How much can you spend on an 8-core Mac Pro?

Fancy paying over £16K for a top-flight Mac Pro?

Many Mac fans liken their choice of PC platform to that of luxury cars - for every 1,000 Fords sold they'll opine there'll be one superior Audi, Beemer or Merc sold alongside. And like any luxury car maker Apple doesn't stint on the options list when it comes to kitting out the new Mac Pros announced yesterday. So how much will a fully teed-up

Mac Pro

cost you. Let's find out:

A standard Mac Pro will cost you £1,749 inc. VAT. For that you get two 2.8GHz Quad-Core Intel Xeon "Harpertown" processors, 2GB of 800MHz DDR2 RAM, a 320GB SATA hard disk drive running at 7200rpm, a single 16x DVD-burning SuperDrive, wired keyboard and mouse, plus a copy of Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard. Generous. But what if you want a teensy bit more?

Well the obvious next step up is to plump for a processor upgrade, you know, because eight cores running at 2.8GHz really aren't fast enough. Apple can upsell you to two 3GHz Quad-Core Xeons for an extra £500 or a brace of 3.2GHz jobs for £1,010. That's more like it.

Now for the RAM. Apple traditionally stiffs its customers when it comes to buying RAM - you can usually get it cheaper from Crucial, Kingston or elsewhere. But because we're feeling reckless and we feel like experiencing life in David Beckham-style luxury - can he use a computer? - we're going to plump for not 2GB, not 4GB (£320), not 8GB (£960) or even 16GB (£2,720). No it's the full 32GB for us - another £5,760.

Running total: £8,519 inc. VAT. Good.

Faster, faster

Right then storage. The Mac Pro can hold up to 4-terabytes of hard disk space, but that's a lowly 7200rpm. Nowhere near fast enough for our needs (we're not quite sure what those needs are, but we do have them). So although we're going to have to compromise on outright space for our files we're going to plump for four 300GB SAS files with 3GB/s throughput and running a staggering 15,000rpm. Another £2,040.

Holy graphics card! Now the standard 8-core Mac Pro comes with a perfectly respectable ATI Radeon HD 2600 XT with 256MB of RAM. Enough for even the most enthusiastic Mac gamer you might think. Oh no, because Apple's also tempting us with a pair of 2600 XTs for £90, three for £180 or four for £270 - great for running four Apple Cinema Displays at once - like Apple board member Al Gore does.

But hold on, we could plump for a 512MB Nvidia GeForce 880 GT for just an extra £130 or - this is the one - an Nvidia Quadro FX 5600 with 1.5GB of GDDR3 RAM for £1,800. Is it good with Tetris? We'll take one.

Running total: £12,259 inc. VAT. Exciting isn't it?

Optional extras

Only the next bit isn't so much. We now decide to lay down another £60 for a second 16x DVD burning SuperDrive, an AirPort Extreme 802.11n Wi-Fi card (a snap at £30), Apple USB modem (£35 - just in case), an Apple wireless keyboard and mouse (£39 the pair), oh and a RAID card to go with our SAS drives (£510), and a Quad Channel 4GB Fibre Channel PCI Express Card (£659) so we can connect an Xserve RAID later.

The only thing to add now is a pair of 30-inch Apple Cinema Displays (£1,199 each), plus a three year unlimited AppleCare warranty - in the unlikely event that anything goes wrong. Another £199.

Now we could also plump for a bunch of Apple software here like iWork (£55), Logic Express 8 (£129), Final Cut Express (£129) and Aperture (£219), but you know it's hardware, not software, we're interested in here.

Grand Total £16,163.98

The only choice we have to make now is whether to stump up for it in instalments - £577 per month for three years, or stick it on the old interest-free credit card.

It has to be plastic? Done.