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Macs are cheaper than PCs? Yes

Macs are cheaper than PCs? Yes

As Rich Brown posted earlier this morning, the the new Mac Pro is here. Now that all Apple's machines run on commodity, Intel-based hardware, Apple can't get away with charging much more for its products. Sure, there's value in Mac OS X. There's also value in Apple's legendary industrial design. But now we get to see exactly how much it's charging for it.

At the WWDC keynote, Phil Shiller, Apple's senior VP of marketing, told us that the "standard" Mac Pro configuration is about $1,000 less than a similarly configured Dell. A Mac Pro with dual 2.6GHz Xeons, 1GB of 667MHz RAM, a 250GB hard drive spinning at 7,200rpm, and an Nvidia GeForce 7300GT video card with 256MB of dedicated video memory is $2,499 on Apple's site, as promised. A Dell Precision 690 workstation with the same specs except for an Nvidia Quadro NVS 285 video card will run you $3,709. An HP Workstation xw8400 with that same Quadro NVS 285 hits $3,791. So if our elementary-school arithmetic is correct, the Mac Pro is $1,210 less than the Dell and $1,292 less than the HP. With Apple's free Boot Camp utility that lets you run Windows on a Mac, it's easy to imagine folks opting for the Mac Pro even if they never plan to use Mac OS X. Obviously, Apple hopes that the price differential will get more power users onto the Mac platform to at least give OS X a spin.

Before leaving WWDC, we had the chance to eye one of the new Mac Pros. From the outside, they look remarkably similar to the PowerMac G5s. External differences include an additional optical drive bay, additional USB and FireWire 800 ports on the case's front, and space on the back to prevent blocking one of the machine's four PCI Express slots when using one of the latest, double-wide video cards. Also on the back, there's now only one fan grille, and the power jack is now at the top center of the case.

We don't have one of the Mac Pros in the Labs yet, but check back soon for a full review. Also be sure to bookmark CNET's full coverage of WWDC 2006.