Apple's Mac Pro goes on sale; top-end model costs $9,600

The new workstation costs $3,000 for the basic but still powerful model, but upgrading the processor, storage, and graphics quickly raises the price.

The Mac Pro is a compact cylinder, but its design won't be so sleek after people plug in power cords, video capture hardware, external storage systems, Ethernet cables, or other devices.
The Mac Pro is a compact cylinder, but its design won't be so sleek after people plug in power cords, video capture hardware, external storage systems, Ethernet cables, or other devices. Apple

The $3,000 entry-level configuration of Apple's new Mac Pro is nothing to sneeze at -- but if you want more horsepower, the price goes up rapidly as high as $9,600.

Apple's distinctively glossy black and cylindrical Mac Pro just went on sale Thursday, with a ship date of December 30. Apple teased customers for more than a year about the new machine, which replaces a much bulkier and now quite elderly Mac Pro. Mac Pros are geared for people with demanding computing chores, with video editing at the top of the list: each step up in computing power means that editors can add new effects, experiment with more looks for a scene, or share rough cuts sooner.

The basic model of the distinctive workstation includes a 3.7 GHz quad-core Intel Xeon E5 processor with a 10MB memory cache, 12GB of 1866MHz DDR3 error-correcting memory, dual AMD FirePro D300 graphics chips with 2GB of video memory each, and a 256GB SSD whose flash memory is connected via the PCI Express bus for faster performance than ordinary SATA-connected SSDs.

It's also got four USB 3.0 ports, six Thunderbolt 2 ports, an HDMI 1.4 port, two gigabit Ethernet ports, 802.11ac and Bluetooth 4.0 wireless networking, a headphone jack, a digital or analog audio output jack, and a built-in speaker.

If you have another $1,000 to spend and you don't want a new MacBook Air, you can pick a higher-end Mac Pro configuration. It's got a six-core Xeon E5 with 12MB of cache, 16GB of memory, and dual AMD Firepro D500 graphics chips.

If you want to go beyond the basics, the sticker shock really kicks in. Other upgrade options are as follows (or check the graphic at the bottom of this story):

Moving to a 512GB SSD costs an extra $300, and moving to 1GB costs $800, for example.

Processor upgrades give customers more processing cores -- handy for rendering video or other processor-intensive chores -- but lower clock speeds.

The entry-level model Xeon upgrades are as follows: 3.5GHz 6-core chip with 12MB of adds $500.00, a 3.0GHz 8-core chip with 25MB of cache adds $2,000, and a 2.7GHz 12-core chip with 30MB of cache adds $3,500.00.

The Mac Pro is built in the US.
The Mac Pro is built in the US. Apple

For the higher-end Mac Pro, moving to the 3.0GHz 8-core chip with 25MB of cache adds $1,500.00, and the 2.7GHz 12-core chip with 30MB of cache adds $3,000.

Upgrading the basic configuration to 16GB of memory costs another $100, 32GB costs $500 more, and 64GB costs $1,300 more. Upgrading the higher-end model to 32GB costs $400 more, and to 64GB costs $1,200 more.

For graphics upgrades, the lower-end starter model offers two upgrades: dual AMD FirePro D500 graphics chips with 3GB video RAM for another $400, or dual D700 graphics chips with 6GB of VRAM for another $1,000. The higher-end Mac Pro offers only the latter upgrade, which costs another $600.

Adding Apple's mouse or trackpad costs another $69, and adding the company's wireless keyboard also costs $69.

The Mac Pro doesn't have a monitor, of course, but you can add an Apple 27-inch Thunderbolt display for $1,000 or a 32-inch Sharp PN-K321 4K display for $3,595.

Shipping is free, though.

The upgrade options for the Mac Pro quickly push up the workstation's price from its base-model $1,000 configuration.
The upgrade options for the Mac Pro quickly push up the workstation's price from its base-model $1,000 configuration. (Click to enlarge.) screenshot by Stephen Shankland/CNET
About the author

Stephen Shankland has been a reporter at CNET since 1998 and covers browsers, Web development, digital photography and new technology. In the past he has been CNET's beat reporter for Google, Yahoo, Linux, open-source software, servers and supercomputers. He has a soft spot in his heart for standards groups and I/O interfaces.

 

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