Buying Advice - iMac vs iMac Pro

Hi all,

I have a 2010 iMac and had been waiting for an update to the iMac in order to make a purchase. I’m now a bit torn between a beefed up iMac and a mostly base model iMac Pro (see the attached two screenshots of the iMac and iMac Pro that I’m considering). I thought I would ask this group for your suggestions about which to purchase and any suggestions about the upgrade options for memory, graphics card, etc.

I have been planning to use this new iMac for a long time and was planning to upgrade the iMac specs for future-proofing purposes. However, now I’m starting to wonder if I might be better off with cutting back the iMac upgrades for this purchase and just plan to make another purchase in a couple of years if/when the iMac is re-designed (this option would obviously mean no iMac Pro this time around). Any thoughts on either of those options would be appreciated as well.


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The iMac Pro will get you a better, quieter cooling system and faster, more secure storage (thanks to the T2). Between the two machines you listed I’d probably go with the Pro.

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Agree with @ChrisUpchurch, the iMac Pro
is a new design, where new iMacs are
speed bumps.

Also once you are 16GB of RAM, or above,
you really should be thinking ECC.

I guess I would first start with: what do you need the computer for?

The Pro has quieter (better?) cooling, but that may not matter depending on your uses. Or it could be critical! Hard to tell.

As far as waiting for a redesign…why? Who cares? If the computer meets your needs, it shouldn’t matter if it is an “old” (proven?) design. That being said, if you will be pushing the thermal limits maybe the Pro is the way to go…and it is a recent redesign, which would check that box for you.

But it all boils down to what you will be doing with it. If you are going to be pushing the cores to the max and fan noise bothers you, get the Pro. If that’s only on rare occasion, then saving ~800 sounds pretty sweet.

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what’s your workload? see above posts, and also note the better GPU in the pro if that’s important to you.

I would also consider the $770 price differential, amortized over the life of the computer, not significant – if the buyer can afford it today.


I’m also looking to upgrade my 2014 iMac, and deciding between new iMac with i9 or iMac Pro. I really can’t fully justify Pro based on needs alone (power user with many apps running, but aside from serious photo editing, occasional video editing, not true multi core needs)… BUT, 1) based on reading, have some serious concerns about fan noise that may occur with some frequency with i9, 2) like some of the upgraded specs on pro (T2, more ports), and 3) have to admit that space gray is nice… After a lot of review, I’m waiting a few days to see reviews/ comparisons that should come out very shortly related to performance and thermals, fan issues… If fan is really not a problem, I may just go with new iMac with good specs. Hard to decide…

Having used a previous-gen loaded iMac and now the entry-level iMac Pro, there’s more difference between them than you’d think. The iMac Pro is silent except under the heaviest loads, while the iMac is going to spin its fans more often and harder. A top-end iMac is going to push its cooling a lot harder than an entry-level iMac Pro.

As mentioned, storage is way faster, and the T2 means it’s a more secure machine. The webcam is waaaaay better on the Pro, and you get two additional Thunderbolt 3/USB-C ports. The iMac Pro can also be swapped to use a VESA mount if so desired. Looking at those machines you’ve laid out, I’d go Pro.


No one so far has mentioned that 10GB Ethernet is standard on the iMac Pro.

This could be a big future-proof feature. 10 GB Ethernet works fine using cat5e cable over reasonable distances. Many users these days are choosing to set up a Mac Mini server (and locally-connected storage) instead of a NAS. Connecting your main computer - iMac Pro - to the Mac Mini server using 10GB Ethernet would be desirable, and can be done with existing cat 5e or adding inexpensive cat 6 cable.

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I have been looking at the same comparison over the last few days. After pricing out my probable configuration for each model, the costs are a bit closer than you are posting, although I am not sure why since I do plan to go with both 32GB ram and 2TB SSD either way.

Everything that I have read suggests that the performance boost, as has been noted, for the iMac Pro vs a “similarly configured” iMac is much more significant than the numbers on paper would suggest.

To me it comes down to a practical question. If you are the sort that buys a machine is runs it for 5+ years, the differential in cost is small on a per-year basis and if you can afford the higher price upfront, go with the iMac Pro. If you tend to upgrade every 2 years, go with a lower-cost machine realizing that you will be upgrading too soon to get the value / cost of the more expensive machine.

