Apple has updated its Mac lineup with two upgrades and a fresh new product line
WWDC this year was fit to burst with announcements, and for Mac fans one highlight was a string of new computers that should cater to Apple’s pro and casual users alike.
We saw product refreshes for the MacBook Pro and iMac computer, plus a completely new super-high-end model called the iMac Pro. However, there was no love this time for the 12-inch MacBook, the ever-popular MacBook Air*, or Apple’s budget Mac mini and long-forgotten Mac Pro.
*(Actually, that’s not strictly true – Apple quietly boosted the processor on the MacBook Air.)
Let’s take a closer look at all three announcements.
The iMac has long been a staple of Apple’s computing output: an all-in-one desktop machine that hides all its components inside a large display. It had been a while since the last iMac update, but this iterative update should keep users happy a little longer. No real design changes to speak of, but plenty of spec bumps.
First up, the iMac now runs on Intel’s 7th-gen “Kaby Lake” processors, something pro users have been hoping for for a long time. This can now be paired with an 8GB Radeon GPU at the top end, for amazing performance – even when creating VR content.
Fusion drives will now be the standard storage option on more models, and they’ll be up to 50% faster, too. The upper storage limit for these devices has doubled to a huge 2 terabytes. Apple will also let you boost the RAM further than before – up to 32GB on the smaller iMac and up to 64GB on the larger one.
If you’re feeling a bit lost at all the talk of processors and fusion drives, don’t worry – all you really need to know is that these computers the same as before, only better. All the numbers are higher and that’s a good thing.
There’s good news in terms of pricing, too – while a fully specced out machine will still cost a fair whack, for the first time ever you can get an iMac with a 4K Retina display for as little as $1299/£1249, while the entry-level iMac costs $1099/£1049. All the iMacs are customizable, and as ever there’s a choice of 21.5-inch or 27-inch displays. More on the new iMacs here.
The MacBook Pro lineup got some stick for being “not pro enough” when it was refreshed six months ago, so users will be pleased Apple has added some extra heft to its machines without changing the core lineup. You can still get the Pro with or without the divisive Touch Bar, though models without it have less ports and can’t be maxed out to the best available specs.
After a lengthy iMac unveiling at WWDC, Apple kept things short for the MacBook Pro – and we will too. Most of the changes are similar to what we’ve just discussed for the iMac. The MacBook Pro is also moving to Intel’s “Kaby Lake” processors, alongside faster storage and more powerful graphical capabilities with more video memory.
It’s not a huge update, but just enough to keep the MacBook Pro competitive with some improved power under the hood. If you’ve been holding off buying a new notebook computer, now’s the time. There’s a new configuration of MacBook Pro offering a slightly cheaper entry level, at $1299/£1249. This could help combat the impression that the MacBook Pro was no longer good value for money since its previous update. More on the MacBook Pro here.
Finally, we have a brand new product line from Apple. It’s been years since Apple updated the high-end Mac Pro, a computer aimed at industry professionals who need the best of the best. The Mac Pro has always been a hefty computer tower that requires a separate display, but after years of neglect for super pro users, Apple is back with something special.
The iMac Pro is pitched as the spiritual successor to the Mac Pro, with the difference that technology has come far enough now that all that power can now fit into the body of a standard iMac with built-in Retina display. An innovative new “dual centrifugal fan solution” allows this level of performance without loudness or excess heat. There was no confirmation that the original Mac Pro is dead, but we wouldn’t be surprised if this is a permanent replacement.
iMac Pro’s technical prowess is through the roof compared to the other computers here. As standard it rocks an 8-core Xeon processor, but if you’ve got the money that can be upgraded up to 18 cores. It uses Radeon Vega graphics with up to 16GB of VRAM – that’s a lot, and Apple point out that this setup is great for machine learning.
The iMac Pro comes with up to 128GB of RAM, and up to 4TB of SSD storage. Apple claim that a custom-built PC with these specs would cost upwards of $7000, but the new iMac Pro starts at “just” $4999. That’s a lot of money for a computer – and it will rise even higher for the top spec – but this isn’t aimed at the average user. There are some customers, businesses mostly, who will be very pleased to see another high-end Mac get some stage time.
This new computer won’t be released until December, but until then you can feast your eyes on Apple’s promo page for the iMac Pro.