Archive of iMac Rumors

KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo has released a new research report outlining his expectations for next Thursday's "Hello Again" event where Apple is expected to make a number of Mac-related announcements.

In line with long-standing rumors, Kuo believes the highlight of the event will be a redesigned MacBook Pro in both 13-inch and 15-inch sizes, adopting an OLED touch bar and Touch ID sensor, USB-C, Thunderbolt 3, and the same butterfly keyboard design introduced on the MacBook in 2015. Kuo also adds several new tidbits to the rumor mix:
Our new predictions also include: (1) Intel’s (US) Skylake processor; (2) the same panel resolution but better display quality and energy efficiency thanks to an oxide panel; (3) a new option of 2TB SSD storage capacity; (4) adoption of a similar processor as Apple Watch to control the OLED touch bar more energy-efficiently in the new MacBook Pro models; and (5) a Type-C & MagSafe-like adapter rolled out by Apple or a third-party supplier, given positive reviews for the MagSafe charging design.
Beyond the MacBook Pro, Kuo says Apple will also be introducing a "13-inch MacBook," a claim he has shared previously. Rather than being a slightly larger version of the current 12-inch MacBook, however, this is likely to be a MacBook Air, which would align with other rumors claiming that only the 13-inch MacBook Air will be seeing an update with new USB-C ports.

On the desktop side, rumors have indicated that Apple is working on updated iMac models with discrete AMD graphics options, as well as a new standalone external 5K display, but Kuo says those products will not be ready until the first half of next year. It is still possible, however, that Apple could announce them at next week's event.
We also expect Apple to launch new iMacs (21.5-inch and 27-inch) and Cinema Display (27-inch) in mid- 1H17. We cannot say for certain whether Apple will announce the new iMacs and Cinema Display on October 27 as the shipping schedule is not imminent.
Apple's event is being held at the company's Cupertino campus and kicks off at 10:00 AM Pacific Time on Thursday. MacRumors will have full coverage both here on the site and on our @MacRumorsLive Twitter account, and Apple will be offering a live video stream of the event.
Apple today sent out media invites for a Mac-centric event that will be held on Thursday, October 27 at 10:00 a.m. at Apple's Cupertino campus.

The October event is expected to focus on the introduction of new Macs, headlined by a much-rumored and highly anticipated revamped MacBook Pro. According to rumors, the new MacBook Pro will feature the first redesign to the machine since 2012.

A thinner, lighter body is expected, with a wider, pressure-sensitive trackpad and a flatter MacBook-style keyboard with the same butterfly key mechanism. The MacBook Pro will be available in the same 13 and 15-inch size options, and will feature USB-C with USB 3.1 support for faster transfer speeds, Thunderbolt 3, and Touch ID.

Touch ID is expected to be built into a new OLED touch panel built into the top of the MacBook Pro, where it will replace the physical function key row. The OLED touch panel is said to feature contextual buttons that will change based on each app that's in use. A leaked chassis suggests it will feature four USB-C ports and a headphone jack, but no HDMI port, no USB-A ports, no MagSafe connector, and no SD card slot.

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A refreshed 13-inch MacBook Air with USB-C ports has also been rumored, but it is not clear if other internal changes will be made to Apple's low-cost machine. It's possible the 13-inch MacBook Air will be a standalone product going forward, based on rumors suggesting the 11-inch model will be discontinued.

Apple is also said to be working on updated iMacs with AMD graphics chips, which could be introduced at the event, and we might possibly see the debut of a rumored 5K Retina display with an integrated GPU. Apple discontinued the original Thunderbolt Display earlier this year, but an updated product has been in the works and it makes sense to release it alongside refreshed Macs if it's ready to launch.

Apple's Mac Pro and Mac mini are in dire need of refreshes, having been updated last in 2013 and 2014, respectively, but it is not clear if these machines will also see updates at the event.

MacRumors plans to provide live coverage of Apple's October 27 event, both here on and through our MacRumorsLive Twitter account. Apple will also live stream the event on its website and on the Apple TV.
Apple is planning to refresh its Mac lineup, including the MacBook Pro and MacBook Air, as early as October, according to Bloomberg. The report also claims Apple is working on a standalone 5K display in partnership with LG Electronics, while it plans to update iMac models with an option for new graphics chips from AMD.

The report reiterates that the new MacBook Pro will be thinner and include an OLED-based touchscreen strip along the top of the flatter keyboard, which will present functions that dynamically fit the current task or application, as well as integrate Touch ID to enable users to quickly log in using their fingerprint.
For example, if a user is on their desktop, the screen will show a virtual representation of the standard function row, which includes brightness and media controls. When in an application, the virtual row will show options specific to the task at hand, but volume controls and a switch to show the default functions will always be present.
Apple has reportedly named the feature "Dynamic Function Row" internally, but its official name may differ when announced.

