iMac vs. iMac Pro | Digital trends


The iMac and iMac Pro are impressive computers that pack everything you need for video editing, web browsing, and more in a clean package. The IMac Pro was once clearly more powerful of the two, but when Apple recently upgraded to a higher-end iMac with newer processors and graphics cards, these two iMac models are more competitive than ever.

In this guide, we look at design, performance, and features to help you understand the differences between the two.

Important note: The IMac Pro is currently officially discontinued. You can still buy refurbished versions, but MacOS support for them will eventually run out, and at these prices we can’t really recommend this option. However, our guide is still useful if you want to compare options for upgrading your iMac.


Apple iMac Pro News

Both the iMac and iMac Pro are made of aluminum and are designed as all-in-one computers. This look is a design classic that hasn’t changed much over the years, but it makes for one clean desktop. However, the differences end there.

If you just look at your iMac, you’ll find readily available 27-inch 2020 versions, but the latest 2021 model is a 24-inch version equipped with a 3.5K resolution Retina display. Higher resolutions sharpen images and resolution, especially on a smaller screen. It is ideal for content producers and photographers. The new iMac also introduced several bright colors for you to choose from for the first time, as well as a thinner-than-ever panel.

When you switch to the IMac Pro, it’s only available in a 27-inch version with a 5K resolution display. It also features a unique Space Gray color that sets it apart from the rest of the silver lineup.


MacOS terminal commands
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In addition to the size differences, there’s also a lot under the hood, which sets the iMac and iMac Pro apart. 21.5-inch versions have older 8th-generation Intel processors, while 27-inch ones have 10th-generation chips.

2021 iMacs update previous strategies with Apple’s own eight-core M1 processor. This internal chip has led to better performance metrics and is a strong competitor if you are looking for a potential upgrade.

On the IMac Pro, the system includes options for an Intel Xeon W processor with either eight, 10, 14, or 18 cores. Unlike what you get with a 4K or 5K iMac, this is a powerful workstation-class processor. Priced at $ 4,999, it’s something designed for more serious professionals like video editors, designers and animators.

All 4K and 5K iMacs start with 8GB of RAM, while the iMac Pro starts with a huge 32GB of RAM. The storage types are also different, with the iMac Pro starting with faster SSD storage. In contrast, 4K and 5K iMacs start with either a standard hard drive or a Fusion drive, where a traditional rotating hard drive combines with a small amount of flash storage. 5K iMac models also pack a Fusion Drive, but you can upgrade to an SSD on all models.


Apple iMac with Retina 5K display port
Bill Roberson / Digital Trends

All of the most basic 4K iMac models have separate graphics cards that increase the power of video editing and content creation. 4K iMacs come with Radeon Pro 555X or 560X, which can be upgraded to Radeon Pro Vega 20. On 5K iMac players, the graphics include the Radeon Pro 570X, 575X, or 580X. These are still not the most powerful options, and only the iMac’s high-end model packs an alternative to the newer Radeon Pro Vega 48 graphics card.

With the iMac Pro, you get options for the Radeon Pro Vega 56, Vega 64 or Vega 64X. These graphics cards are much capable and are designed for serious designers and professionals. The price is also expensive when the Vega 64 comes in at $ 550 and the Vega 64X costs in at $ 700.

The iMac Pro also has an Apple T2 processor. This is Apple’s custom silicon for Macs, and it enables new security by integrating the drivers found in the video signal processor, audio controller, and SSD controller.

iMacs are usually well-equipped in terms of connectivity. The latest models have a 3.5mm headphone jack, Gigabit Ethernet port, SDXC card slot, two Thunderbolt 3 / USB4 ports and two USB 3 ports.

However, when comparing features side by side, the iMac Pro gains little. It claims the same variation, but also delivers four Thunderbolt 3 ports instead of just two options. This capacity may seem like a minute detail, but the extra port can be monumental to users balancing tons of peripherals, even though the iMac Pro is never compatible with USB4, which is a downside to long-term use.

The iMac is much more practical

Apple iMac with Retina 5K display
Bill Roberson / Digital Trends

To decide between your iMac and your iMac Pro, decide how much power you need on your computer and make sure the choice provides it.

Both computers have been high-end choices among graphic design, gaming, and video and music production professionals.

If rendering 8K video is essential to your work or hobby, consider the iMac Pro. Because this computer has 10 cores and impressive graphics power, there is no other option for heavy video or design work.

If 8K videos aren’t your job, we recommend choosing an iMac, either a 27-inch model or a 24-inch M1 version with updated components, instead. The processing power is steady and the general purpose computer is practical for the users. It is easier to manage and reliable. The computer itself is only available in Mac’s classic Space Gray, but if appearance doesn’t matter to you, you’ll be impressed by all the features the device offers.

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