December 14, 2017: The much-anticipated iMac Pro finally reaches customers many months after it was announced. With a built-in 27-inch, 5K display and an Intel Xeon processor, the very high-end desktop combines the features of an iMac and a Mac Pro.
It is beautiful and far more powerful than earlier iMacs, but is destined to stay in Apple’s product lineup only a relatively short time.
iMac Pro takes macOS all-in-one desktops professional
The iMac Pro was unveiled at WWDC in June 2017 but didn’t actually launch until mid December. It came when Apple hadn’t released a new professional-grade desktop since the “trash can” Mac Pro of 2013, and was intended to be a placeholder for those needing a Mac with real power.
That first model was built around an 8-core, 10-core, 14-core or 18-core Xeon processor with Radeon Vega graphics. It could be configured with up to 256GB of RAM and a 4TB SSD. The computer easily blew away all previous iMacs. The 18-core Intel processor was more than twice as fast as its most-recent consumer-oriented predecessor.
As an all-in-one, iMac Pro sported a 5120-by-2880-pixel display. And the sleek design in a space grey finish – with keyboard and mouse to match – looked brilliant.
Not destined for greatness
Despite the smart looks and speedy processor, on today’s fifth anniversary of the launch of the original iMac Pro, it’s no longer possible to buy one. The series was discontinued in March 2021, so it lasted in Apple’s product lineup for a bit over three years.
It had a number of significant problems. The pro-grade iMac cost $5,000 – that’s over $6,000 in today’s dollars – putting it beyond the reach of most consumers.
While professionals could afford it, the iMac Pro wasn’t configurable enough to satisfy the pros. As an all-in-one, users were stuck with the 27-inch display. And although the RAM and processor could be upgraded, these hardware changes required an expert to dismantle the computer.
Plus, even before this iMac launched, Apple was already talking about a new, redesigned tower Mac. Many professionals decided to hold off a purchase. The wait stretched on to the 2019 Mac Pro, but this offered the configurability that professionals need.
Return of the iMac Pro?
There have been rumors that Apple plans to bring the iMac Pro back, though it’s been a while since any of these surfaced. And none of them have come true, obviously. While there are occasional calls for a return, Apple doesn’t seem to be paying any attention.
As it stands now, the only all-in-one macOS desktop is the 24-inch iMac. Those who want more power and a larger screen can pair a Mac Studio desktop with a 27-inch 5K Apple Studio Display.
As the iMac Pro was a stop-gap measure that unsuccessfully tried to satisfy professionals, it’s really not surprising that it’s not still around five years later.