The only way to get 256GB RAM in an iMac Pro is to buy a custom configuration from Apple

Posted:
in Current Mac Hardware edited March 28
The recent addition of an option to configure an iMac Pro with up to 256GB of memory may be the only time users get to add that much RAM to their Mac, with internal documentation reportedly suggesting it won't be possible to upgrade versions with lesser memory capacities to that level after purchase.




Updated on March 19 alongside other changes to the Apple product lineup, prospective customers looking to acquire an iMac Pro were given the opportunity to select two more options as part of their order. The memory could be set up 256 gigabytes, at a cost of $5,200 on top of the entry-level price, while an upgrade to the Vega 64X for graphics put the price up by $700.

It seems that customizing the order from Apple may be the only opportunity customers will get to go for 256 gigabytes of memory. Documentation for use by Apple's store support teams and Apple Authorized Service Providers allegedly indicate only iMac Pro models configured at the time of purchase to have 256 gigabytes of RAM will be able to support the high memory quantity.

While it would be physically possible to insert four 64-gigabyte memory modules into the iMac Pro, configurations starting with memory capacities below 256 gigabytes apparently won't be upgradable to the figure at all.

It is unclear why Apple would prevent memory upgrades to that quantity, as the limitation could be due to a number of factors. It is plausible for there to be a limitation in the design of the iMac Pro that requires an additional workaround, though it may also be a move to try and encourage customers to pay for their memory upgrades through Apple directly rather than going down the route of third-party upgrade kits.

An Apple corporate source not authorized to speak on behalf of the company advised to AppleInsider that "any of the iMac Pro models can be upgraded to 128GB. At present, the only way to get to 256GB on an iMac Pro is to order a custom configuration."

The reason for the limitation wasn't advised, but it does still mean it could be lifted in future, potentially by a firmware update.

For the best deals and latest product availability, be sure to check out the AppleInsider iMac Pro Price Guide.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 24
    I can already hear the breathless outrage from people who haven't realized that if they don't buy one, the lack of user serviceability doesn't affect them.
    DAalsethrandominternetpersonStrangeDaysviclauyycneilmdocno42chasmwatto_cobra
  • Reply 2 of 24
    The photo on the screen was selected to hide the massive bezels. Since there is no RTX 2080ti GPU option, there is no point in even considering this series of iMacs. I sure hope Apple does not prevent users from installing any GPU they want in the new Mac Pros when they get released later this year.
    chemengindocno42
  • Reply 3 of 24
    hmurchisonhmurchison Posts: 12,271member
    I personally wouldn't buy an iMac for tasks that a Mac Pro should be used for.  The iMac is an appliance which is defined as much by its limitations as its strengths. 
    smaceslinOutdoorAppDeveloperviclauyycrazorpit
  • Reply 4 of 24
    Honest question (not snark): what tasks require/make use of 256 gig of RAM?  Video editing I assume.  Anything else?  Massive ML projects?
    razorpitwatto_cobra
  • Reply 5 of 24
    bigtdsbigtds Posts: 94member
    This will burn a hole in your pocket.
    ravnorodom
  • Reply 6 of 24
    sflocalsflocal Posts: 4,655member
    The photo on the screen was selected to hide the massive bezels. Since there is no RTX 2080ti GPU option, there is no point in even considering this series of iMacs. I sure hope Apple does not prevent users from installing any GPU they want in the new Mac Pros when they get released later this year.
    “Massive bezels”?  Quit making stuff up to suit your agenda.

    There’s nothing deceiving in the photo.
    StrangeDaysrazorpitneilmrandominternetpersonchasmAppleExposedwatto_cobra
  • Reply 7 of 24
    killermike2178killermike2178 Posts: 9unconfirmed, member
    Is anybody legitimately shocked about this reveal? The new lieMac Pro (maxed-out 2019 5K iMac) sales will undoubtedly cannibalize upon the sales of the base tier iMac Pros. Most people who were buying the base-tier iMac Pro were probably only doing so simply because the maxed-out 2017 5K iMac didn't meet their needs. Now that the lieMac Pro is out, they can get the level of power they need while saving money.

