iMac Pro

iMac 5K

[ BuzzFeed ] Phil Schiller, Apple’s SVP of Worldwide Marketing:

We have big plans for the iMac. We’re going to begin making configurations of iMac specifically with the pro customer in mind.

I hope that doesn’t mean the type of “pro configuration” we see on the new MacBook Pro’s. Touchscreen?

No. Touch doesn’t even register on the list of things pro users are interested in talking about. They’re interested in things like performance and storage and expandability.

Microsoft’s Surface Studio comes to mind, as an example of exactly the opposite of what Schiller thinks professional users want to do with their large displays. Of course not every professional is a designer, and maybe non-designers were who Schiller was thinking of when he answered the question regarding a touchscreen.

Microsoft Surface Studio

Craig Federighi, Apple’s SVP of Software Engineering:

The iMac has seen an incredible evolution over the past decade. The original iMac you wouldn’t have thought of as remotely touching pro uses. But today’s 5K iMac in its top configurations? It’s incredibly powerful. Tasks that previously would have required the Mac Pros of old are now being well addressed by today’s iMac.

A 5K iMac in its top configuration costs US$4128.00, which includes:

  • 27-inch Retina 5K display
  • 4.0GHz quad-core Intel Core i7, Turbo Boost up to 4.2GHz
  • 32GB 1867MHz DDR3 SDRAM – four 8GB
  • 1TB Flash Storage
  • AMD Radeon R9 M395X with 4GB video memory
  • Magic Mouse 2 + Magic Trackpad 2

$4128 is a lot of money, especially considering the slower RAM and less powerful GPU. Other all-in-one options include:

  • $1900 HP ENVY 27: 27-inch 3840×2160 4K UHD display, 2.9GHz 7th Gen Core i7-7700T up to 3.8GHz, 16GB DDR4-2133 SDRAM – two 8GB, 256GB PCIe NVMe M.2 SSD and 2TB 5400RPM HDD, NVIDIA GeForce GTX 950M 4GB GDDR5.
  • $3300 Dell XPS 27: 27-inch 4K UHD display, 3.4Ghz 6th Gen Core i7-6700 up to 4.0GHz, 32GB 2133MHz DDR4, 1TG PCIe SSD, AMD R9 M485X 4GB GDDR5.
  • $4200 Microsoft Surface Studio: 28-inch 4500×3000 10-point multi-touch, 2.7GHz 6th Gen Core i7 up to 3.6GHz, 32GB DDR4 RAM, 128GB SSD with 2TB HDD, NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980M 4GB GDDR5.

The HP ENVY 27 all-in-one is the most economic of the four — you can actually buy two for less than the price of one 5K iMac — but it does have some weaknesses. The CPU is less powerful, RAM is maxed out at 16GB, the M.2 SSD is slower and HDD is way slower, and the GPU is weaker.

Dell XPS 27 All-In-One

The Dell XPS 27 has less pixels, less CPU power, but faster RAM, equivalent SSD, and more powerful GPU, the most powerful R9 series GPU AMD currently has to offer actually.

The Surface Studio by Microsoft has a bit less pixels, but those you can touch, less CPU power, but faster RAM, slower larger storage, and more powerful GPU.

So how would Schiller configure a  iMac Pro? The current iMac’s weakest points are the slow RAM and weak GPU. RAM will most likely be increased to DDR4 perhaps with the maximum increased to 64GB. If Apple is planning to release a iMac Pro later this year, then it’s probably being tested right now. With NVIDIA having the lead in mobile GPU with its 1.733GHz GeForce GTX 1080 with 8GB GDDR5X the iMac Pro will most likely be equipped with it, unless Apple shifts toward an external GPU (eGPU) unit that can hold one or two desktop-class GPUs. Examples of eGPUs are the Razor Core, Alienware Graphics Amplifier, MSI Gaming Dock; these may be coming in the near future: ASUS ROG XG Station 2, Gigabyte GP-T3GFx, and the designed-for-Mac The Wolfe. I’m sure Apple can design a beautiful and powerful Thunderbolt 3-based eGPU enclosure for the iMac Pro.