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M2 Ultra cheap? The most expensive Mac Pro is surprisingly affordable

Compared to the 2019 Mac Pro, the new M2 Ultra Apple Silicon workstations feel, well -- dare I say it? -- downright inexpensive.
Mac Pro at WWDC 2023
Jason Hiner/ZDNET

Back in 2019, I remember pondering whether a fully provisioned $52,599 Mac Pro was overpriced. Sure, it was expensive, but if you had the right workloads, it most certainly wasn't overpriced.

But how does the new M2 Ultra Mac Pro compare?

Mac Pro

ZDNET RECOMMENDS

M2 Ultra Mac Pro

The last in the Mac line to get the Apple Silicon upgrade, the Mac Pro offers something no other Mac can -- PCIe expansion for specialized workflows.

View at Apple

Well, with a starting price of $6,999, the new Mac Pro starts out $1,000 more expensive than the Intel-based Mac Pro.

Not a good sign.

Also: All the Mac news from WWDC 2023 

But here's the strange thing. I can select all the options for the new Mac Pro, and I can't get anywhere near the $50,000 of the old system. 

In fact, a Mac Pro with a 24-core CPU/76-core GPU, 192GB of unified RAM, 8TB of storage, the $400 wheel kit, and a Magic Mouse and Magic Trackpad thrown in is only $12,348.

M2 Ultra Mc Pro specs

M2 Ultra Mc Pro specs

Apple

So why is the new Mac Pro so cheap?

Well, first off, the old Intel-based Mac Pro could be fitted with 1.5TB of DDR4 ECC RAM, which at the time added a whopping $25,000 to the price. The twin Radeon Pro Vega II Duo graphics cards added another $10,000 to the price.

Oh, and there was the $7,000 for the 28-core Intel Xeon processor upgrade.

Also: Comparing the best Macs 

Compared to all this, those $400 wheels -- and I've seen them, and they're mighty fine wheels -- are a drop in the ocean.

The M2 Ultra Mac Pro is a much more streamlined system. 

There's a $1,000 processor upgrade that adds an extra 16 GPU cores, a bump of the unified RAM from 64GB to 192GB that adds $1,600, and a bump from 1 TB to 8TB of SSD storage that's an extra $2,200.

Oh, and the wheels. Those are still a steal at $400.

Also: How to preorder Apple's new MacBook Air, Mac Studio, and Mac Pro

Apple's switch away from Intel hasn't simply unleashed more power, it's also tamed the top-end price of the system.

If you still think that $12,348 just isn't expensive enough, remember that the Mac Pro can accommodate six Pro Display XDR units. Go for the nano-texture glass versions with the stand and those will add almost $42,000 to the bill.

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