One New iMac is Fabulous. The Other, Not so Much

On August 4, Apple announced a new iMac (27 and 21.5 inches) and a minor update to the iMac Pro. Of the two upgrades, only the new iMac is fabulous.

In the past, Apple has gradually upgraded the iMac, on an irregular basis, with a newer processor, GPU, storage, and possibly port technology. But the same basic design with tapered edges and a chin with the Apple logo has survived since 2012. Some recently expressed hope that this latest Intel-based iMac would look more like a large, almost bezel-less iPad sitting on its side on a cool stand.

Alas, it was not to be. And that makes perfect sense when I think about it. It was speculated that the new Apple Silicon / ARM Macs would feature a new case design language in order to differentiate them well. So this cool new design has to wait for an Apple Silicon iMac.

That said, Apple did not fire any punches in its design of the iMac 2020. A specs overview (27 inches) is helpful. In no particular order:

  • 10th Generation Comet Lake processor, up to Core i9 (10 cores), Turbo Boost up to 5.0 GHz
  • Up to 128 GB of memory
  • SSD up to 8 TB
  • Up to Radeon Pro 5700 XT with 16 GB GDDR6 memory
  • 1080p FaceTime Camera (upgrade from 720p)
  • T2 security chip
  • Option for nano-texture glass (just like Pro Display XDR)
  • Option for 10 gigabit Ethernet

It’s a monster machine. Even in a basic configuration with 16 GB of RAM, it costs less than US $ 2,500. Also, a 2019 iMac has been evaluated vs. an iMac Pro (2017), and while the iMac Pro won overall, the difference wasn’t overwhelming. And given the iMac Pro’s hefty price tag, a purchase decision was found to be difficult.

The choice would only be more difficult with this new iMac 2020.

Why such an upgrade?

I think the first reason was that Apple didn’t want to be “OsbornedBy a weak 2020 update, the latest Intel iMac. A low upgrade would have made many customers wait for an Apple Silicon iMac, with huge performance gains expected. Sales would be disappointing.

The second reason is that the iMac Pro seems doomed. It was overlooked and overpriced for what was delivered. This mighty 2020 iMac is actually 1) an affordable iMac Pro substitute (mea culpa) and 2) a worthy and marketable precursor of an Apple Silicon iMac (2021).

iMac Pro (2017)

The iMac Pro cursed

Some have voiced the opinion, and I agree, that the 2017 iMac Pro was just a high performance placeholder for the delayed 2019 Mac Pro. (To appease tech professionals at fault.) After the 2019 Mac Pro shipped, the iMac Pro’s rationale was gone. Now, the iMac 2020 (and its successors) seals its fate.

Why Apple even bothered with such a minor upgrade to the iMac Pro is a mystery to me. It borders on embarrassment. At least a mystery. Also, as our Bryan Chaffin argues, why pay $ 2,020 for 2017 technology?

I congratulate Apple on this stellar upgrade to the iMac line. With its rich list of powerful options, it will sell very well. Also, 2013 Mac Pro owners who can’t afford the 2019 Mac Pro have a drool-worthy option – assuming they can return (read: stomach) a 27-inch main display. (Large second monitors are still an option for those lucky enough to have a large office space.)

How could such an amazing iMac be associated with such a weird and minor iMac Pro upgrade? Time may tell.

We will be happy to hear your thoughts

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