iMac Pro cost blows away similar Lenovo workstation, DIY builders struggle to meet price w...

Posted:
in Future Apple Hardware edited June 2017
Despite some social media complaints to the contrary, the forthcoming iMac Pro appears to be very competitive with rivals' offerings, and also against those seeking to build a machine out of parts matching specifications and parts.




Little is still known about the "entry-level" iMac Pro, regarding technical specifications. For $4999, users get an undeclared 8-core Xeon processor, four Thunderbolt 3 ports, four USB 3 ports, a single 10-Gig Ethernet port, 1TB of SSD storage, 32GB of 2666 MHz ECC RAM, and as-yet unreleased Vega graphics.

Imgur member "Squaruss" posted a comparison to a Lenovo workstation. The build included an 8-core E5-2620 v4 processor, a P910 motherboard with two Thunderbolt 3 ports, 32GB of 2400MHz ECC RAM, a Nvidia Quadro M5000 GPU, two 512GB M.2 PCI-E SSD in RAID configuration, a SD card reader, 802.11ac wi-fi, and a 1300W power supply listed as 92 percent efficient. No 10Gbps Ethernet option was available for the workstation, but the build includes a pair of Gigabit Ethernet ports.

The build price by the Imgur member was confirmed by AppleInsider and totaled $5394, after a $599 "instant savings" discount which appears to be a limited time promotion. Notably, a monitor was absent from the build.




A second "DIY" build was posted by PC Gamer. In the second build, the publication implements the same processor as in the Lenovo build, downgrades storage speed to a single 1TB 960 Samsung EVO SSD, cuts back the Thunderbolt 3 ports to one with a PCI-E card, uses the integrated Gigabit Ethernet board on the motherboard, downgrades the power supply to 1000W which might be too low for reliability, and downgrades the video to the GeForce GTX 1080 Ti.

AppleInsider confirmed the $4687 bill of materials on the PC Gamer build. However, it includes about $100 in rebates which are accounted for in the price, and also incorporates the LG Ultrafine 5K display for some reason. Given that it would not be accelerated by the GTX 1080 Ti and would only be in 4K resolution on Windows, its inclusion isn't clear.

A better solution, but still not ideal given the dire Windows 10 5K situation at present, would be the now-discontinued Dell UP2715K 5K display, for about $1500 used. The addition of the Dell monitor adds $300 to the bill, for a total of $4987 -- within $12 of the iMac, with compromises.

A $120 retail Windows 10 license isn't included with the PC Gamer piece, nor is any consideration for the "cost" of the user's labor to assemble the computer.

Both the Lenovo and DIY configurations are tower builds, with two PCI-E slots remaining on the Lenovo build and one on the DIY -- which the iMac lacks. Four Thunderbolt 3 ports on the iMac Pro double that on more generous Lenovo build, and one on the DIY build is no comparison at all.

Other "boutique" PC vendors' websites were also checked by AppleInsider, with prices ranging from $5225 to $8250 for an assembled and configured unit, with similar specs to the iMac Pro. Depending on the vendor, shipping adds up to $100 to that price.

The elephants in the room

The bills of material examined are current as of June 9 at 10:00 a.m. eastern time. PC part pricing fluctuates a great deal, with things like RAM acting more like commodities, seeing weekly and monthly cost shifts up and down. But, over time, the costs of the PC parts on the builds will be on a mostly linear trajectory downward.

The PC build, and the Lenovo workstation can be had now, without having to wait for the iMac Pro.

Presumably, Apple isn't going to wait four years to update the parts or pricing on the iMac Pro like the Mac Pro, but Apple hasn't ever made a computer quite like it before. For this, history is a bad judge one way or another.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 129
    macxpressmacxpress Posts: 4,222member
    Oh the hackintosh and Windows fanboys are all over this new iMac Pro and how they can supposedly make their own cheaper. Of course, its not a true comparison when they quote Kingston Value RAM, a standard SATA SSD, and a no so great 4K display. They also think this iMac is going to melt down once you get that 18-core Xeon with the high end AMD Vega card going at full steam for any length of time like Apple isn't testing for such a thing. Apple is not going to purposely release something like this knowing its going to overheat and not be very efficient. Its quite obvious they built a specialized cooling system for this iMac Pro. 

