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I want Apple to resurrect the iMac Pro, but it’s a bad idea

If you believe the rumor mill, Apple is hard at work on a new large-format iMac, just a few years after both the iMac Pro and the 27-inch iMac were unceremoniously dropped from the company’s roster.

I love the iMac, and it would be great to see a fresh, scaled-up version hit the shelves. Yet I can’t help feeling that it could also be a terrible mistake on Apple’s part. At the end of the day, there are plenty of reasons why Apple probably shouldn’t resurrect the iMac Pro.

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iMac 2019 placed on a desktop.
Dan Baker/Digital Trends

The most obvious argument is that it would make Apple’s already-stuffed Mac lineup even more confusing. If you’re a pro user, there are the Mac Pro, Mac Studio and MacBook Pro aimed at you. Would an iMac Pro really offer more than any of those? A Mac Studio with a Studio Display occupies almost exactly the same space as an iMac Pro. Adding a top-end all-in-one to the roster just feels unnecessary.

As well as that, a Mac Studio and Studio Display is probably a much better choice in the long run than an iMac Pro. The computer part of that combination will likely become outdated much more quickly than the monitor — with a Mac Studio, you can just replace the Mac and keep the monitor for as long as it’s working for you. With an iMac Pro, you have to replace the entire thing once the processor is no longer up to task.

So while Apple’s original contention that the Mac Studio is a “modular” system seems a little facetious, but it’s certainly more modular than an iMac Pro. If you don’t fancy having to buy an entirely new desktop setup every few years, the Mac Studio is probably the more sensible option.

Repeating the same mistakes

Apple iMac Pro News

Apple discontinued the iMac Pro in March 2021. Although Apple never gave a reason, one possibility is that it simply wasn’t upgradeable enough for the Pro users it was targeted at — users who need to keep their machines as up to date aspossible. An all-in-one design makes replacing internal components extremely difficult.

If the iMac Pro wasn’t able to meet the needs of Apple’s customers the first time around, what would make things any different now? From what we can tell, the only major difference this time will be the inclusion of an Apple silicon chip. Everything else from the last unsuccessful attempt is set to remain the same.

Yet as the upcoming Mac Pro refresh is seemingly indicating, an Apple silicon chip only lessens the upgradability because Apple’s chips merge the CPU, GPU and memory into one unit. If you want a graphics boost, you need a totally new chip, which in the iMac Pro’s case means replacing the entire computer.

Body check

Let’s take a step back and assume that Apple is actually working on a consumer-focused 27-inch iMac, not a professional-level iMac Pro. In my mind, that still doesn’t make much sense.

When Apple releases Macs in two different sizes, it usually includes a more powerful chip in the larger version while using the same chassis design for both models. Case in point, the MacBook Pro, where the larger 16-inch version offers more powerful M2 Max chips than those you’ll find in the 14-inch MacBook Pro.

That practice would likely find its way into the larger iMac, which could come with M2 Pro or M3 Pro chips. Yet if it’s an iMac and not an iMac Pro, we can probably expect to see the same superthin, multicolored body as its smaller sibling. As we said when we reviewed the 24-inch iMac, it’s a computer that Apple designed around the M1 — a chip with very different thermal performance compared to Apple’s Pro chips.

The iMac’s slender profile might not be well-suited to the more powerful Pro chips, which would probably need additional cooling compared to Apple’s base-level chips. Would that be possible in such a slimline computer? I’m not so sure.

Keep it under wraps

Dan Baker/Digital Trends

Despite all these caveats, some analysts are convinced Apple is working on a larger iMac. Among them are Mark Gurman, Ross Young and Ming-Chi Kuo — three of the most credible and reliable Apple analysts in the business.

And yes, I can see there are reasons Apple might be considering such a move. Bringing back a larger iMac would give users more choice, it wouldn’t have to be expensive, and it could provide an option for people who love the all-in-one design but think the 24-inch iMac is a little small.

Apple’s website lists the iMac as “iMac 24.” If the company intends the 24-inch model to be the only iMac it sells, there’s surely no need to list the screen measurements. Doing so implies there might soon be an additional size and that the display specification is required to easily distinguish the current model.

For now, though, it’s all speculation. Even though I would enjoy seeing a new iMac Pro on a personal level, I doubt it’s the right course of action. If Apple has learned anything from its past attempts, it’ll keep the iMac Pro firmly under wraps.

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