Now that the Mac Pro has finally made the jump to Apple silicon, the next question is whether Apple will resurrect another pro favorite — will the iMac Pro make a return after more than two years in the wilderness?
Apple discontinued the 27-inch iMac in March 2021, arguably one of the best Macs and among the best all-in-one PCs in existence, which left pro buyers with fewer options when it comes to picking a desktop Mac. The Mac Studio arrived to try and fill the gap left by the iMac Pro, and it did so admirably, but there's something to be said about an all-in-one solution. Having to buy the Studio Display to go with the Mac Studio is a pain, and the alternatives are few for those who want 5K at around the 27-inch mark.
Right now, the only all-in-one option is the 24-inch iMac, a machine that few would argue is anything like a pro desktop machine. The M1 chip is fine, and the rumored M3 24-inch iMac will no doubt be even better. But at 24 inches, it's just too small for pro workflows. That's before we get into the low RAM ceiling and lack of CPU and GPU cores.
No, for videographers, photographers, and audio engineers, an iMac Pro would be a much better option. But will Apple bring it back? If so, what can we expect? The rumors have been sparse, which is a worry. But that doesn't mean that there haven't been some suggestions of a return to form with the possibility of an M3 iMac Pro.
M3 iMac Pro (2023): Cut to the chase
What is it? A return of the 27-inch iMac Pro
When is it available? Possibly towards the end of 2023 or early 2024
What does it cost? The iMac Pro has never been a cheap machine, but pricing is a big question mark if and when we get an Apple silicon version.
M3 iMac Pro (2023): Release date
When will the M3 iMac Pro arrive? At this point, we aren't 100% sure that it ever will, but the well-connected Mark Gurman of Bloomberg fame has historically pointed to a 2023 release.
Gurman believes that the iMac Pro will be based on Apple's upcoming M3 chips, although it seems likely that it will use something other than the base silicon. That means M3 Pro and M3 Max at a minimum, and M3 Ultra at best.
Those three chips aren't expected to debut until the first months of 2024 though, likely inside updated 14- and 16-inch MacBook Pros. If that's the case then we should be looking to 2024 for this new iMac Pro. But with so much up in the air, it's hard to be sure.
It's worth noting that Gurman isn't alone in thinking that the M3 iMac Pro will make a return, though. Well-respected supply chain analyst Ming-Chi Kuo previously pointed to new Mac Pro and iMac Pro machines arriving in 2023. The former is already here of course, so will the iMac Pro join it before the new year?
M3 iMac Pro (2023): Price
The previous Intel iMac Pro started at a costly $4,999 with its Xeon processors and pro-grade RAM, but it could go all the way to more than $13,000 depending on the configuration chosen. Not quite Mac Pro money, but still a costly proposition.
How much an Apple silicon refresh would cost is anyone's guess right now. Using the Mac Pro as an example, we shouldn't expect it to get cheaper unfortunately. The M2 Ultra Mac Pro starts at $6,999, for example, whereas the old Intel machine started at $5,999. Add all of the best stuff and that price soon balloons to almost $54,000, but the fact that the M2 Ultra version starts at more than the old Intel model should give us an indication of what to expect.
The final price you pay for your M3 iMac Pro will depend on what upgrades you choose, like more RAM and SSD storage, but those hoping for a cheaper iMac Pro might be left disappointed.
M3 iMac Pro (2023): What to expect
While a refreshed 24-inch M3 iMac is very much expected to debut at a rumored October Apple event, things are much less certain when it comes to the iMac Pro.
One school of thought is that the combination of the Mac Studio and Studio Display is effectively the new iMac Pro, just not in all-in-one form. But with Gurman claiming that “Apple is working on a larger-screened iMac aimed at the professional market,” there remains hope that an Apple silicon iMac Pro could grace the lineup once more.
What that would look like is another question. The 24-inch iMac comes in a handful of colorful finishes, but that's unlikely to be the route an M3 iMac Pro would take. Apple offers its pro Macs in more muted colors with the old iMac Pro only available in Space Gray. We'd suggest that's the route a new model would take, although there's always the option for Silver to match the MacBook Pro color options.
In terms of the overall design, the previous iMac Pro was very much based on the iMac of the time. It wouldn't take a huge leap to expect a new model to borrow from the 24-inch iMac's design, just with less yellow and green.
Figuring out what is going on with the M3 iMac Pro is difficult because the leaks have been so few that it's difficult to know if it's even in the cards, let alone what it will have to offer. If it was going to arrive before the end of 2023, we would likely have heard more about it by now.
The fact that a new iMac Pro would surely use M3 Pro, M3 Max, or M3 Ultra chips also adds further fuel to the fire in terms of a 2024 release.