Mac Pro, Apple's new desktop workhorse, hits shelves this week

The Apple Mac Pro is high-powered – and high-priced, too. 

The Apple Mac Pro.

Just don't call it a trash can. 

Months after it was first unveiled, the cylindrical Mac Pro, a high-powered and high-priced desktop machine, is set to hit store shelves, Apple announced today. The Mac Pro, which is 9.9-inches tall, with a Intel Xeon E5 processor, will retail at a variety of price points – the basic unit goes for $2,999 (more than twice the price of an Apple MacBook Pro), while a fully-kitted-out edition, with more memory and more juice, will sell for $3,999. 

At the first price point, you'll get – deep breath – a 3.7 GHz quad-core Intel Xeon E5 processor capable of speeds up to 3.9 GHz, dual AMD FirePro D300 GPUs with 2GB of VRAM each, 12GB of memory, and 256GB of PCIe-based flash storage. At the second price point, you'll be bumped up to a 3.5 GHz 6-core Intel Xeon E5 processor, dual AMD FirePro D500 GPUs with 3GB of VRAM each, and 16GB of memory. 

Obviously, these aren't entry-level machines. But then again, they aren't meant to be. The tagline for the Mac Pro is "built for creativity on an epic scale" – a hint at its role as professional workhorse. Want to watch Netflix? Buy an iPad. Want to have enough hardware on hand to power an aircraft carrier? Opt for the Mac Pro. 

Among the selling points on the Mac Pro, aside from its R2D2 aesthetic and rip-roaring speeds, is its ability to operate at a purr. 

"The system is dead quiet, especially at idle," Joel Santo Domingo of wrote in a hands-on test of the Pro back in October. "Even under load, streaming 16 4K HD video streams, we couldn't hear the system over the ambient room noise, which was admittedly lively in the demo room. Still, this system will appeal to video and music professionals who need to work in a quiet studio." 

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