    As expensive as this is, its an excellent value for those who really need something like this. I've always found that Apple's really high end stuff is actually a great value. So while people like to complain about the supposed "Apple Tax" on regular consumer Macs, the high end products are a great value a large majority of the time. 
    edited June 2017 neo-techthedbawatto_cobrawlympscooter63wigbyBluntbaconstanggrassrightStrangeDays
  • Reply 2 of 129
    Mike WuertheleMike Wuerthele Posts: 2,530administrator
    macxpress said:
    Oh the hackintosh and Windows fanboys are all over this new iMac Pro and how they can supposedly make their own cheaper. Of course, its not a true comparison when they quote Kingston Value RAM, a standard SATA SSD, and a no so great 4K display. They also think this iMac is going to melt down once you get that 18-core Xeon with the high end AMD Vega card going at full steam for any length of time like Apple isn't testing for such a thing. Apple is not going to purposely release something like this knowing its going to overheat and not be very efficient. Its quite obvious they built a specialized cooling system for this iMac Pro. 

    As expensive as this is, its an excellent value for those who really need something like this. I've always found that Apple's really high end stuff is actually a great value. So while people like to complain about the supposed "Apple Tax" on regular consumer Macs, the high end products are a great value a large majority of the time. 
    Yeah, that's why we wrote this piece.
    sbillsneo-techdanvmlongpathtycho_macuserpscooter63anton zuykovwatto_cobramagman1979chia
  • Reply 3 of 129
    sbillssbills Posts: 1member
    I will sell my car for one!
    watto_cobracgWerksairmanchairmanargonaut
  • Reply 4 of 129
    keithwkeithw Posts: 33member
    Once Intel announces their new Xeon Purley lineup on July 11th, we should know what actual Xeons Apple will be using in the iMac Pro.  And the list prices.
    tmaywatto_cobracornchipjbdragonargonaut
  • Reply 5 of 129
    thedbathedba Posts: 441member
    macxpress said:
    I've always found that Apple's really high end stuff is actually a great value. So while people like to complain about the supposed "Apple Tax" on regular consumer Macs, the high end products are a great value a large majority of the time. 
    All throughout Apple's lineup, if you make a spec for spec comparison with a competitor's similar lineup, you will see that the prices are very similar. Of course their marketing material will say something like, starting at $499 to grab headlines. Ever wonder why now that MS has dipped its feet in hardware, is pricing their offerings similar to Apple's?
    wlymanton zuykovschlackwatto_cobrachiacornchipredgeminipaargonaut
  • Reply 6 of 129
    tmaytmay Posts: 2,565member
    Really a home run for Apple, timed to the availability of the CPU supporting TB 3 and powerful GPU in a thermal envelope compatible with an iMac form factor. I know that this will be the iMac to displace my Lenovo D20 workstations.

    If only there was an external 5K monitor in a similar form factor...

    watto_cobraargonaut
  • Reply 7 of 129
    BittySonBittySon Posts: 31member
    It would be a great Pro machine if it has at least some user-accessible/replaceable components, and not just RAM.  Any word on this?
    schlack1983
  • Reply 8 of 129
    bill42bill42 Posts: 116member
    sbills said:
    I will sell my car for one!
    The money I earned using my last iMac is how I bought this car:  http://i.imgur.com/kVzjMum.jpg

