Last week, an Apple executive did a roundtable meeting with a number of tech journalists to discuss about its products. Apart from admitting the fact that the company dropped the ball on the Mac Pro, the group went on an said that the company still has great plans for the Mac. In fact, it seems like Apple will be starting with the supposed great plan this year with the release of the iMac 2017.
Many Mac fans were a bit distraught last year when Apple failed to release an update to the famous all-in-one computer. At the time, Microsoft just released the Surface Studio and everyone was amazed at the capabilities of the desktop computer, albeit still limited. Somehow, Apple aficionados imagined that the company will be releasing something akin to the Surface Studio. The reality is, it would be very much far from it.
iMac 2017 design
Anyone expecting to see something excitingly different from the iMac 2017 design should just go ahead and stop right now. Since the release of the tapered-edge iMac back in 2012, nothing much has changed in terms of aesthetics. Sure, Apple managed to redesign the Magic Keyboard and Magic Mouse and made them rechargeable but apart from that, it is still the same design.
Not that there is nothing good about it, but the only possible design change for now is the removal of the thick bezel at the bottom part of the display. Apart from that, Apple might also reduce the size of the bezels; something akin to the rumored micro-bezeled iPad Pro 2.
Since Apple is not a big fan of touch or pen-enabled displays on desktops nor laptops, there is a high chance that the current display stand will not change at all. There is absolutely no reason for Apple to redesign the aluminum stand if it will not feature pen support on the display.
One obscure possibility is for Apple to introduce a new color for the iMac 2017. Perhaps a Space Gray variant will get everyone to notice the desktop once again and make it seem more interesting.
Performance and hardware configuration
According to the Daring Fireball article, Apple is currently working on the iMac 2017 right now. Furthermore, the company has envisioned the new desktop to cater for mostly pro users as a response to its demographics. Unfortunately, nothing much was given in terms of how much of an improvement will be given to the iMac 2017.
A recent blog post from Pike’s Universum claims that the iMac 2017 will finally have a server-grade processor. In fact, the post went on and said the Apple is considering the Intel Xeon E5 1200 V6 family of processors. While this may sound very exciting, it should be noted that not all server-grade processors are better than a consumer-grade processor. In some cases, a quad-core overclocked desktop processor can go head-to-head or even perform better than a server processor. Of course, this will depend on what kind of application one is running on a system.
Let us say, for the sake of argument, that the the server-grade processor on an iMac 2017 is for the best, it also means that the desktop will finally support ECC-type RAM modules. ECC-type RAMs are far superior than regular desktop RAMs due to in-built error correction protocol. Apart from switching to ECC-type RAM, the iMac 2017 is also said to have a minimum of 16GB of RAM.
New NVMe storage
Another major selling point for any Mac is the storage. Instead of using common off-the-shelf solid-state drives of SSDs, Apple uses a proprietary NVMe storage. In comparison to a standard SSD, NVMes, especially the ones from Apple, are extremely fast. Apple has invested a lot of time and effort in developing its own storage for the Mac.
That being said, the iMac 2017 would feature the latest NVMe storage from Apple. And rumour has it that the biggest storage configuration has been pushed to 2TB.
New graphics and VR support
As for graphics, since virtual reality or VR is becoming bigger and bigger every year, Apple will also take a slice of that cake. According to the same blog post mentioned earlier, the iMac 2017 will finally support VR with the use of AMD Radeon GPUs.
Now, since this is Apple we are talking about, there is actually no point at all to dream really big in terms of graphics. This is mainly because Apple is quite strict in keeping its power target in check. There is absolutely no point in hoping for a Vega 10 GPU on the iMac 2017. The best Apple could probably do is an AMD Radeon R9 395X which has a TDP similar to the M version of the same GPU line. An AMD Radeon RX 480 will be totally out of the question since in TDP alone, the graphics cards runs at 150W. On a good note, the graphics card mentioned earlier is capable of VR gaming as well as gaming on high settings.
iMac 2017 accessories
Although not entirely what one can call news, but it is possible that the iMac 2017 could feature a revamped Magic Keyboard. The said piece of hardware is rumoured to be almost the same as the current MacBook Pro. It will also have support for Touch Bar and Touch ID.
Since the Touch Bar and Touch ID were first introduced on the MacBook Pro, many Mac fans started to fantasize the Magic Keyboard having the same functionality. Rendered images of the keyboard even surfaced on the Internet mere weeks after the MacBook Pro came out.
The one thing that made it more of a possibility is the fact that Apple was already granted a patent for the Touch Bar and Touch ID features on the Magic Keyboard. So, it could be that Apple will turn the patent into reality much sooner than expected.
Or course, the iMac 2017 will not be complete without new ports. While Apple is already pushing for the USB Type-C interface, it is still possible that the desktop will retain at least a few older USB interfaces. However, the current Thunderbolt 2 will eventually be replaced by Thunderbolt 3.
Target release date and price
As for the release date, since Apple already said that the iMac 2017 will be released later this year, there is a high likelihood that it will be between September and October. Apple could choose to go all out and launch the new iMac on the same event that it announces the new iPhones. Or it could make a meal out of it and have a separate one weeks after the iPhone launch, which is probably around October.