I note that the presence of the T2 chip as well as 4 vs 2 USB-C ports matter to me as well, since I will certainly hang my 2 Drobos and an external monitor, at the least, off this machine (which will also replace my 2014 Mac Mini home server to help consolidate hardware).

Cost wise, you might want to check the refurb store. At present the only refurb iMac Pro listed (as of a few hours ago :slight_smile: ) was the base model. If you are eligible, educational pricing can also save you some dollars.

Another approach, which I have considered, is dropping the iMac Pro to a 1TB SSD. I have two Drobos, one of which handles all of my storage for the Mini and has about 2TB of data, and a second which handles daily clones of everything (Mini and several laptops), so I might use a model of external long-term storage and internal “working” storage, offloading files that are not in active use. I did that for 5 years with my MacPro 2013 “Trashcan” which I ordered with only a 256GB SSD, and that turned out to be a fine working solution that I did not regret. Just as suggestion, may not meet your needs, of course.

I’ve never used a regular iMac, but I really like my iMac Pro.
It crunches my neuroscience data really fast, so much so that I remote in from school using my 2015 rMBP, load up some data to process, then go about my business. I check in later when I expect it to be finished. Even including the overhead of uploading and downloading files, it’s faster than the Windows PCs we have in the lab.

As has been pointed out, disk access is really fast. I just ran DiskMark and got:

Sequential Read Seq. Write Random Read Rand. Write
2303MB/S 2778MB/S 239MB/S 166MB/S

That’s with a dozen other applications open, etc.

As also pointed out, it’s completely silent. I’m very sensitive to and distracted by sounds, so this is a very good thing.

I expected some buyer’s remorse when the spec-bumped iMacs were announced, but I don’t have any.

I expect this iMac Pro to last me until I die. Maybe my friends will kick it into my grave like the bikers do with their Harleys.

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If you keep the iMac at the base 8GB and buy a 32GB kit from Crucial (2x16), the price difference grows by about $400.

But as others have noted, if you’re going to be pushing those CPUs on a regular basis, the Pro is going to run cooler and quieter. Those workstation-class CPUs are beasts. The Core i9 probably won’t be able to get up to its Turbo Boost speed as often or for as long as the Pro’s CPU can due to the cooling.

Workstation chipsets, Xeon CPUs, and ECC RAM are all designed with more strict tolerances, resilience, and error correction than the mainstream components in every other Mac.

That said, if you don’t have strict pro needs (like an audio workstation) those benefits will be lost on you, and Xeon processors tend to run pretty hot.

Here are my stats for the last month.

Which has max temps cooler than my 2015 rMBP.

The iMac Pro has that extra TB3 bus, and 10gbe, and by all accounts will run quieter under load.

T2 is either a blessing or a curse, depending on your POV.

However, many tasks – including for example most photographic work – can only really use one core, such that the “regular” iMac may well chew through single-threaded tasks faster – perhaps even much faster.

Similarly, you need to figure out use cases to help you parse the the GPU differences. (An aside: for years I’ve been reading software and operating systems will “one day” harness the extra power of GPUs, but apart from special use cases that doesn’t really seem to have happened.)

For me, the extra TB3 bus, and the built-in 10gbe would be enough to pick the Pro, but if you have no use for such, the math is harder, and I’d probably pick the non-pro version, with base RAM and a 1 TB SSD, buying RAM from elsewhere.

Hi all,

Thanks for the advice. I thought I’d close the loop on this discussion. I ended up deciding my workflows didn’t justify the iMac Pro. I purchased the 2019 iMac with 8GB ram and then added additional memory from

As was noted in some of the feedback to my question, third party memory is significantly less expensive than what Apple charges. Using non-Apple memory to upgrade the 2019 iMac made the price difference even larger.

In the end, I made the decision based on the fact that I probably wouldn’t fully use the power of an iMac Pro and being able to save some money was a nice extra benefit.

I’ve had the new iMac for about a week and really like it. I was a bit worried about the fan noise but haven’t had any problem with that thus far.

Thanks again for all the input leading up to my purchase!