Apple started to sell the iMac Pro in December 2017, more than four years ago, and first introduced it at WWDC 2017. Then in March 2021 Apple announced that it was discontinuing the iMac Pro

However, the iMac Pro might not be gone for good, there are reports that Apple could soon revive the old brand with a brand new iMac Pro. Read on to find out when it could launch and what features it might offer.

What is/was the iMac Pro?

Before we discuss what new features a replacement for the iMac Pro might have, a quick run through of what the iMac Pro is – or rather was.

The iMac Pro was the first new creative pro-focused product to arrive after Apple’s admission in April 2017 that it had let its dedication to creative pros slide. The company promised that it would launch an iMac Pro that year, and then later on a Mac Pro and a dedicated display.

The iMac Pro arrived at the end of 2017 and it was an impressive beast. It originally offered Intel’s Xeon W processors (8-cores as standard, but up to 18-cores), (32GB RAM as standard, up to 256GB) and better graphics (Radeon Pro Vega 56 as standard). Apple later discontinued the entry level model and replaced it with the 10-core model. When it launched the iMac Pro price started at £4,899/$4,999. 

However, as impressive as the iMac Pro was when it launched back in 2017, since its arrival the 27in iMac become even more powerful – closing the gap between the standard and pro machines.

While the iMac was nipping at the iMac Pro’s tail from one side the Mac Pro was at the other end. The Mac Pro starts at £5,499/$5,999 – which wasn’t that different to the price of the iMac Pro when it was still sold (from £4,999/$4,999) – although the latter did at least include a display.

iMac Pro

iMac Pro

Is there a need for the iMac Pro?

The iMac Pro catered for a group of people who need a really powerful machine, but don’t need the Mac Pro. However, there is now another Mac that might fit with this target market: the Mac Studio.

Not only has the Mac Studio arrived and filled the gap previously occupied by the iMac Pro, Apple also discontinued the 27in iMac following the introduction of the Mac Studio. By taking the larger iMac off sale Apple could be seen to be making it pretty clear that the people who previously used an iMac or an iMac Pro should now choose the Mac Studio.

While the Mac Studio is likely to be good enough to meet the demands of the market for whom the iMac Pro was initially designed, the question is whether the Mac Studio is really a suitable replacement for the 27in iMac. The most obvious reason in the argument against is that it lacks a screen.

Some might suggest that the 5K display was one of the biggest selling points of the iMac and point out that the Mac Studio lacks a display – unless you are prepared to spend £1,499/$1,599 on the Studio Display (below) or even more on Apple’s Pro Display XDR.

Studio Display

Studio Display

Because we have had iMacs targeted at creative pros for the past decade or so the idea that Apple would sell a desktop and separate monitor seem alien, but actually it’s exactly what it used to do with the Power Mac and the Mac Pro more than a decade ago. The iMac certainly hasn’t always been considered suitable for intensive users.

Has Apple really abandoned the all-in-one Mac as a solution for creative pros, or is Apple going to bring back the iMac Pro as the rumours suggest?

Will there be a new iMac Pro?

We are hearing that a new iMac model with a mini-LED screen with ProMotion technology, and an even better version of the M1 Max is in the pipeline. There have been reports that Apple intends to give this new larger iMac the name iMac Pro.

A tweet from technology leaker Dylandkt in October 2021 described the new iMac as an iMac (Pro):

Then in January 2022 Dylandkt tweeted that “internal naming candidate is iMac Pro for a reason. It is targeted towards pros.”

Even Mark Gurman of Bloomberg believes that there will be a new iMac Pro. In a 2 January 2022 PowerOn Newsletter, Mark Gruman wrote that “The company [Apple] has a bevy of new pro Macs in the works based on the M1 Pro and M1 Max chips that are already inside the MacBook Pro. That includes a smaller Mac Pro with up to 40 CPU cores and 128 graphics cores, a new Mac mini, and a large-screened iMac Pro.”

With Apple discontinuing the 27in iMac after the 8 March Apple Event, the future of the 27in iMac looks uncertain, but the iMac Pro may still be the eventual replacement for the 27in iMac if Apple adds it back into the line up. Read: 27in iMac discontinued, but not necessarily dead.

You may also like to read: Why it doesn’t matter that Apple discontinued the iMac Pro.

iMac Pro release date

  • WWDC in June – estimated
  • Possibly delayed until 2023

Some pundits suggested we could see a new 27in iMac at Apple’s Spring Event on 8 March 2022, not only did this not happen, Apple stopped selling the 27in model after the event! However, what we are interested in here is the iMac Pro and when Apple might start selling it again.

Leaker @dylandkt claimed in a tweet on 23 January 2022 that a new iMac Pro was on track to make an appearance in the spring, although he indicated that there are “concerns with regards to production”.

Similarly, a report from analyst Ross Young in December 2021 suggested that a new “iMac Pro” could be launched some time in the spring of 2022. Young describes a “27in iMac Pro with Mini-LEDs, 120Hz Variable Refresh and Oxide Backplanes: Expected in the spring as Apple brings its ProMotion technology to the iMac.”