    Cost of base-tier iMac Pro: $4,999.00 before taxes.
    Cost of maxed-out lieMac Pro, sans the memory upgrade, since OWC's 128 GB option costs the same as Apple's 64 GB upgrade: $4,249.00 before taxes.

    True, the Radeon Pro Vega 48 won't be quite as powerful as the Radeon Pro Vega 56, and will be nowhere near as powerful as the Radeon Pro Vega 64/64X, but eGPUs can always swoop in to save the day. So, for every one of the maxed-out lieMac Pros, sans memory upgrades, that are sold by Apple, that's $750 in lost revenue over a base-tier iMac Pro they didn't sell. They've got to recoup these cannibalization costs somehow, hence making the 256 GB iMac Pro option non-upgradeable by third party/user, and charging $5,200.00 for that option.
    edited March 28
  • Reply 8 of 24
    Honest question (not snark): what tasks require/make use of 256 gig of RAM?  Video editing I assume.  Anything else?  Massive ML projects?
    Ray tracing (computer animation where it’s procedurally-driven) is an example where a beautiful 5k display, maximum RAM and CPU capability is never enough.

    it’s a task that a single frame takes a huge amount of time to render, and you’ve got thousands of them, while also invariably seeing “oops, doesn’t look as good as hoped!” Pops up.  It parallelizes wonderfully if you’ve got the resources.

    There are other things that can readily use such resources, such as doing MMO level video game design and testing/development for all the assets in a database that’s ideally kept in RAM because time is money, and huge displays make it easier to see all the editing controls along the edges while seeing what the game would look like in 4k, as an example.

    Software development on such a system is nice, as I found with my 5k iMac I can look at about 750 lines of code at once (several columns) which can come in handy.  Most software development won’t be sped up by having that much RAM, though, as much as having an SSD and more CPU cores for builds, but using some debugging tools can result in huge amounts of captured telemetry to analyze.
    razorpitrandominternetpersonnetroxchemenginwatto_cobra
  • Reply 9 of 24
    StrangeDaysStrangeDays Posts: 8,012member
    The photo on the screen was selected to hide the massive bezels. Since there is no RTX 2080ti GPU option, there is no point in even considering this series of iMacs. I sure hope Apple does not prevent users from installing any GPU they want in the new Mac Pros when they get released later this year.
    Why in god’s name should I care about bezels on my desktop? Some of you are obsessed. 
    razorpitfastasleeprandominternetpersonchasmwatto_cobra
  • Reply 10 of 24
    bitmodbitmod Posts: 267member
    The photo on the screen was selected to hide the massive bezels. Since there is no RTX 2080ti GPU option, there is no point in even considering this series of iMacs. I sure hope Apple does not prevent users from installing any GPU they want in the new Mac Pros when they get released later this year.
    Why in god’s name should I care about bezels on my desktop? Some of you are obsessed. 
    Agreed. I don’t care what it looks like, I want flexibility, power and expandable. I actually like the bezels as it’s easier on the eyes.
    razorpitwatto_cobra
  • Reply 11 of 24
    Mike WuertheleMike Wuerthele Posts: 4,650administrator
    kiki40 said:
     I sure hope Apple does not prevent users from installing any GPU they want in the new Mac Pros when they get released later this year.
    We're not expecting any change in the Apple vs Nvidia feud. We'll see, I guess.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 12 of 24
    sdw2001sdw2001 Posts: 17,042member
    I personally wouldn't buy an iMac for tasks that a Mac Pro should be used for.  The iMac is an appliance which is defined as much by its limitations as its strengths. 

