Back when the iMac Pro was first announced, only its base price of $4,999 was disclosed by Apple. I decided I wanted to know what a fully-equipped machine would cost, so based on available pricing on comparable components, I went to work.
I concluded that a maxed-out iMac Pro will set you back about $17,324. As it turns out, I was off by about $4,000. Here's why.
I divided the cost elements into five categories: the base machine, jumping CPUs from 8 to 18 cores, jumping RAM from 32GB to 128GB, updating video, and going from 1TB of flash storage to 4TB.
Let's start with the base machine. The base $4,999 machine's specs remain the same. A base configuration gets you a 3.2GHz 8-core Intel Xeon W processor, with a Turbo Boost up to 4.2GHz. It also comes with a nice 32GB of 2666MHz DD4 ECC memory, a 1TB SSD, a Radeon Pro Vega 56 with 8GB or HBM2 memory, and a mouse and keyboard.
Processor upgrade to the max. Although the base 8-core machine comes as part of the base machine's price, an upgrade to the top of the line 2.3GHz 18-core processor will cost an additional $2,400. Based on the prevailing price of Xeons six months ago, and factoring in what I called an "Apple tax" of about 75 percent, I expected the 18-core upgrade to be $3,987. I was off by more than $1,500.
RAM upgrade to the max. Another place where Apple has historically had a pretty high markup is in RAM. I predicted going from 32GB to 128GB would cost $2,691. Here, I was really close. Apple's actual fully-maxed out RAM upgrade is $2,400.
Storage upgrade to the max. Next, I looked at the cost of flash storage. I've been very impressed by the speed of Apple's flash-based storage systems. I found it difficult to find comparable storage in the PC parts world of half a year ago, so I estimated based on the one Samsung unit I could find. I estimated the jump from 1TB to 4TB at $3,603. In fact, Apple's price for that is actually $2,800, about $800 less.
Video upgrade to the max. Finally, I took a completely loose gamble on the video card upgrade costs because the Radeon Pro Vega wasn't shipping with available pricing information. So I based my estimates off of the NVIDA GTX Titan X, and then tried to guestimate what the price premium for HMB2 RAM was going to be. Although very much a spitballing guess, I estimated the upgrade from Pro Vega 56 to Pro Vega 64 and 8GB video RAM to 16GB video RAM to cost $2,044. In fact, I was way overpriced on that. The upgrade jump Apple is charging is only $600.
There is no doubt the iMac Pro is a heck of a machine, and while my original estimate of about $17,000 was high, I still contended back then, that for a specific type of user, it was worth it. Seeing now that the machine is $4,000 less than my worst-case scenario, I'm convinced that for those users who need the added power of the iMac Pro, expensive though it is for the rest of us, the machine will definitely be worth it.
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