Finally stepped into the mac pro club yesterday! This thing is freakin' gorgeous and I can't touch the 8-cores. VM of windows 7, handbraking, ripping with RipIt, and watching Dexter in HD all at once and I was only at 70%! Holy freakin' crap. Anyways, I think I've noticed that the optical drive is the bottleneck for my handbraking. I can't seem to get handbrake to use more than 30% of the CPU, though one movie got it up to 40%. I know the HDD speed will play a factor, but I think the machine in it's current state can do better. So should I look at getting a new drive (if so, which one is best), or should I attempt to flash this drive? Finally - I just wanted to say thanks to all you guys. The Macrumors forums have been an amazing resource for all questions I could have for mac. For every question I have to post here, there's five I found by using the search function. Unfortunately I couldn't find these exact questions with the search. Thanks so much, guys. All your enthusiasm put me over the edge on getting one of these and I'm super happy with it!