Black star: The new Mac Pro is smaller and sleeker than its predecessor.

Black star: The new Mac Pro is smaller and sleeker than its predecessor.

Of all the many desktop computers Apple has produced, the new Mac Pro is the most stunning and futuristic in appearance and performance. Since I first saw it at the Worldwide Developers Conference in San Francisco on June 11, and later on Apple's campus in Cupertino, I have suspected that Darth Vader (ahem) invaded the grey cells of Apple design chief Sir Jony Ive as he worked on Apple's best and most powerful desktop Mac. His glossy black power tower looks to have come straight out of Star Wars.

Some Skywalker tragic at the conference quipped that if current iMacs were Jedi, the new Mac Pro was Sith, but that's a rotten metaphor. Sith were from the Dark Side. This Mac Pro shines with the light of innovation and inspiration.

It is cylindrical and tiny, compared with its predecessor, which was a not unhandsome but chunky aluminium box with lots of slots and the need to call a mate to help lift it. The new one is 21.1 centimetres tall, 16.8 centimetres in diameter and, although solid, can be lifted easily by grasping the surround of the airflow opening at the top.

Like Vader, it is clad in glossy black anodised aluminium, has all the necessary flickering LEDs, inputs and outputs, but undoubtedly comes from Ive's passion for minimalism and function. It is the product of inspired design and clever engineering. There's even a motion sensor that turns on the LEDs on the rear panel when you swivel the machine around.

Traditional computer design was to bend some aluminium into a chassis, bolt on the working bits and keep everything cool with banks of whining fans that drove you nuts while your graphic rendered. So the box lived on the floor where it sucked in dust that didn't help the cooling.

The new Mac Pro has been designed from the inside out, around what Apple calls its ''unified thermal core'', a massive triangular aluminium heat sink that fills the centre of the cylinder. Above it a single big fan sucks air up through vents at the cylinder's base and blows it out the top.

Apple says the fan's unusual ''backwards-facing'' blades substantially reduce noise yet increase the volume of air sucked through the chassis. So, keep the Mac Pro on your benchtop where all can admire it.

The Mac Pro's impressive muscles and smarts are on three panels attached to the thermal core. But you won't find an optical drive or a hard drive. The Mac Pro, like the latest MacBooks, uses solid-state flash storage. How much probably depends on your wallet.

Intel's latest Xeon E5 Ivy Bridge processors with up to 12 cores provide huge processing power; double that of previous Xeons. There are two graphics boards carrying AMD FirePro workstation processors capable of simultaneously driving up to three 4K displays. Apple says the graphics performance is more than double that of the superseded Mac Pro. That raises speculation that Apple could offer a new range of super Thunderbolt displays. The FirePro processors can support up to 4096 by 2160 resolution.

Mac Pro towers have always been popular with professional users in industries such as television and film, ad agencies, software developers and scientific outfits. It's a compact but loyal audience. Lately, however, as iMacs and MacBooks have become more powerful and the iPad, supported by powerful apps and the cloud, has taken a spot on the professional stage, higher-end users have switched to these consumer machines. Yet Apple, with this Mac Pro, has remained steadfast to the top end of its market.

The other interesting point about the Pro is that, unlike other Macs, it is made in the US in a recently built Apple factory.

At risk of climbing into the clouds of speculation that float over Apple, we could think of the all-in-one iMacs being replaced by ''Mac Minis'', based on the Mac Pro design, that are connected by wi-fi to separate Retina display screens located around the house with a variety of wireless peripherals, including the Apple iWatch wrist controller, about which we are still hearing rumours.

A release day has not been announced beyond that there will be a simultaneous global release, probably towards the end of September or early October. No price has been announced but there's a sort of consensus that it will be about $3500 and up, according to the specifications you order. At that, it would be a singular bargain.