My Next Mac

The iMac Pro is not for me. While I love the new dark look, I simply don’t need that kind of power or the accompanying price point. It’s a very reasonable price for what the iMac Pro delivers so I’m not moaning about the price points. It seems very fair but here’s the price rundown for an entry level iMac Pro and and a comparable iMac 5K1:

iMac Pro iMac 5K
3.2GHz 8-core Intel Xeon W processor 4.2GHz quad-core 7th-generation Intel Core i7 processor
Turbo Boost up to 4.2GHz Turbo Boost up to 4.5GHz
32GB 2666MHz ECC memory, configurable up to 128GB 32GB 2400MHz memory
Radeon Pro Vega 56 with 8GB HBM2 memory Radeon Pro 580 with 8GB video memory
10Gb Ethernet 10/100/1000BASE-T Gigabit Ethernet
Four Thunderbolt 3 ports Two Thunderbolt 3 ports
27-inch Retina 5K 5120-by-2880 P3 display Retina 5K 5120-by-2880 P3 display
$5000 $3700

For comparison, a maxed-out iMac Pro with 64GB of RAM, 2TB SSD, and 4.2GHz i7 processor is $5300. So if we look at comparable pricing that’s going to give the average person more bang for the buck.

Now, I could use that $1300 difference in a couple of interesting ways. I could up the SSD storage to 2TB for another $800. Or I could get an iPad Pro with Apple Pencil for a little over $1200. Or I could get a base-model MacBook for $1300. As a non-Pro I have different options to consider.

My next Mac will probably be a 5K iMac even though what I really want is a better Macbook Pro. Unfortunately Apple is not making a good laptop right now. I don’t really care about the Touch Bar. I like TouchID but that’s not a good enough reason to risk the sub-standard build quality of the Apple keyboards. It’s a real shame too, because I really love my current 2015 MacBook Pro.

Retina MacBook Pro
3.1GHz quad-core 7th-generation Intel Core i7 processor
Turbo Boost up to 4.1GHz
16GB 2133MHz LPDDR3 memory
2TB SSD storage
Radeon Pro 560 with 4GB memory
Four Thunderbolt 3 ports

The latest 5K iMac is about 25% faster than my mid-2015 MacBook Pro according to Geekbench.2 and 20% faster than the latest MacBook Pro. I keep a Thunderbolt display plugged into mine in addition to a Thunderbolt dock. I’d like to do away with all of that and clear my desk a bit. But importantly, I’d like to get more modern connections, better performance for video encoding, and a retina 27 inch display.3

I’ll miss the portability of a MacBook Pro, but my recent experiment has taught me that I have other options for working on the road or on the couch. When I’m at my desk I want a capable and well made machine with a gorgeous display. The 5K iMac scratches that itch, but just barely.

  1. by “comparable” I mean similar RAM, storage, and video memory. These are still lower performsnce versions of what the iMac Pro comes stock with, but not noticeable in most of the ways that I work. ↩︎

  2. That difference holds up between single core and multi-core processes. ↩︎

  3. I think that giant retina display of the iMac is often overlooked when comparing portables to desktops. I definitely appreciate the quality of the iMac 5K display and that factors into my comparison. ↩︎