Apple Updates Desktops, Adds New Mac Pro with Intel Xeon Processors

Apple announced a new Mac Pro featuring an Intel "Nehalem" Xeon processor as part of a wide-ranging March 3 product rollout. The company also updated its iMac and Mac mini desktop lines with a 24-inch iMac and a Mac mini with Nvidia GeForce 9400M integrated graphics.

Apple announced on March 3 a new Mac Pro that utilizes Intel "Nehalem" Xeon processors, along with updates to its iMac and Mac mini desktop lines.

The quad-core Mac Pro, with a starting retail price of $2,499, features one 2.66 GHz Quad-Core Intel Xeon 3500 series processor of L3 cache. It also features 3GB of 1066 NHz DDR3 ECC SDRAM memory, expandable to 8GB.

The 8-core Mac Pro, with a retail price starting at $3,299, features two 2.26-GHz Quad-Core Intel Xeon 3500 series processors, also with 8MB of shared L3 cache. Its 6GB of 1066 MHz DDR3 ECC SDRAM memory is expandable up to a full 32GB.

The rumor mill has been swirling in recent weeks that Apple was preparing to roll out new and upgraded systems.
In addition, Apple also announced new products in its iMac and Mac mini lines, particularly a 24-inch iMac priced at $1,499 that features twice the memory and storage capacity.

The 24-inch iMac can include up to a 3.06 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo processor, along with 4GB of 1066 MHz DDR3 memory and a 640 GB or 1TB Serial ATA hard drive. The 20-inch iMac, which retails for $1,199, is driven by a 2.66 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo processor. The 24-incher has 30 percent more screen real estate over its 20-inch cousin.

The Mac mini, starting at $599, features a 2 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo processor and up to 4GB of DDR3 1066 MHz memory squeezed into a unit that measures 6.5 inches by 6.5 inches by 2 inches.

Also offered from Apple is a 2.0 GHz Mac mini with a suggested retail price of $799, based on an Intel Core 2 Duo processor.

Apple also chose to highlight the Mac mini's energy-efficient capabilities; the desktop draws less than 13 watts of power when idle, or 10 times less power than a typical desktop PC, according to the company.

"The Mac mini is not only our most affordable Mac, it's also the world's most energy-efficient desktop computer," Tim Cook, chief operating officer of Apple, said in a statement.

The new Mac Pro is also designed to be environmentally friendly, meeting Energy Star 4.0 requirements and featuring a "highly recyclable aluminum" enclosure. The iMac and Mac mini also meet Energy Star 4.0 requirements, use PVC-free internal components and feature material-efficient system and packing designs.

"These days people are more concerned about price, and the Mac line hasn't addressed that as well as [Apple] could," Steve Baker, an analyst with NPD Group, said in an interview. "They still need a $999 system, and I'm disappointed they don't have one. In the face of 30 percent sales declines, that's what mainstream consumers want.

"They talked a lot more about Mac mini than they have in a long time, and that's encouraging because of the mini's price point," Baker added. "It gives them another story to tell - the fact they talked so much about the energy efficiency means they may spin off some marketing and advertising [for] the mini."

Editor's Note: This article has been updated with commentary from an analyst.