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2017 iMac Pro: Recommended Configurations
Related: 2017 iMac 5K, 2017 iMac Pro, 4K and 5K display, backup, computer display, display connectivity, DisplayPort, iMac, iMac 5K, iMac Pro, Mac Pro, Macs, memory, SSD, storage, Thunderbolt, video
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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.
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.
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:
- iMac Pro posts and articles
- iMac Pro Models for Photographers
- iMac Pro: Pricing and Thoughts
- Why More CPU Cores Often Run no Faster, and Sometimes Slower than Fewer CPU Cores
- iMac Pro: Downclocked CPUs
- Turbo Boost and the Intel Xeon W CPUs in the Apple iMac Pro
- Using Two Thunderbolt 3 Ports to Build Out a System
Backup, peripherals, etc
Budget for peripherals as well.
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).
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.
Up to 65% better pricing than Apple
Lloyd recommends 32GB RDIMM modules for most users (more expensive LRDIMMS are for 512GB or more).
To attach Mini DisplayPort display, the OWC Thunderbolt 3 Dock is best.