Monday, March 8, 2021 [Tweets] [Favorites]

Goodbye, iMac Pro

Joe Rossignol (Hacker News, Slashdot):

We’ve since confirmed with Apple that when supplies run out, the iMac Pro will no longer be available whatsoever. Apple says the latest 27-inch iMac introduced in August is the preferred choice for the vast majority of pro iMac users, and said customers who need even more performance and expandability can choose the Mac Pro.

The latest 27-inch iMac features a 5K display with True Tone and a nano-texture glass option, up to a 10-core 10th-generation Intel Core i9 processor, up to 128GB of RAM, up to 8TB of storage, up to AMD Radeon Pro 5700 XT graphics, a 10 Gigabit Ethernet option, a higher-resolution 1080p camera, improved speakers and microphones, and more.

Jason Snell:

This isn’t a surprise. The iMac Pro hasn’t ever been updated, though Apple has tweaked some specs and dropped the 8-core model when it was completely surpassed by the regular iMacs released over the past few years.

More notably, the iMac Pro is a product from a different time, and represents a path Apple ultimately chose not to take with the Mac.

Benjamin Mayo (tweet):

However, it has never been clear if the iMac Pro has sold well. It sits in a niche segment of the market, and much of its place in the limelight for pros has been taken by the 2019 Mac Pro tower. The high-end ‘standard’ iMac models have also encroached on the iMac Pro in terms of performance.

Maxim Eremenko:

As we can see, even the base iMac 2020 model outperforms iMac Pro 2017 ($2,300 vs $5,000) in Xcode. I personally think it mostly related to the higher frequency (3.8 GHz vs 3.0 GHz and 5.0 GHz vs 4.8 GHz using TurboBoost) and manufacturing years.

David Sparks:

My entry-level M1 Mac, which was one-sixth the cost of my iMac Pro, can render screencasts just as fast and more quietly as the iMac Pro. The big jump in technology with Apple Silicon has caught up with the iMac Pro. I sold mine a few months ago, hoping to get the best value for it. Since selling it, I’ve missed it and its presence on my desk. This is the first time that’s ever happened to me when selling a piece of hardware. But I expect that whatever Apple has in store for the new iMac with Apple Silicon inside will run circles around the iMac Pro and still be whisper quiet.

John Gruber:

The cooling system of the iMac Pro is simply uncanny. I’d hold it up as the best Mac Apple made, period, of the entire Intel era.

Previously:

Update (2021-03-14): Jason Snell:

Maybe someday there will be a tell-all book written by someone inside Apple during the 2010s. Maybe we will eventually know exactly what happened that led to a bit of a lost decade for the Mac, one that will be remembered for a failed attempt to rethink the Mac Pro and a series of questionable hardware decisions that hobbled Mac laptops for years.

[…]

But in my opinion, there’s a single Mac model that tells a good portion of the story all on its own. It’s a Mac that was a remarkably good computer on its own, but also one that represented an approach to the Mac that Apple itself would end up repudiating.

7 Comments

Marco Arment might have some quibbles with Gruber’s description of the iMac Pro cooling system

Is there some place where it's possible to bet that the Mac Pro Late 2019 will suffer the same fate (e.g. no evolution until it's retired)?

None of those articles seem to pose the question of “why now?” (rather than, say, right before it gets merged into the M1 iMac).

The answer to that is: Intel has discontinued the CPUs. They no longer take new orders as of late January. (That Product Change Notification doesn’t list the iMac Pro’s Apple-specific CPU variants in particular, but it stands to reason that the entire line is gone.)

Are there successor CPUs? Yes — by late 2019, so just around the Mac Pro’s time, Apple could’ve moved to the Xeon W-2200 (instead of 2100). However, the iMac Pro uses special “B” Apple-specific versions of the Xeon W-2100, and there’s a good chance Apple/Intel couldn’t be bothered at that point to make another generation of those. Also, the performance boost between Skylake and Cascade Lake isn’t that big. For example, the W-2295 is just 6.5% faster than the W-2191B (the 18-core option in the iMac Pro). 10nm variants of the Xeon W don’t exist yet.

