The iMac Pro was debuted on Apple’s online store today, but won’t be available to purchase until December 14th. Over the past week, the company provided test hardware to a handful of photographers, videographers, an aerospace engineer, and programmers. Each seems to have been given an iMac Pro with a 10-core 3GHz processor, 128GB memory, 2TB SSD, and the Radeon Pro Vega 64 graphics with 16GB memory. Although no one had time to put the machine through a thorough review, they each put the new iMac through a unique series of tests and real-world tasks to see how it performed.
Here’s a sampling of what they had to say:
Thomas Carter, editor at Trim, a London-based editor of commercials, music videos, and film:
While I really haven’t had enough time to do a deep dive, it’s clearly the best Mac I’ve ever used — it’s stupidly powerful and great to work on.
If you’re a pro user who needs a Pro Mac, it’s probably for you (and you can get your hands on one starting December 14). If you’re already an iMac user but you need more power, it’s probably for you too. If I had to make a wildly uninformed guess, I’d say this will be more than enough computer for 90% of pros.
There will still understandably be a number of places where this machine will not be enough, and I don’t mean it’s lacking in power — if you’re someone who needs rack-mountable, user-expandable hardware, this may not be for you.
What this iMac does deliver in spades is stylish, fast sexy, hard core power and the promise of being able to get work done in an ever demanding media landscape. This is a great editing machine… insanely great.
The new machine I have been using for the last week also has the new Final Cut Pro, which we will cover in full later this week. But this feels like a brilliant machine for editing. The work I have been researching lately uses VR/AR for virtual digital humans. This type of work is both graphics and computationally demanding, requiring both at least 10 cores and the best Graphics card money can buy. It also requires a large amount of complex machine learning/AI. Unexpectedly, this iMac actually scores well on this front.
In the end this iMac Pro is as significant for the direction it heralds for tomorrow, as the performance it delivers today.
Craig Hunter, a mechanical/aerospace engineer and developer with Hunter Research and Technology who tested the iMac Pro with aerodynamic design and development benchmarks and Xcode:
Most of my apps have around 20,000-30,000 lines of code spread out over 80-120 source files (mostly Obj-C and C with a teeny amount of Swift mixed in). There are so many variables that go into compile performance that it’s hard to come up with a benchmark that is universally relevant, so I’ll simply note that I saw reductions in compile time of between 30-60% while working on apps when I compared the iMac Pro to my 2016 MacBook Pro and 2013 iMac. If you’re developing for iOS you’ll still be subject to the bottleneck of installing and launching an app on the simulator or a device, but when developing for the Mac this makes a pretty noticeable improvement in repetitive code-compile-test cycles.
The nearest comparable shipping 27” iMac I configured was $3699 but with a greatly inferior CPU and graphics chipset, four fewer cores, and other disadvantages across the board. So in that context, spending another $1300 to get into an iMac Pro is a no brainer.
I found a very consistent set of results: a 2X to 3X boost in speed (relative to my current iMac and MacBook Pro 15”) a noticeable leap from most generational jumps that are generally ten times smaller.
Whether you’re editing 8K RED video, H.264 4K Drone footage, 6K 3D VR content or 50 Megapixel RAW stills – you can expect a 200-300% increase in performance in almost every industry leading software with the iMac Pro.
Could the T2 chip mentioned by Sasser be the chip reported on my Mark Gurman this past February?
iMac Pros were also provided to YouTubers Marques Brownlee and Jonathan Morrison. Brownlee provided a first-look at the iMac Pro’s specs and performance, while Morrison focused on its use as part of a comprehensive computing setup.