Apple Discontinues iMac Pro

It looks like the iMac Pro is not long for this world. As of this writing, the iMac Pro is still available to purchase, however the purchase page has the words “While Supplies Last” on it. While you can still purchase an iMac Pro, you can only get the base model. This means that you are not able to customize it in anyway and there are no upgrades available.

Let us travel back to 2017 briefly. The highest end Mac was the Mac Pro. It was introduced in 2013 to much fanfare and had a radical design. Even though there was a new design, the machine had remained largely unchanged since its introduction. Given that there had not been any updates, many speculated that Apple had given up on the higher-end of the Mac market.

In April of 2017 Apple held a roundtable with some journalists to indicate that they were in fact re-dedicating itself to the Mac. According to TechCrunch, “And later this year we’ll see improved iMacs that Apple feels will appeal to a segment of Pro users, as well.” While they did not have anything to share at that time, the product would be announced quite soon.

At Apple’s 2017 World Wide Developer Conference, they announced a Mac that was aimed at professional users. It would not be a modular machine. Instead, it would be called the iMac Pro. The machine would become available in December of the same year.

The iMac Pro was truly designed for professionals and came with a professional price tag that starts at $4999. However, for this you would get a Intel Xeon processor, 32GB of ECC memory, and 1TB of storage. Plus, it would come in Space Gray with matching accessories.

The current base model of the iMac Pro comes with the following specifications:

  • 3.0GHz 10-core Intel Xeon W processor with Turbo Boost up to 4.5GHz
  • 32GB 2666MHz ECC memory
  • 1TB SSD storage
  • Radeon Pro Vega 56 with 8GB HBM2 memory
  • 10Gb Ethernet
  • Four Thunderbolt 3 ports
  • 27-inch Retina 5K 5120-by-2880 P3 display

While the iMac Pro is still a good machine, it is not being updated. It has not seen any significant updates in its three-years on the market. There have been some processor bumps, and additional options, including an additional graphics card option, but nothing major in the time. The iMac Pro was designed to allow users who have higher-end needs to be able to have an all-in-one machine.

I think Apple is retiring the iMac Pro line for two reasons. The first is that there is another machine, the Mac Pro, which can also fill these needs. The Mac Pro provides even more power than the iMac Pro; however not in an all-in-one machine.

The second reason I think Apple is discontinuing the iMac Pro is because now is a good time to do so. Apple is refreshing the entire Mac line with their own Apple Silicon processors. Apple has indicated that it will take two years to make the complete transition.

The only machines that have been updated thus far as the MacBook Air, the Mac mini, and the lower-end MacBook Pro. The higher-end 13.3-inch MacBook Pros, the 16-inch MacBook Pro, the 21.5-inch iMac, 27-inch iMac,, and the Mac Pro still need to get the new processors.

With the eventual release of an updated iMac, I suspect that there will be significant changes on the iMac. This includes thinner bezels, a redesigned body, and redesigned internal structure. I also suspect that with Apple Silicon there will not be as much differentiation between the iMac lines. With not nearly as much differentiation, there is no need for the iMac Pro. I suspect that the iMac line will have a wide range of customizations, including those that would meet the needs of iMac Pro users.

Furthermore, I suspect that there will be some surprises with the iMac line. I am not sure what they might be. Maybe one of them will be an option for selecting either silver or space gray, but that is merely a wild guess.

It will be interesting to see what Apple will with the iMac line, and given that the look of the iMac has remained the same since 2012, it may be time for a complete re-thinking. Again, this makes it the perfect time to eliminate the iMac Pro. I hope Apple continues to provide an option for professional users. What I would really like to see is a cheaper stand-alone monitor, but that is a whole separate topic.

Apple Updates the iMac Line

Today Apple unveiled a new 27-inch iMac as well as updating the 21.5-inch iMac and iMac Pro with a couple of minor changes. Let us start with the 21.5-inch iMac.

