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2017 iMac Pro: Recommended Configurations

2017 iMac Pro

The data on this page and others was painstakingly obtained, made possible by the support of OWC / MacSales.com and B&H Photo. Please order through our links via these companies and/or subscribe—thank you.

Not sure which Mac to get or how to configure it? Consult with MPG.

See the iMac Pro models in stock at B&H Photo. B&H Photo does not charge sales tax for most states and these have free expedited shipping.

A very solid alternative is the 2017 iMac 5K—it’s what I switched to back in November 2017 while I awaited the iMac Pro.

Sensible considerations for the iMac Pro:

  • A premium machine like this deserves 64GB. Skip over the 32GB memory models.
  • Unless doing video or 3D/VR or rendering, the Vega 64 option shows very little value for work that is not GPU intensive, including all still-photography tests.
  • The 2TB SSD is a long term keeper versus the 1TB SSD. It is key to high speed I/O and the key to letting cores not be stalled when doing big jobs(by keeping critical data on the SSD, e.g. Lightroom preview files). Allow for space for large Lightroom catalogs, scratch files, active projects, etc. The 4TB SSD is very expensive, and few users need that much premium-speed storage capacity.
  • 8 CPU cores is the sweet spot value proposition for most uses, with the iMac Pro 8-core 2TB 64GB Vega 56 a very strong choice for photographers. Gains with the 10 core provides are very modest; money is better spent on the 2GB SSD and 64GB memory first. Photographers are very unlikely to gain (and might lose) with the 14 or 18 core.

For many users, the top-end 2017 iMac 5K offers far superior value and is well worth considering for the substantial cost savings.

CLICK TO VIEW: Recommended iMac Pro / 2017 iMac 5K Configurations

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Buying an iMac Pro or iMac 5K

Go in with eyes wide open—marketing hype is neither workflow efficiency, nor value.

Before spending for an iMac Pro, review all the shootout tests with the iMac Pro, along the following articles:

Backup, peripherals, etc

Budget for peripherals as well.

Backup

Everyone should have an absolute minimum of two backups drives and preferably four: two always-attached, and two offsite. Single drives best for offsite backup (separable and multiply redundant on power supply).

The Thunderbay 4 makes an excellent “always attached” backup unit for Time Machine and clones (use the drives individually in most cases, not RAID).

CLICK TO VIEW: Single Drive Backup solutions for Thunderbolt 3 Macs

Primary storage

Most photographers are going to need large storage like the OWC Thunderbay 4 (Thunderbolt 3 version).

Note: the Thunderbay 4 is a terrific solution (I have 5 of them) but a Thunderbolt 3 version should be out soon. Hard drives go into the Thunderbay 4 or an external enclosure.

CLICK TO VIEW: Primary Storage Devices for Thunderbolt 3 Macs

Port expansion

To attach Mini DisplayPort display, the OWC Thunderbolt 3 Dock is best.

See also OWC Offers Dual DisplayPort and dual HDMI Adapter for Thunderbolt 3 Macs or PCs.

CLICK TO VIEW: Port Expansion for Thunderbolt 3 Macs

Peripherals

CLICK TO VIEW: Add-Ons for 2017 iMac 5K

2017 iMac Pro

 

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