Following Apple's announcement of an iMac Pro, a supercharged all in one computer offering more power for those needing a professional feature set we asked you in a poll if you Would You Buy An iMac Pro?
What Do You Think?
So it's roughly 60/40 in favour of the 'no' camp. But what about the comments? Unfortunately, the number of favourable comments don't reflect the percentages of the vote but let's start with a selection of the favourable comments...
- Steve Steele - I would buy the maxed out 18-core iMac Pro and the upcoming Mac Pro with a second matching monitor and build a DAW/Vienna Ensemble Pro based host/slave setup with the iMac Pro as the host. With all of that updated tech (I'm still using two 2009 cheese-grater Mac Pros with the upgraded firmware, Westmere CPUs, etc..), every aspect of these systems would outpace what I have now. Huge orchestral/film scoring templates with very low latency should now be entirely possible. It's going to cost a lot, but like the 2009 cheese-grater Mac Pros I should get 8-10 years of use out of them if managed properly and assuming architectures and formats don't change too much. Or I could sell them early and get a good ROI if these new Xeon-based Macs become popular.
- Gethin Jones - I like the spec, and get what they are doing, but...
- kickinthedoors - Apple went for power, power, power WITH a 5K monitor that's better than anything else. 18 cores of Xeon. This is a music production website, what else could you possibly need? That's a serious question, the arguments against this one don't hold up this time around.
- ChrisandLana Green - Love the screens, keyboards, and trackpads from Apple but I can't help but think my only interest in Apple is for style. As if you won't be taken seriously in the world unless you have Apple gear.
- Alvin A. Burrell - Bear in mind that Apple have already committed to a new modular system so this is actually another form factor for workstation class performance which is great news. Also, they are supporting external chassis via Thunderbolt 3 which means that not only can you support your PCI cards, the cards can be located right next to the interfaces with a Thunderbolt 3 cable going back to your Mac. I see all of this as really positive steps.
However, it doesn't take much digging to find people from whom the lack of upgradability and user-maintainable parts seems to be an issue. Here are 2 examples of a much larger collection of comments...
- Gethin Jones - Not being able to upgrade or replace parts if they break is a big no. No USB or Firewire which I use. For me not worth it.
- Kyle Conklin - The new Xeon/i9 iMacs are going to be even worse thermal nightmares and for long term use and upgradability are going to be a non-options for that machine no matter how elegant.
The concept of an all-in-one seems to not be finding favour either...
- Michael Bates - No thank you to an expensive screen I don't need and a fan in the centre of my studio for £5,000.
- Stefan - I don't want my computer with an attached screen! If they offered it in a desktop or rack version I would probably buy it. Can't see the logic in this as a Pro solution.
- Carrot and Shtick - Agreed. I don't like to put all my eggs in one basket. If one component fails, you lose a big part of your whole setup. Also, even though I picked up a gorgeous (screen anyway) LG 5K display, I still prefer to run Pro Tools on my 34" LG Ultrawide, and if I'm working in another studio, I always bring it with me.
- Michael Carnes - I also don't want the monitor. It may be a lovely thing, but my workflow already uses a pair of 31" 4K monitors. The match--both in size and resolution--is important. Not only that, but I just can't see the sense in having to upgrade the monitors at the same time as the processor.
A number of the people commenting seem to be favouring PC self-builds or Hackintoshes, again just a sample from the comments...
- Kyle Conklin - Price to performance, I will stick to the custom PC/Hackintoshes I build.
- Gethin Jones - I might as well buy a second-hand Mac Pro tower and upgrade to the standards you need it to be. or just build a kick ass PC.
- ChrisandLana Green - Would be interested to see how much a custom built PC with similar specs would cost? I had switched from the Mac world a little over 8 months ago and haven't looked back. I still use my 2008 Macbook Pro and iPad for email/facebook etc. I have been running large studio one recording sessions sufficiently with the results of my PcPartPicker machine.
- Cathrine Milton - Product looks awesome, it probably is. I am running an i7 6700K 16GB RAM, SSDs all through. It's faster than all current Macs except the three most expensive trash can Macs. Cost me $1000. Built like a tank.
Self Builds I get as long as you choose Pro Tools friendly components which is doable, but in my opinion, Hackintoshes are too risky for facilities making a living from Pro tools, the risk of Apple breaking the hack is not one I am prepared to take. I accept most of the time you can control when you do an OS upgrade but having to go through the hack process each time you upgrade is a pain point I can do without.
On a similar vain some comments referred to continuing to use or choosing to use older Mac machines, This is a typical example...
- Michael Bates - Plus the usual gripes about non-user upgradability. I'm still using an 8-year-old silver Mac Pro to run feature mixes and I love that I can triple the storage space in five minutes for a couple of hundred quid if needs be.
There were several community members that identified the 'Pro-status' issue some audio professionals are having with the iMac Pro not being a pro machine, here are two examples...
- Dan Smith - It looks gorgeous and I think will do well for a certain sector of the professional market. We just don't fit perfectly within that niche. I will be getting one of those space grey keyboards, though. I'm a sucker and that thing is beautiful.
- Dereck Blackburn - This is a machine for actual creative professionals but not for audio professionals. The whole benefit of these machines lies in science and high volume creative industry. They are not machines aimed to please ProToolsHD folk. Instead, as our industry moves towards mobility and portability - laptops with the most RAM and powerful CPUs will be more cost effective. You don't need this much machine to run your audio business. If you think you do - then you're more concerned about status symbols. I guess there's nothing wrong with that.
This is a key point that we have made on a number of occasions. The Pro user base for Apple products is a small percentage of Apple's turnover and we as audio professionals with our very specialised needs are a very small percentage of an already small percentage. Apple is never going to make a machine to meet our needs. The upcoming 'modular Mac Pro, is the closest we are going to get. But for those of us needing PCIe slots then expansion chassis are what we will need and the news from Sonnet is extra specially good as they have brought the price down on HDX friendly PCIe expansion chassis solutions.
There you have a selection of the comments so far and some of my thoughts as the editor of Pro Tools Expert and an audio professional working in audio post-production with a cheese-grater Mac Pro and HDX system. Do carry on the conversation below....
The New iMac Pro At A Glance;
- Up to 18 cores, also available with an 8-core and 10 core.
- RAM configurable up to 128gb of ECC RAM
- 1TB SSD
- Radeon Vega graphics with up to 16GB of VRAM
- 4 Thunderbolt 3 ports.
- Built-in 10Gb Ethernet port.
- Space Grey finish.
- Price starts at $4,999.
- Available in December 2017.