21.5-inch iMac

The 21.5-inch iMac has received a minor change, all of the models will now come with an SSD standard. Previously the 21.5-inch iMac would come with a 1TB 5400-RPM spinning hard drive. That is now a thing of the past and the default storage is 256GB SSD. The base 21.5-inch iMac is configurable with a 1TB Fusion drive. The price does not change.

The two Retina 4K models of the 21.5-inch iMac also come with 256GB standard, but you can configure them with the same 1TB Fusion drive, again with a price change. You can also choose a 512GB or 1TB SSD, which was available previously.

This is the only change for the 21.5-inch iMac, but it is good to see Apple finally change the default storage to be SSD on the 21.5-inch iMacs. Next, let us look at the changes for the iMac Pro

iMac Pro

The iMac Pro is Apple’s professional iMac and is designed for those who need to have workstation-class hardware, including error-checking and correcting (ECC) RAM. The iMac Pro now comes with a 3.0GHZ 10-Core processor as the default. This is still the Intel W line of processors. This is the only change for the iMac Pro, but one that is welcome by those who can utilize the power of the iMac Pro. Finally, let us look at the 27-inch iMac.

27-inch iMac

The 27-inch iMac has had the same general design since its introduction in 2012. These are great machines and they can last for a while, but there have been some changes that will be welcomed by users.

Processor Changes

The 27-inch iMac has seen a much bigger change. It now comes with the 10th Generation Intel processors. The available options are a 3.1GHz 6-core, 3.3GHz 6-core, 3.8GHz 8-core, and a brand new 3.6GHz 10-core processor. The 10-core option is entirely new and it is the first time a 10-core option has been available on the iMac. Along with the processor that has been a change to some other aspects of the 27-inch iMac.

Audio/Video Changes

The first of this changes is the new 1080p FaceTime camera. This is a vast improvement over the 720p version that has been present in the iMacs for a while. This is a great upgrade, particularly since we are spending more and more time communicating over the internet instead of face to face. While you are on that conference call, you can use the upgraded speakers. These are now a higher fidelity than before. This includes EQ balancing and deeper bass sounds. Better speakers are great for you to hear others, but now others should be able to hear you a bit better with the improved microphones. These are similar to the “Studio Quality” microphones that are on the 16-inch MacBook Pro. All of this is powered by the new T2 chips that is inside the iMac.

Security Changes

The T2 is Apple’s security chip that is designed to provide not only the features above, but also provide security for Apple’s operating systems, particularly for macOS Big Sur, which will be available this fall. When using your iMac you will be getting an SSD. The base model starts at 256GB, but there are models that support 512GB, 1TB, 2TB, 4TB, and a new 8TB option. The biggest change though is to the glass.

New Display Option

The 27-inch iMac started off as a 1080p display when it was introduced. In 2014 Apple introduced a retina version of the iMac. The 27-Inch model included a 5K Retina screen. The 5K screen changed the game for desktop Macs, because you were able to have significant amount of screen real-estate to really be able to organize your computer and be productive. The 27-inch iMac now comes with True Tone technology, which will automatically adjust the color of the screen depending on lighting conditions. This is not new technology as it is available on iPhones and iPads, but this is the first time it is available on the iMac.

True Tone is not the only change to the display, today Apple is introducing a new display option for the 27-inch iMac, the Nano-Texture display.

Nano-Texture Display

The Nano-Texture display is a display that is based on Apple’s Pro Display XDR technology. The Nano-Texture display should be able to reduce glare and will work well in environments where you cannot control the lighting. From Apple’s 27-inch iMac Purchase page:

While both the standard glass and nano-texture glass options of iMac are engineered for extremely low reflectivity, it helps to consider your work environment when deciding which one is right for you.

If you’re in an especially uncontrolled lighting environment, there’s an innovative matte option with nano-texture glass. Typical matte displays have a coating added to their surface that scatters light. However, these coatings lower contrast while producing unwanted haze and sparkle. The nano-texture on iMac is actually etched into the glass at the nanometer level. The result is a screen with beautiful image quality that maintains contrast while scattering light to reduce glare to the barest minimum.

