The iMac and iMac Pro are impressive computers that pack everything you need for video editing, web browsing, and more in 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.
Both the iMac and iMac Pro are made of aluminum and are designed as all-in-one computers. That look is a design classic that hasn’t changed much over the years, but it makes for one clean desk setup. The differences end there, though.
Looking at just the iMac, there are 21.5-inch and 27-inch versions available. Most 21.5-inch versions come with a 4,096 x 2,304 resolution (4K) display (although the entry-level model is stuck with a 1080p screen), 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 that sets it apart from the silver color found on the rest of the lineup.
Alongside size differences, there’s also a lot under the hood that sets iMac and iMac Pro apart. The 21.5-inch variants come with older 8th-generation Intel processors, whereas the 27-inch ones include 10th-generation chips. At $1,299, you can start with an 8th-generation quad-core Intel Core i3 processor on the base 4K iMac model. For an extra $300 more, there’s a jump to an 8th-generation six-core Intel Core i7 processor.
The base model 27-inch iMac starts at $1,799 and comes with a six-core 10th-generation Intel Core 95 chip. On the top-end at $2,299, you can get a 10th-generation eight-core Intel Core i7 processor, or for an extra $400, you get a 10th-generation eight-core i9, pushing it close to the iMac Pro.
Speaking of the iMac Pro, that system comes with options for an Intel Xeon W processor with either eight, 10, 14, or 18 cores. Unlike what you can get on the 4K or 5K iMacs, this is a powerful workstation-class processor. Priced at $4,999, it is something designed for more serious professionals like video editors, 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 (SSD) storage. In contrast, the 4K and 5K iMacs start with either a regular hard drive or a Fusion Drive, which combines a traditional spinning hard drive with a small amount of flash storage. 5K iMac models also pack the Fusion Drive, but you can upgrade to an SSD on all models.
All but the most basic 4K iMac come with dedicated graphics cards, which add extra power for video editing and content creation. The 4K iMacs come with Radeon Pro 555X or the 560X, which can be upgraded to the Radeon Pro Vega 20. On the 5K iMacs, graphics include the Radeon Pro 570X, 575X, or 580X. These still aren’t the most powerful options, and only the high-end model of the iMac packs the option for the newer Radeon Pro Vega 48 graphics.
With the iMac Pro, you get options for the Radeon Pro Vega 56, Vega 64, or Vega 64X. These graphics cards are far more capable and are for serious designers and professionals. The price is expensive, too, with Vega 64 coming in at $550 extra and Vega 64X costing 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 the image signal processor, audio controller, and SSD controller.
4K and 5K iMacs are both well-equipped in terms of connectivity. They feature a 3.5mm headphone jack, a Gigabit Ethernet port, two Thunderbolt 3 ports, an SDXC card slot, and four USB 3.1 Gen 2 ports.
However, when comparing features side-by-side, the iMac Pro wins marginally. It maintains that same variation but also supplies four Thunderbolt 3 ports instead of only two options. This capacity may seem like a minute detail, but the extra port could be monumental for users who balance a ton of peripheral connections.
The iMac is far more practical
To decide between the iMac and iMac Pro, decide how much power you need in a computer and make sure your choice can provide it.
Both of these computers have been top choices among professionals in graphic design, gaming, and video and music production.
If rending an 8K video is a necessity for your work or hobby, consider the iMac Pro. Since this computer has ten cores and impressive graphical power, there’s no other choice for heavy-duty video or design work.
If 8K videos aren’t your purview, then we recommend choosing the iMac instead, specifically the 27-inch model, because of its updated components. The processing power is consistent, and the overall computer is practical for users. It’s easier to manage and reliable. The computer itself is only available in Mac’s classic space gray, but if looks don’t matter to you, then you’ll be impressed with all the device has to offer.
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