Six Colors
Six Colors

by Jason Snell & Dan Moren

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By Jason Snell

By Request: Do I really need an iMac Pro?

The iMac Pro comes out in December.

It is kind of ridiculous: 8, 10, or 18 cores. 4.5GHz turbo boost. Radeon Pro Vega graphics. Support for up to 128GB of RAM. Fast SSD. And it comes in Space Gray.

I use a 5K iMac. It’s great. And yet…. yet…

Am I wrong to be tempted by the iMac Pro?

The heavy lifting I do on my iMac is audio and video editing. I spend a lot of time with some pretty intense de-noising plug-ins to make audio sound better. Having more processor cores would make all of that go faster. The faster storage would help too.

Do I need the graphics power? No, I do not. But the funny thing about Apple’s product line is, I don’t get to pick and choose and build my own Mac. If I want many fast processor cores, I will need to buy the graphics power too. Is it worse to know there are features you won’t really use? Would it feel like a better product if I didn’t know?

Then there’s the price tag. The base model iMac Pro will cost $4999. That’s… a couple thousand bucks more than I’ve ever spent on a computer in my life. And yet… an increasing part of my livelihood involves doing audio and video stuff.

I realize that, whether it’s the iMac Pro or a MacBook Pro or just a specific built-to-order processor upgrade, all of us have these moments where we’re stuck in a position between consumer desire and sticker shock. I distinctly remember spending hours reading and re-reading an issue of MacUser magazine about the PowerBook 140, 160, and 180 models, as I tried to figure out which model I wanted to buy. It would be my first PowerBook. (I ended up buying the 160, but only after reading the part of the article about the difference between active-matrix and passive-matrix displays dozens of times.)

You can’t buy an iMac with more than four processor cores. But still, for $2899 I can buy a 4.2GHz quad-core 5K iMac with 16GB of RAM and a 512GB SSD. That would be a huge upgrade from my three-year-old 5K iMac, and I’d have $2000 left over. Is that enough of a boost? Or should I splurge on more cores?

I don’t have an answer. I’m leaning against the iMac Pro today, but if you caught me tomorrow I might say something different. The good news is, I hope to get a review model of the iMac Pro so I can try it out and relay my experiences to all of you. Of course, when I reviewed the 5K iMac back in 2014 I liked it so much that I immediately bought one. That may happen again. We’ll see.

Ask me tomorrow.

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