iMac 5K (2020) vs iMac Pro (2017): Which should you buy?
Best Mac for most people
The iMac (2020) is probably the last 27-inch model ever to feature Intel processors inside. This one has new features that will keep it future-proof for many years to come.
- Many new features & options
- True Tone display, optional nano-texture glass available
- Can upgrade to 10th-generation Intel Core i9 processor
- 1080p FaceTime HD camera
- No more Fusion drives
- Should you get a laptop instead?
It still packs a punch
Launched three years ago to good reviews, this pro iMac model has only received modest updates since then. Nonetheless, if you're looking for a professional all-in-one Mac solution, this is still it.
- Customization galore
- Unique space gray color
- 10-core now available
- Truly a pro device
- Possible update coming before the end of 2020
Both the 27-inch iMac 5K and iMac Pro received updates in August 2020. Only one of the two was a significant one, however. The iMac 5K is the all-in-one Mac solution for most people, while the iMac Pro is geared towards professional creatives that have money to spend. The choice for you will come down to options and budget.
Break it down now
Announced at the 2017 Worldwide Developers Conference and launched a few months later, the iMac Pro offers a 27-inch display with a unique dark space gray finish. Called "the most powerful Mac ever made" at the time of its revealing, the computer serves as a powerful all-in-one alternative to the newer third-generation Mac Pro.
The silver iMac 5K also has a 27-inch display. Placed side-by-side with the iMac Pro, the machines look strikingly similar. And yet, they are very different, as the significant price difference between the two suggests.
Overall, the iMac Pro exceeds the iMac. And yet, recent changes made to the latter blurs that advantage, at least a little bit as you can see below.
|Header Cell - Column 0||iMac (2020)||iMac (2017)|
|Cost||From $1799||From $4999|
|Weight||19.7 pounds||21.5 pounds|
|Body color||silver||dark space gray|
|Processor||Starts at 3.1GHz 6-Core Processor with Turbo Boost up to 4.5GHz||Starts at 3.0GHz 10-Core Intel Xeon W processor with Turbo Boost up to 4.5GHz|
|Graphics||Starting at Radeon Pro 5300 with 4GB of GDDR6 memory||Starting at Radeon Pro Vega 56 with 8GB HBM2 memory|
|5K Retina Display||Yes||Yes|
|Optional nano-texture glass||Yes||No|
|Storage||Starts at 256GB SSD, configurable up to 8TB SSD storage||Starts at 1TB SSD storage, configurable up to 4TB SSD storage|
|Memory||8GB up to 128GB||32GB up to 256GB|
|Camera||1080p FaceTime HD camera||1080p FaceTime HD camera|
3.5 mm headphone jack
SDXC card slot (UHS-II)
Four USB-A ports
Two Thunderbolt 3 (USB-C) ports
3.5 mm headphone jack
SDXC card slot (UHS-II)
Four USB-A ports
Four Thunderbolt 3 (USB-C) ports
|Microphone||Three-mic array with directional beamforming||four microphones|
iMac (5K): Where it shines
The new iMac scores highest when it comes to the display. It supports 5120‑by‑2880 resolution for one billion colors, 500 nits brightness, and Wide color (P3). There's also True Tone technology for the first time. With True Tone, the color of the screen automatically adjusts based on the time of day to protect your eyes better. Nano-texture glass is also available as an option. Ideally suited for an uncontrolled lighting environment, the nano-texture glass provides lower contrast while producing unwanted haze and sparkle.
On the iMac 5K (2020), you'll also find 10th generation Intel chips, a T2 Security Chip, a 1080p camera (for the first time), a studio-quality microphone, and more. You can also purchase up to 8TB SSD storage on the device, which is double the maximum found on the iMac Pro.
iMac Pro: Where it shines
With room for up to 18 cores, the iMac Pro is still a powerhouse, even though it's nearly three years old. These are industry-leading Xeon processors to boot with a Turbo Boost up to 4.5Ghz. Inside, you'll also find blazing-fast Radeon Pro Vega graphics and RAM up to 256GB. On the back are four Thunderbolt 3 (USB-C) ports, providing support for DisplayPort 1.2, Thunderbolt (up to 40Gb/s), USB 3.1 Gen 2 (up to 10Gb/s), Thunderbolt 2, HDMI, DVI, and VGA.
At this time, the iMac Pro does not offer True Tone or nano-texture glass support.
Who should buy the iMac 5K (2020)?
The iMac 5K has been designed to appeal to the masses with its exceptional price (at least compared to the iMac Pro) and cutting-edge display. Though it's not as powerful as the Pro model, that's okay since most people don't need the best and priciest internals.
Who should buy the iMac Pro?
If you work in a creative industry (animation, video, publishing), the iMac Pro is for you. And yet, after three years, it feels like a more significant update is coming soon, and perhaps you should wait. If you can't, understand that the least expensive model now offers a 10-core processor, giving you more for the same amount of money as before.
Fresh and ready for business
Look at that updated display!
This is probably the final iMac 5K to feature Intel processors inside. To celebrate, Apple has pulled out all the stops by adding new features like True Tone and nano-texture glass.
Tick tock, update (probably) coming
It's the all-in-one Pro solution for Mac
Designed for creatives with an expense account, the iMac Pro is an excellent device with lots of options. Be careful ordering, however, as a significant update could be in the wind.
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Bryan M. Wolfe has written about technology for over a decade on various websites, including TechRadar, AppAdvice, and many more. Before this, he worked in the technology field across different industries, including healthcare and education. He’s currently iMore’s lead on all things Mac and macOS, although he also loves covering iPhone, iPad, and Apple Watch. Bryan enjoys watching his favorite sports teams, traveling, and driving around his teenage daughter to her latest stage show, audition, or school event in his spare time. He also keeps busy walking his black and white cocker spaniel, Izzy, and trying new coffees and liquid grapes.