Apple surprised the world when it previewed the new cylindrical Mac Pro at WWDC 2013, and now the other shoe has dropped. The company has just revealed that the tiny new desktop will start at $2,999 this December.
While Apple typically updates most of its products like clockwork, pushing out new iPhones, iPads, iPods and consumer-grade Macs every year, the Mac Pro design has lasted a decade. Steve Jobs originally introduced the 40-pound anodized aluminum "cheese grater" design in 2003 as the PowerMac G5. That computer came standard with just 80GB of storage and 256MB of RAM. Clearly, the Mac Pro's internals have been upgraded a few times since then, but even they haven't seen a substantial update since 2010.
A clip from Apple's keynote.
Twice the performance in a fraction of the footprintThe new Mac Pro aims to change it all in one fell swoop. Not only is the new coffeemaker-inspired chassis one-eighth the volume of the original computer, Apple says it has twice the performance too, with the latest Intel Xeon E5 processors, up to 64GB of RAM, dual AMD FirePro graphics chips with up to 6GB of dedicated memory, and up to 1TB of far faster PCI Express solid state storage. Overall, Apple says it has 7 teraflops of compute power and should be able to do things like "seamlessly edit full-resolution 4K video while simultaneously rendering effects in the background." Around back, there's six Thunderbolt 2 ports to drive those 4K displays and connect to next-gen peripherals, as well as four USB 3.0 ports, dual Gigabit Ethernet jacks, and HDMI output. It will ship with OS X Mavericks, the latest version of Apple's operating system.
Apple says the new Mac Pro is made in the United States, and that it'll be as quiet as a Mac Mini during operation thanks to a custom unified heatsink and fan design.
We're still waiting to see the price breakdown by component to see just how much a fully loaded Mac Pro might cost, but the base $2,999 model comes with a 3.7GHz quad-core Xeon processor, 12GB of RAM, dual FirePro D300 graphics, and a 256GB SSD. A variant with a 6-core CPU, dual FirePro D500s, and 16GB of RAM will cost $3,999.
The bigger question is whether pros will embrace the new, less-upgradable design. When Apple introduced Final Cut Pro X, some professional video editors rebelled against the dumbed-down software workflow. If the new Mac Pro makes hardware upgrades difficult due to its tiny custom chassis, Apple could stand to lose more of them.