The tweaked MacBook Air models, meanwhile, are said to include multipurpose USB-C ports, which makes the inclusion of Thunderbolt 3 a possibility. No other details were shared about the planned MacBook Air and iMac refreshes.

Apple's plans to work with LG on a standalone 5K display surface two months after it discontinued the five-year-old Thunderbolt Display. It remains unclear if the monitor will be based upon the Retina 5K iMac, and it is also unclear if the report's broad late 2016 timeframe for "some of the new Mac products" includes the display.

The report makes it nearly certain that the focus of Apple's just-announced September 7 media event will be on the iPhone 7 and the second-generation Apple Watch, the latter of which has now been confirmed for the event. Apple will also provide updates about its software, including iOS 10, macOS Sierra, watchOS 3, and tvOS 10.
Following up on its rumor of a major AMD design win reported last October, WCCFtech has confirmed via multiple sources that the customer in question is indeed Apple. The latest design win follows Apple's use of AMD 200/300 series GPUs in the top-end 27-inch Retina iMac and 15-inch Retina MacBook Pro, and is a boon for the chipmaker that has seen its share of the graphics market dwindle over the past several years.

The design wins make mention of two graphics processor families, Polaris 10 and Polaris 11. The former carries a code name "Ellesmere" and is believed to be in the power range that would make it suitable for an upgrade to the iMac. Polaris 11 has the code name "Baffin" and it is believed to be in the power range suitable for an upgrade to the Retina MacBook Pro.

While Apple has limited discrete graphics chips to the top of its MacBook Pro and iMac lines, there would be suitable chips for all but the smallest form factors of Apple notebooks, should the company choose to embrace discrete graphics on a broader array of models.

As we previously noted, the switch to the new Polaris line of GPUs is set to be a significant performance upgrade over the previous 28nm GPUs. Announced by AMD at Computex, the lower-power AMD GPUs are set to be built on Global Foundries' 14nm process. Through an agreement between multiple foundries, the process is equivalent to Samsung's own second-generation 14nm FinFET process, which is the successor of the process used for the A9 and A9X featured in the latest iPhones and iPads.

Performance of these new graphics chips from AMD is expected to be double that of their predecessors, measured on a per-watt basis. This is thanks to the large size reduction and performance gains in going from the 28nm node first seen in 2011 for graphics processors to the new 16/14nm FinFET processes. This would certainly be welcome to the Mac lineup due to the increased graphics demands of the high-resolution Retina screens featured in both the iMac and MacBook Pro computers. It is reasonable to expect that Apple would allocate roughly the same power budget as on current models, meaning the 2x performance could be seen by users in some cases.

According to earlier reports, the chips should be ready to ship in consumer products in time for the back-to-school shopping season. It is not unheard of for Apple to receive priority on new chip designs, though WWDC would be the most logical time to expect these new Macs to debut. The future of the Mac Pro is less certain, though there will certainly be suitable high-end chips from AMD manufactured on TSMC's 16nm process this year.
Major graphics processing providers AMD and Nvidia are set to unveil new GPU products this year featuring Global Foundries' 14 nm FinFET and TSMC's 16 nm FinFET Plus processor nodes, respectively, allowing for significant improvements in graphics performance.

AMD's "Polaris" and Nvidia's "Pascal" architectures both utilize the latest FinFET silicon processes and will represent the first GPU process node change since 28 nm GPUs debuted in 2011. Both AMD and Nvidia skipped the intermediate 20 nm node, elongating the typical release cycle of consumer graphics processors.

While TSMC had traditionally provided multiple process offerings within a node, including one specifically tailored to higher power applications such as GPUs, the company found that the traditional planar geometries of its 20 nm node gave the firm less differentiation with its normal set of tweaks, rendering it a poor candidate for power hungry GPUs.

In a statement released earlier this year, AMD claimed that the new 14 nm Polaris GPUs will offer over double the performance per watt of their 28 nm predecessors. This news also confirmed AMD's use of Global Foundries' 14 nm FinFET process, rather than TSMC's 16 nm process, which Nvidia will use. While AMD confirmed the use of TSMC for its higher power product offerings, any products developed from that process node would be destined for the Mac Pro only, as Apple has traditionally used mobile GPUs for its notebook and iMac product lines.

