Apple cuts prices on Macs, takes a jab at PCs

Apple's new 13-inch MacBook Pro starts at $1,299, while the 15-inch model starts at $1,999

Apple on Tuesday introduced new versions of the MacBook Pro laptops and cut prices, but not before taking a jab at PC makers.

The company's MacBook Pro with Retina Display and 13-inch screen starts at $1,299, which is $200 cheaper than the previous model. The 15-inch model will start at $1,999, while the previous-generation laptop was $2,199. The laptops are available now.

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The company also introduced a new Mac Pro desktop, which will start at $2,999. The high-end workstation is based on a new cylinder design and packs more storage, memory and graphics features.

The new computers come as Mac shipments continue to decline. Apple's growth is being driven by tablets and smartphones. "We've been hard at work on the Mac," said Tim Cook, Apple's CEO, at a keynote during Apple's event in San Francisco.

Cook took a jab at PC makers, saying they were confused between laptops and tablets. "They chased after netbooks," Cook said. "They changed PCs into tablets and tablets into PCs."

The MacBook Pro with Retina Display laptops are lighter than their predecessors, starting at 3.46 pounds, with a thickness of just 0.75 inches. The new MacBook Pros incorporate some of the latest technologies including 802.11ac wireless and Thunderbolt 2, which will bring support for 4K displays. Thunderbolt 2 transfers data from Macs to peripherals at a rate of 20G bps, and the technology is also being included in the Mac Pro desktop.

The laptops also include the latest Intel chips based on the "Haswell" microarchitecture, as well as faster flash storage. The chips have an integrated graphics processor called Iris, which will make graphics 90 percent faster than on previous laptops, said Phil Schiller, Apple's senior vice president of worldwide marketing, during the event.

The 13-inch MacBook Pro with Retina Display offers nine hours of battery life. The $1,299 price is for a configuration that includes a dual-core Core i5 processor running at 2.4GHz, 4GB of RAM, and 128GB of solid-state drive storage. The laptop is priced at $1,499 with 8GB of RAM and 256GB of SSD storage, and $1,799 with a 2.6GHz dual-core Core i5 processor, 8GB of DRAM, and a 512GB SSD.

The 15-inch MacBook Pro offers eight hours of battery life. The $1,999 configuration includes a quad-core Core i5 processor running at 2.0GHz, 8GB of RAM, and a 256GB SSD. The price rises to $2,599 with a quad-core Core i7 chip, 16GB of memory, a separate Nvidia graphics processor, and a 512GB SSD. Buyers can customize the laptop to include 1TB of storage.

The new Mac Pro is "our vision of the pro desktop," Cook said. The desktop was previewed earlier this year, but was officially announced today. The desktop has faster processors and throughput features. It will come with server-class Intel Xeon E5 processors with up to 12 CPU cores. It will include up to 30MB of cache and faster ECC memory. It will have six Thunderbolt 2 ports.

The desktop will be able to accommodate up to two Advanced Micro Devices graphics processors with up to 4,096 graphics cores and 12GB of video memory. At $2,999, the Mac Pro configuration will include a quad-core Intel Xeon E5 processor with speeds of up to 3.9GHz, 12GB of RAM, two AMD FirePro D300 graphics processors, and 256GB of solid-state storage. A configuration with two AMD FirePro D500 graphics processors will be priced at $3,999. The desktop will become available in December.

Agam Shah covers PCs, tablets, servers, chips and semiconductors for IDG News Service. Follow Agam on Twitter at @agamsh. Agam's e-mail address is agam_shah@idg.com

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