iMac vs. iMac Pro

The new iMacs push on iMac Pro territory, but how much power do you really need?

apple refreshes imacs new graphics intel processors imac gets 2x more performance small business screen 03192019

The iMac and iMac Pro are impressive computers that pack everything you need for video editing, web-browsing, and more into a clean package. The iMac Pro is clearly the more powerful of the two, but with Apple recently refreshing the higher end iMacs with newer processors and graphics cards, both machines are once again in the spotlight.

In this guide, we consider design, performance, and features to help make sense of the differences between the two.

Design

Apple iMac Pro News

Both the iMac and iMac Pro are made of aluminum and are designed as an all-in-one computing solution. It’s an iconic design that hasn’t changed much over the years, but it makes for one clean desk setup. The differences end there, though.

Looking at the just iMac, there’s a 21.5-inch and a 27-inch version available. The 21.5-inch version comes with a 4,096 x 2,304 resolution (4K) display, and all 27-inch versions come with a higher-end 5,120 x 2,880 (5K) resolution display. Which version you choose depends on how you’ll use your iMac, but both are visually impressive. Higher resolutions mean crisper images and resolution, ideal for content creators and photographers.

Moving to the iMac Pro, it exclusively comes in a 27-inch variant with a 5K resolution display. It also sports a unique Space Gray color which sets it apart from the silver color found on the rest of the lineup.

Performance

MacOS Terminal Commands
Bill Roberson/Digital Trends

Alongside size differences, there’s also a lot under the hood that sets iMac and iMac Pro apart. Both the 4K and 5K iMacs come with the option for Intel’s 8th-generation  processors. At $1,300, you can start with a four-core Intel Core i3 processor on the base 4K iMac model. For an extra $300 more, there’s a jump all the way up to a six-core Intel Core i7 processor.

On the $2,300 5K iMac, you can get up to a eight-core Intel Core i5 processor, pushing it close to the iMac Pro. Keep in mind, more cores mean for higher efficiency, so picking up an iMac with a six-core processor might be best for the long term to keep it future proof.

As for the iMac Pro, it comes with options for an Intel Xeon W processor with either 8, 10, 14, or 16 cores. Unlike what you can get on the 4K or 5K iMacs, this is a powerful workstation-class processor. Priced at $5,000 it is something designed for more serious professionals like designers and animators.

All entry models of 4K and 5K iMacs start with 8GB RAM, whereas the iMac Pro starts with a whopping 32GB of RAM. The types of storage are also different, with the iMac Pro starting with a faster solid-state-drive storage. In contrast, the 4K and 5K iMac’s  start with a “fusion drive,” which combines a traditional spinning hard drive with flash storage.

Coming down to the specifics, the base model of the Retina 4K iMac is still equipped with options for a slower 1TB hard drive. The highest-end models come with “fusion drive.” 5K iMac models also pack the “fusion drive,” but you can upgrade to a smaller sized 256 GB solid-state-drive for $100 on all models.

Features

Apple iMac with Retina 5K Display review ports
Bill Roberson/Digital Trends

A unique element to the 5K and 4K iMacs is its dedicated graphics cards, which add extra power for video editing and content creation. Apple refreshed the graphics inside the 4K iMacs to the Radeon Pro 555X and the 560X, and the Vega 20. On the 5K iMacs, graphics range to the Radeon Pro 570 X, 575X, or 580X. These still aren’t the most powerful options, and only the Core i9 5K model of the iMac packs the option for the newer Radeon Pro Vega 48 graphics.

With the iMac Pro, it packs in options for up to the AMD Pro Vega 56, Vega 64, or Vega 64X. These graphics cards are far more capable and are for are serious of designers and professionals. The price is expensive too, with Vega 64 coming in at $550 extra, and Vega 64X coming in at an additional $700.

The iMac Pro also features Apple’s T2 co-processor. This is Apple’s custom silicon for Macs, and it enables new levels of security by integrating the controllers found across image signal processor, audio controller, and SSD controller.

Coming down to connectivity, 5K and 4K iMacs feature four USB-3 ports, an SDHC card slot, two Thunderbolt 3 ports, and an Ethernet jack. The iMac Pro, however, keeps the same variation but edges ahead with the addition of four Thunderbolt 3 ports.

