Apple iMac Pro Shipping in Two Days, Here's the First Hands-On

While the Mac Pro remains stagnant in its development with a completely modular redesign promised sometime next year, Apple is finally ready to ship the iMac Pro this Thursday. Featuring up to 18-core Intel Xeon processors, 128 GB of RAM, 16 GB of video memory, and 4 TB of Apple's fastest PCIe SSD storage to date, it's no slouch. But how does it perform in the real world? YouTuber Marques Brownlee gives us a first hands-on with Apple's latest professional workstation.

Naturally, many might be put off by the nearly $5,000 asking price (for starters) of the iMac Pro. But it's worth noting that Brownlee looked up similar specifications for a PC, and the total came out to $200 above the iMac Pro, not even taking into account the 5K screen. Of course, PC users won't care much for any Mac, but it's worth noting that the price is fairly close to what its counterpart would be, at least on the low end. Apple does have notoriously high upgrade pricing, so I wouldn't expect similar comparisons to hold up as one increases the RAM, video card, processor, or SSD options. In this case, one might also wonder what Apple's margins are like on the low-end iMac Pro.

Either way, the new iMac Pro is here. I don't know about you, but playing back 8K raw footage with some color effects while hardly dropping a frame sounds pretty good to me. Will you buy in or wait for Apple's yet-to-be-announced new desktop solution later this year?

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24 Comments

Benton Lam's picture

It isn't that PC users don't care for Mac, and even with the PC being slightly costlier than the Mac, you can reuse a lot of the parts for the upgrade.

It isn't that any of the Adobe suites won't crash on the Mac either.

Robert Nurse's picture

Hopefully, that price is for their top-of-the-line model. I don't see myself needing 18-cores. Lots of memory and SSD space for sure.

Adam Ottke's picture

The $4,999 is the starting price for the iMac Pro. But of course, that already comes with a lot more than the iMac can get. For everyone else, sure, there are plenty of reasons why a highly spec'd iMac makes more sense. But for video pros at the higher end, etc., the iMac Pro fills a major gap that won't even completely be filled until the desktop comes out in its reconfigured form later this year.

Robert Nurse's picture

Oh well. Too rich for my blood. I'll just have to stick with the iMac. As long as an iMac can run Photoshop/Lightroom without choking, stalling or hiccuping, I'm fine.

Adam Ottke's picture

Hey. I'm with you on that for my work, too. Doesn't keep me from dreaming, though. Can always be faster... ;-)

Ludwig Heinrich's picture

Why not? I've taken a few apart. They are not that hard to work on and the only "special tools" needed are window grips and torque drivers

Ludwig Heinrich's picture

Thanks Bob. Obviously there are a few different set-ups. I have rebuilt a few to install SSD drives, new screens etc. My point was just that it is not as scary as many seem to think :-)

Robert Nurse's picture

WOW! You da man!!!

Benton Lam's picture

A normal ATX power supply for a PC, around $100 if it's good enough to game, and you want real stable power.

Can't say how much they'd charge for fixing it... I'm going to guess it's over $100.

If you're mechanically inclined enough to open it up, this may help:
https://www.ifixit.com/Guide/iMac+Intel+20-Inch+EMC+2133+and+2210+Power+...

Benton Lam's picture

Doh. Totally misread that.

Glad you fixed it though :)

Peter Guyton's picture

Odd to me that the 2017 27" 5k iMacs have upgradeable RAM and this one doesn't. I'd rather have that upgrade option than not, but I think if you buy one, you just buy more RAM than you need and be done with it.

Pricing seems about in line with a high end PC but will probably not be so if you load it up. Seems like more than a stills-only photographer would want/need (?). Speed is always nice though.

Ryan Cooper's picture

If I had to guess it is because ram soldered right onto the motherboard takes up much less space than ram that needs to be able to be swapped out easily by the user. I suspect this machine is packed very tightly and every little bit of space savings is critical.