However, as of 31 January 2022 Young thinks there could be a longer wait with the iMac Pro not ready to launch in March 2022. In the below tweet Young indicated that suppliers cannot provide the necessary mini LED panels in sufficient quantities for this iMac Pro before June:

In a follow up 14 February 2022 tweet Young added that the new iMac Pro could arrive in June.

Young’s information seems to suggest that there could be a new iMac Pro, with a mini-LED screen arriving in June – the most likely venue therefore would be WWDC.

However, we may have an even longer wait. Analyst Ming-Chi Kyo has tweeted the following suggesting that the iMac Pro (and Mac Pro) could be delayed until 2023.

iMac Pro design

The iMac Pro is likely to borrow some of its design inspiration from the 24in iMac. But we expect more corporate and darker colours: the old iMac Pro was available in Space Grey, for example.

Another difference we could see on the larger iMac is a black rather than a white border around the screen. Read Why we are disappointed in by the new iMac design.

In his 31 July 2021 PowerOn newsletter Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman suggested that the iMac Pro will have “a similar design to the current M1 iMac.”

There may also be a notch as there is with the 14in and 16in MacBook Pro. This could allow Apple to extend the height of the screen as it has with these models.

New iMac Pro: Screen bezels

New iMac Pro: Screen bezels

iMac Pro screen tech

There are a couple of major changes we are hoping will come to the new iMac Pro display.

We’d be surprised not to see the same Mini LED screen tech on the iMac Pro as Apple has added to the 2021 MacBook Pro. The 14in and 16in MacBook Pro boast Liquid Retina XDR displays, with an extreme dynamic range for 1,000 nits brightness and 1,600 nits of peak brightness, as well as a 1,000,000:1 contrast ratio, thanks to which you should be able to see detail in shadows and enjoy deeper blacks and more vivid colours.

We also expect ProMotion, as seen on the 14in and 16in MacBooks, the iPad Pro and the iPhone 13 Pro and Pro Max. As with those devices, ProMotion allows an adaptive refresh rate up to 120Hz, which means it can refresh images 120 times a second, but it can also vary the refresh rate to much less than that when it isn’t required, thereby saving battery life.

In a 30 October 2021 tweet (above) @dylandkt referrs to the new iMac (Pro) as having a backlight mini-LED and the same ProMotion feature found on the 14in and 16in MacBook Pro (and the iPhone 13 Pro and Max, and iPad Pro).

Display analyst Ross Young has also said that the ‌new iMac‌ will use a mini-LED panel with ProMotion for refresh rates up to 120Hz.

The mini-LED parts may be the reason why we won’t see the iMac Pro until June at the earliest. Young tweeted that he still believes it will be mini LED.

But Young has noted that the supplier of the mini LED panels will not be able to provide sufficient quantities in time for a launch before June 2022.

In a follow up 14 February 2022 tweet Young emphasised that Apple will equip the display with fewer of the individually dimmable zones than in iPad Pro and MacBook Pro – which would make sense for a screen size of 27in and a usually greater distance from the monitor.

iMac Pro screen size

Young and others have stated that the iMac Pro will have a 27in display, which we have to admit to being disappointed by.

Young tweeted on 20 October 2021 that a 27in mini LED screen is going to be used in an iMac in Q1 2022. He again suggested that the screen will be 27in in December 2021.

We anticipated that Apple would, as it has with so many products, reduce the bezels to allow for a bigger screen (as it did for the 24in iMac). Display technology has evolved in such a way as to accommodate smaller bezels, and smaller bezels is likely to mean an even bigger screen.

However, all the rumours seem to be pointing to a 27in display, which is no larger than the display size is currently.

This is despite our calculations that indicated that the screen size could increase from the current 27in with the size of the iMac only increasing a fraction.

24in iMac

24in iMac

If the new iMac has a larger screen than 27in users would benefit from more pixels. Given that there is now a 4.5K (4,480 x 2,520 pixels) display on the smaller iMac, the 5K display of the 27in iMac does look less impressive despite its 5,120 x 2,880 pixels.

Perhaps the new screen technology will allow Apple to squeeze in more pixels, but the 27in screen also doesn’t compare particularly favourably with many modern displays that are larger than 30in.

These rumours about the 27in display could actually refer to the  Studio Display, which Apple introduced at the 8 March event, so it is possible that there could be a larger display coming to the iMac Pro.

Apple already makes one 32in display: the Pro Display XDR. That display offers 6K resolution. We’d like to see Apple equip the new iMac with a similar 32in display.

The new iMac wouldn’t actually need to be as big as the Pro Display XDR to offer a 6K display. A 30in display with smaller bezels could still accommodate the 6,016 x 3,384 pixels for Retina 6K resolution and a 6K iMac.