The Nano-Texture screen will cost an additional $500, however if you know you need this type of display it may be well worth the price. Additionally, since this is similar to

Closing Thoughts

The updates to the 21.5-inch iMac as well as the iMac Pro are minor updates, but they are ones that will be welcome, most particularly SSDs now being standard across the line. The 27-inch iMac is the machine that got the most upgrades, including a new 10-core processor option, as well as the the new FaceTime 1080p camera, improved microphones and better speakers are all great improvements. The biggest change is the new Nano-Texture display available on the 27-inch iMac. While it is not for everyone, for those who need it, it is likely to be a great upgrade. All of the updates are available in orders today, however the Nano-Texture screen will take a bit longer to ship.

Source: Apple.com

Apple and their Pro Users

As most may be aware, Apple is a very secretive company. Apple prefers to keep to themselves until they are ready to announce a product. There are only a few times when Apple will reveal a product before it is available. A few of the product that they have done so include the iPhone, the Apple TV, and the 2013 Mac Pro.

It is not often that Apple reveals what they are working on. However, Apple has done just that, although not as explicitly as they did with the iPhone or the Apple TV. Apple invited a handful of journalists to visit their “Machine Lab” on Apple’s campus across from One Infinite Loop. Apple did not show off any physical product, but they did describe what they are working on.

In June of 2013, at their World Wide Developer Conference, Phil Schiller unveiled that Apple was working on a revolutionary design for their high-end Mac Pro. This came on the heels of many “pundits” indicating that Apple lost its way. This lead to Schiller giving the infamous “Can’t innovate my ass” quote. This is when Apple unveiled the all new Mac Pro.

The design of the Mac Pro is a very customized design that had not been tried before. The thermal core of the Mac Pro is triangular. The Mac Pro has dual graphical processing units occupying two sides of the triangle thermal core. The third side has the processor. The thermal core is designed to move all of the heat up through the central core and out of the top of the Mac Pro.

The exterior of the Mac Pro is smooth. However, from Apple’s own wording, the interior design, while ambitious, has ultimately not worked out as well as they would have hoped. In reality, the tolerances for the thermal core were too close and if Apple changed any of the internal components, the Mac Pro would not be able to work properly.

Due to the tight tolerances, the Mac Pro has lacked any upgrades since its introduction in 2013. Apple has made some slight upgrades to the Mac Pro. In reality, they are not upgrades as much as a better value for the same price. The new base model comes with dual AMD D500 GPUs, and a 6-core processor. This is up from the 4-core and AMD D300. The higher-end model comes with an 8-core processor and the AMD D700s. This is up from the 6-core and AMD D500 processors. For now, these are the only changes to the Mac Pro.

At this same meeting, Apple did provide some details on their new Mac Pro. Apple is currently working on a new modular Mac Pro. The modularity is not necessarily end-user modularity, but more likely, for Apple to be able to upgrade the Mac Pro on a more regular basis, but it will not be with the current form factor. Apple indicated that this new Mac Pro will “not be available this year”.

Alongside the new Mac Pro, Apple also indicated that it is working on a new display. This goes against what some reports indicated before. Previously, it was reported that Apple was completely out of the display game, since Apple partnered with LG to work on the LG Ultrafine 5k Display that was introduced in the fall with the MacBook Pro with Touchbar.

Apple did not give any more specific information about the Mac Pro. However, they did mention that they are working on a new iMac model that is geared towards professionals. What this entails, is not entirely clear. It is entirely possible that Apple will have even more powerful processors, and possibly even higher maximum amounts of memory. One of the better items that Apple could put into an iMac Pro would be a 6 or 8 core-processor with the possibility of having 64 or 128GBs of memory.

All that we know is that Apple is working on these items. There is no information as to when the redesigned Mac Pro or the iMac Pro will be released, but it is only a matter of time before the new Macs are released. One thing that I would like to see is any new information about a new Mac Mini, but there is no new information about it.