Thoughts on upgrading to an iMac Pro

Hello everyone! With the shift to working from home I am spending a lot more time in front of my late-2012 27" iMac (the one right before the transition to Retina).

It’s been a good machine – but now that I am doing more with video conferencing (particularly via OBS Studio) it’s really starting to show it’s age. I’m on a call now and the fans are going beserk.

I think I can stretch my budget to purchase an iMac Pro and am curious about this community’s thoughts on:

  1. Given this machine hasn’t been updated since launch (December 2017) I’m wondering if I’m better waiting (especially given rumours of a new iMac in the second half of the year)

  2. I was considering the base model, but if I was to go ahead now, what would you upgrade?

Thanks, team!

I got the base model two years ago because I crunch a lot of long videos from sports events I cover. I guess it shouldn’t be a surprise that it’s the best computer I’ve ever owned. Two years in, there’s not even a hint of slowdown for what I’m doing. That probably means I spent too much, but boy, this thing is awesome and I love it.

One example - I find myself opening up Screenflow to record a quick 5 minute explainer for coworkers or friends now, because when I finish, the iMac Pro exports the final video so quickly I can’t believe it. I used to avoid Screenflow because processing the final video was a ridiculous process that took longer than recording the screencast.

I’m not sure what to tell you about timing, but I would suggest that if you do go for it after an update, the base model will probably be plenty.

Edit to add that I’ve been testing all sorts of video platforms on this machine, including OBS, over the past couple weeks, and nothing has taxed it at all.


I wouldn’t consider the iMac Pro at this time. The model has been unchanged for over 900 days. Updates of machines using Xeon processors tend to be few and far between, typically at least in part at the mercy of slow release schedules of that Intel processor line, Also, around a month ago Intel unveiled new-gen ‘Comet Lake’ processors suitable for the iMac line, and the power would rival iMac Pro machines in many metrics. The iMac hasn’t seen a refresh in a little over 400 days but that line typically has gotten refreshed between 400-600 days.

So I’d wait and see what the new ‘substantially refreshed’ iMacs rumored to be coming out later this year look like, and see if perhaps a new iMac Pro is revealed as well. (I suspect not, but who knows.)


Even though I have a iMac Pro, I agree with @bowline, albeit for somewhat different reasons: 1) I think the iMac Pro line is overpriced, and 2) unless you are doing video processing, I think it’s overkill.

The others are probably right, based on timing, but this is the first computer I’ve ever owned that didn’t start feeling a little old after 18-24 months. I love it and take every opportunity to brag on it, like it’s one of my children. My children will back me up on that.


Some good points pro and against above. If I were buying right now, I would look at refurbished to take some of the edge off the price. (iMac Pro refurbished seems to be out of stock as I write this.) But I would definitely want to at least see the 2020 iMacs if I could afford to wait.

For upgrades, I would look at the 2TB SSD (because I would use that space) and the 10 core 4.5Ghz burstable. I don’t think I’d upgrade the GPU but others may have more experience with those cards.

But the bottom line is that, like @davidrepmo said, if you buy this thing you’ll get years of power out of it.

Search the Siracusa within you and wait.
Even if Apple does not refresh the iMac Pro, chances are the new regular iMacs can fit your needs.

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I like mine, a lot. It’s the base model - 8 cores, 32GB, 1TB, and I’ve had it since Jan 5, 2019.

If you’re just upgrading for video conferencing, then an iMac would probably do you. The Pro question is more about what else you do.

When I looked at regular iMacs, getting one tricked out to fit my needs was in the neighborhood of an iMac Pro (maybe within $1k). Someone here on the forum pointed out the faster disc access speed of the Pro - and I just wanted a Pro - so that’s what I went with.
I can do data analysis on mine and it’s faster than the super computer I can access remotely at UCSD (which has thousands of cores, petabytes of ram, etc.) because my software is single-threaded, more cores don’t speed things up, clock speed does. So for this reason, I’m glad I went with the 8-processor base model, which has a higher clock speed (noted others can throttle up to faster speeds). On my machine, I can run 15 instances of MATLAB doing some data analysis or other, and still check MPU to see what’s up.
I’ve never gotten the ‘aging computer slow-down blues’ that has been mentioned. During quarantine, I’ve all but stopped using my 2015 MBP, and it seems pretty sluggish when I go back to it now.

Oh, and the display is beautiful. This video full screen blows me away.

The one thing I regret is that the 64GB ram upgrade was still $1200 when I bought mine. CleanMyMac occasionally tells me I’m low on memory, but I don’t really notice a slow down and things keep purring along. I think the upgrade is down to $600 or something like that just checked, it’s $400.

I can’t speak to the ‘buy or wait’ question, that ball’s in your court. No matter when you buy, a better computer will always come along.


I have an Imac 2011 i am still using daily mainly for CAD and other design program but i do sometimes take my zoomies on it also. I don’t have that fan issue you are talking about. That isn’t to say i never have the fans blowing just that Zoom does not seem to do that to my set up. It does paddle some air (hand on top i can feel it is cozy inside) but no hovercraft like noises.

Perhaps your set up could be more optimized? Are you running something else that steals cpu cycles while running zoom? May be worth your while to look into this and be able to stretch using your mac until the next gen shows up?

