It used to be a binary choice: Do you go with the Mac Pro and purchase peripherals as needed, or do you want to save space with an iMac? Souped up, the iMac could handle large track counts and heavy processing. The Mac Pro, on the other hand, could handle the most demanding, CPU-hogging tasks for pro audio, including post-production and film-mixing, which can easily command hundreds of tracks while running video simultaneously.
The choice used to be hard. Recently, however, the gulf between the two have been bridged by the iMac Pro, a machine with the form factor of the iMac, but the processing power more in line with the Mac Pro.
Now, more than before, you have options perfectly tailored to meet the needs of your workspace and your clientele.
One of the strengths of the Apple’s all-in-one computer/monitor system is the up to 5K Retina display, able to display more tracks and controls at once. When you look under its slim hood, what the iMac brings to home and smaller pro studios is just as evident.
Depending on the configuration, an iMac can provide you with multiple Thunderbolt™ ports, many USB 3.0 ports, Gigabit Ethernet, and an SD slot for many external storage options. While the beefy graphics-card options might seem like they would be relegated to the concerns of pro video guys, keep in mind that your 100-track mix is going to be sporting a lot of moving meters, so you don’t want to see any lagging, or experience any obvious drain on your CPU.
With the ability to equip your iMac with up to 64GB of RAM and outfit its frame with a Fusion Drive or pure flash solid-state drive storage, you can create a lineup to support quad-core processing, with each component playing its part to create a stable environment for your complex, multi-track sessions.
The Mac Pro is an impressive, black cylinder geared for those who need peak performance—enough to drive a larger studio environment. Yes, this design does require peripherals to make use of PCIe cards and other prevalent technologies soon to go the way of the DAT machine, but it does provide a unified thermal core, one that is quieter than its predecessors. 12-core configurations are possible, as are six Thunderbolt™ 2 ports, multiple USB 3.0 ports, and more, to ensure you have backward, present, and future-proof compatibility.
While the Thunderbolt ports provide the ability to connect a number of fast and reliable external hard drives for writing to and reading session files, sample libraries, and backups, the Mac Pro comes equipped with an internal flash-memory drive for fast program launching and operation.
And finally, the unit we’ve been teasing heretofore: the iMac Pro, available in eight, 10, 14, and 18-core configurations. With such a CPU on hand, as well as up to 128GB of RAM, a 10Gb Ethernet, improved thermal management, and that 5K 27" display screen, this is a machine that can stand up to demanding Pro Video work, which means that it can also handle Pro Audio work with aplomb, éclat, and other fancy nouns.
Thunderbolt™ 3 connections are also on hand for a maximum throughput of 40 Gb/s when used with apposite peripherals. This same connection also ports data via USB 3.1, making it doubly useful. With such specifications on hand, this might be the best of both worlds: a cord-minimizing computer/monitor hybrid and a performance that even surpasses some Mac Pros.
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