Updated 8:25 a.m. PST with analyst note.
As expected, Apple announced desktop updates on Tuesday with a focus on energy efficiency.
There are new Mac Pro high-end desktops powered by Intel's Nehalem-based Xeon processors, new and more graphics-intensive Mac Mini machines, and updated iMacs that offer the lowest price yet on these consumer desktops.
All the new machines meet the requirements for Energy Star 5.0 certification, which kicks in this summer.
The new Mac Pro is priced at $2,499 for the quad-core version and at $3,299 for the eight-core version, with the Nehalem-based Xeon processors running at up to 2.93 GHz. The interior of the machine has been cleaned up to make physical expansions easier.
The new iMac all-in-one desktop offers a 24-inch screen and is priced at $1,499, the cost of Apple's previous 20-inch iMac. The 20-inch model now costs $1,199.
The 20-inch version comes with a 2.66 GHz processor, a 320GB hard drive, and 2GB of RAM expandable to 8GB. The 24-inch model offers processor speed options of 2.66 GHz, 2.93 GHz (for $1,799), or 3.02 GHz (for $2,199). The 24-incher comes with a 640GB hard drive and 4GB of RAM expandable to 8GB.
As for the new Mac Mini, the big upgrade: the Nvidia GeForce 9400M integrated graphics chip, which Apple says will improve graphics performance as much as fivefold. The machine (sans a monitor) costs $599 for a lower-end edition (1GB RAM, 120GB hard drive) or $799 for the higher-end (2GB RAM, 320GB hard drive).
The Mac Mini is the "world's most energy efficient desktop computer," Apple Chief Operating Officer Tim Cook claimed in a statement. Cook is currently at the helm of the company while CEO Steve Jobs is out for six months for health reasons.
Analyst Maynard Um at UBS offered this assessment of Tuesday's news:
Not surprisingly, Apple unveiled a much anticipated refresh to its desktop line, though the timing was earlier than we expected. Updated iMac & Mac mini are available immediately with the new Mac Pro available next week. Though the new Macs may provide some boost to end of qtr Mac units (enthusiasts and reseller channel), investors may have been hoping for greater price cuts at the low end.
Rumors of new Apple desktop computers were first reported at AppleInsider.