iMac Pro Starts Shipping – a Beast for the Pros (from $4999 up to $13,199)

December 14th, 2017 icon / message-square 66
iMac Pro Starts Shipping - a Beast for the Pros (from $4999 up to $13,199)

It’s out today! Apple has been teasing us about its first dedicated pro machine since the Mac Pro was introduced in 2010. A solid 7+ years. Let’s see what the iMac Pro holds for us pro filmmakers.

The iMac Pro grants editors to edit 8K RED video, H.264 4K drone footage, 6K 3D VR content or 50 Megapixel RAW stills, with a 200-300% increase in performance in almost every professional application. 

It really seems like after all the criticism from the professional editing community saying that Apple stopped innovating for them while only focusing on the iPhone, Apple has been listening to create this killer machine.

However, first it must be noted that that this machine is not upgradable. You can’t upgrade the hardware at all since it’s all sealed. You can’t access the motherboard or any components, which is unusual for a computer dedicated for the professional community out there. On the standard iMac it was still possible to upgrade the RAM, but not anymore – so you have to chose wisely when you order this machine. 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a38_qR-S8Yo

The performance

The iMac Pro was made for heavy duty and demanding tasks like rendering and editing high-resolution footage. Backed with 128 GM of RAM (!) sounds a bit crazy, but applications like FCPX will eat it up and use all of it without a problem, allowing editors to playback 8K raw from a RED camera and of course deliver their results much faster.

As stated by Apple: “With Xeon processors up to 18 cores, up to 22 Teraflops of graphics performance, and a brilliant 27-inch Retina 5K display, iMac Pro is the fastest, most powerful Mac ever made. iMac Pro delivers incredible compute power for real-time 3D rendering, immersive VR, intensive developer workflows, high megapixel photography, complex simulations, massive audio projects and real-time 4K and 8K video editing….Video editors can edit up to eight streams of 4K video, or edit 4.5K RED RAW video and 8K ProRes 4444 at full resolution in real time without rendering. “

On Vincent Laforest’s blog he outlines a few demanding tests of the iMac Pro, showing off the iMac Pro’s editing and grading capabilities, which prove an impressive 200-300 % speed bump. For example: FCPX rendered ProRes422 optimized media at more than twice the speed of a “normal” 2017 iMac.  In Black Magic’s DaVinci Resolve, a RED 8K Helium Full Frame footage shot at 60 fps was exported to 4K ProRes 422 footage at three times faster than the other iMac and Macbook Pro models, and this speed improvement was even more significant in RED Cine-X software. Read the full tests and comparisons on his blog

General tech specs

Display: 5K, Retina display, 27-inch (diagonal) Retina 5K display, 5120‑by‑2880 resolution with support for one billion colors, 500 nits brightness.

Processor: 8-Core, 3.2GHz Intel Xeon W, Turbo Boost up to 4.2GHz 19MB cache

Configurable to:

10-Core, 3.0GHz Intel Xeon W, Turbo Boost up to 4.5GHz, 23.75MB cache

14-Core, 2.5GHz Intel Xeon W, Turbo Boost up to 4.3GHz, 33.25MB cache

18-Core, 2.3GHz Intel Xeon W, Turbo Boost up to 4.3GHz, 42.75MB cache

Graphics

Vega 56, Radeon Pro Vega 56 graphics processor with 8GB of HBM2 memory

Configurable to:

Vega 64, Radeon Pro Vega 64 graphics processor with 16GB of HBM2 memory

Memory

32GB of 2666MHz DDR4 ECC memory.

Configurable to:

64GB of 2666MHz DDR4 ECC memory

128GB of 2666MHz DDR4 ECC memory

Check Apple’s site for a full tech spec.

Design: 
The iMac Pro has a space gray case and a new thermal architecture inside.

Space Gray case

Thermal Architecture

There is no doubt that this iMac Pro came a long way comparing to the old iMac lineup and even comparing to the Mac Pro computers.

A whole new computer line.

Marques Brownless worked with the iMac Pro for a whole week, and this are his impressions:

It is important to note that the iMac Pro is a whole new computer line, not to be confused with the “normal” iMac lineup. You can see it as an hybrid of iMac and Mac Pro, or an upgraded Mac Pro into the form factor of the iMac. This is definitely not just a faster version of the iMac.

Price

As been mentioned in the title, there is a huge price range. Starting from $4999 for the “cheapest” iMac Pro all the way up to $13,427 to the most advanced model.

Final thoughts

Apple has listened to the pros, there is no doubt about it, and delivered a beautiful impressive machine that suppose to save precious time in editing, rendering and other complex tasks. It looks like it ticks all the boxes – except for the very steep price of course, and its lack of upgradability. Time will tell how it fares, but from the industry vibe we can already predict that it will find its way into many professional studios in the near future.

My colleague Ollie Kenchington who’s specialized in post production, will also put the iMac Pro through its paces in a review for cinema5D very soon. Stay tuned!

What are your thoughts of this new beast? Tell us in the comments below!

 

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