Tuesday, August 4, 2020

iMac 2020

Apple (MacRumors, Hacker News):

Apple today announced a major update to its 27-inch iMac. By far the most powerful and capable iMac ever, it features faster Intel processors up to 10 cores, double the memory capacity, next-generation AMD graphics, superfast SSDs across the line with four times the storage capacity, a new nano-texture glass option for an even more stunning Retina 5K display, a 1080p FaceTime HD camera, higher fidelity speakers, and studio-quality mics.


And now the stunning Retina 5K display on the 27-inch iMac features True Tone technology, which automatically adjusts the color temperature of the display to match a user’s ambient lighting.

The new iMac offers a nano-texture glass option — first introduced on Pro Display XDR — for even better viewing under various lighting conditions, such as a bright room or indirect sunlight.

Nick Heer:

Maybe the best news here is that it is no longer possible to get a spinning hard disk in any Mac. Recent versions of MacOS, whether because of system changes or APFS, simply do not work acceptably when running on hard disks. Fusion drives are not much better, but I understand why it is an option.

Alas, storage is still way overpriced. The $1,800 base model has a 256 GB SSD, and upgrading to 1 TB costs $400. Quality 1 TB SSDs retail for around $100 these days.

Rory Prior:

You can get 128GB worth of DDR4 for around £600 on Amazon, Apple basically wants to charge you the cost of another whole iMac for it – £2400!!

Really hope repairability laws will compel Apple to make RAM and storage user upgradable across their line, a 4x markup on retail prices for commodity parts like RAM is just not right.


Update (2020-08-05): Marc Edwards:

With the new iMacs released, I think my default answer to “which external display should I buy?” is now “get an iMac”. It’s a shame there’s no decent external displays for developers and designers using Macs. The iMacs are great though.

Unfortunately, there’s no more target display mode.


Tim Hardwick:

OWC offers 128GB of DDR4 PC4-21300 RAM that’s compatible with the 27-inch iMac . The total cost on Amazon is $599.99, or $2,000 less than Apple charges its customers.

Will the next iMac support easy RAM upgrades? iMac Pro doesn’t.

William Gallagher:

Unfortunately, it’s also not as if Apple did that much to the iMac Pro in the last few years. The iMac Pro you can buy today is the same as one you could have bought three years ago.

Michael Potuck:

Below we’ll look at a detailed iMac comparison of the 2020 and 2019 27-inch models as well as the 16-inch MacBook Pro for those who may be weighing a desktop setup with a larger display vs the portability of a notebook (if you need the power of an iMac Pro, you probably know if an iMac won’t work for you).

Update (2020-08-07): Hartley Charlton:

The lowest spec 27-inch i5 iMac from 2020 performs about 20 percent better in multicore than the lowest spec 27-inch i5 iMac from 2019.


MacRumors reader Stefan tested the high-spec 2020 iMac with 3.8GHz 8-Core Processor with Turbo Boost up to 5.0GHz, giving a single-core score of 1141 and a multi-core score of 7006. This is approximately 36% higher than the equivalent chip from the previous generation.


A source with access to Apple’s repair manuals tells MacRumors that the SSD is in fact not soldered to the logic board but is connected to a proprietary Apple slot on the board.

Tim Hardwick:

A support document updated overnight advises that those who purchase the iMac model with nano-texture glass must use the polishing cloth that Apple provides. No water or liquids should be used to clean the glass either. iMac owners can at most moisten the cloth with a 70-percent isopropyl alcohol (IPA) solution to deal with hard-to-remove smudges.

So probably no nano-texture touch-screen coming soon.

Benjamin Mayo:

The iMac has limped along for a decade on the same industrial design and last-gen technology. I think that will be a permanent blot on Apple’s record. It is a poor showing for the company’s only consumer desktop to lag behind the curve so much.


Predicting a Retina future for every Mac also seemed obvious in 2012, and yet incredulously the base model 21.5-inch iMac display is a very much non-Retina 1920x1080 resolution.

It’s too bad since recent versions of macOS have regressed on non-Retina screens.

15 Comments RSS · Twitter

I understand the complaints about the storage, or laptops that aren't user-serviceable at all, but the RAM is user-replaceable and very easy to swap out.

It’s not mentioned in the press release, but there’s not a build-to-order option for 10 Gigabit ethernet.

Also these are the first non-Pro iMacs with the T2 chip.

there is no wifi-6, sadly.
everything else seems like a solid update.

Does the nano-texture cut down the glare similarly to matte displays?

Alexander Browne

@MeX: That's exactly what the nano-texture glass is for. It's a matte finish through etching the glass instead of a coating on top of the glass.

What usually doesn't explicitly get said in these price upgrade comparisons, is that the upgrade fee also includes the loss of whatever the baseline config comes with which you already pay for. So upgrading from 256GB to 512GB isn't a fee for the 512GB, it's the fee plus the cost of the base 256GB that you no longer receive. This makes Apple's fees even more egregious when compared to buying 512GB on Amazon. At least when you upgrade it yourself, you can always sell the unused base 256GB on Ebay or whatever.

One of the reason why Apple has its current upgrade price is to protect their higher margin top range line up. So if you choose to upgrade the component to the next model iMac, You will get exactly the same price.

I hope with Apple Silicon, they could shift the differentiator to Apple Silicon and not the RAM and NAND.

This looks great! My 2015 27" 5K iMac is long in the tooth.

