Having promised that a professional grade iMac was on the way back at a briefing in April, Apple has given us a first look at the new iMac Pro, a Space Grey beast of a machine, and promised that it will arrive in December this year. Want to read more about the iMac Pro? We have an iMac Pro preview here.
The new iMac Pro
WWDC gave us all the first peek at this new professional-grade iMac, but it wasn't the first time we had heard talk of it.
Back in April, talking to journalists in what appeared to be a bid to convince pro users that Apple hasn't forgotten about them, Apple VPs Phil Schiller, Craig Federighi and John Ternus revealed that because the Mac Pro in its current form hasn't been meeting the needs of many pro users, some pros have turned to the iMac instead, and as a result Apple intends to provide those users with an update to the iMac designed to suit them.
"So many of our customers were moving to iMac that we saw a path to address many, many more of those that were finding themselves limited by Mac Pro through a next generation iMac," Federighi said at the time.
Apple has put "a lot of our energy behind" the new iMac Pro, according to Federighi.
At WWDC in June, the iMac Pro was officially revealed, alongside updates to the rest of the iMac range. If you want to find out more about the new 21-inch iMac, our review of that model is here: 21-5inch 2017 iMac review and if you want to find out more about the 27-inch iMac, our review of that model is here: 27-inch 2017 iMac review.
2017 iMac Pro: Design
The new iMac Pro, when it arrives, will have a new, darker, look shrouded in a Space Grey case.
But it's not just its outward appearance, on the inside of the iMac Pro Apple has had to completely rethink the thermal architecture in order to house the new components. The result is a new fan system that offers an 80 percent increase in cooling capacity, according to the company. Apple says that the new system “allows for upgraded internals without making more noise.”
Apple explained: “We reengineered the whole system and designed an entirely new thermal architecture to pack extraordinary performance into the elegant, quiet iMac enclosure our customers love — iMac Pro is a huge step forward and there’s never been anything like it.”
2017 iMac Pro: Display
The 27in iMac Pro will still offer 5,120x2,880 resolution 5K Retina display, like it's non-Pro cousin.
As for whether the iMac display will double up as a touchscreen, the answer is no.
Back at the April briefing, Phil Schiller was asked about whether Apple would consider adding a touch screen to the iMac. His response: "No". His colleague Craig Federighi suggested that the iPad Pro offers a far better drawing experience.
2017 iMac Pro: Processor
The new iMac Pro will ship with 8-, 10- or 18-core Xeon processors making it the “Most powerful Mac ever made.” Apple describes this as: “Workstation class performance”, noting the 22 Teraflops of GPU Performance, Fast Storage and Advanced I/O.
Xeon chips are better suited to applications involving complex data - such as large, multi-layered Photoshop files, 4K video or 3D scenes with huge textures - as they are generally more robust and reliable than Core chips. They can also use ECC (error-correcting code) RAM, which can prevent errors that could - for example - crash your computer during a long render, explains our colleagues at DigitalArts.
During the keynote Apple talked often of machine learning and other high performance uses, in a bid to emphasis the pro nature of this machine.
2017 iMac Pro: RAM
The iMac Pro will offer 32GB ECC Memory as standard, but will be configurable to 64GB or 128GB ECC Memory when it launches in December.
2017 iMac Pro: Storage
The iMac Pro will offer a 1TB SSD as standard, but is configurable to up to 4TB SSD.
2017 iMac Pro: Graphics
The iMac Pro will offer “advanced graphics editing”, according to Apple, mentioning such uses as virtual reality content creation and real-time 3D rendering.
The iMac Pro will ship with the soon-to-debut Radeon Pro Vega graphics card with offers up to 16GB on-package high-bandwidth memory. This is the most advanced graphics ever in a Mac and it will delivers up to an 11 Teraflops of single-precision compute power for real-time 3D rendering and immersive, high frame rate VR, says Apple.
In comparison, the top-of-the-range 27in iMac offers 8GB video memory with the Radeon Pro 580.
During the keynote at WWDC, Apple went to lengths to demonstrate its eagerness to join the VR revolution.
2017 iMac Pro: Ports
The iMac Pro will boast 10Gb Ethernet, available on a Mac for the first time, and offering up to 10 times faster networking. You'll also find four Thunderbolt 3.0 ports.
The latter will enable it to power two 2 additional 5K displays or connect to up to two high-performance RAID arrays.
The new iMac Pro will ship with Space Grey keyboard and trackpad to match its darker design.
2017 iMac Pro: Price
The iMac Pro starts at $4,999/£4,949 - which may sound a lot, but, Apple says that if you built a PC equivalent it'd cost $7,000 without the display.
Another price comparison that's a little closer to home: if you add all the build-to-order options to the top of the range 27in standard iMac it tops out at £4,949... In this case, you might prefer to wait for the new machine to launch.
But, of course, it's important to remember that the £4,949 figure is just a starting price. ZDNet has estimated that a full-spec build-to-order iMac Pro with an 18-core CPU, 128GB RAM, 4TB SSD and Radeon Pro Vega graphics with 16GB HBM2 memory could cost more than £17,000!
2017 iMac Pro: Availability
The iMac Pro is scheduled to ship in December. Hopefully it won’t be delayed like the Mac Pro was - in that case it was supposed to be available in December but shipping slipped to January and in some cases February and beyond.