• Is the Mac Pro going to be worth the wait?
  • How much faster will the new Mac Pro be compared to the iMac
  • Wait for a Mac Pro or get the iMac now?

Should I buy an iMac or wait for the new Mac Pro is a pretty good question for any discerning Apple fan. The  iMac is available now, and comes with a built in display; or should you wait for the Mac Pro (second edition)?

The second-generation Mac Pro is rather sweet looking; although it’s not out until December, it could well be worth the wait.

But which Apple Mac ensures the right amount of power? A top of the line iMac can be upgraded with faster processor, more powerful graphics card, and extra RAM. Will this make it as powerful as a Mac Pro though, which offers seemingly endless power? And is the new Mac Pro really worth waiting for given its upgradability?

We take a look at some of the things to consider when choosing between buying a stunning 27-inch iMac today; or getting a glorious Mac Pro when it comes out.


iMac vs Mac Pro: specifications

What’s clear is that both the iMac and Mac Pro offer expert-level specifications. We're going to assume that you’re looking at the top of the range 27-inch iMac (otherwise you should perhaps be comparing the iMac to the Mac mini).

iMac 27-inch: 3.4GHz

  • 3.4GHz quad-core Intel Core i5
  • Turbo Boost up to 3.8GHz
  • 8GB (two 4GB) memory
  • 1TB hard drive1
  • NVIDIA GeForce GTX 775M with 2GB video memory

Mac Pro: 4-core

  • 3.7GHz Quad-Core Intel Xeon E5 processor
  • 12GB 1866MHz DDR3 ECC memory
  • Dual AMD FirePro D300 with 2GB GDDR5 VRAM each
  • 256GB PCIe-based flash storage

Mac Pro: 6-core

  • 3.5GHz 6-Core Intel Xeon E5 processor
  • 16GB 1866MHz DDR3 ECC memory
  • Dual AMD FirePro D500 with 3GB GDDR5 VRAM each
  • 256GB PCIe-based flash storage

Read: New Mac Pro benchmarks suggest fast, with room for improvement

Buy iMac or wait for Mac Pro

iMac vs Mac Pro price

Neither the 27-inch iMac nor the Mac Pro could be remotely described as budget computers. Pricing for both hovers between the £1,500 to £3,300 mark depending on which model you get.
You’ll notice that the top-of-the range 27-inch iMac current costs £1,749. And it’s specifications are below that of the Mac Pro. They can be upgraded, however, you can upgrade to a 3.5GHz CPU with 16GB RAM and 4GB Graphics card for £2,228. This is our “configured” model below. Adding these extras on brings it closer in range to the Mac Pro.

  • 27-inch iMac £1,749.00
  • 27-inch iMac configured £2,228
  • Mac Pro 4-core £2,499
  • Mac Pro 6-core £3,299

See: Apple Store - Mac

Also: New Mac Pro price in the UK

iMac vs Mac Pro: Upgrade options

Aside from raw speed. The key difference between the iMac 27-inch and the Mac Pro are the upgrade options. The iMac is an all-in-one unit and the general idea is that you purchase it pre-configured and then don’t open it. It is possible to add additional RAM and upgrade the hard drive in an iMac, but the hard drive is not an easy upgrade. The raw speed of Thunderbolt has made this less of a concern though, as the speed of Thunderbolt ensures that most external devices run as fast as any internal upgrades.

The new Mac Pro is equally resistant to upgrades although the display is housed separately. Although we expect a slightly wider range of build-to-order options, it’s worth noting that you will not be able to add and remove hard drives with the same ease as the previous Mac Pro (first-generation) model, and you cannot upgrade the graphics card or add additional PCI cards (Source: Mac Pro second generation Wikipedia). The only upgradable part is the RAM. We expect you will be able to upgrade the hard drive with the same ease as the iMac but won’t know until the model is released.


Mac Pro upgrade options

iMac vs Mac Pro: availability

This is a rather easy question. Here is the availability of the two models:

  • iMac: within 24 hours
  • Mac Pro: December

If you simply must have a Mac right now then your choice is made for you.

iMac vs Mac Pro: additional requirements

It’s worth noting that the Mac Pro comes (like the Mac mini) without a keyboard, mouse, or display. These are all additions you need to add. If you wish to give with the stock Apple route these are the prices:

The Apple Cinema Display is certainly a controversial option. There are certainly displays that are as good (or almost as good) for considerably less money.

See: BenQ GW2760HS 27-inch monitor review and Philips 298P4 LCD monitor review

The iMac

Should I get an iMac or a Mac Pro

It really does depend on how important pure speed is to you. No matter which way you swing it the Mac Pro will be considerably faster than the iMac, although just how much faster we will not know until benchmark tests arrive.

The iMac can be upgraded but it will only have the single graphics card, and it does not use the workstation class Intel Xeon E5 processor found in the Mac Pro.

Having said all that, the iMac is no slouch. Especially not the top of the range iMac. So unless you really are involved with high end video or 3D image editing, we’d ask you to question the importance of the Mac Pro (at least until we see the benchmarks). It is considerably more expensive and does not offer the upgradability options from the previous generation, which (speed aside) leaves it with less of a clear advantage over the iMac. And you will need to factor in the cost of accessories and a display.