The Worldwide Developers Conference, Apple’s annual presentation of everything new in the world of software, is well underway in San Jose, California. But amid the usual iOS and other software announcements, the Californian corporation has also confirmed the existence of a major hardware release; a massive update to its iMac desktop range.

iMac Pro Apple

PC competition

Apple has often struggled to compete with the powerful PC brand in the desktop market. But regardless of units sold, the Apple iMac remains an iconic machine, and one that is revered by computer users all over the world. A masterpiece in ergonomic design, the iMac has acquired an army of devotees despite its sometimes eye-watering price tag.

So the sneak preview of the iMac Pro was undoubtedly one of the highlights of the California conference. This will be an extremely powerful computer, one of the most impressive anywhere in the world. And considering that it will come with the usual sleek and elegant Apple styling, this should soon become a hugely sought after machine.

The iMac Pro is undoubtedly aimed at the serious computing market, with both professional people and devoted iMac fans likely to be potential customers for the machine. This will certainly not be a computer for casual Internet browsers, with both the specs and particularly the price tag of the iMac Pro rolling out this possibility.

Thus, Apple confirmed that the iMac Pro will retail at $4,999. This is certainly an extremely weighty price tag, and one that the vast majority of computer users would never remotely consider shelling out. But the reason that the retail price will be so high is that the iMac Pro is a phenomenally powerful machine, and one that Apple claims actually represents value for money in comparison to similar PCs.

Apple claims that to build a PC of similar specification to the iMac Pro would cost a whopping $7,000. This effectively means that this incredible computer also offers a 40 per cent discount over its PC competitors (if we accept Apple’s claim for the sake of argument). Nonetheless, the iMac Pro must still deliver some pretty impressive numbers in order to justify such a massive outlay, so what does this machine have beneath its trunk?

Processor

Apple fans interested in purchasing an iMac Pro will be presented with three separate models, each with differing computing specifications. The entry-level model will have a powerful Xeon processor, featuring eight cores, but there will also be more powerful versions as well. Thus, users will be able to choose from 10-core and 18-core models, with the most powerful iMac Pro able to deliver 22 tflops of computing power.

To put this figure into perspective, Microsoft has boasted of the native 4K gaming handling of its Xbox Project Scorpio console, yet this machine has only 6 tflops of processing power. So the new iMac Pro will effectively be nearly 400 per cent mark powerful than the Microsoft machine (which, to be fair, it should be considering the absolutely massive disparity in price!).

iMac Pro’s Design

Apple reveals that the iMac Pro will benefit from a space grey chassis. This is a color that the consumer electronics giant has utilized recently in both the iPhone and iPod ranges, so it will be a familiar finish for regular Apple consumers.

As could be reasonably expected, the monitor in the iMac Pro will also be rather large, with the presentation at the Worldwide Developers Conference confirming that it will benefit from a 27-inch display. This has been a common display size in the iMac range for some time, and it would have been indeed rather surprising if such an expensive machine had been handed the other 21-inch size display that is routine in Apple machines.

Resolution

It had been suggested that Apple would embrace 8K resolution in its desktop computing range at some point in the near future, but it has resisted the temptation with the iMac Pro. Considering the price of this machine, and the fact that Apple is likely to update it in the foreseeable future, this means that 8K resolution in an Apple desktop is still some time away.

The iMac Pro instead comes complete with a 5K Retina screen, which is certainly more than capable of displaying all media available on the mainstream market in the Western world. While companies are beginning to tinker with 8K offerings offerings in East Asia, the reality is that 4K has hardly even reached a meaningful level of market penetration as of yet, and the 5K pixel quantity included here is more than adequate for years to come.

Apple also boasts that the screen is capable of displaying one-billion colors.

Memory

The iMac Pro will feature 128GB of RAM memory, ensuring that this is a production powerhouse. Apple also states in the press release which accompanies this machine that the iMac Pro delivers 16GB of on-package high-bandwidth memory (HBM2).

Connections

Four Thunderbolt 3 ports will ensure that the iMac Pro can drive two 5K displays, and two high-performance RAID arrays are also included.

Other features

Apple states that the “iMac Pro packs incredible performance for advanced graphics editing, virtual reality content creation and real-time 3D rendering,” and notes that the all-flash architecture and thermal design has been completely redesigned from previous machines. This will ensure that the iMac Pro delivers 80 per cent more cooling capacity in its slimline design.

The iMac Pro also comes complete with the new Radeon Pro Vega GPU; the most advanced graphics system ever included in a Mac. Apple speaks of a “next-generation compute core” that will deliver outstanding performance, making 3D rendering and high-frame rate virtual reality both completely plausible.

Release date

Apple confirmed at its Worldwide Developers Conference that the iMac Pro will ship in December, ahead of the key Christmas marketplace, although it is hard to imagine that this expensive machine will be in many people’s stockings this year. Nonetheless, this is undoubtedly an extremely powerful machine that should be an impressive performer and a firm favourite with the most committed Apple fans once it hits the stores.