Brian Schmittgens's picture

All I want is the specs of the $2k iMac in a tower that's user upgradeable (at least HD and RAM) and doesn't include a display. You know, like they used to offer in the low-end PowerMacs 10-15 years ago.

Robert Nurse's picture

I wonder which version is optimal for Photoshop and Lightroom.

Frank Withers's picture

you will need the 18 core version to run lightroom LOL

Frank Withers's picture

And still run the same as it would on an ultrabook. Done with that program. Capture One can run off of a 1gb NAS without hiccups. Such a superior program.

Johnny Rico's picture

"18 cores in an iMac. No, that’s not a typo." I Lol'ed at the cringe

Johnny Rico's picture

If USB C is the future, why'd they include 4 usb 3.0 ports?

Ryan Cooper's picture

Because its the future, not the present. ;)

Ray Hardy's picture

so, if your going to buy this thing bite the bullet and pretty much max it out from day one, (you prob don’t need 18core) this will future proof the machine for several years and the speed increase will save time in your workflow, and onset. Your clients never want to wait for images to process and back up to an external HD on a Friday afternoon, so with fast machines you can be processing images in the bgrd between shots, lunch etc and at the end of the day you and the clients walk earlier. time is money and happy clients give you more work.
My 2013 Mac Pro has proved reliable and fast and it has paid for itself many times over, and I’m not going to run out and get-this machine until I see some real world tests and detailed pricing on there top tier machines. But for many people this will be a true monster of an upgrade no matter what spec version they get.

Dean Allman's picture

The fact that it is not upgradeable immediately turned me off. Technology changes so rapidly that I want that flexibility, especially if I am initially dropping 5k on a device.

Adam Ottke's picture

Makes sense. On one hand, some people do fine with a computer for five years. On the other hand, it might make a lot of sense to wait for this desktop, highly configurable Mac Pro. I'm actually personally kind of surprised how long it's taken them. I know they do things "when they're ready" and no earlier, but first they "change the world" with their cylindrical Mac Pro design...fine...it wasn't terrible. But apparently it wasn't good enough to really last. That's not a long shelf life for a product before they go back to replanning everything again. But I'm dying to see it... I just want it to be like the old days...Apple OS, Apple quality, Apple guarantee, Apple support, STILL upgradable.

g coll's picture

The thing is if you're going to jump to the iMac Pro why would you unless you're making a significant jump i.e more than the minimum spec version.

In the US the maxed out iMac Pro is $13,000+. However I'm in NZ where it's even more expensive.

Adam Ottke's picture

Yes, it does get pricey. But I have to say, I was curious, so I looked into a few comparisons.

First, the max spec'd Mac Pro is currently just under half the price, but also features about half (or less) of the specs depending on how you look at it on a per-spec basis. And the minimum spec'd version is, according to Brownlee in the featured video, fairly on-par with what it would cost to get a PC with these specs.

Beyond that, Apple usually charges pretty steep prices for its add'l upgrades, though. But taking a further look at the 4 TB SSD options, for instance... At first, it's pretty insane at $2800. But then if you look at how much off-the-shelf, similarly spec'd PCIe SSDs are, it's actually not bad! Similar options from Samsung and Intel with 2-3 GB/s read/write speeds are around or more than $3,000.

So while I understand the sticker shock, it's hard to see how this is in any way beyond normal for a truly pro-spec machine (although it's fair to say they get you on the RAM a bit with about $800 extra compared to the going rate for the 128 GB option). Surely, other desktop scenarios can give even better specs beyond the iMac Pro. But as far as the price goes for what is offered...if you need it and/or if it will be capable of handling what you need it to do, it doesn't seem so crazy price-wise.

Of course, tech is more expensive just about everywhere outside the U.S. So I can understand the frustration there. But I imagine it's pretty much apples-to-apples if you compare the other components' prices in NZ as well, right?