Hardware

iMac Pro: The smart person's guide

The iMac Pro's impressive specs might redeem Apple with professionals. Here's what business users need to know about the all-in-one machine.

Apple hasn't been pleasing creative professionals like it used to. The iMac has been getting old, and new machines simply haven't had the power to do the heavy processing Apple aficionados need. Apple seems to have been listening, because the iMac Pro is one serious machine.

The new entry into the iMac line is designed for professionals, and boy does it have some impressive hardware stats. If you're a video producer, photo editor, or 3D designer tired of waiting on a slow machine, you may have just found deliverance.

TechRepublic's smart person's guide about the iMac Pro is an introduction to this all-in-one Apple computer. This resource will be updated periodically as new details about the iMac Pro are released.

SEE: All of TechRepublic's smart person's guides

Executive summary

  • What is the iMac Pro? The iMac Pro may look nearly identical to previous iMac models, but it definitely isn't. The inside of the iMac Pro is packed to the brim with high-performance hardware that may finally redeem Apple in the eyes of the professional community.
  • Why does the iMac Pro matter? It's no secret that Apple has been losing its edge with pro users, and Microsoft has stepped in to fill the gap with products like the Surface Studio. The iMac Pro is Apple's chance to win back those users who have become unsure of its commitment to pro users.
  • Who does the iMac Pro affect? Anyone can buy an iMac Pro, but with prices starting at $4,999 it's unlikely it will be found outside of professional environments. Pros are Apple's target with the iMac Pro anyhow, and that's who it can affect—all the pro users Apple has lost since the 2013 iMac fell flat.
  • How do I get an iMac Pro? The iMac Pro will be released in December 2017. Pre orders are not yet available, but interested parties can sign up for iMac Pro-related news on Apple's website. Once released the iMac Pro will be available for purchase on Apple's website, at Apple stores, and at other authorized retailers.

SEE: WWDC 2017: The 3 biggest product announcements (TechRepublic)

imacpro2017apple.jpg
Image: Apple, Inc.

What is the iMac Pro?

At first glance the iMac Pro looks pretty much like a regular iMac, with the exception of being space grey in color. But below its new darker exterior lies hardware that's sure to impress anyone, and all designed to be perfectly tailored for pro users.

Apple admitted its mistakes on not serving the professional community with the 2013 iMac, and the 2017 iMac Pro is its attempt to rectify the situation. Since the iMac Pro isn't a truly new product from Apple—just a new version—it's better to let the hardware specs do the talking for its ability to win back professionals.

imacpro.jpg
Image: Apple, Inc.

Specs for the iMac Pro

Display:

  • 27" 5K Retina display at 5120 x 2880 resolution
  • 500 nits brightness
  • DCI-P3 color

Processor:

  • 8-core standard
  • Configuration options for 10- and 18-core

Memory:

  • 32 GB 2666MHz DDR4 ECC memory standard
  • Configuration options for 64 GB and 128 GB

Storage:

  • 1TB SSD standard
  • Configuration options for 2 TB or 4 TB, both SSD

Graphics:

  • Radeon Pro Vega 56 GPU with 8 GB HBM2 memory standard
  • Configuration option for Radeon Pro Vega 64 GPU with 16 GB HMB2 memory

Other features:

  • 1080p FaceTime HD camera
  • SDXC card slot
  • 10GG ethernet
  • Four Thunderbolt 3 USB-C ports
  • Four USB 3 ports
  • 802.11ac Wi-Fi
  • IEEE 802.11 a/b/g/n compatible
  • Bluetooth 4.2

Additional resources

imac-pro-cooling.jpg
Image: CNET

Why does the iMac Pro matter?

Apple was the gold standard in multimedia production for years, but the past few haven't been as good for the Cupertino computer company. Soldered-in chips were just one thing that angered pro users during the launch of the 2013 iMac, and Apple has spent lots of time in the first half of this year reiterating that yes, it does care about pro users.

The writing on the wall is clear, especially in light of increasing competition from Microsoft's Surface line geared toward professionals.

This is exactly why the iMac Pro matters—it's Apple's chance to re-ingratiate itself with the professional audience it has alienated in the past four years. If Apple does a good job with this new machine, the company could see huge sales numbers. If they fail, pro users will feel vindicated in their abandonment of Apple products.

SEE: Free ebook—Executive's guide to Apple in the enterprise (TechRepublic)

Competitors to the iMac Pro

The iMac Pro has several competitors, but perhaps none is as directly targeting the same aesthetic and user group as the Microsoft Surface Studio. It's clearly an iMac Pro competitor, and while it might not have components that are as advanced as the iMac Pro, it does have some features Apple's new machine doesn't.

The Surface Studio has a touchscreen, can be tilted to different angles for drawing on the screen with a stylus pen, and it also works with the Surface Dial. Advances like these make an iMac Pro and a Wacom seem antiquated, regardless of processor power and memory speed.

The Surface Studio and other iMac Pro competitors face their biggest challenge from the Pro's hardware specs. If you want innovative features, like the ability to draw right on the screen, get a Studio. If raw computing power is what matters, you may want to wait for the iMac Pro.

Additional resources

Who does the iMac Pro affect?

Apple's goal for who to affect is right in the iMac Pro's name: Professionals. Sure, anyone can buy one, but with prices starting at $4,999 it's going to be much more affordable in the enterprise world instead of at home.

If you're a pro user feeling burned by the last few years of iMacs, the iMac Pro was made to affect you. Apple knows it lost some points with professionals, and the iMac Pro is the company's attempt to make it up to your demographic. The only question is whether it's too little too late.

Additional resources

How do I get an iMac Pro?

The iMac Pro was revealed at WWDC 2017 in June and is due to be released in December 2017.

Once iMac Pro is available in December, it will be available to purchase on Apple's website, at Apple stores, and at other retailers that carry Apple computers. You can't preorder the iMac Pro yet, but you can sign up for iMac Pro-related news on Apple's website, where you're likely to hear first thing about availability.

Additional resources

About Brandon Vigliarolo

Brandon writes about apps and software for TechRepublic. He's an award-winning feature writer who previously worked as an IT professional and served as an MP in the US Army.

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