I recently upgraded my work Mac mini (Late 2014) to the base iMac Pro. After spending about a week working with it I am pleased to say that it has surpassed all expectations I had for it.
The iMac Pro is the first iMac to be finished in the modern Apple “Space Grey”. This, along with the 27″ 5K panel, make for a striking combination. The included space grey accessories and a black Lightning cable are a nice touch. Overall the iMac Pro has a great desk presence for any setting. This is the first iMac I have ever used an the compactness of having a screen and processing hardware all-in-one is great for saving desk space and general aesthetic.
Here is why I really went for the iMac Pro: the 8 core Xeon-W processor matched with 32 gigabytes of ECC DDR4 RAM and 1 TB NVMe based storage (which is actually dual 512 GB drives running in RAID 0). The performance is simply staggering, with apps opening basically instantly. The biggest difference I saw was in Xamarin.Forms app build times which are cut in half in most of my workloads. Compiling, uploading, and debugging are noticeably faster and smoother compared to the maxed out Mac mini I was using previously. I haven’t tested out native Xcode project build times just yet, but I am guessing it will be halved as well. The only issue I have had so far, and this isn’t really related to CPU performance, but viewing a 5K display over VNC through a VPN was terrible through the built in VNC server. I tried RealVNC as I use on the other development Macs but the latest licensing model has switched to a yearly subscription so I had to look elsewhere. I ended up settling with OSXvnc (https://github.com/stweil/OSXvnc) which performs somewhere in between the built-in VNC server and RealVNC. Setup was pretty easy, only thing I had to do manually was set it to launch at login via System Preferences.
Overall the iMac Pro, even with it’s base config, is a fantastic development machine. It is a massive step up from the late 2014 Mac mini and most consumer grade Macs in general. If you can justify the $5,000 price tag it is totally worth it.