First look: Benchmarks put Apple's entry-level $4999 iMac Pro to the test

Posted:
in Current Mac Hardware edited December 2017
Though it has an exclusive space gray finish and gorgeous all-in-one chassis, the new iMac Pro is all about performance. AppleInsider has put it to the test, to show just how much bang for your buck you'll get out of this 5 grand investment.

Apple iMac Pro


The space gray finish on the iMac Pro is beautiful, with a shade that seems slightly darker than a Thunderbolt 3 MacBook Pro. The display itself is the same as the Retina 5K screen on Apple's 27-inch iMac, complete with DCI-P3 color accuracy.

In terms of performance, the iMac Pro feels snappy in regular use, even though its 8-core Xeon processor runs at a slower clock speed than 4-core iMacs.

The speakers on the iMac Pro are audibly louder than our 2017 5K iMac, and also feature more bass. Expect a more in-depth side-by-side comparison of these speaker systems from AppleInsider in the near future.

Getting down to raw performance, we started with a pre-rendered 34-minute video project with multiple 4K layers, color correction and effects. We tested the iMac Pro with the latest version of Final Cut Pro X, and found that the hardware handled our project with no issues.





In this test, the internal fans were not audible at all, and the CPU stayed at a fairly cool 65 degrees celsius. Unfortunately we couldn't check the actual fan speed, as applications did not properly show RPMs, so we're not sure if the fan was idle or just above that. Regardless, it was inaudible.

CPU utilization was about 30 percent, with clock speed varying from 3.5 to 3.91 gigahertz. Graphics was only utilized at about 10 percent, with graphics memory at roughly 35 percent.



The whole rendering process took 18 minutes and 5 seconds, about twice as fast as it did on our specced-out 2016 MacBook Pro. We'll be comparing the iMac Pro to the 2017 5K iMac win the near future.

Running Cinebench R15, a 3D rendering benchmark, our 8-core iMac Pro scored 1682 in multi-core and 176 in Single core performance.

In the multi-core benchmark, the 8 cores ran at 3.9 gigahertz, which seems to be the top CPU frequency when maxing out all CPU cores. Putting a full load on just a single core, the clock speed varied from 3.94 to 3.98 GHz -- a few hundred hertz away from the max Intel Turbo Boost clock speed of 4.2GHz. It seems that the maximum clock speed will only be reached if the processor isn't at full load.



We ran 10 consecutive multi-core CPU tests and found that the iMac Pro allows the processor to get quite hot before it kicks up the fan, and even then it is barely audible.

After the second test, each additional run would cause the iMac Pro to thermal throttle when the CPU reached roughly 94 degrees celsius, which caused the clock speed to drop from 3.9GHz to about 3.6GHz for a second or two. This allowed the CPU to drop below 92 degrees, and the clock speed to rise back to the maximum 3.9GHz. Interestingly, instead of ramping up the fan speed to keep this from happening again, the iMac Pro just kept this cycle going.

Apple loves to keep it machines as quiet as possible, even if it means they will run hot, but we would expect them to allow a pro machine to get a bit louder when accomplishing heavy tasks that are maxing out the CPU. Many late 2013 Mac Pro had graphics issues after a year or two of use because of overheating, so we hope the fans erring on the side of quiet is just an anomaly when running Cinebench R15.

We will take a much closer look at thermals in our full review.



Taking a look at Geekbench 4, a benchmark that looks at all-around performance, our 8-core Xeon scored a respectable 31,159 multi-core score, and even more impressive 5,088 single-core speeds. Typically, Xeon processors are great for multi-core tasks, but they lag behind in single core. These tests show the higher boost clocks from the latest generation of Intel Xeon processors really help.

To put the numbers into perspective, our single-core score gets close to the 2017 5K iMac with i7, which is the fastest single core Mac, coming in at 5,681. The iMac Pro also beats the standard iMac's multi-core score of 19,353, with a 61 percent faster score of 31,595.

The 8-core Xeon in the late 2013 Mac Pro scores scored 3,809 single-core and 22,540 multi-core. This machine came in at $7,300 for a similar configuration (8-core, 32 gigabytes of RAM, 1-terabyte SSD, D700 graphics) and currently sells for the same price as our iMac Pro -- $4,999, but without a monitor, keyboard, mouse, or Lightning cable. But yes, you do get two black Apple Stickers.




Looking at Geekbench 4 GPU compute performance, the AMD Radeon Pro Vega 56 with 8 gigabytes of video memory received a score of 157,286 in the OpenCL test, and 155,232 using Apple's Metal.




