Apple’s redesigned iMac is slim, fast and runs an iPad chip
Apple introduced its fourth major iMac redesign at its Spring Loaded event, equipping its colorful new desktop with the same processor it also puts inside the iPad Pro, Mac mini, MacBook Air and 13-inch MacBook Pro. M1 Macs already represent over 50% of new Mac sales, Apple also said.
The most powerful iMac yet
The new Apple consumer-focused (but pro-powered) iMac desktop is 11mm thin, available in seven colors at launch, has a 4.5K Retina Display and provides 24-inches of desktop space.
Which essentially means the computer is big enough and powerful enough for the majority of tasks while also being a nice object to have around when you turn your daytime work at home environment back into your night time den.
Speaking of night time den, the iMac has a few surprises designed to give you a better Zoom meeting experience that should also make it a jolly good home entertainment hub, namely the best cameras, microphones and speakers ever put inside a Mac (at least, that’s what Apple said).
Another handy enhancement is Touch ID. Available in the keyboard, Touch ID means you can pay for things, unlock your computer and even switch user IDs with a fingerprint. The latter has got to be useful to families sharing the Mac.
While I don’t feel this model Mac captures the zeitgeist to the extent of its original predecessor, it catches some of the current waves of digital transformation enough to tick most of the checkboxes you need filled in for a system flexible enough for both personal and professional activity. It’s a flexible workhorse Mac.
So, what did Apple tell us?
Some of the highlights from Apple’s announcement:
- The new iMac is just 11.5 millimetres thin.
- It offers 24-inch 4.5K Retina display with 11.3 million pixels, 500 nits of brightness, and over a billion colours.
- 1,080p FaceTime HD camera, studio-quality 3-mic system, and a six-speaker sound system.
- The mics are positioned to reduce feedback from the rest of the system, while directional beam forming allows them to better ignore background noise and focus on a user’s voice.
- You can edit 4K video on this Mac as swiftly as on some recent Intel-based Macs.
- Apple has made many of the internal components much smaller, enabling it to reduce the volume of the system by 50 percent.
- Available in soft shades of green, yellow, orange, pink, purple, blue, and silver.
- The iMac power connector attaches magnetically and uses a 2-meter long color matched cable.
- Will run Universal apps from Intel Macs, and also run iPhone and iPad apps.
- Every iMac features two Thunderbolt ports for superfast data transfers, including support for up to a 6K display, such as the Apple Pro Display XDR.
- Wi-Fi 6.
- 8-core iMac configuration offers two additional USB-C ports and also features a 1Gbps Ethernet port in the power adapter, allowing for a less cluttered desktop.
‘A gigantic leap forward,” says Cupertino
“M1 is a gigantic leap forward for the Mac, and today we’re excited to introduce the all-new iMac, the first Mac designed around the breakthrough M1 chip,” said Greg Joswiak, Apple’s senior vice president of Worldwide Marketing.
“With its striking design in seven stunning colours, its immersive 4.5K Retina display, the best camera, mics, and speakers ever in a Mac, and Touch ID, combined with the amazing performance of M1 and the power of macOS Big Sur, the new iMac takes everything people love about iMac to an entirely new level.”
What about the processor?
We already know the M1 chips are super-impressive. The performance per watt is outstanding and one of the easiest ways to upgrade Photoshop is to run it on one of these Macs. So, how has Apple done pushing iMac onto one of these chips?
Apple says the M1 iMac deliver the “fastest CPU core in low-power silicon”, but it also provides “the fastest integrated graphics in a personal computer”.
Apple also claims:
- Up to 85 percent faster CPU performance, so users can export their favourite video project in iMovie faster than ever, easily work with massive 100-megapixel photos in Lightroom, and compile new apps in Xcode in a fraction of the time.
- Up to 2x faster GPU performance for certain apps like Affinity Photo and Photoshop
- Up to 50 percent faster than the most powerful discrete graphics in the fastest 21.5-inch iMac, for faster rendering or imaging operations.
- The ability to edit up to five streams of 4K footage, or one stream of 8K footage, without dropping a frame in Final Cut Pro.
- Up to 3x faster machine learning in apps that leverage the 16-core Neural Engine in M1.
The truth is that until the “first looks” begin to emerge, we don’t really know what we can do with these things.
All we can imagine is that putting an M1 chip in a larger system equipped with a bigger heat sync may have enabled Apple to yield even more performance from the processor than we already expect to experience.
What about the display?
The new iMac features a 24-inch 4.5K Retina display with narrow borders and 11.3 million pixels. With a P3 wide colour gamut and over a billion colours, plus 500 nits of brightness, images are vivid. The new display also boasts True Tone to automatically adjust colour temperatures to optimise the visible on-scren image for the environment the system sits in.
The display has an anti-reflective coating.
What about the sound?
Apple says its new Mac delivers the best sound system ever in a Mac. It has two pairs of force-cancelling woofers placed side by side for an impressive bass response, while reducing unintended vibrations. These are all balanced with a high-performance tweeter.
Which all sounds impressive but should make for a high-quality audio playback experience across a wide gamut of sound frequencies with strong, articulate bass and crystal-clear mids and highs.
Boosted by a little machine intelligence in the form of audio playback algorithms, that means the Mac delivers spatial audio when playing video with Dolby Atmos.
Which means that as well as being able to discern the vocal range of the people in your next Zoom meeting you’ll also get a kick watching a movie about rebellion against dystopian tyranny afterwards.
We always need to connect
Every iMac features two Thunderbolt ports for superfast data transfers, including support for up to a 6K display, like the Apple Pro Display XDR.
The systems also Wi-Fi 6 delivers faster wireless performance. The 8-core iMac configuration offers two additional USB-C ports and also features a 1Gbps Ethernet port in the power adapter, allowing for a less cluttered desktop.
What about the accessories?
Three models of color-matched aluminium Magic Keyboard are available, including one that offers Touch ID. Also available is a Magic Keyboard with Touch ID and Numeric Keypad, as well as the colour-matched Magic Mouse and the industry-best Magic Trackpad.
Pricing and Availability
- The new 24-inch iMac is available to order beginning Friday, April 30. It will begin arriving in the second half of May.
- iMac with 7-core GPU starts at $1,299 (US) and $1,249 (US) for education, and is available in green, pink, blue, and silver. It features an 8-core CPU, 8GB of unified memory, 256GB SSD, two Thunderbolt ports, Magic Keyboard, and Magic Mouse.
- iMac with 8-core GPU starts at $1,499 (US) and $1,399 (US) for education, and is available in green, yellow, orange, pink, purple, blue, and silver. It features an 8-core CPU, 8GB of unified memory, 256GB SSD, two Thunderbolt ports, two additional USB 3 ports, Magic Keyboard with Touch ID, Magic Mouse, and Ethernet.
- Additional technical specifications, configure-to-order options, and accessories are available.
- For a limited time, eligible customers who purchase a new iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, Apple TV, or Mac can enjoy one year of Apple TV+ for free and three months of Apple Arcade for free.