A quick look at the Pro Display XDR can give us an insight to some of the other features we could gain with the new iMac screen, although we may not see them all.

New iMac (2021) release date, price & specs: HDR Display

New iMac (2021) release date, price & specs: HDR Display

The Pro Display XDR offers:

  • A maximum of 1,600 nits of brightness, 1000 nits brightness (sustained, full screen), 500 nits SDR brightness.
  • XDR (Extreme Dynamic Range).
  • 1,000,000:1 contrast ratio.
  • P3 wide colour gamut, 10-bit colour depth for 1.073 billion colours
  • A superwide viewing angle at 89 degrees left, 89 degrees right, 89 degrees up, 89 degrees down.
  • Monitor works in both landscape and portrait orientation.
  • Standard screen is engineered for low reflectivity, but the optional nano-texture glass surface (which adds $1,000 to the price) etches a matt finish into the glass “at the nanometre level” to scatter light and avoid glare.

We’d also like to see an ultra-wide screen. Ultra-wide displays have become a bit of a thing over the past couple of years, and it might be something that Apple could adopt for the iMac, although it might be something we see for the new Apple display first. We’d love to see an ultra-wide iMac with a 21:9 aspect ratio, compared to the 16:9 aspect ratio currently seen (which is a standard widescreen aspect ratio).

iMac Pro specs

What can we expect from this successor to the iMac Pro? Expect it to be designed with the creative pro in mind, so more powerful processor and graphics options, more RAM (128GB) and storage (8TB).How will Apple achieve this? Read on to find out.

Processor

We could see the M1 Pro or the M1 Max chips in the new iMac Pro. There is some doubt as to whether we will see the M1 Ultra (as seen in the Mac Studio) inside this Mac though due to the thermal management requirements.

In a 30 October tweet, Apple leaker Dylan claimed that the new iMac (Pro) model offer the same M1 Pro or M1 Max as the 2021 MacBook Pro models, albeit with a 12-core option.

Dylan went on to tweet on 23 January 2021:

There is a 10-core CPU (two efficiency and eight performance cores) option for both the M1 Pro and M1 Max (along with a cheaper 8-core version for the M1 Pro).

The speculation is that the additional model could offer two high efficiency cores and ten high performance cores. The efficiency cores are a lot less necessary for a Mac that will be plugged in all the time after all.

However, we could see even more cores if Apple is able to use the M1 Ultra inside the iMac. The M1 Ultra offers a 20-core CPU, which is made up of 16 high performance cores and 4 high efficiency cores

This would match the predictions of a Bloomberg report from December 2020: “For its next generation chip targeting MacBook Pro and iMac models, Apple is working on designs with as many as 16 power cores and 4 efficiency cores.”

Graphics

The M1 Pro offers a 14-core or 16-core GPU (14-cores on the entry-level) while the M1 Max GPU is even better – offering 32-cores.

Should Apple be able to use the M1 Ultra inside the iMac we could see a 64-core GPU. 

RAM

In his tweet in October 2021 (above) Dylan suggests that there will be 16GB RAM as standard in the new iMac Pro. If the M1 Pro and M1 Max are included then that suggests that the new iMac will be able to support 64GB RAM, which is less than the 128GB RAM currently supported.

It may however be possible to support 128GB RAM in the new machine if Apple can use the M1 Ultra.

Storage

Dylan’s October 2021 tweet also suggested that there will be 512GB storage as standard with the new iMac (Pro).

That would be an improvement on the 256GB offered in the entry-level 27in iMac prior to is being retires. But it would follow the pattern of the 2021 16in MacBook Pro which has 512GB and 1TB options for the standard machines (and 8TB as a build to order option, matching the 27in iMac).

iMac Pro 2: Price

The iMac Pro price started at £4,999/$4,999 when it was on sale and, prior to it being discontinued, the price of the 27in iMac started at £1,749/$1,799 (but the top-of-the-range 27in iMac could be kitted out with various build-to-order options for £4,544/$4,849).

In comparison the Mac Studio costs £1,999/$1,999 for an M1 Max model, or £3,399/$3,999 for the M1 Ultra model. That sounds like a good deal in comparison to the discontinued iMacs, but you will need to factor in the price of a display (Apple’s Studio Display costs £1,499/$1,599).

And the price comparisons don’t stop there. The entry-level Mac Pro, starts at £5,499/$5,999.

If Apple launches an iMac Pro the price is likely to be higher than the equivalent Mac Studio simply because of the screen. Take the Mac mini and 24in iMac as a comparison. The Mac mini has the exact same spec as one of the iMacs and is half the price.

So expect to pay more for the iMac Pro than the Mac Studio. An M1 Max model would probably cost £2,800/$2,800 and an M1 Ultra around £5,000/$5,000. Perhaps Apple will also introduce an M1 Pro model for a lower price though, meaning that you could get an iMac PRo for less than £2,000/$2,000. 

For more information about Apple’s plans for the coming months, read our guide to the new Apple products coming out in 2022.