In Praise of the Soon-To-Be Retired iMac Pro

Apple has announced it is only continuing to sell the iMac Pro “while supplies last” and only at a base configuration. It looks as if the iMac Pro is about to go the way of the Dodo.

This is interesting. Originally, the iMac Pro appears to have been Apple’s answer to the Mac Pro’s expected demise. They then shifted gears, getting back into the Mac Pro business and leaving the iMac Pro in that weird space between the iMac and the Mac Pro.

I used one for years and loved it. On the outside, it looked just like an iMac (except for the space gray aluminum). On the inside, it had a new design with a much improved thermal system, faster internal bus speeds, and better security. It was fast and whisper quiet. Up until now, it was the pinnacle of the iMac design and implementation.

Things, however, are changing. My entry-level M1 Mac, which was one-sixth the cost of my iMac Pro, can render screencasts just as fast and more quietly as the iMac Pro. The big jump in technology with Apple Silicon has caught up with the iMac Pro. I sold mine a few months ago, hoping to get the best value for it. Since selling it, I’ve missed it and its presence on my desk. This is the first time that’s ever happened to me when selling a piece of hardware. But I expect that whatever Apple has in store for the new iMac with Apple Silicon inside will run circles around the iMac Pro and still be whisper quiet. With Apple Silicon’s arrival, a higher-end iMac will be, effectively, an iMac Pro (though I expect Apple will not call it that). There will no longer be space between a high-end iMac and a Mac Pro for the iMac Pro to exist. Thus, its demise.

Nevertheless, I can’t help but want to pour one out for the iMac Pro. It was the best desktop computer I’ve ever owned.

The New iMac and the iMac Pro

Today Jason Snell released his iMac review. I like this review for several reasons. First, he reviewed a high-end iMac, not the entry level machine as people so often do. Second, Jason uses an iMac Pro daily.

I’m often asked by readers and listeners exactly where the cutoff point is between the high-end iMac and the low end iMac Pro. With Jason’s insight and familiarity with both machines, we finally have an excellent resource. In addition to the performance trade-offs, Jason also covers some of the new technologies included in the iMac Pro which still have yet to make their way down to the iMac line. Those differences are substantial. I explained how I love my iMac Pro at length on my gear page. I still feel the same.

The Decision to Buy an iMac Pro

With all the news coming out on the iMac Pro, Jason Snell wrote a thoughtful piece over at Macworld about the pluses and minuses of the new machine. If my email inbox is any indication, this question is on a lot of people’s mind. Jason’s article explains some of the usage cases where the iMac Pro makes the most sense. The article also explains you may want it just because you want the biggest, baddest iMac out there. If that’s you, I get that. I’ve blown money on far dumber things than a kick-ass iMac.

One point I would make, however, is that if you just need raw power and you can afford to wait to see what Apple does with the new Mac Pro (presumably sometime in 2018), you probably should. My guess is that the new Mac Pro will have more processor speed and be more upgradeable than the iMac Pro, but also be more expensive and require you to buy a separate monitor.

As for me, I’m not tempted. My existing 5K iMac is chugging along quite nicely. The hardest thing I make this computer do is render iBooks and screencast videos and the standard iMac is very much up to that task.