Mac Pro, iMac, Mac mini get hardware upgrades

Without much fanfare or grandiose keynotes, Apple has refreshed its entire desktop lineup—from the Mac mini to the Mac Pro—with new, faster hardware. Pricing hasn't really changed, though, which makes the upgrades a little puzzling in light of current economic conditions and the push toward cheap nettops.

Starting from the top, the new Mac Pros have finally started toting Intel's Nehalem processors. Instead of the Core i7, Apple went with more workstation-friendly Nehalem-based Xeons, allowing it to offer two quad-core (and eight-thread) CPUs in its $3,299 configuration. The single-CPU Mac Pro still starts at $2,499, this time with a 2.66GHz Nehalem Xeon, 3GB of RAM, a 640GB hard drive, GeForce GT 120 graphics, an 18X DVD burner, dual Gigabit Ethernet, and... a mouse and keyboard. It's worth pointing out that the system also has a mini-DisplayPort connector, so you can actually use Apple's 24" LED Cinema display with it.  This announcement makes Apple first to the party with Nehalem Xeons, ahead of their official launch by Intel.

The iMac and Mac mini upgrades are a little less exciting. Both systems now include Nvidia's GeForce 9400M integrated graphics, of course, but starting price points are the same as before. On the iMac front, Apple has given the $1,199 20" model a slight CPU upgrade and 2GB of memory, and it's moved the 24" option from $1,799 to $1,499. The 24" model and its higher-priced siblings all have 4GB of RAM by default, too.

As for the Mac mini, Apple's smallest and most affordable Mac still starts at $599, albeit now with a 2GHz Core 2 Duo, 1GB of RAM, GeForce 9400M integrated graphics, a 120GB hard drive, and a dual-layer DVD burner. For $200 more, you can get another gig of memory and a 320GB hard drive. What a bargain!

Oh, and AppleInsider points out that Apple has also updated its AirPort Extreme router and Time Capsule network storage device with dual-band wireless networking and a new "Guest Network" feature. That feature reportedly lets you "set up a secondary network for friends and visitors with Internet-only access so you don't have to hand out your WiFi password."

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