Apple’s Mac Pro vs. iMac with Retina 5K display

“There used to be a time when the gap between Apple products made choosing the right computer obvious and easy. The deliberate compartmentalization of prices and features clearly dictated which laptop or deskop machine was right, with minimal overlap between the categories,” Michael deAgonia writes for Computerworld. “But as Apple expanded its line-up, and as technology became faster and more efficient, overlap became unavoidable. Nowadays, the line between consumer and professional hardware is blurrier than ever.”

“Neither the Mac Pro or the 5K Retina display iMac was designed with your average customer in mind; starting at $2999 and $2499, respectively, the price alone dictates that these computers are beyond the budget for most buyers,” deAgonia writes. “At this level, potential customers — businesses and universities included — are expecting a high-performance machine, which is exactly the territory of the Mac Pro.”

“It used to be that you could decide between two computers by how much room they took up on the desk (or floor) or how loud or quiet they were under a heavy load. Those issues don’t really come into play here. Both the Mac Pro and the iMac are stylish and take up minimal room on the desktop. And from my time with both of them, they’re both equally quiet under operation,” deAgonia writes. “That means the decision really comes down to absolute performance vs. absolutely-best screen.”

Much more in the full article here.


  1. My first computer was a TRS-80, which I believed was around $2500 in 1986 or so. In today’s dollars, that would be almost $5400. The TRS-80 had 64K memory, a monochrome screen, and two 8 inch floppy discs. By that standard, even the highest end Macs today are a bargain.

      1. Actually, that was rather accurate. In ’86, AAPL closed at the end of the year around $0.80 (adjusted for all splits since then). The 2,500 spend for that TRS-80 would have bought 3,125 shares of AAPL. Dividends from that many shares would have paid out almost $6,000 this year alone (around $1,500 each quarter). Not to mention that the shares themselves would have been worth almost $350k today.

  2. This is an easy decision. The Mac Pro cost too much. I would not blame Apple solely for such pricing, Intel has lost its nut. Well, when there is no competition you can charge what you like. We, somehow, some way, expect that and buy stuff anyway. Plus the Xeons aren’t that much faster than the other chips. Really, their price point is nuts even for business. The floating point performance for the money they want is ridiculous. I could see paying those prices if the chips delivered a double precision tera-floating point operations. Hey, graphic chips are doing it.

    1. You know, there are other performance attributes besides speed that warrants the higher price. If reliability matters, you want server-grade hardware.

      What pisses off professionals is that Macs are almost always far behind the curve on GPU performance.

      1. In this case, the GPU performance of the Mac Pro is great. Based on the articles that I read, the cost of the Mac Pro is about what you would pay for the graphics cards alone, especially the top graphics options.

        If you need the capabilities of the Mac Pro for your business, then it is a great buy. If you simply want it and have the money to spend, then you will enjoy owning and using such a wonderfully designed device.

        Most people only use a tiny fraction of the computing power that they have on their desks or in their hands. For those people who primarily use email, FB, Snapchat, word processing, and the occasional spreadsheet, most computers are overkill. For those people, the low-end MacBook, a Mac mini Plus a decent monitor, or even just an iPad with a Bluetooth keyboard would be fine.

          1. Why? I honestly don’t understand your reasoning. The virtual keyboard is fine for short messages, but a Bluetooth keyboard is much better for data entry, longer emails, papers, etc.

            You can purchase inexpensive, stand-alone Bluetooth keyboards, or purchase one embedded in an iPad smart cover or case.

    2. Not to mention that the Mac Pro Xeon CPU, DDR3 SDRAM and GPUs are all obsolete now, it doesn’t support DiplayPort 1.3 and thus 5K displays, and there are no PCI Express slots for expansion.

      Other than being expensive, out-of-date technology, it’s great!

        1. Apple should just drop the price of the current Mac Pro, perhaps offer i7 chip options and a bunch of Apple-branded Thunderbolt accessories. Price it aggressively and have it stand in as the “midrange” tower that everyone wants but Apple continues to refuse to deliver.

          Then as soon as possible, introduce a REAL workstation family, with internal PCI expansion, at least a couple drive bays, Xeon processors, and state-of-the-art GPUs to support the new 24″, 27″, and 30″ 5K displays that Apple needs to roll out with it.

          Finally, reintroduce Xserve. It’s time for Apple to mend its relationship with small business & design studios. They need pro hardware, and right now neither the iMac nor the Mac Pro are offering all the things that pro users want.

          Three markets need desktop machines without the built-in display:

          – “prosumer” desktop with fast processors for gaming & small business stuff, preferably with some user-expandable options. i7 chips are fine.

          – always-on rack-mounted server with no graphics but reliable processing power and data throughput

          – desktop workstation with pro-level audio and video options and insanely powerful CPU and GPU. preferably 4+ hot swappable drives and USB3.

      1. As far s your assertion regarding the relative cost of the Mac Pro, if you need it then it is worth the price. If not, then don’t buy it.

        My recollection from the Mac Pro reviews at its release is that it is was quite reasonably priced for its specs and parts. The general consensus is that the cost of the twin graphics cards, alone, equalled or exceeded the cost of the complete Mac Pro. I also seem to recall that any comparable Wintel workstation cost significantly more than the Mac Pro.

        I don’t know why you seem to have such a problem with the Mac Pro. But your criticisms are weak and without much basis in fact. I suspect that you just like to complain.

  3. Interesting stroll down memory lane here, my first computer was an Atari 800, with the disc drive it was around $1400.00 but I did have a lot of fun with it and that led me over the years to many PC’s and finally to an iMac about 4 years back. I just replaced it with the 5K model and my .02 it that it is well worth the asking price. The Mac Pro for me, was/is just too expensive. I do think that for folks who need the huge power potential it’s a good deal. BTW I do some video editing and the difference between my 4 year old iMac (i7 chip, 16 GB of Memory) and the new now with the fusion drive is like night & day. When running FCP X the renderings are almost immediate and that’s just with 8 GB of ram, I’ll be getting more ram after the XMAS bills are paid 🙂 Happy holidays to all and be kind to one another

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