The new FinFET process nodes promise a big performance jump for AMD's Polaris architecture

Product launches for these new GPUs are expected to occur around the summer timeframe. While Nvidia introduced its massive new Tesla P100 graphics card just this week, one rumor pegs the broader launch of the company's GeForce Pascal line around the time of Computex, which takes place from May 31 to June 4.

In addition to the new process nodes, both new architectures are expected to utilize a variety of new high-speed memories such as GDDR5x and HBM2, which promise improved memory bandwidth and memory size, in HBM2's case. AMD has already previously successfully launched a product utilizing a new 3DIC memory technology with their debut of the "Fury" line in 2015.

Though GPU rumor cycles tend to focus on desktop products, AMD's CEO stated that both desktops and laptops featuring the new Polaris GPUs are expected to launch before the back to school season. Apple has traditionally alternated between GPU offerings from both AMD and Nvidia when it comes to its product lines, with AMD owning the wins for the latest iterations of both the 27-inch iMac and MacBook Pro lines.

The MacBook Pro in particular is due for an update, and rumors have suggested new models could arrive at WWDC in June, but it is unclear whether Apple would be able to feature the upcoming GPUs within that timeframe. Apple has sometimes been very quick to incorporate the latest technology from its partners, but other times as waited quite some time before upgrading. Updates for the 27-inch iMac are less imminent, as the line was just upgraded to Intel's latest Skylake processors in October.
With the launch of the Apple Watch, the iPhone 6s and the 6s Plus, the new Apple TV, and the iPad Pro, 2015 was a major year for Apple. The Apple Watch introduced a whole new category, the iPhone 6s and 6s Plus saw the debut of 3D Touch, and the iPad Pro brought Apple's largest iOS device yet.

iOS 9, watchOS 2, and OS X 10.11 El Capitan brought refinements to Apple's operating systems, and the fourth-generation Apple TV came with a brand new operating system, tvOS. 2015 saw a huge number of new products and software updates, and 2016 promises to be just as exciting.

A second-generation Apple Watch is in the works and could launch in early 2016, while new flagship iPhones, the iPhone 7 and the iPhone 7 Plus, are coming in late 2016. Those who love smaller devices will be excited to hear a 4-inch iPhone 6c may be coming early in 2016, and Apple's Mac lineup is expected to gain Skylake chip updates.

New software, including iOS 10, OS X 10.12, watchOS 3, and an upgraded version of tvOS are all expected in 2016, and Apple will undoubtedly work on improving services like HomeKit, Apple Pay, and Apple Music.

As we did for 2014 and 2015, we've highlighted Apple's prospective 2016 product plans, outlining what we might see from Apple over the course of the next 12 months based on current rumors, past releases, and logical upgrade choices.

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Apple's latest 4K and 5K iMacs support a 10-bit graphics driver on OS X El Capitan, allowing for smoother color transitions, according to German website Mac & i. The 10-bit color output enables 1024 gradations per color channel, a significant increase from 256 with 8-bit depth on previous iMacs.

30 bit pixel depth — 10 bit for each RGB color (Image: cinema5D)

Digital filmmaking news website cinema5D explains the technical benefits of 10-bit color depth for professional colorists, photographers and editors:
Professionals know that 10-bit screen color is the desired color depth for serious color correction. When you work in 8-bit you often see banding artefacts and lose detail on soft gradients which makes editing harder and less accurate.

This is not to be confused with the bit depth of your source files. We all know that working with video DSLRs or other heavily compressed video footage that is limited to 8 bit color depth gives you less options during grading and 10 bit, 12 bit or even 16 bit color photos and videos are better. On the screen side 10 bit is the desired depth to let you view the end result without gradation steps.
The new 10-bit color depth reportedly only works within the Preview and Photos applications for now, but other third-party software should eventually take advantage of the technology. The 2014 5K iMac also supports 10-bit color depth on OS X El Capitan, according to these reports.
Earlier today, iFixit conducted a teardown the new Magic Keyboard, Magic Trackpad 2 and Magic Mouse 2. They've now followed that up with a teardown of the brand new 21.5-inch 4K iMac, and while the majority of the insides are the same as last year's model, there are some notable differences.

new4kimacteardownFirst, the teardown found that the new iMac's 4K display is manufactured by LG. The new display is DCI-P3, which features a wider color gamut than the more standard sRGB. The new iMac is one of the few devices that allows consumers to experience the new display technology.

Apple has also removed the empty PCIe SSD slot that was featured in the late 2013 iMac, which means that do-it-yourself upgraders won't be able to upgrade their machine easily. In 2012, Apple featured empty solder pads where the SSD slot would go, but in 2013 added an empty SSD slot. iFixit notes that users who want to add a Fusion Drive will either have to configure it at purchase or solder it on themselves.

