iMac, iMac Pro, Mac Mini, Mac Pro, oh my!

My wife has a side gig that’s beginning to grow (idk the rules of mentioning her business here) But she does hand-lettered calligraphy, wood-work, custom prints, etc. (I am a poor descriptor of how her skills).

Tech translation…she’s lives in Illustrator, Photoshop, Lightroom, and will eventually be getting into either Premiere or Final Cut (we have both)

Her 2014 Macbook Pro (even after a clean-up by me) still sounds like a jet engine each time she starts working on it. We have discussed her getting a more powerful computer as her projects continue to get larger in scope, etc.

It’s been 6 years since I purchased and Apple has so many configurations now.
iMac, iMac Pro, Mac Mini, Mac Pro, oh my!

Any suggestions on where to start?
Should we potentially wait for Apple Silicon devices?
How to determine which device would work best?

(if anyone has recommended configurations, or does similar things, please chime in as well)

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It would take a lot for me to recommend a Mac Pro, mainly because of the cost. As to the iMac Pro, I’m skeptical about the future for this line (even though I have one myself) and it, too, is quite expensive.

IMHO, that leaves you with the iMac, suitably configured for the sort of work your wife does now, and can foresee in the next several years. As far as I can tell, info on the new Apple Silicon machines is rather vague at this point, and it sounds like you need something rather more near term.

I would look for a refurbished (or even used) late model iMac with upper-end specs. Right now there are several refurbished 27-inch models for under 2000 USD, and one for almost 3000 USD.


if you can, wait 'til the ARM is confirmed in a rumored November 16th event.

Premiere, Photoshop, After Effects etc will always welcome plenty of RAM and HD space. In this recent discussion someone mentioned an upper-specs 16" MBP works great. I’d go with that or an iMac with good specs.

Edit: From personal experience: i5 13" MBP: not the best for heavy graphic work.


You’ve listed a set of Adobe apps that can be quite resource intensive and tend to benefit from beefy GPUs. We don’t know for sure at this point, but rumors don’t necessarily point to the machines that meet those requirements being among the first to transition to Apple Silicon. The other variable here is how long it will take Adobe to release native ARM versions of these apps. You might be stuck on Rosetta 2 emulation for a while if you buy an Apple Silicon Mac. OTOH I would expect Final Cut to be native on day one, but it doesn’t sound like that’s one of your wife’s main apps at this point. All that said, it seems like the Apple Silicon announcement is so I imminent that you might want to wait until Apple comes out and says what models will be coming first (and presumably Adobe won’t be far behind in laying out some sort of expectations for it’s products on ARM going forward).

Assuming that the rumors are true and the first round of Apple Silicon machines won’t be high end powerhouses for the Adobe suite, you’re looking at existing Intel Macs. I agree with @jec0047 that the iMac would be a good choice. As @Kraftwerk mentioned, the 16” MacBook Pro would be a good alternative if she wants a laptop form factor.

I don’t know if I’d entirely rule out the iMac Pro though. While it has been a while since the iMac Pro came out and it hasn’t gotten an update, it’s still a powerful machine. The current iMac has a reputation for running the fans pretty good under load (I’ve got an i7 2017 iMac and can attest to this). The iMac Pro, on the other hand, has a reputation as a very quiet machine. You do pay quite a price premium for that, but since you specifically mention fan noise being among her complaints I did want to bring it up.


I can attest that this is so, and there are refurbished iMac Pro’s available now as well - starting at over 6000 USD.

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Yep, the iMac Pro is quiet and powerful, and earns its Pro moniker. And of course the display is beautiful. I don’t have any regrets about buying mine.


Its to early to make such a big investment in Apple silicone. For a work machine like that you don’t want to be on the bleeding edge.

I haven’t kept track of the iMac Pro pricing but they now start at $5000. From what I recall a souped-up iMac would get close to an iMac Pro at which point I would always recommend the iMac Pro. I quickly configured an iMac with extra memory and upgraded the graphics card and came up to $3400. This is a big difference in cost. The iMac Pro will render videos much quicker than the iMac. And is overall an entirely different level of performance even at its basic configuration…

If you don’t mind investing the extra $1600 for the Pro I would go for the iMac Pro. It will be a great investment for her business for the next 3-6 years. On the other hand an iMac with some upgrades is still a great machine and a major upgrade over the MacBook Pro.

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I guess this is me wearing a white mask…

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