    Be careful. It's a vicious cycle! But somebody has to keep the economy going...
    longpathwatto_cobragilly33David H Dennisstanthemanargonaut
  • Reply 9 of 129
    SpamSandwichSpamSandwich Posts: 29,068member
    BittySon said:
    It would be a great Pro machine if it has at least some user-accessible/replaceable components, and not just RAM.  Any word on this?
    Rest assured, the Mac Pro will be highly customizable. That's not the domain of the iMac Pro and the iMac. Those are meant to be plug and play, with all the customization happening up front during the ordering process, not so much after.
    watto_cobrajbdragon
  • Reply 10 of 129
    wlymwlym Posts: 50member
    bill42 said:
    sbills said:
    I will sell my car for one!
    The money I earned using my last iMac is how I bought this car:  http://i.imgur.com/kVzjMum.jpg

    Be careful. It's a vicious cycle! But somebody has to keep the economy going...
    I didn't know Apple made BMW bumpers too!  ;-)
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 11 of 129
    yonisyonis Posts: 3member
    Here's my attempt:
    https://pcpartpicker.com/list/CcC3QV

    Couple of tradeoffs I needed to make:
    1. Workstation graphics inflate cost tremendously, so I replaced with 2 1080 Tis in SLI. They're good at different things, but I figure doubling up on the 1080 Tis would more or less make up the difference.
    2. Thunderbolt 3 isn't necessary if you have PCI Express.
    williamlondon
  • Reply 12 of 129
    SpamSandwichSpamSandwich Posts: 29,068member
    The downside of the "equally matched" PC is you're stuck with Windows.
    pscooter63tallest skilBluntbaconstangStrangeDaysmacxpresswatto_cobramagman1979chiagilly33
  • Reply 13 of 129
    yonisyonis Posts: 3member
    I'd prefer a Mac Pro, myself, but you can indeed match the value in the PC world.
    williamlondon
  • Reply 14 of 129
    addicted44addicted44 Posts: 821member
    Yeah and 2 years down the line I will need to drop another $5000 to be able to get the iMac to match anything current, whereas with my Lenovo, or my custom build, I will spend a few hundred dollars to update it to the latest, and be well ahead of what the iMac does.

    Also, this device is coming in December! That's a lifetime in PCs. Let's compare prices when it arrives.

    Finally, let's actually wait for iMac Pro benchmarks, because I suspect the inevitable throttling is not gonna make all those CPUs look so good.

    IOW, I will be impressed if Apple releases similar pricing on the Mac Pro.
    edited June 2017 williamlondonavon b7
  • Reply 15 of 129
    johnbearjohnbear Posts: 81member
    back in december I built a hackintosh that was 30% faster in FCPX then the best they had at BestBuy which I tested, and considerably cheaper. The downside of a hackintosh is that it takes a little more time in maintenance and requires a little more research to build and understand how it works. The good things are that it's cheaper if you know what you are doing (obviously people who wrote this article dont know much about this stuff), and perhaps the most important is that you can freaking upgrade everything you want when you want, don't have to get stuck with whatever configuration you get when you buy a real mac (it's a pain to ugpgrade a mac if there is still something upgradable in these machines these days)
    edited June 2017 avon b7
  • Reply 16 of 129
    tallest skiltallest skil Posts: 42,969member
    It's unacceptable that I can't buy a space grey version of the wireless keyboard with numpad unless I also buy a $5,000 computer to go along with it.

    Robots78 said:
    On the power supply, 92% percent doesn't mean "92% taxed", it means that it operates at 92% efficiency, which is quite good.
    I recently speced out a computer build for a friend, and this was the first time I'd done it in years. I remain confused about the tiers of PSU efficiency/quality. There's bronze, silver, gold, platinum, and titanium, which I think is supposed to be better than platinum. But then there are different tiers even within the same efficiency ratings. For example, you see both "platinum 80+" and "bronze 90+". Actually, I rarely saw anything above 80+… Leave it to Apple to keep pushing the boundaries of efficiency. I think the tech sheet for the tower Mac Pro listed it at 88%. I'll have to check.
    edited June 2017
  • Reply 17 of 129
    rob53rob53 Posts: 1,834member
    yonis said:
    Here's my attempt:
    https://pcpartpicker.com/list/CcC3QV

