ST910021AS) to drop like a rock.

Up until now, the biggest capacity 7200rpm notebook drive was 100GB. This new SATA drive should be of great interest to MacBook Pro owners as well as Mac mini owners. It will also sizzle in a SATA to FireWire 800 enclosure. We will be testing both drives in the near future.

March 2nd, 2007 -- iPhone can access internet via Wi-Fi, not just through Cingular's sluggish EDGE data network. The initial iPhone's mobile wireless internet protocol will be EDGE (2.5G). According to Cingular, that tops out at 135Kbits/s download speed. You won't be able to have the 700Kbps download speed of Cingular's broadband mobile UMTS/HSDPA (3G) data network.

When questioned about the lack of 3G support on February 28th, 2007, Apple's COO, Tim Cook, defended the decision to initially go with EDGE because "it's widely deployed." Cingular supports EDGE in 13,000 cities while their latest earnings report states they have UMTS/HSDPA (3G) in "165 (US) cities, including 73 of the top 100 markets." He went on to stress that if you are near a Hotspot, you can indeed use the built-in Wi-Fi 802.11b/g to connect to internet.

Yet don't be surprised, if Apple adds 3G support as early as January 2008. So you have to ask yourself, "Do I want to be locked into a 2 year contract with a 'non-3G' iPhone or a few months for the 3G iPhone?" For more on this, read our update to the iPhone analysis.

February 28th, 2007 (Update) -- Will the USB Mobile Broadband Modem (EV-DO Rev A) from Verizon and Sprint work on every Mac? Read our special report.

February 23rd, 2007 -- Lexar FireWire 800 CF Reader and 300X CF card beats the SanDisk Extreme IV combo, according to Rob Galbraith. You might recall we tested the SanDisk Extreme FireWire 800 Reader and Extreme IV CF card back in December 2006. We plan to do our own shootout between the newest Lexar combo and the SanDisk combo.

February 21st, 2007 -- NEW SLEEVE FOR MACBOOKS and MACBOOK PROS: MaxUpgrades has released the MaxProtect, an impact resistant sleeve.It is made of Visco-Elastic Memory Foam, which is designed to resist impact and shock.

If you need side pockets, our favorite is the Tucano Italian leather sleeve sold at your local Apple Retail Store as well as online. It's also available in nylon.

February 1st, 2007 -- Want to enable 802.11n? Apple is selling a piece of software for $1.99 that enables the 5X faster wireless protocol in Core 2 Duo Macs and Mac Pros with the AirPort Extreme option. The enabler is included when you purchase the new 802.11n rated AirPort Extreme Base Station.

January 5th, 2007 -- How about a twenty drive SATA RAID set on a Mac Pro? Read AMUG's article.

December 23rd, 2006 (Corrected) -- ExpressCard SATA bandwidth woes -- A reader wrote me about his frustration when connecting a four drive Port-Multiplication (PM) enclosure to an ExpressCard/34 SATA adapter installed on his MacBook Pro. Four drive RAID 0 benchmarked at 120MB/s. That was only slightly faster than two drives (90MB/s).

Though the theoretical bandwidth of an ExpressCard is 256MB/s, the current speed limit of all ExpressCards is about HALF of that when used with a RAID set no matter how many drives are connected. This is due to the fact that all current ExpressCard products use the Silicon Image 3132 chip set and, for some reason, that's as fast as it can go. Actually, the same is true of when the 3132 chipset is used in a PCIe SATA host adapter for the Mac Pro.

We ran a five bay PM enclosure (filled with Hitachi 7K500s) on our Mac Pro with a using the Sonnet E4P host adapter (based on a Marvell chipset). We got 240MB/s READ, 216MB/s WRITE. We moved the same enclosure to a MacBook Pro with an ExpressCard SATA host adapter (based on the Silicon Image 3132 chipset): 125MB/s READ, 111MB/s WRITE. Hopefully future improvements in the chipset and/or firmware will overcome this speed limit and MacBook Pro owners can experience true joy when they connect a four or five drive array to their ExpressCard.

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