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Apple's top Mac Pro computer costs more than the average car

Apple lays out plan for the future
  • Apple's new Mac Pro desktop computer starts at a hefty $12,000 -- not including the $999 stand.
  • But with features like extra memory and a more powerful processor the price can hit a jaw-dropping $45,000, or more than than the average cost of a car in the U.S. 
  • Apple is positioning the Mac Pro for businesses whose workers require superior processing speed to do their jobs.

Apple on Monday introduced its new, high-powered Mac Pro desktop computer, seeking to dazzle would-be buyers with its massive 1.5 terabytes of system memory. But the technology company also shocked consumers with another big number: the Mac Pro's price tag. 

The base Mac Pro's price is jaw-dropping enough, at $12,000. But that's dwarfed by the $45,000 price once all the bells and whistles are added, like extra RAM and a more powerful processor, according to calculations from The Verge. 

Here's how the computer's costs line up for the basic Mac Pro. Apple will retail the computer itself for $5,999. But that doesn't include a monitor, and that will set you back another $5,000. And how does nearly $1,000 for a computer stand grab you? That's right -- the metal stand designed to hold the display costs as much as one of Apple's premium iPhones, like the iPhone X. 

Add in extra memory and it's easy to push the cost far above the $12,000 baseline price. Filling the 12 slots on the Mac Pro for extra RAM could set you back by more than $17,000 alone, The Verge estimated. At more than $45,000, a fully decked out Mac Pro would cost more than the average car in the U.S. (which as of April ran just under $37,000, according to Kelley Blue Book).

The new Mac Pro computer and display are displayed during Apple's annual Worldwide Developers Conference in San Jose
The new Mac Pro computer and display are displayed during Apple's annual Worldwide Developers Conference in San Jose, California, U.S. June 3, 2019. MASON TRINCA / REUTERS

To be sure, Apple products have always commanded a premium. They're designed for professionals like graphic designers and game designers who need extra computer power and top-of-the-line graphics. Yet the Mac Pro's latest price likely put these machines out of reach even for many of Apple's core audience, like freelancers and artists. 

Instead, Apple is positioning the Mac Pro for deep-pocketed businesses whose workers require superior processing speed to do their jobs. Think Pixar or a video-game company like Electronic Arts. Another prime candidate, presumably, may be 1%ers who can afford to shell out $12,000 for the basic Mac Pro and would enjoy the bragging rights of owning the latest Apple gizmo. 

To be in the top 1% of income earners you need make an average of $718,000 per year, according to calculations from the Economic Policy Institute. Even after taxes, a $12,000 computer is likely within their budget. But for the typical American, who earns about $53,000 per year, not so much.