We'll be doing many more tests and comparisons with the iMac Pro in the coming days and weeks. Stay tuned to AppleInsider for full coverage, including our in-depth review. And to find the lowest price on an iMac Pro, be sure to visit the AppleInsider iMac Pro Price Guide.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 65
    Mike WuertheleMike Wuerthele Posts: 2,832administrator
    Bacillus3 said:
    Nice.
    ....until it gets throttled in favor of iPad Pro to fulfill Tim's vision of the PostPC era.
    It wouldn't even surprise me anymore
    So, why would that happen, exactly? I'd think there's no low-voltage condition on an old battery to compensate for, here.
    chiaracerhomie3bloggerblogpscooter63anton zuykovwelshdogmacxpresswatto_cobrajony0
  • Reply 2 of 65
    rob53rob53 Posts: 1,879member
    Are there any current macOS applications that don't make use of multi-cores? It wouldn't surprise me if Microsoft and Adobe software hasn't been updated.
  • Reply 3 of 65
    Bacillus3 said:
    Nice.
    ....until it gets throttled in favor of iPad Pro to fulfill Tim's vision of the PostPC era.
    It wouldn't even surprise me anymore
    Was this supposed to be sarcasm ?  All of the silly agenda driven comments are almost constant anymore.   Uugghh. It’s such a drag... 
    racerhomie3StrangeDaysshark5150pscooter63anton zuykovfrankeedwatto_cobrajony0
  • Reply 4 of 65
    Bacillus3 said:
    Nice.
    ....until it gets throttled in favor of iPad Pro to fulfill Tim's vision of the PostPC era.
    It wouldn't even surprise me anymore
    Grow up child.Go get an Android & use it at 100% CPU 24/7.
    Apple knows more about batteries than you.
    StrangeDayschiawlymwatto_cobrajony0
  • Reply 5 of 65
    Bacillus3 said:
    Nice.
    ....until it gets throttled in favor of iPad Pro to fulfill Tim's vision of the PostPC era.
    It wouldn't even surprise me anymore
    So, why would that happen, exactly? I'd think there's no low-voltage condition on an old battery to compensate for, here.
    This is our latest hater. He's trolling you and the board, as he's wont to do. His post was pointless, off-topic, and designed to derail the discussion of this new machine into his anti-Apple troll narrative. Already has 6 of our posts dedicated to it.
    edited December 2017 lkruppchiapscooter63macxpresswilliamlondonwatto_cobrajony0
  • Reply 5 of 65
    wizard69wizard69 Posts: 12,466member
    The thermal throttling is a huge problem in a professional machine.   Sadly AI is seeing throttling in extremely light usage imagine how much you would loose over 8 hours. 

    Frankly this is not unexpected!   Apples history with the word "pro" and cramming hot parts into a tight enclosure isnt good.  Every day im becoming more and more convinced that Apple just doesnt understand the "PRO" market.   

    As a point of record i was looking at a iPad Pro in a store yesterday.    Nice device but there is nothing about it that stands out as being pro.   I do believe that common sense has left the building at Apple and has been replaced by marketing morons that likely have never engaged in professional work.  Sad.  
    xzuVRingfrankeedwilliamlondon
  • Reply 7 of 65

    jcs2305 said:
    Bacillus3 said:
    Nice.
    ....until it gets throttled in favor of iPad Pro to fulfill Tim's vision of the PostPC era.
    It wouldn't even surprise me anymore
    Was this supposed to be sarcasm ?  All of the silly agenda driven comments are almost constant anymore.   Uugghh. It’s such a drag... 
    Yeah it's a shame. I sure as hell hope AI doesn't turn into another dreck-pile as MR has, which is why I switched sites years ago.
    pscooter63cornchipbb-15williamlondonwatto_cobrajony0
  • Reply 8 of 65
    wizard69wizard69 Posts: 12,466member
    rob53 said:
    Are there any current macOS applications that don't make use of multi-cores? It wouldn't surprise me if Microsoft and Adobe software hasn't been updated.
    The majority of apps that can do in some way or another.   For some apps it simply isnt worth the effort to do highly threaded apps.  
  • Reply 9 of 65
    wizard69 said:
    The thermal throttling is a huge problem in a professional machine.   Sadly AI is seeing throttling in extremely light usage imagine how much you would loose over 8 hours. 

    Frankly this is not unexpected!   Apples history with the word "pro" and cramming hot parts into a tight enclosure isnt good.  Every day im becoming more and more convinced that Apple just doesnt understand the "PRO" market.   

