Although it may seem that the range has only recently seen an upgrade, the late 2015 iMac brought little more than a processor upgrade and a long-awaited bump to Retina screens across the board.
With Apple’s computing market share dipping to 7.2% in Q3 2016, you would expect the company to release a new round of iMacs in time for its October event. Unfortunately, for Mac desktop fans, it appears as though the press keynote will be focused on the introduction of new MacBook Pros and MacBook Airs.
The biggest updates are likely to be seen with the guts of Apple’s iMac range, with Intel’s latest Kaby Lake processors now ready for production. The latest AMD Polaris graphics chips should also be on-board for video editing and high-resolution gaming, though recent reports have suggested Apple is working with Nvidia this time around.
Other improvements are being chattered about via the rumour mill in the expectedly feverish build up to the new iMac’s release, with VR compatibility currently headlining the list of less attention-grabbing features.
Keep on reading to find out more about the new developments we’re expecting from the 2016 iMac refresh.
Cut to the chase
- What is it? The latest generation of Apple’s all-in-one desktop computer
- When is it out? Rumours suggest October 2016
- What will it cost? Prices are expected to start at £899 ($1,099), as they do today
iMac 2016 release date
Unless Apple chooses to go big on VR at the next event, the reveal of a new iMac isn’t necessarily a dead-cert. In the past, desktop Mac refreshes have been a couple of years apart, so the launch of an updated iMac could end up being delayed until WWDC 2017 in June.
Still, there’s plenty of new hardware for Apple to pack into its popular all-in-one PC, so it’s best to stay optimistic that the Cupertino giant will unveil some other tasty new tech alongside the iPhone 7 at its special September event.
Comments by AMD suggest that Apple is lined-up to launch some hardware featuring the latest Polaris graphics chipset in late 2016, but that’s as close as we have to a real confirmation of an update to any of Apple’s computer range.
With the hiatus in improvements to Apple’s Mac Pro and Mac mini, it’s likely that Apple will want to keep its most popular desktop range regularly refreshed to try and claw back some of that lost market share.
iMac 2016 price
The existing range of iMacs starts at £899 ($1,099) for the 21.5-inch 1080p model, rising to £1,199 ($1,499) for the 4K model and £1,449 ($1,799) for the 27-inch variant.
There’s little doubt that Apple will stick to the existing pricing tiers, especially considering IBM’s comments on the long-term affordability of Mac usage, which were introduced when the company first launched the ‘cheaper’ iMac back in June 2014.
Will it be Intel’s Kaby Lake or AMD Zen for iMac 2016?
With the last iMac update, Apple skipped on Intel’s Broadwell processors and went straight to the latest Skylake chips for the 2015 iteration. Intel is set to provide the latest Kaby Lake processors for the next range of iMacs, the last in Intel’s 14nm processing line before the switch to Cannonlake’s 10nm architecture later in 2017.
Though it is likely Apple will stick with Intel’s processors, there is a possibility that the new AMD Zen processor could make an appearance in the high-end 27-inch models. This very powerful new CPU features 8 cores and 16 threads that would provide users with a huge amount of processing power on tap.
Of course, there’s still a possibility that Apple could skip the latest array of processors and wait for the Cannonlake series before upgrading its full suite of iMacs, but this would push the launch back to sometime in the second half of next year.
iMac 2016: AMD on-board with the VR-enabled future
Although Apple’s range of desktop PCs hasn’t lagged behind rivals in the processing department, the lack of graphical grunt is more of a sore sticking point for some users, especially for those wanting to get their game on without having to switch to Windows.
With VR rapidly gaining in popularity both on PC and console, it is likely that Apple will not want its loyal customer base to feel like they’re being left behind. It’s very realistic, then, to expect that the new range of iMacs will include AMD’s Polaris graphics, which was unveiled at the beginning of 2016.
Reports from WCCF Tech claim that AMD won the contract to produce two chipsets for Apple back in April, and will appear in “new desktops and notebooks from Apple, which the company plans to bring to market later this year”.
MacRumors thinks that Polaris 10 and 11 are the most likely fit for Apple’s new range of Macs, which are built using 16nm or 14nm production processes – smaller and more power-efficient than AMD’s 28nm chipsets found in existing 27-inch iMacs.
The switch from Intel Iris Pro 6200 graphics in the 21.5-inch models is also highly probable, as AMD has made great gains in offering highly competitive GPUs at a very reasonable price.
All in all, Mac users will be looking for plenty of power to support exciting new VR devices such as the Oculus Rift, which Palmer Luckey already said wasn’t an option at present due to the underpowered graphical capabilities of Apple’s computers.
New flash storage for iMac 2016?
While the rumours are that Apple is planning on an increased storage capacity in the iPhone 7, we’re also hoping that the company makes a major move to further push flash storage with iMacs.
The hybrid Fusion Drive is currently standard in the 27-inch range of iMacs and an £80 (around $105) optional extra for 21.5-inch models, though we’re hoping that Apple finally makes it standard across the board with all iMacs.
Flash storage capacity of up to 512GB is already available in Apple’s MacBook Air and MacBook Pro, which helps them to perform noticeably faster than similarly specified iMacs. Although Apple is unlikely to go down the route of flash-only storage for iMacs, hybrid drives would be a particularly welcome upgrade.
A plethora of ports for new iMacs?
The last Apple MacBook refresh saw Apple eschew all other ports in favour of USB-C, and while it would be unlikely that Cupertino would reduce the connectivity in its iMacs, it’s certainly plausible that the new port could make an appearance.
Intel’s new Kaby Lake processors offer support for USB 3.1 alongside Thunderbolt 3 and DisplayPort 1.2, which could mean that every single port on the new iMac gets a little boost.