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Ordered a 2017 iMac 5K: Why Now and what about iMac Pro?

Need help deciding on a Mac? Lloyd offers one-on-one consulting on choosing the best Mac and its best configuration, backup protocol, displays, storage and RAID, etc.

Get memory for iMac 5K or other Macs at OWC /
See also suggested storage options and more.
My top deals pages for Macs at B&H Photo are updated daily and worth bookmarking to quickly scan each day.

Related articles, the first of which is background for this post.

Why order a 2017 iMac 5K now, a model that is 6 months old with presumably a new model due out within another 6 months?

This configuration of the 2017 iMac 5K is on the way. It will be upgraded with 64GB OWC memory, saving about $700 over Apple prices.

I think there is a good chance that I’ll settle on the iMac Pro 8 or 10 core with 64GB memory and 2TB, but that depends on performance and pricing (estimated $4999 to $16999).

  • A 30-day return policy means that I might have time overlap between the 2017 iMac 5K and the 2017 iMac Pro to do comparative testing. If there is some delay, I’ll just return it and re-buy—I want to find the best machine for my needs.
  • I want the iMac Pro to prove that it is actually faster than the 2017 iMac 5K for my particular workflow. The iMac Pro could be slower. To do that, tests must be re-run on macOS High Sierra so both can be compared fairly.
  • An iMac Pro with 4TB SSD, top-end graphics, and 128GB memory and 18-core CPU is nice to think about, but it will cost more than many new cars. A fast 4-core CPU with 2TB SSD and 64GB is acceptable, if disappointing on the CPU core count. Paying $9K or so for an iMac Pro versus about $4300 for a 2017 iMac 5K with 64GB memory and 2TB SSD is money better saved if the performance is not very different for my actual workflow.
  • Personal need: I will need either the 2017 iMac 5K or the iMac Pro for my traveling and home photography usage and Thunderbolt 3 / USB-C testing and peripheral connectivity.
  • For the past decade, the cost of having two desktops and a laptop was painful and there appears to no longer be any need to do so. I hope to move to one and only one primary machine, one that works great on my desk at home or inside my Mercedes Sprinter photography adventure van. That means (a) it must be portable with a good case and (b) it must have a 5K display built in and (c) it must be at least as powerful as my bulletproof 2013 Mac Pro. Keeping the 2015 MacBook Pro as a spare and also for the rare times I travel by airline makes sense of course, but no need for something new there.
  • The move to Thunderbolt 3 is starting, with a slew of peripherals emerging within the next 3 months including storage products that MPG will be reviewing very soon. All MPG machines are Thunderbolt 2, thus the requirement is to have a Thunderbolt 3 machine, and one that is suitable for a wide range of tests, particularly Photoshop work and similar tests.
  • My Mercedes Sprinter photography adventure van has proved out the 2015 iMac 5K with 64GB OWC memory and NEC PA302W wide-gamut display as rock solid to an extreme altitude of 11,600' / 3530m. And to have no issues down to van interior ambient temperature of 22°F (though it has to warm up, it has a built-in mechanism to slow itself when too cold).
  • Disappointments with 2017 iMac 5K: single Thunderbolt 3 bus with only 2 ports, limited to 4 cores.
  • Disappointments with iMac Pro: should have had an 8K display in 32" form factor, not 5K. Price may put it out of reach.

The iMac Pro is a super high end “halo” product. Maybe it will show some breakthrough performance characteristics on my workflow, but I remain skeptical until this is proven—and all that counts is performance with one’s actual workflow, not benchmarks or Apple claims about “3X faster GPU” and similar claims.

Buy the iMac 5K with 8GB memory, then save about $700 by adding 64GB OWC memory. It is easy and fast to install.

MPG recommended configuration for 2017 iMac 5K for pro use

Regarding the image below, see my Mercedes Sprinter photography adventure van area including the desk and computer setup and the excellent carry case for the iMac 5K or iMac Pro. The setup has proven itself in 6 weeks of field use, all if it from 9000 to 11,600' elevation and in temperatures down to 16°F so far.

Early Night
f2.8 @ 1177.0 sec, ISO 64; 2017-10-12 19:21:27
NIKON D850 + Zeiss Milvus 18mm f/2.8

[low-res image for bot]
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