5K Display and Powerful AMD Graphics Set These Powerful Desktop Systems Apart

It’s not the promised Mac Pro re-reboot, but Apple hopes it’s the next best thing — the company today said the new iMac Pro workstation, billed as the most powerful Mac released to date, will ship in December, starting at $4,999.

Yes, it’s a powerful system — the baseline systems ship with a 27-inch 500-nit 5K display and eight-core Intel Xeon processors, and 18-core systems can be configured. All-Flash storage is configurable at up to 4 TB, 2666 MHz DDR4 ECC RAM scales to 128 GB, and two Thunderbolt 3 controllers are built in for accessing external storage and other devices. Included on a Mac for the first time is 10Gb Ethernet connectivity.

Graphics are driven by the new AMD Radeon Vega GPU with up to 16 GB of on-package HBM2 memory and performance of up to 11 teraflops (single precision). Apple said the system is designed for “advanced graphics editing, virtual reality content creation and real-time 3D rendering.”

iMac Pro

One of the keys to the iMac Pro’s architecture is an 80 percent improvement in cooling capacity.
Graphic courtesy Apple

“This will be our fastest and most powerful Mac ever, which brings workstation-class computing to iMac for the first time,” said Apple VP of Hardware Engineering John Ternus in a prepared statement. “We re-engineered the whole system and designed an entirely new thermal architecture to pack extraordinary performance into the elegant, quiet iMac enclosure our customers love.”

Apple reaffirmed that, separately, a new high-end Mac Pro and associated pro display are still coming at some point in the future — this time it will be designed for expandability, a shortcoming of the previous “trash can” design — but the presence of a powerful desktop machine in the Mac line-up should help Apple meet the expectations of at least some of its pro user base.

New 2017 iMac Pro accessories come in space gray.
Photo: Apple

Finally, Apple will be releasing new space gray wireless accessories — Magic Keyboard, Magic Mouse 2 and Magic Trackpad 2 — to go with the space gray design of the iMac Pro.

At any rate, plan ahead — the new Mac Pro design isn’t expected until 2018 or perhaps 2019, while the iMac Pro is scheduled to ship in December of this year.