    As a point of record i was looking at a iPad Pro in a store yesterday.    Nice device but there is nothing about it that stands out as being pro.   I do believe that common sense has left the building at Apple and has been replaced by marketing morons that likely have never engaged in professional work.  Sad.  
    Hmm yes perhaps you could define it for us then, unequivocally? Sorry but no, "Pro" is a non-technical label Apple came up with to designated premium models with more power. It remains impossible to categorize everybody into the same use case box. I'm a professional software dev, and Apple/Craig has said this machine was definitely looking at us. I don't think we'll have any problem, based on the early preview units they seeded.
    edited December 2017 chiacornchipbb-15watto_cobrajony0
  • Reply 10 of 65
    bigpicsbigpics Posts: 1,337member

    jcs2305 said:
    Bacillus3 said:
    Nice.
    ....until it gets throttled in favor of iPad Pro to fulfill Tim's vision of the PostPC era.
    It wouldn't even surprise me anymore
    Was this supposed to be sarcasm ?  All of the silly agenda driven comments are almost constant anymore.   Uugghh. It’s such a drag... 
    Yeah it's a shame. I sure as hell hope AI doesn't turn into another dreck-pile as MR has, which is why I switched sites years ago.
    You want a dreck pile?  Go over to MDR where it's more like an alt-right hate fest than an Apple forum (and the editors seem to like it that way).  Yuuucch.  
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 11 of 65
    lkrupplkrupp Posts: 6,070member
    Bacillus3 said:
    Nice.
    ....until it gets throttled in favor of iPad Pro to fulfill Tim's vision of the PostPC era.
    It wouldn't even surprise me anymore
    Please ban this troll ASAP. 
    StrangeDayspscooter63mwhitecornchipbonobobbb-15williamlondonwatto_cobradewmejony0
  • Reply 12 of 65
    wizard69 said:
    The thermal throttling is a huge problem in a professional machine.   Sadly AI is seeing throttling in extremely light usage imagine how much you would loose over 8 hours.

    Frankly this is not unexpected!   Apples history with the word "pro" and cramming hot parts into a tight enclosure isnt good.  Every day im becoming more and more convinced that Apple just doesnt understand the "PRO" market.  
    Hot parts in a tight enclosure hold less heat. There is a reason Apple choose aluminum for enclosure: to dissipate heat faster. This is also the reason Apple makes iMacs and Macbooks thinner. That thinness serves to dissipate heat by natural means. The thinnest Retina Macbook is one of the first fanless computers.
    edited December 2017 chiacornchipwlymbb-15williamlondonwatto_cobra
  • Reply 13 of 65
    wizard69 said:
    The thermal throttling is a huge problem in a professional machine.   Sadly AI is seeing throttling in extremely light usage imagine how much you would loose over 8 hours. 

    Frankly this is not unexpected!   Apples history with the word "pro" and cramming hot parts into a tight enclosure isnt good.  Every day im becoming more and more convinced that Apple just doesnt understand the "PRO" market.   

    As a point of record i was looking at a iPad Pro in a store yesterday.    Nice device but there is nothing about it that stands out as being pro.   I do believe that common sense has left the building at Apple and has been replaced by marketing morons that likely have never engaged in professional work.  Sad.  
    Indeed I have mixed feelings about the latest design decisions, without knowing more of course... On the one hand 'Apple giveth' (back) - the new thermal design seems to have allowed restoration of user changeable VESA mount ie. something that in my work I have found very useful... And yet the RAM is inaccessible...? Time will tell if ram and drive upgrades are possible, if bizarrely inconvenient - and I do ask about 'common sense' and any number of design decisions relating to future proofing of such premium hardware since the passing of the torch, so to speak...
  • Reply 14 of 65
    Bacillus3 said:
    Nice.
    ....until it gets throttled in favor of iPad Pro to fulfill Tim's vision of the PostPC era.
    It wouldn't even surprise me anymore
    Based on what warped logic? Or do you just like to make stuff up?
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 15 of 65
    wizard69 said:
    The thermal throttling is a huge problem in a professional machine.   Sadly AI is seeing throttling in extremely light usage imagine how much you would loose over 8 hours. 

    Frankly this is not unexpected!   Apples history with the word "pro" and cramming hot parts into a tight enclosure isnt good.  Every day im becoming more and more convinced that Apple just doesnt understand the "PRO" market.   

