Apple's ultimate Mac is bizarre and beautiful

The company's new Mac Pro design is a radical -- and odd -- departure few saw coming.

What is this thing?
mac pro

Talk about a makeover. At this week's World Wide Developer's Conference, Apple (AAPL, Fortune 500) teased a wholesale redesign of its top-of-the-line desktop computer, the Mac Pro. Marketing chief Phil Schiller bounded onto the stage to unveil the new machine, saying, "This product is so cool, I'm going to go over the top." Then the lights dimmed, and a dramatic video introduced a radical new design.

This new Mac has been a long time coming. The current "cheese grater" design dates back to before Apple made the switch to Intel (INTC, Fortune 500) CPUs in 2006. That design has been iterated on significantly over the years, but the basic profile stayed the same. If nothing else, the new design is a complete break with the past: a sleek, otherworldly cylinder that is about one-eighth the size of the current tower.

There is one obvious problem with the new Mac Pro: what to call it? If ever an Apple design was begging for a nickname, this is it. It's been called a time capsule, a bullet, a bear canister, a trash can, and -- why not -- compared to the cybernetic Cylons of Battlestar Galactica fame. The design, for all its boldness, is also reminiscent of Apple's ill-fated Power Mac G4 Cube. That machine, sold between 2000 and 2001, featured an innovative design but failed to sell well.

Here's a closer look at the new ultimate Mac.

  @FortuneMagazine - Last updated June 11 2013 07:39 AM ET
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