What Does the End of the iMac Pro Mean For Users?

If you can, you should wait

Key Takeaways

  • Apple has discontinued the iMac Pro.
  • All Macs, including the iMac, will use Apple Silicon chips by the end of 2022.
  • The next iMac, Pro or not, will likely look very different.
iMac Pro Retina display.
Apple

Last week, Apple marked the iMac Pro as available “while supplies last.” When the current stock runs out, that’s it. The first and only iMac Pro, Apple’s best ever iMac, only available since 2017, will be finished.

The iMac Pro ended up as an interim Mac, a stopgap to tide over professional users until the current Mac Pro arrived last year. But it was far from rushed. The Mac Pro may have looked like a regular iMac with a cool space gray paint job, but inside the case it was incredible. So, what’s next?

"I think we can expect to see much more processing power, which will be extremely useful to people who work with graphics or modeling programs that eat up a lot of memory to run concurrently," Rex Freiberger, managing partner of Gadget Review, told Lifewire via email.

Hot Rod

There’s a section of the car-modding community that takes regular cars and upgrades the engine, suspension, and brakes to turn them into little road rockets. That’s the iMac Pro. It looked like a plain iMac on the outside, with its more-than-a-decade-old case design, but inside it was a completely different computer.

Apple ripped out the space-hogging hard drive, and shoved in a crazy cooling system that was powerful enough to keep Intel’s hot Xeon chips running inside that slimline case. So good was the cooling that the iMac Pro ran almost silently most of the time.

"In my opinion, the best Apple-produced alternative to the iMac Pro is the still available Mac Mini."

The iMac Pro had other advantages. Because it only used SSDs, it was compatible with Apple’s T2 security chip, which made it a more secure machine.

The catch was that it cost $5,000, and like the failed "trashcan" Mac Pro before it, the iMac Pro has been languishing without updates for some time. Meanwhile, the regular iMac improved, catching it up, and Apple released the Mac Pro, which is more powerful, more modular, and more expensive.

Which brings us to the best alternatives to the retired iMac Pro.

Stop: Don’t Buy Anything

Unless you really need a new pro-level Mac, you should wait. The entire Mac lineup will be running on Apple Silicon chips by the end of this year or early next year, according to Apple. If the incredible performance of Apple's low-end M1 chip is anything to go by, the high-end Macs are going to scream.

Buying an Intel Mac now, unless you need Intel, or prefer not to run a relatively untested chip architecture in a professional environment, is crazy. Or you could opt for something a little more radical:

"In my opinion, the best Apple-produced alternative to the iMac Pro is the still available Mac Mini," says Freiberger. "When you first look at the specs, it's going to seem like a downgrade. Straight out of the box, it definitely is, but it has the ability to be upgraded substantially."

If you do want to stick with Intel, your options are the new Mac Pro, which doesn’t come with a built-in display, but which is way more upgradeable than any iMac.

Brown wooden table with a Mac computer on it and a standing musical keyboard in front of it.
JC Gellidon / Unsplash

Or you could get a built-to-order iMac, and crank up all the custom options. You won’t get the iMac Pro’s incredible cooling system, but the latest iMacs aren’t slow, either. But really, it’s probably better to wait.

The Future of the iMac

Will Apple ever make another iMac Pro? It’s certainly possible that a new Apple Silicon iMac could be offered in space gray, and carry the Pro label. But would that really be pro? The iMac Pro was always an odd member of the family, and my guess is that there certainly will be a very powerful iMac at the top of the Apple Silicon iMac lineup, but it won’t be called "pro."

If it mimics the MacBook Air and Mac mini, the new Apple Silicon iMac also will be a lot more powerful than the current lineup. It also may gain a FaceTime camera, a cool new case redesign that looks like the Pro Display XDR, and maybe even a touch screen.

In short, computer design moves on. The iMac Pro may have been a diversion from the main Mac roadmap, but it was a glorious one.

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