There are times when we humans can’t see the forest for the trees. And, there are times when we can see something that isn’t there by looking at something that is. So it is with Apple’s new iMac Pro, due at the end of the year.
After far too many years of neglecting the company’s many so-called professional customers– those who have hardware requirements that go beyond a mere quad-core i7 CPU and limited RAM, Apple has unleashed a couple of floodgates, the first of which should tell us something about the second.
The first is iMac Pro.
Apple’s notebooks make up 80-percent of the company’s Mac business, which leaves the other 20-percent from sales of iMac, Mac mini, and Mac Pro. As to the current Mac Pro, it remains Apple’s most powerful Mac, but it’s also end-of-life as the company’s executives promise a more powerful modular design. Maybe next year. That could be a very expensive product for a very small number of customers.
How do I know that?
The most powerful Mac ever is coming, supposedly available in December, but I’ll cut Apple some slack if it doesn’t show up until early in 2018. iMac Pro will start at $4,999, and lest you think that’s a crazy expensive price tag, start looking around at the competition. Look for an 8-core Intel Xeon inside, 32GB of RAM, 1TB speedy SSD storage, and a blisteringly fit AMD Radeon Pro Vega which promises to smoke anything available for any Mac today.
That’s for starters. Also included is 10GBps Ethernet, four USB-3 ports, 4 USB-C ports with Thunderbolt, and the ability to drive two additional Retina 5k displays as well as the one that comes with iMac Pro.
Comparing Apple to apples isn’t an easy proposition here because such PC horsepower typically doesn’t look like an iMac. Dell’s configuration options are downright scary, but it took no effort to get well beyond $4,000 for similar Xeon hardware options, but without the Retina 5k display, so Apple’s iMac Pro can be competitive on price. Giant HP workstations are similarly priced. You might be able to build a PC workstation from scratch for less but none will look like this beauty and the badass beast.
Apple has reversed course and decided the professional market is worth some effort. Let’s see how the iMac Pro would compare to an end-of-life Mac Pro, trash can era. A 12-core Xeon-based Mac Pro with 64GB of RAM, dual AMD FirePro GPUs, and 1TB of PCIe flash storage tips the scale at $6,999.
What kind of price tag will we see on a fully tricked out iMac Pro with 18-cores of Xeon goodness, 128GB of RAM, 4TB of SSD storage, and the latest AMD Radeon Pro Vega 56 graphics processor? After all, it comes with a built-in Retina 5k display, a space gray finish that screams ‘I’m a beauty and a badass beast‘, plenty of ports and even a 1080p FaceTime camera.
What does the iMac Pro say about the Mac Pro that may come in 2018? Apple promises a powerful, modular design, so one difference right away will be, well, modularity. That means plenty of build-to-order options, and, ostensibly, options to add select third party components (RAM, SSD storage, GPUs, come to mind).
Apple won’t say what’s in store for Mac Pro circa 2018, but a few things are certain. Expect it to be powerful and expensive. But more powerful than an iMac Pro? And who buys such hardware?
Apple hasn’t had much success with high end workstation class Macs. Xeon-powered Mac Xserve models were discontinued years ago, and co-founder Steve Jobs reportedly said a year earlier, “Nobody was buying them.” How many professional level customers need an iMac Pro that starts at $5,000? How many will need a Mac that could be double to triple that price?
The iMac Pro means Apple is more serious about the so-called professional market, but it also means some very expensive and powerful models are on the way. Is it any wonder that Apple’s far less expensive notebooks make up 80-percent of all Macs sold?