Apple's new iMac Pro costs $5000, but is it overpriced?

Near the end of the company's World Wide Developer's Conference yesterday, Apple announced a new desktop PC. No, not a new Mac Pro like many were hoping for, but a new all-in-one iMac... Pro.

Here are the specs:

  • 27-inch 5K display with 500 nits brightness and P3 color
  • 8-Core Intel Xeon CPU, configurable up to 18-Core
  • 32GB of 2666MHz DDR4 ECC RAM, configurable up to 128GB
  • 1TB PCIe SSD, configurable up to 4TB SSD
  • AMD Radeon Pro Vega 56 GPU with 8GB of HBM2, configurable to Vega 64, 16GB
  • Front 1080p FaceTime HD camera
  • Built-in stereo speakers, with 4 microphones, 3.5mm headphone jack
  • 10GbE Ethernet
  • Four Thunderbolt 3 (USB-C) ports
  • Four USB 3.0 ports
  • 802.11ac wireless with Bluetooth 4.2
  • SDXC card slot with UHS-II

As far as specifications go, the iMac Pro is a pretty beefy PC, and in all the right places. It's got one heck of a CPU, and a yet to be announced AMD Radeon Pro Vega 56. Apparently from the iMac Pro specs page, AMD is going to announce a Pro Vega 64 as well. We reckon that these GPUs will be based on AMD's Vega Frontier edition, and not the consumer version of Vega that is supposed to be announced sometime in August.

Apple says that the $5000 base price for the new iMac Pro is a good deal, comparing its new computer to similar systems, specifically HP, which Apple said would have costed you $7000 for a similar system.

Could it work for gaming? Probably. Would it be the best gaming PC that Apple has ever released? Yes. Based on the CPU and GPU alone, the new iMac Pro would be a fantastic gaming PC. But the old adage is that Apple computers are overpriced for what they are and that if you DIY, you can get an equivalent system for cheap. So let's try it! We went to our friends at PCPartPicker and built a system that attempted to match the new baseline iMac Pro feature for feature, to see how much we would actually save:

PCPartPicker part list:

  • CPU: Intel - Xeon E5-2620 V4 2.1GHz 8-Core Processor ($408.99)
  • CPU Cooler: NZXT - Kraken X62 Liquid CPU Cooler ($158.99)
  • Motherboard: Asus - X99-E-10G WS SSI CEB LGA2011-3 Motherboard ($649.00)
  • Memory: Crucial - 32GB (1 x 32GB) Registered DDR4-2133 Memory ($253.81)
  • Storage: Samsung - 960 EVO 1TB M.2-2280 Solid State Drive ($479.99)
  • Video Card: Zotac - GeForce GTX 1080 Ti 11GB Founders Edition ($678.99)
  • Case: Silverstone - TJ04B-EW ATX Mid Tower Case ($151.90)
  • Power Supply: SeaSonic - PRIME Titanium 1000W 80+ Titanium Certified Fully-Modular ATX Power Supply ($242.89)
  • Operating System: Microsoft - Windows 7 Professional ($134.99)
  • Monitor: LG - UltraFine 5K Display 60Hz Monitor ($1299.95)
  • Other: ASUS Model ThunderboltEX 3 Expansion Card ($69.99)
  • Keyboard: Apple - MB110LL/B Wired Standard Keyboard ($49.00)
  • Mouse: Apple - MB829LL/A Bluetooth Wireless Laser Mouse ($79.99)
  • Speakers: Logitech - Z130 5W 2ch Speakers ($18.99)
  • Card reader: Kingston - Digital MobileLite G4 USB 3.0 card reader ($9.24)

Total: $4686.71

What we end up with is an awesome PC that would give our high-end build competition. We also have a system that's a productivity powerhouse as well. Our build has Wi-Fi, 10-gigabit Ethernet ports, USB-C Thunderbolt 3 ports, and even Apple's own keyboard and mouse—although not the cooler space gray versions. Unfortunately, we only saved $313 by building it ourselves and that's only after sending in $25 worth of mail-in rebates. If you can build the exact same specs as the new iMac Pro, let us know in the comments.

Specs aside, we're not going to get the svelte design of Apple's new iMac Pro, and its admittedly good manufacturing build and design. But you go into DIY knowing this from the get-go. What you do get in return though is the ability to expand internally, which the iMac Pro doesn't offer. 

If you use NZXT's new BLD system, you actually end up paying NZXT more to build a machine than the $313 you would be giving to Apple to build the iMac Pro. This is also in-line with what system builders will charge, and in many cases you'll end up paying even more for higher-end boutique builders. So if we're comparing builders, Apple's actually a deal!

Of course, $1,300 of our price tag is wrapped up in the 5K monitor. It's an understandable cost for Apple's build, especially when you consider the all-in-one design, but you can save a considerable amount of money—and still have a kick-ass gaming monitor—by building separately. For pros editing 4K video, the 5K display makes sense. This is the demographic the iMac Pro is targeting. For the average enthusiast though, a cheaper 4K display will suffice.

While Apple may have charged a big premium for its computers years ago, it looks like this is no longer the case today. If you're in the market to spend this kind of money on gaming though, you'd obviously be better off with our extreme gaming PC build guide than an iMac Pro.