Apple quietly adds 3.33GHz quad-core Mac Pro to keep up with iMac, but fails to match value

Apple has, with little fanfare, added a 3.33GHz Core i7 Xeon 3500 (Bloomfield) option to its Mac Pro lineup for quad-core/single-chip models. Comments by the usual suspects in Cupertino have mirrored community speculation that this is a (weak) response to the new quad-core iMac clearly crushing the value equation of the Pro….but due to its dependence on costly Xeon-class chips, that equation has not changed.

Until Apple is willing to offer a so-called “xMac” model — a headless Pro-class computer with desktop-class Core i7 2G (Lynnfield, as in the high end iMac) chips instead of the far more costly Xeons — the Mac Pro will always be hobbled in competition for the budget-minded power user.

Such prototypes have been spotted in the past, but a variety of factors….notably Apple’s close-knit relationship with Intel which typically dictates which chips it uses even if they aren’t necessarily the absolute best choices for a given market segment….have stood in the way of actual production machines of this type.

Could such a mid-range minitower Mac finally see the light of day in 2010? Stay tuned for some very interesting dirt on this topic when source embargoes expire in the coming days….


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  • Captain Obvious

    Give us a break with blaming Intel for the awkward price/performance of the Mac Pros. Apple did the same thing before the Intel switch, although the disparity wasn’t quite so severe, and they even threw a bone to reason back in the G3 and G4 tower days, but by the time the G5 era came to an end the towers were pretty poorly priced. It is way more likely the other way around, that Apple is in the driver seat and able to secure early access and better pricing on the best Xeon CPUs as a reward for featuring them in premium products. If Apple decided to build towers around desktop Core i7s there’s no way Intel would stop them, because they can just buy the CPUs they want like every other OEM.

    Using Xeons in the Pro models is surely dictated by marketing and branding concerns, as it is only the unit cost of the Xeon CPUs that makes a (weak) argument for the Pro machines’ absurd pricing. They end up looking like reasonable deals if you price out the cost of all the parts (with the uber-expensive Xeons putting the BoM into the stratosphere) but compared to a regular desktop i5 or i7 rig the Pros are just dumb. Apple has simply decided not to have ANY overlap between iMac and Mac Pro pricing, and with the current iMac lineup going up to $1999 it means there will not be a Mac tower under $2000 irrespective of how poorly it compares to an iMac or $1000 PC in price/performance.

  • cutthroughthebs

    There is NO comparison! For audio and video pros the iMac falls flat on it's face! No PCIe or any HD storage options… no, not even a contender!

  • cutthroughthebs

    There is NO comparison! For audio and video pros the iMac falls flat on it's face! No PCIe or any HD storage options… no, not even a contender!