The iMac is far more practical

Apple iMac with Retina 5K Display review lifestyle front
Bill Roberson/Digital Trends

If you’re choosing between these two desktop computers, chances are you in need of some serious power. Video editors, music producers, game developers, or graphic designers alike will all need to decide for themselves just how much power they need.

If rendering 8K video is part of the task, the 10 cores and extra graphical power of the iMac Pro might be tempting. For most everyone else, one of the mid-range iMacs should give you all the processing power you’ll need to accomplish your goals. It might not come in Space Grey, but it’s a far more practical option.

Computing

Monzo will launch its banking app in the U.S., but it may be a hard sell

Monzo, a popular mobile banking app from the U.K., will launch this summer in the United States, but its plan for a slow release and an initially feature-light banking app may be a hard sell for its prospective U.S. customers.
Computing

Air, Pro, or just a MacBook? Here's our guide to finding the right Apple laptop

Apple's lineup of MacBooks has started to swell, leaving fans a bit confused about which laptop they should buy. Depending on what you're looking for, we'll point you in the right direction.
Computing

Mac Pro vs. iMac Pro: Apple's incredibly powerful beasts square off

Apple’s Mac Pro and iMac Pro are both incredibly powerful machines, but there are some key differences between them. Which one is best, and which one should you buy? Our guide lays it out.
Deals

You can get an iMac with a 4K Retina display for a steal today for only $899

A deal from B&H today is offering a mid-2017 iMac with 4K Retina Display for only $899, a discount of $400. In addition to a stunning high-resolution screen, this device has powerful Intel internals and ample SSD storage.
Computing

AMD's latest RX 5000 Navi graphics cards are incoming. Here's what to expect

AMD unveiled its first three Radeon RX 5000 GPUs: The RX 5700, Rx 5700 XT, and RX 5700 XT 50th Anniversary Edition. Starting at $379, these GPUs are designed on AMD's new Navi architecture to take on Nvidia's RTX 2070 graphics.
Computing

Apple just registered seven new MacBooks, but what are they? Let’s speculate

When Apple registers new devices, that usually means they’re only weeks away from being released. The company has just registered seven new devices -- but are they Airs, Pros or something else entirely?
Photography

The Loupedeck Plus custom keyboard will make you feel like a pro video editor

With recently added support for Final Cut Pro X, the Loupedeck Plus improves speed and accuracy for video editors. With a collection of customizable buttons and dials, the Loupedeck can almost completely replace a mouse and keyboard setup.
Deals

Amazon cuts prices on Microsoft Surface Pro 6 and Surface Go

The Microsoft Surface series is an excellent alternative to other tablets if you're a dedicated Windows user, and the superb Surface Pro 6 (our favorite 2-in-1) and its cheaper sibling, the Surface Go, are both on sale right now.
Deals

Amazon sale drops deals on Microsoft Surface laptops

Despite an increasingly crowded market, the sleek Microsoft Surface laptops have left their mark. Both the Microsoft Surface Laptop 2 and Surface Book 2 are discounted on Amazon right now, too, with deals that can save you up to $300.
Computing

If you need your laptop to be large, these ones are most in charge

Whether you're in the market for a mobile workstation or a gaming behemoth, there's probably something in the 15-inch form factor that can fit the bill. Here, we've rounded up the best 15-inch laptops available.
Computing

Need more pixels? These 4K laptops have the eye-popping visuals you crave

If you're looking for the best 4K laptops, you need to find one that has powerful internal hardware, and doesn't scrimp on weight and battery life. All of these 4K notebooks are great options, but which one is the right one for you?
Computing

AMD’s Ryzen one-two punch will end with a 64-core Threadripper in 2019

AMD's Threadripper may be set to deliver the killing blow to Intel in Q4 2019, with a rumor suggesting a new Zen 2-based Threadripper line is coming down the pipe with a top chip that has as many as 64 cores.
Photography

What’s the difference between Lightroom CC and Lightroom Classic?

Lightroom CC has evolved into a capable photo editor, but is it enough to supplant Lightroom Classic? We took each program for a test drive to compare the two versions and see which is faster, more powerful, and better organized.
Computing

HP's Spectre x360 is a better 2-in-1 than Microsoft's Surface Laptop 2 is a clamshell

The Microsoft Surface Laptop 2 is a refresh of Microsoft's clamshell option, an oddity given Microsoft's creation of the modern 2-in-1. The HP Spectre x360 13 is, therefore, an interesting comparison.