    Why, because of the name?  The iMac Pro blows the current (6 year old) Mac Pro away.  Right now, there is literally no reason to buy a Mac Pro over an iMac Pro.  In fact, there is no reason to buy it all.  It's a mess.  Apple will need a new form factor and specs that are truly workstation class to have people buy it.  If I was in the market, I'd buy an iMac pro in a second.  
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 13 of 24
    neilmneilm Posts: 620member
    Unlike the regular 27" iMac, the iMac Pro isn't designed for user accessible RAM anyway.

    And yes, I know it's possible to open the case (OWC/MacSales has a 17+ minute DIY video),
    but do you really want to lay your warranty for such an expensive product on the line? I've been
    taking Macs apart since the 128/SE era and I wouldn't do it. Just not a good risk vs. reward.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 14 of 24
    killermike2178killermike2178 Posts: 9unconfirmed, member
    sdw2001 said:
    I personally wouldn't buy an iMac for tasks that a Mac Pro should be used for.  The iMac is an appliance which is defined as much by its limitations as its strengths. 

    Why, because of the name?  The iMac Pro blows the current (6 year old) Mac Pro away.  Right now, there is literally no reason to buy a Mac Pro over an iMac Pro.  In fact, there is no reason to buy it all.  It's a mess.  Apple will need a new form factor and specs that are truly workstation class to have people buy it.  If I was in the market, I'd buy an iMac pro in a second.  
    You mean to tell me that a computer line launched in 2017 that has newer CPU, GPU, memory, SSD, and peripheral ports performs better than a computer line that launched 4 years earlier?! I'm shocked, I tell you! Shocked!
    edited March 28 neilm
  • Reply 15 of 24
    netroxnetrox Posts: 745member
    The bezels on iMac is too thick, I agree. I look at it and wonder why it cannot be thin or bezel-free.
    chemengin
  • Reply 16 of 24
    I realize this has been the case since the iMac Pro was introduced, but this is supposed to be a Pro machine; the consumer 27" still has user upgradeable RAM.  Why is it in the redesign of the thermals they couldn't keep some sort of user upgradeable RAM option design?  Not every Pro has a budget that allows them to make this a one shot investment, something Apple seems to have forgotten.  To me this mind set doesn't bode well for the new Mac Pro, I see a mostly closed system coming out with boutique upgrades priced to the point only people with huge budgets being able to afford anything; then Apple will be shocked at how poorly it sells.  Some of us enthusiasts buy what we can afford and then make upgrades as cash becomes available, which is why many have moved on to other OS based PC's. 
  • Reply 17 of 24
    ZooNetZooNet Posts: 5unconfirmed, member
    256MB Ram for my Quadra 950 was $24K in ‘93.... the whole rig was just over $80K.... 

    watto_cobra
  • Reply 18 of 24
    netrox said:
    The bezels on iMac is too thick, I agree. I look at it and wonder why it cannot be thin or bezel-free.
    You got me wondering how big those bezels could be based on the Apple image, and I created this image: https://imgur.com/VcNB4ux
    elijahg
  • Reply 19 of 24
    thttht Posts: 3,231member
    Honest question (not snark): what tasks require/make use of 256 gig of RAM?  Video editing I assume.  Anything else?  Massive ML projects?
    Any kind of numerical modeling, which typically involve solving billions of partial differential equations, tens of thousands of times. 

    3D modeling (CAD, animation) of sufficiently complex object. 

    Data analysis with sufficiently large datasets, such as highly granular surface countour data at 1000 Hz, multiple sensor data at 100 kHz.

    Heck, you want to simulate a 5 billion transistor CPU? Probably need some memory for that. 

    Basically any high performance computing application typically run on servers from 5 to 10 years ago can now be run on a single computer. 

    There’s also the folks who develop applications and need to run 3, 4, 5, 10 VMs running target environments. That eats up RAM pretty fast. This might be the main target. 
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 20 of 24
    docno42docno42 Posts: 3,313member
    ...the new Mac Pros when they get released later this year.
    Ha!  I'll believe it when I see it at this point.
    tokyojimu
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