Love 10G NIC and the new processors. Now I need to decide if the nano texture screen is worth it.

I took delivery of my top-spec 27-inch 2019 iMac, self-upgraded with OWC's 128 GB memory, not a week ago. Am I bitter? Well yeah, just a bit. But I also knew this was going to happen and I don't regret my purchase because the 2019 iMac can do something these new models can't: run Mojave. That is very much worthwhile for me. I don't know what my future holds after Mojave; Catalina is totally wrecked and I don't see any greater promise in Big Sur as a CLI user/developer/admin. I think this means long-term consideration of Windows, either BootCamped or running exclusively with a patched VMWare Workstation to run Mac VMs for AppKit apps and Linux VMs for the CLI work that Windows still can't do yet. At any rate, another year should be enough time to see how Big Sur shakes out, at which time I'll know for sure. Probably not the most rational choice I've ever made, but certainly within my budget. Running Windows is not something I feel I can give up as things stand with Apple's continually degrading QA in VoiceOver (the built-in screen reader) and their accessibility more generally, so I'll be making hay while the sun shines as regards virtualisation on an Intel-based Mac. These new Macs would seem to be the perfect purchase for people willing to run Catalina or Big Sur, for that reason, providing you accept the new restrictions in those operating systems, and that your investment won't let you run iOS apps.

What people refuse to accept is that Apple long ago decided to be a luxury brand. Being overpriced is the *point*.

If you weren't paying a ridiculous markup, what would make you a classier person than... ugh... a plebeian Windows user?

It's even worse for iMac Pros. Contacted Apple support recently: "I'd like to upgrade my iMac Pro RAM. Where can I do that and how much will it cost?" "The Apple Stores in your area are closed now, but any Apple Service Provider can do it. Here are a few close to you." I make some calls. "No, we won't touch the iMac Pros." "Apple doesn't allow us to upgrade iMac Pros. They would cancel our contract." Not only can I not do it myself, but I can't do it *at all* now. Nor do I know how much it would cost.

I ran into the exact same response trying to add an SSD to my older iMac. "No, Apple won't let us do that."

So many things about the 2012 iMac design (thinner bezels) seem like unforced errors. Yeah, it's thinner, at an angle you'll rarely look at (maybe when cleaning behind the desk?), but now you've created all these logistical problems. It's a desktop. It doesn't have to be MacBook Air-like. It's especially jarring on the Pro.

Having said that: https://www.macrumors.com/2017/12/14/imac-pro-ram-upgrade-apple/ "Any service center, Apple or indie, can upgrade the RAM on iMac Pro post-purchase "

Yes, Apple has long since been an aspirational brand, but they could at least provide valid bang for the buck when it comes to upgrades. I mean, these prices are too high, but that's been the case for years as you noted.

Yes! Thank you! Honestly, the old sunflower iMac G4 made a little more sense, since the guts of the computer were in the base and the screen was on an articulating arm coming from said base, the screen was thin already and easily adjustable. Seems like a slightly wider Mac mini style base with an attached screen might be more practical? Honestly, as a former iMac user, I do not miss the "all-in-one" design in the slightest since moving to more modular systems. Not having to discard either a perfectly functional screen or PC just to upgrade the other is a nice perk. An Intel NUC sized PC can bracket to the back of monitor if you want a small computer that is a pseudo AIO.

Honestly, the old sunflower iMac G4 made a little more sense, since the guts of the computer were in the base and the screen was on an articulating arm coming from said base, the screen was thin already and easily adjustable.

Anecdotally, the one person I know who had both an iMac G4, then eventually upgraded to the last G5 (just as that transition was kicking off, because she was worried about hardware compat), and later on got a 2014-ish? (dunno… it was aluminum, though) one: she loved that sunflower design and kept it around in a little shelf in her office room for many years. Maybe even today.

My guess is they weren’t able to mass-manufacture that design at low error rates / low support incidents / OK pricing. It did look gorgeous and just fun, and being able to move the screen around like that is practical, too.

Instead of quirky designs like that or the Cube, they seemed to move on to minimalism. The iMac G5 was, frankly, quite dull-looking in comparison (generally speaking, the 1998-2006 era of translucent or white plastic really hasn’t aged that well), but once it moved to aluminum + glass, it does hold its own. I wish we could get iPod mini-like colored aluminum again, and I do hope they’ve learnt their lesson from the butterfly keyboard that thinnovation™ can go too far.

Seems like a slightly wider Mac mini style base with an attached screen might be more practical?

The Surface Studio is a bit like that. It, too, is high-priced and (apparently) not a huge success. [I don’t hear about people having or using it, and its Surface Dial accessory seems to have gone basically nowhere. The explosion of UWP/WinUI mixed keyboard/mouse/touch/dial/etc. apps never happened.] I don’t think that’s a coincidence. Mechanically far simpler devices are simply easier to manufacture, price, and support.

Honestly, as a former iMac user, I do not miss the “all-in-one” design in the slightest since moving to more modular systems. Not having to discard either a perfectly functional screen or PC just to upgrade the other is a nice perk.

Oh, sure, but I don’t think Apple is interested in that any more. They do the Mac mini and Mac Pro as “well, if we must” computers; they institutionally don’t think that should be the right computing experience for almost anyone.

Update: I decided the nano texture was not worth it. Paying $500 for a easy to scratch and hard to clean screen doesn't sound like great value. I do like matte displays but not that much.

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