Overall, iFixit gave the new 21.5-inch iMac a repairability score of 1 out of 10, which means that the new desktop computer is extremely difficult to repair. Like other iMacs, the soldered-on CPU, logic board and fused-together glass and Retina Display contribute to how difficult the new desktop is to repair.
Apple's new 21.5-inch 4K and 27-inch 5K iMacs released yesterday have been subjected to early Geekbench 3 benchmarking, and the results show the late 2015 models are expectedly faster, with improved single-core and multi-core scores compared to previous-generation models.

The new iMacs are between roughly 7% and 20% faster than previous models in Geekbench testing, but it should be noted the results are based on single data points that will need to be averaged out against other benchmarking results for a more accurate comparison.

Japanese blog Mac Otakara benchmarked the new 21.5-inch 4K iMac, equipped with a 3.1GHz quad-core Intel Core i5 processor, and the desktop computer received 64-bit single-core and multi-core scores of 3,787 and 12,803 respectively. The comparable late 2013 model 2.9GHz iMac had single-core and multi-core scores of 3,543 and 10,685 respectively.

The late 2015 high-end non-Retina 21.5-inch iMac, equipped with a 2.8GHz quad-core Intel Core i5 processor, had a single-core score of 3,532 and multi-core score of 11,865. The comparable late 2013 model iMac, with a 2.7GHz Intel Core i5 processor, had single-core and multi-core scores of 3,175 and 10,199 respectively.

The lineup of new 27-inch 5K iMacs were also benchmarked, with the lower-end model equipped with a 3.2GHz quad-core Intel Core i5 processor receiving single-core and multi-core scores of 3,931 and 12,079 respectively. The higher-end 3.3GHz model earned a single-core score of 4,214 and multi-core score of 13,081.

The comparable late 2014 lower-end 5K iMac had an average single-core score of 3,329 and multi-core score of 10,632. The comparable mid 2015 high-end 5K iMac, configured with a 3.5GHz quad-core Intel Core i5 processor, had single-core and multi-core scores of 3,844 and 12,192 respectively.
Apple's line of newly updated 5K Retina 27-inch iMacs with Skylake will support up to 64GB of RAM, an upgrade from the previous-generation 27-inch Retina iMacs that would only support a maximum of 32GB of RAM. According to OWC, The current 27-inch Retina iMac includes four memory slots that support up to 16GB of memory per slot for a total of 64GB.

Image via OWC

Build-to-order options for the 27-inch Retina iMacs only allow it to be purchased from Apple with a maximum of 32GB RAM, but OWC will offer 16GB modules in 48GB and 64GB configurations for the new iMac. OWC plans to start selling its new 48 and 64GB kits tomorrow, and pricing is as follows:

- Single 16GB module - $329.99

- 32GB Kit using 16GB x 2 Modules - $599.00

- 48GB Kit with 16GB x 2 + 8GB x 2 - $729.00

- 64GB Kit with 16GB x 4 - $1195.00

The new 27-inch iMacs were announced this morning and are available from Apple retail stores and Apple's online store. Pricing for the machines starts at $1,799 for a 3.2GHz quad-core processor, 8GB RAM, 1TB hard drive, and an AMD Radeon R9 M380 graphics card.

Update: OWC has torn down the new 21.5-inch 4K Retina iMac and has learned that the memory is soldered in, which means it can't be upgraded. Customers purchasing a 21.5-inch Retina iMac should get the maximum amount of memory they can afford at the time of purchase as there will be no third-party upgrade options. The maximum amount of RAM for the 21.5-inch iMac models is 16GB.
Apple has updated its website with a wealth of new information following its announcement of new 4K and 5K iMacs and a new Magic Keyboard, Magic Mouse 2 and Magic Trackpad 2. Here are some of the more interesting tidbits that have been overshadowed by the larger announcements.

New iMacs

Then and Now — Apple has published a new "Then and Now" page that compares the 1998 iMac G3 with the 2015 iMac, showing the progress that has been made over the past 17 years. The new iMac has 14 million more pixels, 62,000 times faster graphics, 366 times more processing power, 1,000 times more RAM and 750 times more storage.

5,400 RPM 1TB Hard Drive on 4K iMac — The new 21.5-inch 4K iMac's standard configuration for $1,499 includes a 5,400 RPM 1TB Serial ATA hard drive, which is considered long obsolete for a 2015 desktop computer. Upgrades to a 1TB or 2TB Fusion Drive are available for $100 and $300 respectively.

