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Which professional Mac desktop: iMac and Mac Pro compared

Martyn Casserly | April 8, 2016
Sometimes you need the power of a Mac desktop.

iMac vs Mac Pro: The iMac Range

There are three main categories of iMac at the moment - 21.5-inch (1920x1080), 21.5 with 4K Retina display and a 27-inch with 5K Retina display. Ignoring the entry-level iMac, there are common fittings across the remaining range. The 21-inch and 27-inch models feature quad core, Intel Core i5 CPUs (2.8Ghz or 3.1GHz in the smaller machines, and 3.2GHz or 3.3GHz in the larger ones), 8GB of RAM, and 1TB hard drives - another option exists to get 1 or 2TB Fusion Drives on the 27-inch iMac.

The major differences are that as you move up in price you get more powerful graphical capabilities, with the 21-inch models going from Intel HD Graphics to and Intel Iris Pro 6200, and the 27-inch variants arriving with an AMD Radeon R9 M380, M390 or M395.

Unfortunately, iMacs no longer feature user upgradable RAM, meaning if you want to upgrade the RAM, you'll either need to go into an authorised Apple store, or buy it from purchase. Previously, in older iMac versions you were able to easily access the RAM compartment.

The costs of these machines are £1049 (21-inch, 2.8GHz), £1199 (21-inch, 3.1GHz, 4K Retina Display), £1449 (27-inch 3.2GHz, 5K Retina display), £1599 (27-inch 3.2GHz, 5K Retina display), and £1849 (27-inch 3.3GHz, 5K Retina display),

Alongside the off the shelf models you can also use Apple's build to order feature on the website. This gives you the opportunity to upgrade the 21-inch models to 16GB of RAM (£160) and replace the slower spinning hard drive with either a 1TB Fusion drive for £80 (mixture of flash-storage and normal hard drive), 2TB Fusion Drive for an additional £240 or a 256GB flash-storage for £160 and additionally for the 4K Retina display a 512GB flash-storage for an extra £400. There's also the option to upgrade the CPU in the 3.1GHz i5 4K Retina display version to a 3.3GHz i7 for an additional £160.

These prices hold true for the 27-inch models, with the added choices of a 3TB Fusion drive and 1TB flash-storage - prices vary depending on which 27-inch iMac is selected. The processor on the £1599 and £1849 27-inch iMacs can be upgraded from an i5 to a 4Ghz i7 for an additional £200-240 (depending on which model you're buying).

iMac vs Mac Pro: Mac Pro range

In our review, we said that '[the] stunning Mac Pro is a true workstation class computer'. Since it was unveiled in 2013 the diminutive, cylindrical Mac has been collecting plaudits for design and capability, and it's no wonder. Apple has managed to fit an incredible amount of power into a unit that is barely taller than an iPad. Now we are all waiting for Apple up update this Mac which is now more than a year old.


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