iMac top of the range vs. basic iMac Pro...

Discussion in 'iMac' started by Showmaster, Jan 12, 2018.

  1. Showmaster macrumors newbie


    Jan 9, 2018

    for giggles, I compared the top of the line (old) I-mac vs the basic I-mac pro: iMac.jpg

    For a US$1.100,- more, the I-mac Pro does not seem to offer much more than just the (cool) darker colour and obvious evidence (for those around to you) that you, in fact, got the Pro!

    Is there anything obvious I am missing here??
    I may be in the market for a new Desktop soon, you see.....

    Thanks for any input,

  2. BurgDog macrumors regular

    Apr 22, 2012
    Twice the performance on some workloads, quieter fans under load, ECC memory, 4 TB3 ports. Generally a more robust device designed for heavy use. Overkill for most people.
  3. Ace2617 macrumors regular


    Mar 16, 2016
    The jump up from quad core to 8 core is notable in the screenshot you posted. Depending on what type of work you'll need to do on your iMac, you'd have to decide which is right for you. Personally, an iMac Pro would be an egregious overkill for me -- but it's feasible for the work load of some people, and that's cool.
  4. haruhiko macrumors 601


    Sep 29, 2009
    If you just upgrade the CPU to the highest one and the graphics card to 580, with 512GB of SSD and upgrade the RAM yourself, the 2017 5K iMac is just more than half the price of an iMac Pro. That's why I have chosen the iMac.
  5. OBirder macrumors regular

    May 13, 2015
    I think you are still missing the most important upgrade on the regular iMac which is a SSD drive.

    As mentioned by others the Pro is a different machine as well with better GPU, but might be overkill for you. But the SSD is not. I would not want to go back to a computer without SSD.
  6. Bryan Bowler macrumors 68040

    Sep 27, 2008
    Yes, you are missing a lot. For those that need the power, it offers far more than a darker color.

    If I may give you some honest advice, you do not need an iMac Pro. Those that have to ask why simply do not need one.
  7. Showmaster thread starter macrumors newbie


    Jan 9, 2018
    The I-mac I chose in my example carries SSD too.

    Since I am missing a lot, perhaps you would like to elaborate on the power difference?

  8. joema2 macrumors 65816


    Sep 3, 2013
    What you're missing is that significant performance gains exist for certain workflows. For others it's less so.

    It's about knowing what your workload characteristics are and how this maps to (a) The iMac Pro hardware when (b) Using your specific software and tasks.

    The iMac Pro is a lot quieter under sustained high-CPU loads. For all the people who were forced into an i5 iMac for noise or temperature reasons, the choice is NOT between an i7 iMac vs the iMP but the i5 iMac vs the iMP.

    Mac Performance Guide did extensive tests, mostly focusing on Photoshop and still-image processing, which generally found limited benefits from the iMac Pro -- NOT because it wasn't fast but Adobe's software didn't take advantage of the hardware. In general he found a top-spec 2017 iMac is often the best choice over an 8 or 10-core iMP -- for his particular workload:

    However I've personally tested my 2017 top-spec iMac vs an 8-core Vega 56 iMP on FCPX, and there are significant (but not universal) gains for the iMP.

    Test file: 6 min 9 sec UHD 4k H264 29.97 fps 100 mbps 4.4GB XAVC-S file from Sony A7RII. In all cases the file was imported with "leave files in place". The proxy files were deleted after the transcoding test. All other tests used the on-disk camera file not a transcoded or re-wrapped version.

    Create proxy (all times min:sec)
    iMac: 1:22
    iMP: 1:48

    Export to 1080p H264 Faster Encode:
    iMac: 3:33
    iMP: 2:26

    Export to 1080p H264 Best Quality:
    iMac: 6:59
    iMP: 4:43

    Export to 4k H264 Faster Encode:
    iMac: 3:36
    iMP: 4:30

    Export to 4k ProRes 422:
    iMac: 3:45
    iMP: 2:28

    Timeline render tests (via CTRL+R):

    Aged film effect + default sharpen:
    iMac: 5:31
    iMP: 4:03

    Stabilize 15 sec of 4k clip:
    iMac, analysis phase: 0:45
    iMP, analysis phases: 0:36
    iMac, render phase: 0:05.6
    iMP, render phase: 0:03.9
  9. wardie macrumors member

    Aug 18, 2008
    Good data jomea2 - any thoughts on the couple of examples where iMac wins? Some feature of the i7 maybe?
  10. maflynn Moderator


    Staff Member

    May 3, 2009
    [MOD NOTE]
    I updated the title to be more readable, and also allow it to show up on searches. People may not search for the term I-Mac, but will search for the correct name iMac.
  11. OBirder macrumors regular

    May 13, 2015
    Would have been nice if you actually would have looked what example you posted:


    Would you care to elaborate where you have the SSD in your example?

