updated 03:00 am EST, Thu December 19, 2013
First total redesign since 2006 piles on new technologies
[Update: the US online store has now returned with pre-orders for the new Mac Pro; offering a Sharp 4K display as an option] The Apple online store worldwide has put up its familiar "We'll be right back" message in preparation for today's debut of the new Mac Pro. The redesign, the first complete overhaul since 2006, radically reimagines the entire concept of the professional workstation into a mini-tower design featuring all-external expansion and up to 1TB of PCI-e SSD storage (some 10x faster than conventional HDD storage), dual workstation-class graphics cards and a six-core Xeon E5.
[Updated] In the options for the new Mac Pro, Apple has opted to offer the Sharp 32" PN-K321 4K Ultra HD LED monitor rather than make one of its own, though the unchanged 27-inch Thunderbolt Display is also offered as an option. The Sharp 4K monitor, at 32 inches, costs $3,595.
The new model stands just 10 inches tall and uses its cylindrical shape to help cool the machine through convection cooling (but also has a single unconventional fan to push air through). The unit is said to offer 8x performance in graphics, 10x performance in storage, double the CPU performance of the previous model and also uses dramatically faster RAM. The company says it is powerful enough to run simultaneous dual 4K resolution monitors in its base configuration, in part thanks to a total of six Thunderbolt 2 connectors. It is the first Mac in years to be wholly manufactured in the US, specifically in Austin, Texas according to Apple CEO Tim Cook.
Overall, the price of a decked-out Mac Pro looks to be around the same as the top cost of a build-to-order previous Mac Pro, but with performance improvements multiple times faster overall. The price of build-to-order Mac Pros has actually fallen over the years since it first debuted, despite periodic performance increases. Other countries' Apple Stores are expected to come back online shortly.
The store is now taking orders for the new machines, with shipping set for December 30 -- though this may be subject to change due to pent-up demand. Upgraders have waited patiently for this new model since Tim Cook first promised a frustrated customer that a revamp would appear "later in 2013," though few thought it would finally arrive only days before the end of that window.
[Updated: corrected pricing on upgrade options] Pricing on the new Mac Pro starts at $2,999 in its base configuration, which features a quad-core 3.7GHz Xeon E5 (with Turbo Boost up to 3.9GHz), dual AMD FirePro D300 GPUs (2GB of VRAM each), 12GB of RAM and 256GB PCI-e flash storage. A $3,999 model offers a six-core, 3.5GHz processor with FirePro D500 GPUs (3GB of VRAM each), and 16GB of RAM. Known built-to-order options include eight-core and 12-core E5 options (adding $2,000 and $3,500 respectively to the base model, or $1,500 and $3,000 to the six-core model); dual AMD FirePro D700 (6GB VRAM) cards (adding $600 to the upgraded model, or $1,000 to the base model); 32GB or 64GB RAM options ($400 and $1,200 to the price of the upgraded model, and $100 over that for the base model), and flash storage of 512GB or 1TB (to cost $300 and $800, respectively).
The Mac Pro does not include a keyboard or mouse. Other options include the three-year AppleCare extended warranty, priced at $249, and optional pre-installation of Aperture, Logic Pro or Final Cut (at their normal prices of $80, $200 and $300, respectively).