(STAR) By Alma Buelva - The fact that one can buy today a notebook or a PC for less than P50,000, why fork up P159,190 for the new Mac Pro desktop workstation and pay another P45,690 for a 20-inch Apple widescreen flat panel cinema display? Either you’re a person with deep pockets or you’re computing requirements – personally or professionally – simply demand maximum power.

Launched in the United States last month, the new 64-bit Mac Pro workstation featuring two Dual-Core Intel Xeon 5100 series processors, running up to 3.0 GHz, was finally launched in Manila last week. It completes Apple’s transition to Intel processors and boasts of speed double that of the Power Mac G5 Quad that it replaces with its quad-Xeon – four processors to be exact – that are actually designed for servers and high-end workstations.

"Apple has successfully completed the transition to using Intel processors in just seven months or 210 days to be exact. What better product to complete it with than the new Mac Pro, the workstation Mac users have been dreaming about," said Steve Jobs, Apple’s CEO. Mean machine The new Mac Pro has a brushed aluminum case that’s classy and a bit industrial at the same time. With over 4.9 million possible configurations, it offers unlimited customization, starting with its new direct attach storage solution for cable-free, snap-in installation of up to four 500-gigabyte hard drives for a total of two terabytes of internal storage. For that alone, whoever got that much appetite for storage space should be happy with the new Mac Pro, which also has support for two optical drives that can simultaneously read and/or write to CD and DVDs. The use of a Blu-ray drive is also an option.

But Apple draws the line when it comes to users doing their own processor upgrades. Melvyn Chen, desktop product marketing manager of Apple for the Asia-Pacific, said users can only order their processors when they purchase. "They can’t upgrade it themselves. There’s no DIY (Do It Yourself) with the processor. It’s Apple’s way to ensure quality," Chen said.

The Mac Pro, with a suggested retail price of P159,190, includes two 2.66 GHz Dual-Core Intel Xeon processors; 1GB of 667 MHz DDR2 fully buffered ECC memory expandable up to 16GB; NVIDIA GeForce 7300 GT with 256MB of GDDR2 SDRAM; 250GB Serial ATA (3Gb/s) hard drive running at 7200 rpm; 16x SuperDrive with double-layer support (DVD+R DL/DVD±RW/CD-RW); four PCI Express slots: one double-wide graphics slot and three full-length expansion slots; and ships with Mighty Mouse and Apple keyboard.

Those who prefer the 23-inch Cinema display or the 30-inch Cinema display can have them for an additional P64,490 or P129,690, respectively.

Again, these price tags could be quite staggering for casual users, but not for those whose jobs depend on fast and mean machines like the Mac Pro. They are Apple’s traditional market of graphic artists, designers, moviemakers, musicians, pho-tographers, architects, and engineers.

Chen actually took issue in relation to pricing, saying, "The concept that Macs are expensive than PCs is simply not true." He said that after configuring a Dell Precision 690 to approximate a Mac Pro, the price of the Dell machine came out to be $350 more. More stuff Apple’s new thoroughbred computer has room to connect multiple external devices in its front panel. It got a FireWire 800 port, a FireWire 400 port, and two USB 2.0 ports with additional FireWire 800, FireWire 400 and three USB 2.0 ports on the back panel. Mac Pro also includes dual Gigabit Ethernet ports, optical digital input and output, analog audio input and output, and optional built-in support for AirPort Extreme and Bluetooth 2.0+EDR.

In addition, buyers of Mac Pro would be pleased to know that it comes bundled with some software. The new Mac Pro ships with the latest release of the Mac OS X version 10.4.7 Tiger, Safari, Mail, iCal, and iChat AV. Tiger includes a software translation technology called Rosetta that lets users run most Mac OS X PowerPC applications seamlessly.

Intel-based Mac users have more than 3,000 applications to choose from, including all of Apple’s own consumer and professional applications. But big software brands like Adobe have yet to deliver versions that would tap the power of the new Intel-Mac models.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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