Ig­nored in 2018, the iMac is ready for a change

Mac Format - - GENIUS TIPS -

Ap­ple’s New York event in Oc­to­ber brought no men­tion of the all-in-one

desk­top. Barely a year old and still jaw-drop­pingly quick, the iMac Pro ar­guably wasn’t due an over­haul, but the cur­rent con­sumer line-up dates back to June 2017. Its sev­en­th­gen­er­a­tion In­tel Core i5 and i7 pro­ces­sors were phased out months ago by other com­puter mak­ers.

That’s not to say they’re slow – all but the cheapest are quad-core, and the top-end 4.2GHz i7-7700 is quite a beast – but eighth-gen sil­i­con, with up to six cores, has shown sig­nif­i­cant per­for­mance in­creases.

As­sum­ing it doesn’t dump In­tel just yet (see next page), Ap­ple could skip straight to ninth-gen in 2019. An 8-core i9-9900 is al­ready avail­able, re­quir­ing only 5% more power than the i7-7700; an i7-9700 and 6-core i5-9600 fol­low. But lim­ited stock has in­flated the i9-9900’s price, and it’s hard to tell how long it’ll be un­til th­ese chips are ready in quan­tity. As for the iMac Pro, any up­date will have to wait for the Cas­cade Lake ver­sions of its Xeon W pro­ces­sors, now ex­pected late in 2019.

So much for the in­side. What we don’t know is whether Ap­ple has a re­vamp of the six-year-old ‘slim’ iMac de­sign up its sleeve – and we’ll come back to that topic on

Ap­ple con­firmed in April that a re­place­ment for 2013’s ‘trash can’ Mac Pro would ar­rive in 2019. It seems likely to be later in the year. Se­nior VP of mar­ket­ing Phil Schiller had al­ready re­vealed that plans were for a ‘mod­u­lar sys­tem’ and ‘a dis­play’.

That would be the first Ap­ple mon­i­tor since 2011’s Thun­der­bolt Dis­play, which it dis­con­tin­ued in 2016. The Ap­ple Store cur­rently of­fers LG’s Ul­traFine Dis­plays, with sim­i­lar pan­els to the iMac’s 4K and 5K Retina screens. They hardly need im­prov­ing, but with cin­ema pro­duc­tion mov­ing to 8K HDR, a big­ger, sharper screen for the high end isn’t un­think­able.

As for the Mac Pro, Ap­ple has vowed to ditch its com­pact de­sign for one that meets di­verse needs, im­ply­ing flex­i­ble con­fig­u­ra­tion. Like the iMac Pro, it’ll prob­a­bly use In­tel Xeon W chips, now of­fer­ing up to 28 cores, although AMD’s Thread­rip­per is a cred­i­ble ri­val. Some users would pre­fer Nvidia graph­ics pro­ces­sors, but so far Ap­ple looks like it’s stick­ing with AMD’s Radeon.

Re­duced bezelThe Thun­der­bolt dis­play did away with the iMac’s ‘chin’; if Ap­ple drops the knife-edge de­sign, the wide bezels could be dra­mat­i­cally re­duced. Thanks to Ap­ple’s cus­tom Thun­der­bolt 3 in­ter­face, the iMac Pro can drive two 5K dis­plays. So an 8K screen is pos­si­ble – though Dell’s costs over £3,000. Res­o­lu­tion PortsA 27in 8K panel would be closer to the pixel den­sity of iPhone XR’s dis­play, but do you need 40in-plus 8K? It’s cer­tainly not for ev­ery­one.

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