Fusion Drive Changes — To allow for lower prices, Apple's 1TB Fusion Drive is now a 1TB hard drive paired with a 24GB SSD. Previously, a 1TB Fusion Drive was a 1TB hard drive with a 128GB SSD. Mac users looking for 128GB of flash storage will need to upgrade to a 2TB or larger Fusion Drive. 256GB and 512GB all-flash storage options can also be ordered.

Magic Accessories

Automatic Pairing — The new Magic Keyboard, Magic Mouse 2 and Magic Trackpad 2 have a new automatic pairing process with Mac using a Lightning to USB cable. Each accessory is also charged via Lightning to USB.

2-Minute Fast Charging — The new Magic accessories each take about 2 hours to reach a full one-month charge via Lightning to USB, but early reviews found the Magic Mouse 2 can fast charge for nine hours of battery life in just two minutes.

Magic Mouse 2's fast charging is useful, since its bottom-facing Lightning port renders it unusable while charging. Magic Keyboard and Magic Trackpad 2 both have Lightning ports on the rear, meaning both accessories can still be used while charging.

Magic Trackpad 2 Requires Bluetooth 4.0 — Magic accessories connect wirelessly with a Mac via Bluetooth for a secure connection up to 30 feet away. For the Magic Trackpad 2, Apple requires a Bluetooth 4.0-enabled Mac. Magic accessories are also only compatible with Macs running OS X 10.11 or later.
iMac-4K-5K-2015Recently, Apple let Medium behind the doors of its Input Design Lab while the company was in development for the new set of iMacs and accessories that just launched today. While visiting the lab, journalist Steven Levy got some behind-the-scenes glimpses of the "fanatical" production process taken by the team at Apple, and even discussed topics -- like the iMac's relevance -- with a few Apple executives.

Highlighting Apple's laser focus on details, Levy relates a story of how the Magic Mouse 2 initially "stirred consternation and late nights" among its creators due to the sound it made as it was moved around being "not right." While the team had kept the overall look and feel of the mouse the same as its predecessor, the internal changes had altered the amount of friction between the device and a table, thereby changing the sound it made.
“When we did the previous mouse we spent so much time dialing those feet, the material, the geometry, everything, so that it sounds good and feels good when you move it on the table,” says John Ternus, whose title is VP for Mac, iPad, Ecosystem and Audio Engineering. “But then you change the mass of the product and you change the resonant frequency of the product and all of a sudden the feet that we loved weren’t great anymore. They weren’t what we wanted.”
With the impending launch of the iPad Pro and the growing reliance on mobile computing over heavy desktop use, Levy also brought up the topic of the iMac line and its relevance in 2015 with Phil Schiller, Apple’s senior VP of Worldwide Product Marketing.

Schiller explained Apple's products as a continuum, where you use the "smallest possible gadget to do as much as possible before going to the next largest gizmo in line." Starting with the Apple Watch, to the iPhone, iPad, and so on, he states that users shouldn't frantically try to use all of the company's products at once, but do as much on one at a time before needing to pick up another.
"...The job of the iPad should be to be so powerful and capable that you never need a notebook. Like, Why do I need a notebook? I can add a keyboard! I can do all these things! The job of the notebook is to make it so you never need a desktop, right? It’s been doing this for a decade. So that leaves the poor desktop at the end of the line, What’s its job?”

“Its job is to challenge what we think a computer can do and do things that no computer has ever done before, be more and more powerful and capable so that we need a desktop because it’s capable,” says Schiller. “Because if all it’s doing is competing with the notebook and being thinner and lighter, then it doesn’t need to be.”
When asked about the possibility of introducing an iOS-like multitouch display into the iMac line, the team behind the desktop computers remained adamant against such a move. Schiller reiterated that any input on a desktop that sits above keyboard level feels "uncomfortable" and that the iMac was built from the ground up with a cursor input in mind.
“iOS from its start has been designed as a multi-touch experience — you don’t have the things you have in a mouse-driven interface, like a cursor to move around, or teeny little ‘close’ boxes that you can’t hit with your finger. The Mac OS has been designed from day one for an indirect pointing mechanism.

These two worlds are different on purpose, and that’s a good thing — we can optimize around the best experience for each and not try to mesh them together into a most-common-denominator experience.”
The entirety of Medium's report from the Input Design Lab at Apple is well worth a read, as it goes far more in depth with topics like the new iMac's color spectrum and even the technology, design, and instrument testing that resulted in the new Magic Mouse 2, Magic Trackpad 2, and Magic Keyboard.