    As a point of record i was looking at a iPad Pro in a store yesterday.    Nice device but there is nothing about it that stands out as being pro.   I do believe that common sense has left the building at Apple and has been replaced by marketing morons that likely have never engaged in professional work.  Sad.  
    "Apples history with the word "pro" and cramming hot parts into a tight enclosure isnt good.  Every day im becoming more and more convinced that Apple just doesnt understand the "PRO" market"

    To their credit, they are hitting the restart button the Mac Pro.  So we'll have to wait and see until that gets released to see if you're correct (or not).
    williamlondonwatto_cobra
  • Reply 16 of 65
    Would love to see Logic Pro X test running as many 3rd party orchestral VIs as possible at 48kHz and maybe 96kHz...does AI ever do any tests like that, or is it all video/graphics type tests? Peace.
    cornchipPickUrPoisonwatto_cobra
  • Reply 17 of 65
    Mike WuertheleMike Wuerthele Posts: 2,832administrator
    coxnvox7 said:
    Would love to see Logic Pro X test running as many 3rd party orchestral VIs as possible at 48kHz and maybe 96kHz...does AI ever do any tests like that, or is it all video/graphics type tests? Peace.
    I'll pass your requests to our review team.
    cornchipbb-15watto_cobracoxnvox7
  • Reply 18 of 65
    sflocalsflocal Posts: 4,122member
    I see the sofa/armchair "Thermal Engineers" are out in full force.  I'll take the wait-and-see approach to see how this iMac Pro handles itself when it really gets hot under the hood.  If anyone knows thermal management, it's Apple.  So please... don't.
    StrangeDayspscooter63cornchipbb-15williamlondonwatto_cobrajony0
  • Reply 19 of 65
    wizard69 said:
    The thermal throttling is a huge problem in a professional machine.   Sadly AI is seeing throttling in extremely light usage imagine how much you would loose over 8 hours. 

    Frankly this is not unexpected!   Apples history with the word "pro" and cramming hot parts into a tight enclosure isnt good.  Every day im becoming more and more convinced that Apple just doesnt understand the "PRO" market.   

    As a point of record i was looking at a iPad Pro in a store yesterday.    Nice device but there is nothing about it that stands out as being pro.   I do believe that common sense has left the building at Apple and has been replaced by marketing morons that likely have never engaged in professional work.  Sad.  
    Indeed I have mixed feelings about the latest design decisions, without knowing more of course... On the one hand 'Apple giveth' (back) - the new thermal design seems to have allowed restoration of user changeable VESA mount ie. something that in my work I have found very useful... And yet the RAM is inaccessible...? Time will tell if ram and drive upgrades are possible, if bizarrely inconvenient - and I do ask about 'common sense' and any number of design decisions relating to future proofing of such premium hardware since the passing of the torch, so to speak...
    We already know the answer — the RAM is slotted and can be removed or upgraded, even if inconvenient. This makes sense however as the primary aim of the machine is performance and cooling today, and not making it convenient to DIY tinker years later. 
    edited December 2017 williamlondonwatto_cobra
  • Reply 20 of 65
    wizard69 said:
    The thermal throttling is a huge problem in a professional machine.   Sadly AI is seeing throttling in extremely light usage imagine how much you would loose over 8 hours. 

    Frankly this is not unexpected!   Apples history with the word "pro" and cramming hot parts into a tight enclosure isnt good.  Every day im becoming more and more convinced that Apple just doesnt understand the "PRO" market.   

    As a point of record i was looking at a iPad Pro in a store yesterday.    Nice device but there is nothing about it that stands out as being pro.   I do believe that common sense has left the building at Apple and has been replaced by marketing morons that likely have never engaged in professional work.  Sad.  
    Indeed I have mixed feelings about the latest design decisions, without knowing more of course... On the one hand 'Apple giveth' (back) - the new thermal design seems to have allowed restoration of user changeable VESA mount ie. something that in my work I have found very useful... And yet the RAM is inaccessible...? Time will tell if ram and drive upgrades are possible, if bizarrely inconvenient - and I do ask about 'common sense' and any number of design decisions relating to future proofing of such premium hardware since the passing of the torch, so to speak...
    We already know the answer — the RAM is slotted and can be removed or upgraded, even if inconvenient. This makes sense however as the primary aim of the machine is performance and cooling today, and not making it convenient to DIY tinker years later. 
    Is the term 'inconvenient' appropriate?  I view the potential more like open heart surgery if at all ?  Surely a ram access door might have been added at minimal cost? Years later it may be for others, yet perhaps not for some, and I've even swapped applicable ram from one machine to another as 'pro' usage changed and drives and configurations became reprioritized in house. I'd also still ask for a more affordable base configuration similar to the current Pro, ideally starting under $4k, but hey that is just a customer (since system 7) request, since some apps can use the speed but maybe not the current base (and expensive) memory, and of course Apple isn't my business to run - and so possible upgrades may now meet greater resistance...
    edited December 2017 williamlondondysamoria
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