Apple Inc. (NASDAQ: AAPL ) has been under pressure for letting its Mac computer lineup fall seriously behind the competition. When the company did finally update its MacBook Pro laptops, it faced complaints from creative professionals over decisions like ditching legacy ports for USB-C and adding the costly OLED Touch Bar.
At WWDC, Tim Cook & Co. announced a new iMac lineup with updated CPUs, better displays and enhanced graphics capabilities. The company also kept its promise for an iMac Pro, unveiling the most powerful Mac ever released - stuffed inside a space gray iMac enclosure.
New iMac Models Aimed at Consumers
Apple didn't change the look of the new iMac lineup, but its iconic all-in-one PC is thoroughly improved to take on modern tasks like virtual reality. Virtually every component has been upgraded, led by the move to 7th generation Intel Corporation (NASDAQ: INTC ) "Kaby Lake" processors. Graphics and storage are faster, the display is brighter and the new iMac models support double the RAM.
For power users, new 4K iMacs get discrete Radeon Pro video cards from Advanced Micro Devices , Inc. (NASDAQ: AMD ). The high-end 27-inch 5K model is equipped with a Radeon Pro 580 with 8GB of RAM - enough horsepower for VR content creation.
All new iMacs also get a pair of new USB-C ports, but Apple is not repeating its MacBook Pro mistake - legacy ports including USB 3.0 remain, so dongles are not needed to use existing peripherals.
Key Improvements for New iMac
- 7th generation "Kaby Lake" Intel Core CPUs
- Retina displays 40% brighter than previous generation, support for 1 billion colors
- Double the RAM support (up to 32GB on 21.5-inch models, 64GB on 27-inch)
- Fusion hybrid drive standard on all 27-inch models, optional SSD storage is twice as fast as previous generation
- Graphics performance 80% faster than previous generation
- Dual USB-C Thunderbolt ports, plus four USB 3.0 ports, SD card slot and Ethernet remain
- iMac starts at $1099, 4K iMac at $1299 and 27-inch 5K iMac at $1799
New iMac Pro Meant to Silence Critics
The real star of the new iMac lineup is a beast of an all-in-one that won't be available until December.
In April, Apple executives met with the press in a rare session where they apologized for misreading the needs of their professional users. As part of that session, a new Mac Pro was promised for 2018, along with an all-new model called the iMac Pro for late 2017.
Apple kept its promise, showing off the new iMac Pro at WWDC 2017.
The iMac Pro is a 27-inch iMac, clad in dark space grey instead of the usual silver aluminum. It's packed with desktop workstation-class components and a new cooling system to keep the heat down.
Power is supplied by an Intel Xeon CPU - up to 18 cores. It supports up to 128GB of RAM. It comes standard with a 1TB SSD and the option for up to 4TB of solid state storage. The 27-inch 5K Retina display has 500-nits of brightness and support for billions of colors. The computer gets four high speed USB-C ports on top of the four USB 3.0 ports for legacy peripherals.
And since Apple is targeting creative professionals who rely on graphics performance, the base iMac Pro comes with a new AMD Radeon Vega Pro 56 GPU with 8GB of RAM, capable of supporting four external 4K displays. That can be upgraded to a Radeon Vega Pro 64 with 16GB of RAM. That's up to 11 Teraflops of single precision graphics processing capability - suitable for VR content creation, rendering and 3D animation.
Apple says the new iMac Pro will be the most powerful Mac it's ever released. At a $4999 starting price it's also the most expensive iMac ever offered.
Will professional users pay the premium for the new iMac Pro, or wait for a redesigned Mac Pro? We'll find out in December. In the meantime, the new iMac lineup and iMac Pro - along with refreshed MacBooks and macOS High Sierra also announced at WWDC 2017 - should silence the critics who have been questioning Apple's commitment to its PC business.
As of this writing, Brad Moon did not hold a position in any of the aforementioned securities.
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