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I want Apple to resurrect the iMac Pro, but it’s a bad idea

With the abrupt removal of the 27-inch iMac and the iMac Pro from the company’s lineup a few years ago, if the rumor’s are to be believed, Apple is reportedly hard at work on a new large-format iMac.

I adore the iMac, therefore it would be wonderful to see a new, larger model appear on the market. But, I can’t help but think that Apple might have made a huge error here as well. In the end, there are several good reasons why Apple shouldn’t bring back the iMac Pro.

The most obvious defense is that it would further complicate Apple’s already complex Mac portfolio. The Mac Pro, Mac Studio, and MacBook Pro are intended at professional users. Would an iMac Pro actually be able to outperform any of those? An iMac Pro and a Mac Studio take up almost precisely the same amount of space. It just seems needless to increase the lineup with a top-end all-in-one.

Also, compared to an iMac Pro, a Mac Studio with Studio Display is arguably a far better long-term investment. With a Mac Studio, you can simply replace the Mac and keep the monitor for as long as it’s still functional. The computer component of that combination will certainly become outdated much more quickly than the display. When the processor in an iMac Pro becomes inadequate, the entire machine must be replaced.

The Mac Studio is therefore more modular than an iMac Pro, even though Apple’s first claim that it is a “modular” machine sounds a little ridiculous. The Mac Studio is definitely the better choice if you don’t want to have to purchase a completely new desktop setup every few years.

Repeating the same mistakes

The iMac Pro was dropped by Apple in March 2021. Although Apple never stated a reason, one explanation is that the Pro customers it was intended for—those who need to maintain their PCs as current as possible—simply weren’t able to upgrade it easily enough. It is quite challenging to replace internal components in an all-in-one architecture.

What would be different if the iMac Pro wasn’t able to satisfy Apple’s consumers’ needs the first time around? According to what we can tell, the silicon chip from Apple will be the sole significant change this time. The other elements from the previous failed effort will not change.

Nevertheless, an Apple silicon chip merely reduces the upgradability because Apple’s processors combine the CPU, GPU, and RAM into one component, as the impending Mac Pro refresh appears to indicate. A completely new processor is required for a graphics upgrade, which in the case of the iMac Pro necessitates replacing the entire machine.

Body check

Let’s take a step back and suppose that Apple is genuinely developing a 27-inch iMac for consumers and not an iMac Pro for professionals. That still doesn’t make much sense to me.

When Apple offers Macs in two sizes, it typically gives the larger model a more powerful chip while keeping the same chassis for both models. Consider the MacBook Pro as an example, whose larger 16-inch model features more potent M2 Max CPUs than the 14-inch model.

The bigger iMac, which would use M2 Pro or M3 Pro CPUs, would probably incorporate that approach. Though we can certainly anticipate seeing the same ultra-thin, colourful exterior as its smaller sister if it’s an iMac and not an iMac Pro. As we noted in our assessment of the 24-inch iMac, the M1 processor, which has a drastically different thermal performance from Apple’s Pro chips, is at the heart of this machine.

The more potent Pro chips may not be well-suited for the iMac’s slim design because they would likely require more cooling than Apple’s entry-level chips. Would something like that be doable with a machine that thin? I’m not certain.

Keep it under wraps

Several observers are certain that Apple is developing a larger iMac despite all of these warnings. Among them are three of the most reputable and trustworthy Apple experts in the industry: Mark Gurman, Ross Young, and Ming-Chi Kuo.

And certainly, I can see the reasons why Apple could be thinking about making such a change. It wouldn’t have to be expensive to bring back a larger iMac, and it might offer an alternative for folks who adore the all-in-one design but believe the 24-inch iMac is too small.

The iMac is known as the “iMac 24” on Apple’s website. There is no need to publish the screen specifications if the manufacturer only plans to sell the 24-inch form of the iMac. This suggests that a new size may be coming soon and that the display specification is necessary to clearly distinguish the present model.

Yet for the time being, nothing is certain. On a personal level, I would like to see a new iMac Pro, but I don’t think it’s the best course of action. Apple will likely keep the iMac Pro tightly under wraps if it has learned anything from its prior failures.