Right now, the most exciting piece of desktop hardware to come is the iMac Pro. The new all-in-one desktop was announced by Apple in its WWDC 2017 event last June 5. While Apple has already announced that the base configuration will have a more than sufficient hardware power, some people will still think it is not enough.
Luckily, CNET already went ahead an did an independent survey of how much one would spend to beef up an iMac Pro. Before we proceed, readers should note that the top-of-the-line configuration for an iMac Pro consists of the following:
- 18-core Intel Xeon processor (possibly the E5-2697)
- 128GB of ECC DDR4 RAM at 2,666MHz
- 4TB of SSD storage
- AMD Radeon Pro Vega with 16GB of HBM2 memory
Yet another side note
As anyone would know, the iMac Pro is an all-in-one-desktop computer. This means it is built in the same way a normal iMac is built. The display is not fixed to the body by any mechanical means. Instead, Apple uses double-sided adhesives to bond the display to the computer chassis.
Disassembly of the screen, especially for the untrained, can result in damages to it. We at TheBitbag, neither condone nor support anyone who wishes to upgrade their iMac or iMac Pro on their own.
Furthermore, disassembly without proper safety tools can cause injury from shocks from the power supply capacitors of the device. That is why, for anyone who wants to risk it, be forewarned.
As mentioned, there are only a few things that a user can do to increase the performance of his or her iMac Pro. First off the list is the processor. Now, this is a tricky topic. If Apple decides to make the processor modular, like it did on the 27-inch iMac, chances are, users will be able to swap a compatible processor quite freely.
Intel Xeon processor
According to the ZDNET estimate, a processor upgrade directly from Apple would cost around $4,000. This includes the retail price and Apple’s markup on the processor. On the other hand, for someone who is willing to source from a third-party seller, Newegg is the best place to start because an 18-core Intel Xeon E5-2697 would cost just around $2,300. That is at least $1,700 savings. To cap it off, you can sell off the spare 8-core processor on eBay and probably take back around $300 for it. All in all, that’s a $2,000 right there.
128GB of server-type RAM
Unfortunately for the iMac Pro, one cannot use a standard desktop RAM stick. Since the AIO uses a server-grade processor, the memory should also be server grade. For this, an ECC-type RAM stick must be used.
On the base configuration, the 32GB RAM is more than enough for any day to day operation. However, as Apple has officially stated, the iMac Pro can support as much as 128GB of DDR4 RAM.
Going for an Apple installed RAM upgrade, one can shell out as much as $2,700, according to ZDNET. However, again, not for the faint-hearted, upgrading on your own can give you as much as $900 worth of savings on all the memory modules. On the plus side, just like the processor, you can sell the old RAM sticks and get back at least $250.
AMD Radeon Pro Vega GPU
Sadly, for the GPU, there is nothing much anyone can do but to bite the bullet. Normally, Apple would solder the GPU directly on to the iMac Pro’s logic board. This means that only specialized tools will be able to remove it from the board itself. Nevertheless, in the event that you managed to remove the GPU, chances are, you will not find a replacement GPU chip that is sold anywhere else.
For the GPU, an AMD Radeon Pro Vega with 16GB of HBM2 RAM is bound to cost around $2,000 from Apple.
Infinite amount of storage
Because the iMac, or the iMac Pro for that matter, uses a generic SSD instead of an proprietary Apple storage, upgrading is a bit easier than usual. The selection range is pretty wide in terms of available brands with varying performances. For optimum performance, a 4TB with the same transfer rate would cost around $2,250. However, coming from Apple, this can easily be up to $3,600. As with the RAM and the processor, selling the SSD can easily add a few more savings on one’s overall expenses. A 1TB SSD can fetch as much as $500 on eBay or any other auction website.
Summing all the savings one can have in upgrading the iMac Pro, it is indeed a considerable amount. From the over-specced price of $17,300, according to ZDNET, one only needs to spend $12,300. The breakdown goes as follows:
- Base price is $5,000
- Xeon E5-2697 processor is $2,300
- 128GB RAM is $1,800
- Graphics card is $2,000
- SSD is $2,250
- Total savings from selling spare components is $1,050
Overall, upgrading an iMac Pro on your own is not a bad thing. A grand total of $5,000 can be saved just by not paying what is know as the Apple tax which is basically its 80 percent markup. Additionally, that much savings is enough to purchase another iMac Pro base model.
On the other hand, before processing with the upgrade, users should note that by doing so on your own, owners effectively void the device’s warranty. Furthermore, as shown by numerous teardowns from iFixit, it is not that easy to upgrade an iMac nor an iMac Pro.
For more tech updates, be sure to check us out at TheBitbag.