    Couple of tradeoffs I needed to make:
    1. Workstation graphics inflate cost tremendously, so I replaced with 2 1080 Tis in SLI. They're good at different things, but I figure doubling up on the 1080 Tis would more or less make up the difference.
    2. Thunderbolt 3 isn't necessary if you have PCI Express.
    I don't think you understand what the value of Thunderbolt is. PCIe is used extensively within Macs and Thunderbolt attaches to it. Thunderbolt allows the easy connection of a wide variety of devices without requiring the insertion of these devices in a traditional box. In my opinion, it also allows changes and upgrades far easier than dealing with I/O cards, which still can require additional hardware and upgrades to your case/box.

    As for your configuration, I see this as the typical parts bin collected PC with a lot of hope that they actually work together (like it says at the top of your parts build). To each their own but I'd rather have a product I know will work together backed by one company I know will fix it if something goes wrong. 
    StrangeDayswilliamlondonroundaboutnowsuperklotonmagman1979chiapatchythepirateargonaut
  • Reply 18 of 129
    All I know is those who want the iMac Pro will pay for it. I don't know why there are always these people who keep saying Apple is overcharging. No one is holding a gun to anyone's head who walks into an Apple store and buys one of their products. Who is being forced to buy an Apple product? Those who buy Apple products must think they're worth the price. I'm not sure why there are people constantly calling Apple product owners fools. That's like saying a person who buys a Porsche is a fool because they can buy a cheaper car with similar specs. If you want a Porsche, then you buy a Porsche and don't want to accept substitutes.

    All my Macs have lasted five years and some are running longer than that. For me to pay $5000 for the base iMac Pro is great if I can use it well for five years. That's just $1000 a year and will likely be maintenance free for that time as all my other Macs (except one) was. To me, that's the type of service I'm looking for. I don't care if my specs are slightly lower than some other computer that's cheaper. I honestly want a trouble-free, long-lasting product. People can call me stupid but that's the type of product I'm looking for. Although I could, I'm definitely not going to buy a bunch of components to build my own Windows workstation. I want to run OSX and I'm going to have AppleCare just in case something does go wrong.
    edited June 2017 baconstangStrangeDayswilliamlondonsockrolidrobbyxmetrixDavid H Dennisairmanchairmanpatchythepirateargonaut
  • Reply 19 of 129
    metrixmetrix Posts: 198member
    Yeah and 2 years down the line I will need to drop another $5000 to be able to get the iMac to match anything current, whereas with my Lenovo, or my custom build, I will spend a few hundred dollars to update it to the latest, and be well ahead of what the iMac does.

    Also, this device is coming in December! That's a lifetime in PCs. Let's compare prices when it arrives.

    Finally, let's actually wait for iMac Pro benchmarks, because I suspect the inevitable throttling is not gonna make all those CPUs look so good.

    IOW, I will be impressed if Apple releases similar pricing on the Mac Pro.
    You don't have to state the obvious of course you can build one cheaper but it will look like crap! Imagine high end marketing company with a bunch of builds and then iMac Pros. CEO says "get that crap out of here, its horrendous". The iMac Pro will exceed high end throughput needs for about 99% of companies furthermore I don't want IT screwing things up every week with Windows updates breaking things along the way. I see this routinely in large 500+ employee companies, "this is and that is down again". IT doesn't support Macs for some reason they just work!

    Why even compare computer builds if I need 1000 iMac Pros tomorrow? Who would support these builds? Dell doesn't even make something comparable. 
    When Computer Science Majors now prefer MBPs to Win boxes that is saying a lot for what Apple does with it's 7% share of market and 90% profits.
    edited June 2017 StrangeDayssockrolidmacxpresschiaalexmacpatchythepirateargonaut
  • Reply 20 of 129
    BluntBlunt Posts: 196member
    People complaining about high Apple prices? Some things will never change. Like the new HomePod. Judging on price before even knowing how it sounds and how it's build. Stupid.
    baconstangsockrolidchiamagman1979alexmacjbdragondocno42cityguide
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