One thing I find a little surprising here is that I would’ve figured the Mac Pro pricing is explained in part by wanting a product above the iMac Pro. If the plan was to only keep the Mac Pro around all along, not the iMac Pro, its starting price of $6k makes a little less sense to me.

Is there some place where it’s possible to bet that the Mac Pro Late 2019 will suffer the same fate (e.g. no evolution until it’s retired)?

Rumor has it they’re working on a smaller Mac Pro. Is that in addition to a revised version of the current one? I’m not sure. I would hope so; otherwise, are they just gonna keep reinventing their high-end desktop only to scrap it after a single gen?

(As for people who bought MPX cards and/or Afterburner, honestly, I never had high hopes Apple actually wants to iterate on those.)

"If the plan was to only keep the Mac Pro around all along, not the iMac Pro, its starting price of $6k makes a little less sense to me."

I wouldn't be surprised if its successor featured a price drop, too. Whatever replaces the 2019 Mac Pro will clearly be very different.

Apple's workstations weren't always so expensive. It wasn't *that* many years ago you could get an entry-level Mac mini-tower for under $2000. They'll have a lot more flexibility in pricing when they don't have to pay Intel $1000 for each unit.

I'm not sure why anyone would have bought the iMac Pro anyway. Even for someone like me who has a high priority on performance and is relatively tolerant of price (salary costs are much higher than hardware costs!), the iMac Pro was not compelling - it was negligibly better than the iMac (if it even was better) at a much higher cost.

Like many people, I am eagerly waiting on the Apple Silicon iMac (and hoping they don't decide to call it and price it like an iMac Pro).

This is going to be an unpopular opinion, but I'm not sure why they are even selling iMacs today.

What's the point? Most people who want an integrated system likely consider a MacBook Pro as the first option. For everyone else who a MBP would be an overkill, the next best fully integrated system for them probably really is the iPad.

Given the lack of attention to Mac desktops over the last decade or so, and their push for whats-a-computer iPads, I have a hard time understanding why they don't just cull the desktop line to a single tower (configurable) and some mass-produced Mac mini options.

I regularly look at sites like shopgoodwill to see if there's any neat stuff posted, and *NO ONE* wants the iMacs. They're too awkward to collect and store. The screens might be good, but you can't reuse them with another computer. Even the ones you can use with Target Display Mode seem like the computer is still fully powered up and churning out a lot of heat. You can't really repair or upgrade them since anytime after the 2005 iMac G5 ALS model. They usually have crap resale value because of all of the above.

They are simply throwaway trash after you stop using it on your desk. Even the ultra-heavy PowerMac G5's get more attention.

The company preaches sustainability, but they still make these computers that no one has any reuse for after the primary lifespan.

It's high time for the iMac and the AIO desktop concept to make it's graceful exit.

Most people who want an integrated system likely consider a MacBook Pro as the first option. For everyone else who a MBP would be an overkill, the next best fully integrated system for them probably really is the iPad.

Neither is a great option for the living room, or the office front desk.

The people I know who do have an iMac love them. It’s hardly a growth segment (no kind of desktop is), but there’s absolutely a market for “I just want a computer that’s nice”. That hasn’t really changed since 1998. Yes, desktops have since massively shrunk as a segment vs. laptops, but that doesn’t mean the sales pitch for the original iMac has become all that outmoded. Except, thanks to Wi-Fi, you don’t even need to physically connect networking any more.

I have a hard time understanding why they don’t just cull the desktop line to a single tower (configurable) and some mass-produced Mac mini options.

A lot of geeks may want to buy a headless Macs, but Apple clearly doesn’t want to sell.

(I am puzzled by the “they’re doing a smaller tower” rumors, though. Either that means the Mac Pro is, once again, a single-revision design, which strikes me as dumb, or they’re truly doing four different desktop Mac lines, which indeed makes no sense to me given how small the desktop segment has become. Or, perhaps most likely, the rumors are wrong.)

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