Mac Pro vs iMac Pro

Apple's Pro line-up has just been extended. Now, in addition to the Mac Pro, MacBook Pro and iPad Pro, Apple has introduced a new iMac Pro, which will be available to buy in December. But what's the difference between the iMac Pro and the Mac Pro, and which Apple Pro desktop computer is best for you? We compare the two to help you decide. You can also read our comparison of all the 'pro' Macs here, find out which is the best Mac for pros.

This comparison is based on the current Mac Pro, which was first released in 2013, and the upcoming iMac Pro. However, Apple has confirmed that there will be a new Mac Pro in 2018. Aside from the fact that it is in the works, we don't know any more detail about the new Mac Pro yet, but we expect it will be a beast. You can find out more in our Mac Pro 2018 latest rumours round-up and our Mac Pro 2018 (or 2019) preview.

Want to read more about the iMac Pro? We have an iMac Pro preview here and our comparison of the iMac versus the iMac Pro here.

Pricing

Let's first take a look at the price of the two Macs we're considering here, because that could well rule out one or the other. These are no small investment, with the cheapest Mac Pro priced at £2,999. But the cheapest iMac Pro will be £4,949, and if you want to boost its specs you're looking at reaching more than £10,000.

Of course, you'll need to consider the additional cost of a keyboard, mouse and monitor for the Mac Pro. But even if you choose some of the best peripherals to go with your Mac Pro, you're unlikely to reach the £4,949 price tag of the iMac Pro. Take a look at some of our favourites:

Best monitors
Best keyboards
Best mouse

If that rules the iMac Pro out for you right away and will instead opt for the Mac Pro, click here to visit the Mac Pro on Apple's Store where you buy it. It's also available from the likes of Currys and KRCS, as well as the retailers listed in our article: Where to buy a Mac.

Design and build

The iMac Pro and Mac Pro look very different. The Mac Pro has been mocked for looking like a bin (or "trashcan" by our American friends), while the iMac Pro has been described as stunning and sleek.

The new iMac Pro is an all-in-one machine, which means that it is essentially a monitor with all of the tech tucked neatly behind it in one surprisingly small and slim chassis. It's the first iMac to come in Space Grey, and even the keyboard and mouse have been given the Space Grey treatment. We think it's gorgeous.

The Mac Pro, on the other hand, is a bit of an acquired taste. It has a cylindrical design made from a shiny black that is very reflective, but it is incredibly small considering the amount of power within it.

As mentioned, you'll need to buy your own mouse, keyboard and monitor, and the design of those will all depend on which you choose.

Features and specs

While the design is important, it's what inside that counts most with these professional Mac options.

The iMac Pro sports one obvious thing that that the Mac Pro doesn't: a display. It is 27in and is described by Apple as Retina 5K. What that means is that the display boasts 5120 x 2880 pixels, and supports billions of colours with a wide gamut. It offers 500 nits brightness, too.

The Mac Pro doesn't have a display at all, but it does support the connection of up to three 5K displays or six Thunderbolt displays.

But beyond that, both feature huge amounts of power. When it comes to processors, you can choose between 8-core, 10-core and 18-core for the iMac Pro, or 6-core and 8-core with the Mac Pro.

This makes the iMac Pro the most powerful Mac Apple has ever made, and it's particularly impressive when you consider that it is an all-in-one machine.

There is a default 32GB of RAM in the iMac Pro, which is configurable up to 64GB or even 128GB, with 1TB SSD that is configurable to 2TB or 4TB.

You can get up to 64GB RAM in the Mac Pro, with 16GB the default. And there's up to 1TB SSD found in the Mac Pro, with the default just 256GB unless you upgrade.

As for graphics, the iMac Pro has a Radeon Pro Vega 56 graphics processor with 8GB of memory, and even that is configurable to the Vega 64 with 16GB of memory.

The Mac Pro's graphics is AMD, either FirePro D500 or D700 depending on the model you choose.

A quick rundown of the ports now, as they are key to the usefulness of your current peripherals or the peripherals you're considering buying.

For more information, here's How to choose the Mac with the best processor for your needs.

iMac Pro

  • 3.5mm headphone jack
  • SDXC card slot
  • 4 x USB 3
  • 4 x Thunderbolt 3 (USB-C)
  • Ethernet

Mac Pro

  • 3.5mm headphone jack
  • 4x USB 3
  • 6x Thunderbolt 2
  • Dual Gigabit Ethernet
  • HDMI

It's pretty clear that the iMac Pro is the more powerful of the two compared here, but this isn't altogether surprising when you consider that the Mac Pro was released more than three years ago. It needs the upcoming update to really compete, so unless you are absolutely set on having your own monitor, keyboard and mouse, it's tricky to recommend the Mac Pro right now if you're basing your decision largely on power.

If you're still very much considering buying the Mac Pro now but want to know more about it, you might like to read:

Mac Pro review
Best Mac buying guide 2017
Best Mac for video editing

However, if you're considering waiting for either the iMac Pro or the new Mac Pro 2018, read the following for more details should you need them:

Everything we know so far about the 2018 Mac Pro
Everything we know so far about the iMac Pro

OUR VERDICT

The Mac Pro is the only option here that's available to buy right now, but we would strongly suggest waiting if you can. The new model will be released next year. The current Mac Pro is very powerful, but it has out-of-date tech and ports, all of which will be resolved when the updated model arrives. December is when you can expect the iMac Pro to become available to buy, and it's a hugely appealing option if you can afford it. It's powerful and future-proof, and we expect it will be met with critical acclaim when reviewers are able to start testing it.

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