Building a $17,000 Apple iMac Pro

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Among selected groups of computer users, the latest Apple Inc. (NASDAQ: AAPL) device was instantly adopted as the machine of choice. This was particularly the case with graphic designers, printing firms and film and video makers. While graphic design and video production may have been niche markets, they were niches flush with cash and willing to spend it on the fastest, most up-to-date systems available. And then there are the gamers …

It’s no wonder then, that the new iMac Pro can carry a price tag of $17,000, and reviewers and customers party like it’s 1999. Apple had not refreshed its top-of-the-line Mac in nearly three years, leading ZDNet columnist Adrian Kingsley-Hughes to say in October of last year, “Apple’s Mac and MacBook lineup is, frankly, a disgrace. I can’t think of another top-name brand demanding a premium price for hardware that is so outdated.”

Apple announced the iMac Pro at its Worldwide Developer Conference (WWDC) in early June with a base price of $4,999 and availability in December. That’s $1,640 more than the iMac introduced at the WWDC, and it’s just the beginning.

According to ZDNet, the basic iMac Pro includes an 8-Core Intel Xeon CPU, 32 gigabyte (GB) of 2666 MHz DDR4 ECC RAM, AMD Radeon Pro Vega 56 GPU with 8 GB of HBM2 RAM and a 10-gigabit Ethernet port. A fully tricked out version including 128 GB of RAM, an 18-core Intel processor, additional video memory and 4 terabytes (TB) of flash storage more than triples the base cost.

Here’s how ZDNet breaks down the $17,324 price:

  • The base iMac Pro is $4,999.
  • Going from 8 to 18 CPU cores will be $3,987.
  • Going from 32 GB to 128 GB RAM will be $2,691.
  • Going from 8 GB to 16 GB high-bandwidth video RAM will be $2,044.
  • Going from 1 TB flash storage to 4 TB will be $3,603.

The iMac Pro may be too costly for even the hardest-core gamer, but the $17,000 price tag is relatively little for a top video editing console. And remember, those guys will be replacing machines that are nearly three years old, a geological era in technology products.