iMacs, MacBooks and Mac Pros

The cur­rent iMacs and MacBooks are great, but bet­ter things are com­ing

Mac Format - - 2016 -

Ap­ple’s most re­cent Mac up­date was to the iMac, which now has In­tel Sky­lake pro­ces­sors and 5K dis­plays in the 27-inch mod­els and In­tel Broad­well pro­ces­sors in 21.5-inch mod­els, one of which now has a 4K dis­play. Those Broad­well pro­ces­sors are a com­pro­mise: Ap­ple would much rather have the more pow­er­ful Sky­lake ar­chi­tec­ture in ev­ery iMac, but it’s wait­ing for In­tel to add in­te­grated graph­ics. Once it does, you can ex­pect Sky­lake to ap­pear across the Mac range – in­clud­ing the MacBook Pro some­time in 2016.

There are sev­eral key ben­e­fits to Sky­lake pro­ces­sors be­yond the usual speed bumps. It sup­ports USB-C, which we’ve al­ready seen in the MacBook; fast DDR4 RAM; WiGig for sim­ple, fast wire­less con­nec­tions to ac­ces­sories; wire­less charg­ing; and, most in­ter­est­ingly of all, In­tel’s up­graded Thun­der­bolt 3 in­ter­face.

Thun­der­bolt 3 uses the USB-C con­nec­tor and USB-C ca­bles to de­liver up to 40Gbps data trans­fer speeds, and be­cause it fol­lows the USB-C stan­dard that means it also sup­ports 100W fast charg­ing for lap­tops. Clearly it’s a case of when Ap­ple dumps USB-A for USB-C, not if.

Non-Retina de­vices’ days are num­bered, but we’re not sure that the 5K dis­play will make its way from the iMac to Ap­ple’s mo­bile de­vices: the Radeon M9-equipped MacBook Pro can al­ready drive a 5K dis­play, and while some 4K video pro­fes­sion­als would love the ex­tra room for tool­bars and pal­ettes, such a lap­top wouldn’t be cheap. We’re not sure there are enough peo­ple who need 5K dis­plays in their mo­bile Macs.

Both Nvidia and AMD will be launch­ing new gen­er­a­tion GPUs in 2016 us­ing the sec­ond gen­er­a­tion of HBM (High Band­width Mem­ory),

which of­fers much higher band­width than the GDDR5 mem­ory that’s used in cur­rent graph­ics cards. Be­cause HBM is stack­able it can cram much more mem­ory into a given space, and it’s sig­nif­i­cantly more power-ef­fi­cient too. It’s the fu­ture, and as soon as Ap­ple can get it into its Macs you can be sure it will.

There’s a very good chance that HBM will make its de­but in a re­freshed Mac Pro, which is also due a pro­ces­sor re­fresh: the Pro’s In­tel Xeon E5 v2 pro­ces­sor is get­ting on a bit, and mov­ing to a fourth-gen­er­a­tion E5 means more cores: where the Mac Pro cur­rently maxes out at 12 of them, the Xeon E5 v4 can have up to 22.

Ap­ple would much rather have Sky­lake pro­ces­sors in ev­ery iMac, but it’s wait­ing for In­tel…

Both the MacBook and Mac Pro will get a huge boost from In­tel’s next-gen­er­a­tion Sky­lake and Xeon pro­ces­sors.

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