The iMac Pro, in a Mac Pro World

I think it’s fair to say that the iMac Pro — a Xeon-powered, multi-core monster in an iMac chassis — was Apple’s plan for the pro desktop market before the Mac Pro project was started and later shared in early 2017.

This week, we saw the fruits of that labor in the all-new Mac Pro, and we got a lot of questions answered, including one that has been on my mind as an iMac Pro user:

Is there still room for the iMac Pro in a Mac Pro world?

The answer is yes — a resounding yes.

With the Mac Pro, Apple has put a stake in the ground at the very highest end of the professional market. If you’re making the next Star Wars — or the music for it, the games based on it — this could be the computer for you.

With that power comes great flexibility in the form of PCI slots, waiting and ready for additional GPUs, the Afterburner video card and more.

We don’t have all the details yet, but that power will demand a high price. The base model with an 8-core Xeon, 32 GB of RAM, Radeon Pro 580X graphics and a 256GB SSD will run you $5,999.

In comparison, my $4,999 base-model iMac Pro came with the same number of cores, a better GPU, four times the storage and a built-in 5K display.

The iMac Pro trades away flexibility and upgradability for its thin enclosure and clean design, but if you’re looking at the entry-level models, it’s a far better deal than the Mac Pro.

Once you start customizing either machine the price will rise, and while we can’t obviously do a full comparison until later this year when Apple ships its new tower, I can imagine that the iMac Pro will remain the less expensive option in almost every possible configuration. The Mac Pro will top out far faster and more capable than its all-in-one sibling, but I think it’s clear that the iMac Pro hasn’t lost its footing in the product line.

This week on Mac Power Users, David and I spoke with Doug Brooks, the Mac Pro product manager. We asked him about the relationship between these two machines, and he said that he believes Apple’s pro Mac users are a self-selecting bunch, and will know if the iMac Pro or Mac Pro will better fit their needs. I think he’s right, and for many people, the iMac Pro will continue to be the best Mac to fit their needs.

The more I think about, the more I think that is true for me. The most intense parts of my workflow involving editing 4K video, and my iMac Pro easily does what I need it to do in Final Cut Pro X. That — combined with my love of the machine’s all-in-one design — may keep me in the iMac Pro Camp for years to come, despite the Mac Pro being relevant again.