My own strategy now with Macs is to max out to what I can afford. The only limit for me is cost. That is not always easy to be precise about and what folk consider ‘expensive’ varies according to need and other factors, some quite irrational including in my own case.
I was very apprehensive about maxing out my mac book pro 16 to the 4K$ mark. I am glad I did now. Maybe I don’t ‘need’ that much power. Who cares I love it. And yes I appreciate that I am in the privileged position to be able to just lay out that amount of money. For what it is worth consumer items are not, for most of us, where our hard earned money is sucked up. That is another topic. I assume anybody on this forum can probably manage.

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Because you aren’t using a 2012 iMac. :desktop_computer:


My primary one is to never buy a 1st-gen hardware refresh. I’m looking to get a new iMac by the end of the year, but if there’s a substantial redesign I’ll probably buy an Apple-refurbed top-of-the-line current model, which is what I did in 2017. When it comes specifically to iMacs I would refrain from buying smaller models with soldered RAM (I inexpensively added my own to my Retina iMac and fully use its 40Gb RAM).

My current iMac has a Fusion Drive, which has worked great, but with cheaper and faster SSD storage my next one will be SSD-only, with SSD storage and HDs for backups.

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Could be dust too.

When I looked at the question of iMac vs iMacPro, a few things stood out in favor of the Pro for my use case:

  • moar Thunderbolt: four ports / two busses versus two ports / one bus
  • built-in 10 Gigabit Ethernet (TB3 NICs are still ~$100 and yet another dongle)
  • by all reports quieter than an iMac, because of the thermal redesign
  • ECC RAM. While I can’t unequivocally state error-correcting RAM is a necessity, I do wonder if, with larger and larger data throughputs, it isn’t a good idea

So what did I decide?
Punted and bought a Mac Mini for now.


Nice. I made a firm decision, one which eventually helped tip me towards the laptop 16 inch. That was to stick with SSD and no more spinning drives.

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My i5 iMac is silent. Dead silent.

ECC RAM is a theoretical advantage, especially for server boxes (despite the fact that Google’s server boxes didn’t use them until a few years ago, relying instead on redundancy), but it is far from operationally critical, as non-ECC RAM clearly has been extremely reliable. A 2009 study on Google’s server farm notes that soft errors were difficult to find (“We provide strong evidence that memory errors are dominated by hard errors, rather than soft errors, which previous work suspects to be the dominant error mode.”). Another large scale study from 2012 over at discovered that RAM errors were dominated by permanent failure modes typical of hard errors. Unless you have a large server and/or commercial database you will almost never need ECC RAM.

The memory differences between the iMac Pro and iMac go beyond ECC. The Xeon processor in the iMac Pro has about twice the memory throughput as the iMac.

  • Xeon: 4 channels 85.3GB/s
  • I9: 2 channels 42.7GB/s

Here’s a side-by-side cpu comparison

Here’s a more real-world comparison of the iMac Pro and a 2017 iMac:


WWDC is on the horizon, the ‘regular’ iMac is the last un-redesigned Mac standing, and the iMac Pro is very old already, reducing its “value for the money” score.

What kind of computer were you primarly using before the working-from-home started?

Yes, IIRC you picked an i5 over an i7 so as to not risk i7 fan noise.

There is definitely a long argument against ECC as being, in summation, vaguely “enterprise-y” and therefore spendthrift. Lean, mean google didn’t think ECC matters, nor should you. And it’s a strong argument: redundant is better than bombproof: more effective, cheaper.

Need? No, perhaps not. But there yet may be advantages to it. E.g., I’ve chased down memory module errors before (who doesn’t dread, when posting a problem on a forum, getting a response like “did you run memtest”?); it’s a timesink and a drag.

And I’m concerned about writing errors into data that I won’t look at again, maybe for a long time. Here’s a 2013 write-up from Puget systems, that builds PCs; after noting no memory errors at all for ECC RAM it spec’s,

Sure, maybe they want to sell systems with ECC RAM and enjoy the mark-up. And it’s important to note that the overall reliability of both ECC and non ECC RAM appears to be increasing – and given that, maybe the delta today is approaching zero.

At the same time, I can’t really find any arguments that matter to me against it, besides “you don’t need it.” Maybe so, but OTOH, maybe I want to minimize memory errors in a “system that contains valuable data.”

Again, just my take … maybe not of much value for, e.g., the original poster.

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Thanks for all the input, folks! Some immediate thoughts:

I don’t run Zoom all that often. My main work communications app is Microsoft Teams and I open d a LOT of my day on Teams video. It usually runs fine. It’s when I start running a virtual camera through OBS that it starts to take off. My main work is workshop facilitation and I need to switch what I’m streaming a lot (to show presentations, timers, etc). I also run Farrago and Loopback to play sound effects and occasional music (cheesy – but it works!)

I am hoping to add more to the video component of my work. Some of the sessions I will be running will be >1000 people (we’ll probably be using Teams Live) and will feature a lot more branding and ‘professional’ content (e.g. lower thirds, scoreboards, etc).

I’m also wondering about the FaceTime camera on the iMac Pro. I have considered a Logitech Brio but am curious about the resolution and HDR capabilities of the iMac Pro.

As it goes, I think I’m going to wait-and-see what happens at WWDC (that’s only a few weeks) and then start doing some proper planning.

Great input everyone - I really appreciate it :slight_smile: