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The iMac Pro Arrives on December 14th

Were you worried that Apple wasn’t going to ship the iMac Pro before the end of 2017, as the company had promised it would? Put your worries to rest, since Apple has now updated the iMac Pro’s Web page to indicate that it will be available on 14 December 2017. The new machine is aimed at professional Mac users, especially those editing video or creating virtual reality content.

The iMac Pro starts at $5000, and besides coming in a cool space gray design, it has serious specs, including:

  • 5K Retina Display

  • Intel Xeon CPU with 8, 10, or 18 processor cores (the 18-core model won’t ship until 2018)

  • 32, 64, or 128 GB of 2666 MHz DDR4 ECC memory

  • 1, 2, or 4 TB SSD

  • Radeon Pro Vega 56 graphics processor with 8 GB of HBM2 memory, which can be upgraded to a Radeon Pro Vega 64 graphics processor with 16 GB of HBM2 memory.

Also, it features four USB 3 ports, four Thunderbolt 3 ports, 10 Gbps Ethernet using RJ-45 connector, 802.11ac Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.2, a SDXC card slot, and yes, a 3.5mm headphone jack. There are four microphones on the case, along with stereo speakers.

For input, it comes with a Magic Keyboard with Numeric Keypad and a Magic Mouse 2, with the option of exchanging the Magic Mouse for a Magic Trackpad. All accessories are space gray, even the optional Magic Trackpad, but choose carefully, since you cannot yet buy them individually.

As seems to be Apple’s preference lately, some of the first people to get review units were YouTubers.

In Jonathan Morrison’s video, he inexplicably set his iMac Pro up outside, without any sort of cover or weather protection, as one does with a $5000+ machine. After that, he talks at length about the space gray finish and how the various accessories he has arranged around the iMac Pro complement it aesthetically (or not).

Marques Brownlee more sensibly put his iMac Pro indoors, and his video is a pretty good analysis of how it works for video production with the latest version of Final Cut Pro X.

Brownlee points out a major drawback of the iMac Pro: it is completely sealed and not upgradeable. Unlike the regular 27-inch iMac, you can’t even upgrade the RAM. However, he also points out that for the hardware you get, “I don’t think the price is that insane.” He also praised the iMac Pro’s low noise and temperature.

If you’re hoping for an upgradable professional machine, your best bet is to hold out for the promised modular Mac Pro redesign, which Apple said would appear sometime after 2017. The company has given no hints as to what it will look like, how much it will cost, or what its specs might be.

London-based video editor Thomas Carter wrote up his initial impressions for Randi Altman’s postPerspective. In short: “These tests really blew me away. They aren’t necessarily going to be everyday scenarios for most people, or even me, but they make it possible to imagine editing workflows in which you’re working at close to the highest quality possible throughout the entire process… on a desktop computer.…While I really haven’t had enough time to do a deep dive, it’s clearly the best Mac I’ve ever used — it’s stupidly powerful and great to work on.”

At least one developer received an early iMac Pro: Craig A. Hunter of Hunter Research and Technology, who tested the iMac Pro with a number of NASA tools for aerodynamic design and development. He sums his review up with:

There’s an old saying about money burning a hole in one’s pocket. Every once in a while, a product comes along that has a similar but reverse effect on me — it’s a product that’s so compelling, so exciting, so gorgeous to look at, that it causes my wallet to heat up and maybe even burst into flames. The new iMac Pro is one of those products.


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Comments about The iMac Pro Arrives on December 14th
(Comments are closed.)

I don't like the way the iMac Pro is being portrayed. For starters everybody quotes $4999 price tag, but then the machines that are actually being tested and benchmarked are the 10-core variant that costs at least a whopping $5799.

Apple's cherrypicked reviewers tried to point out that a similarly spec'ed PC would cost about $5100. In other words the iMac Pro *IS* expensive, since $5100 buys a 10-core PC, but only a 8-core iMac. There's an $800 difference if you want the 10-core performance.

And finally, the lack of upgradability is just laughable for a box you spend $6499 on. At least RAM and SSD should have been swappable, and probably also a socketed Xeon. Obviously, Apple thinks "Pro" refers to the fact that you can throw $6000 around every year or so, not necessarily that you you'd want to use it for pro tasks.

I think the true pros will have to see what the Mac Pro (vaporware so far) looks like to determine if Apple has finally decided to push them off the cliff (i.e. to PCs).
Josh Centers  An apple icon for a TidBITS Staffer 2017-12-14 10:06
We're working on an update now, but when we first published this article, we couldn't comment on the price of various configurations because they hadn't been announced. But I agree that giving reviewers a 10-core machine when 8-core is the base is a bit disingenuous. And apparently you can upgrade the RAM, but only by taking it to an Apple Store or Apple Authorized Service Provider (so be prepared to spend a lot of money on RAM either way).
Josh, I didn't mean to criticize your article. It's perfectly fine the way it is. I'm aware Apple didn't disclose the details in time.

I guess I'm simply not happy with the way Apple is handling the reviews for this iMac. My feeling is if the product is stellar, you wouldn't need to resort to shenanigans when it comes to who reviews these Macs and how. If the only price you give is the base model, then that's the model I want to read reviews about. Especially when that's the only model they can ship.
Nick Middleton  2017-12-14 15:44
It really worries me too that upgradeability is being shut down. I don't understand the reasons for this. It is trivial to be able to upgrade Ram and Hard drives and necessary in order for the longevity of the machines life and how it is able to flexibly respond to changing requirements. Every Mac I have had has at least allowed this. I love FCPX Mac Osx, and a number of other Mac only programs. But even I am now researching a move to a multi core PC box that right now is properly upgradeable and at £5000 is a more powerful (18cores, 64pcie lanes), sustainable machine than the imac Pro. Is it worth waiting for the, who knows what it will be, modular Mac Pro? I guess it will be more expensive than the imac Pro? So being able to upgrade is being pushed to the far reaches of affordability. Surely the opposite of what Apples ethos might have suggested. It leaves a question; what is their ethos or vision? There isn't clarity.
David  An apple icon for a TidBITS Contributor 2017-12-15 08:19
I think it's a bit rich to criticize a company for trying to handle the launch of a new product in the most positive way it can.

As to lack of upgradability -- that ship long since sailed on the iMac front.

"true pros"

Is your definition of true pros that they spend time upgrading their machine?
Shameer Mulji  2017-12-22 13:21
Apple did say that they are working on and will be releasing a new Mac Pro that focuses on upgradeability and modularity. So maybe you'll be better off waiting for that when it comes out.