    Your configuration with a 1 TB SSD instead of a 2 TB Fusion would be $4,499.

    Or you drop the RAM to 32 GB then it is $3,699 and the difference $1,300 rather than $1,100 and potentially even more reason for you not to get the Pro.
  12. joema2 macrumors 65816


    Sep 3, 2013
    My simple tests were mostly H264 workloads. The amazing thing is the Xeon-powered iMac Pro did this well. Past Xeons > 4 cores did not have Quick Sync, but the iMP is obviously using some form of hardware acceleration. It's either a custom Xeon with Quick Sync or FCPX is using AMD's UVD/VCE logic:,

    Why the 2017 iMac was faster on proxy creation and 4k H264 export, I don't know. It may be "teething issues" on whatever new hardware acceleration Apple is using. They may improve this in future software updates.

    On non-H264 workloads such as ProRes and RED RAW, the iMac Pro is much faster.
  13. BayouTiger macrumors 6502


    Jul 24, 2008
    New Orleans
    it's been noted elsewhere, the real difference is a bit more, since the thing to do would be to get the loaded iMac with 8GB and upgrade to 32 from OWC which would put it at $3099 + $334 = $3433 for the closest match, though you would have 40GB ram. I looked closely at this option and decided that the faster processor, Extra cores, ECC Ram, extra TB3 ports, 10GBe, and MUCH better video card were worth the extra $1500 or so.

    When we see Kaby Lake -R processors (hopefully later this year) that proposition will likely get a lot tougher to figure.
  14. lali macrumors regular

    Oct 14, 2007
    Possibly the clock speed advantage of the i7 (+1GHz) ? Don’t know
    --- Post Merged, Jan 13, 2018 ---
    Please do not buy an iMac without an SSD drive if you intend to enjoy high-performance use. The fusion remains an okay drive but it is not high performance. I have an iMac with fusion and a $900 work laptop with SSD and my work laptop is more responsive.
  15. Bryan Bowler macrumors 68040

    Sep 27, 2008
    Sorry, I’m about to de-plane in NYC where I will be working 14-15 hours a day for the next 3 days straight, so I don’t have time to list all of the differences right now. But what I am trying to suggest is that if the only difference you can detect is the exterior color, then the iMac Pro is not even a consideration for you power-wise. Now, if you just want to buy it for the cool factor, that is certainly a choice you can make. Lots of people with disposable income do that and if it makes one happy, that is a good thing.

    What might help you better decide which model iMac is right for you, it would help if you could tell everyone what your current and 1-3 year usage requirements are. Then everyone can make some meaningful recommendations for you.
  16. h9826790 macrumors G3


    Apr 3, 2014
    Hong Kong
    There is a big difference for long run. e.g.

    ECC vs non ECC RAM. ECC ram will make your life much much easier if anything goes wrong. Without ECC, it can be very difficult to identify memory failure (or which DIMM is faulty).

    Vega vs Polaris. Vega 56 / 64 is much more powerful then the 580. The 580 even nowadays is just considered as a mid level card. And it may not able to catch up any GPU demanding stuff in 1-2 years. Also HBM2 is way way faster than GDDR5.

    8 cores vs 4 cores. Obviously the multi core performace is almost double. And there are much more threads to handle the background process, therefore, it can help the foreground process stay smooth.

    Dual fan vs single fan. The iMac is a well known poor cooling machine. even the iMac Pro is not that good as well, but if you just take the base model, the cooling system is actually relatively stronger. Less fan noise, a bit lower operating temperature, and make your Mac last longer (not just CPU / GPU, but all components around the “hot spots”).

    10Gbps vs 1Gbps ETH. Obviously, 10x faster. And this is very important if anyone often need to deal with large files in a intranet.

    Of course, all the above are based on “you buy it and keep it”. If you love to upgrade it every year (including sell the old one to recovery part of the cost), I am pretty sure the normal iMac is a better choice. Also, the above advantage won’t be noticeable if you only use the Mac for something like Safari, watching movies.

    But since the base iMac Pro seems already available at $3999. I will say it’s a no brainier to go for the Pro (if there is any Microcenter next to you).,4294966363/apple-desktops

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