Friday, December 3, 2021

iMac M1 (2021) Release Date, Price, Design & Spec Rumours

When Apple first revealed the new Apple Silicon-based processors back at WWDC 2020, it teased that it’d ship new Macs with the new processors in the same year. As we now know, Apple proceeded to launch a new MacBook Air, MacBook Pro and Mac Mini with the new blistering fast M1 chipset, but nothing was said about the iMac range.

That’s disappointing if you’re looking to upgrade your iMac right now, but the good news is that the upcoming iMac update will be well worth it, and it’s not too far away now – if rumours are to be believed, anyway. Here’s all you need to know about the (likely redesigned) Apple Silicon-powered iMac due for release in 2021.

iMac (2021) release date rumours

Back in October 2020, before the updated MacBook range launched, a China Times report claimed Apple was on track to release the M1-powered iMac range in Spring 2021

While not much else has been said on that front since late 2020, Apple is rumoured to be holding an event in March 2021. That is in-line with the China Times report, although most rumours right now suggest it’ll be focused on the new iPad Pro range and the long-rumoured AirTags.

What’s more likely, we think, is an announcement at WWDC 2021 – especially if there’s a more powerful yet-unseen chipset on offer.

How much will the new iMac cost?

There isn’t much in the way of information about how much the new iMac range might cost, but given the fact that Apple pretty much matched the pricing of the Intel-based MacBook and Mac Mini ranges, it’s fairly safe to say that the new iMac will cost a similar range to its equivalent available right now.

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For a quick refresher, here’s a breakdown of Apple’s current iMac range:

21.5in iMac

  • 3GHz 7th-gen, dual-core: £1,099 / $1,099 / AU$1,699
  • 6GHz 8th-gen, quad-core: £1,299 / $1,299 / AU$1,999
  • 0GHz 8th-gen, 6-core: £1,499 / $1,499 / AU$2,299

27in iMac

  • 1GHz 10th-gen, 6-core: £1,799 / $1,799 / AU$2,799
  • 3GHz 10th-gen, 6-core: £1,999 / $1,999 / AU$3,099
  • 8GHz 10th-gen, 8-core: £2,299 / $2,299 / AU$3,549

The only complication is the rumoured redesign. Apple may feel that a new look, paired with a fast chipset and expensive components like PCIe 4.0 SSD storage, merits a rise in price. It happened when Apple released the redesigned iPad Air in 2020, after all.

The iMac (2021) redesign

As we’ve alluded to, the new Apple Silicon-based iMac range is set to offer the first major redesign of the iMac in well over 10 years. The current iMac doesn’t look bad – it’s a testament to the company’s eye for design – but there are certain elements that make it look a little dated compared to the competition, including the chunky bezels and the ‘chin’ beneath the display.

The main source of information comes from a Bloomberg report, claiming that Apple will focus not only on reducing the chonky bezels, but the overall form factor of the desktop, bringing the industrial design of the recent iPhones and iPads to the desktop.

According to Mark Gurman, the new iMac range will sport a form factor reminiscent of the stunning high-end Pro Display XDR, complete with an ultra-slim form factor and, more importantly, tiny bezels. The reduced bezels could also allow Apple to expand the size of the display without a larger footprint, although that isn’t confirmed right now.

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It’s not an outrageous idea either. As with Microsoft’s creator-focused Surface Studio 2, Apple could house the majority of the iMac’s smarts within the stand, allowing for a stunningly thin display experience.

Hit-and-miss leaker Jon Prosser also shared a few details about the iMac range in a recent YouTube video, suggesting that Apple is planning to release the new range in a variety of colours.

In fact, the leaker claims that it’ll likely mirror the Silver, Space Grey, Green, Sky Blue and Rose Gold colour options available for the iPad Air, and showcased a mock-up of what he expects the iMac range to look like when it does eventually make an appearance.

iMac (2021) spec rumours

Arguably just as important as the redesign of Apple’s desktop range is the introduction of the new Apple Silicon processor. While some were sceptical about Apple’s ability to replace Intel’s chipset across its entire range, the M1 at the heart of the late 2020 Macs proved Apple’s prowess in chipset design, offering incredible leaps in performance and battery life compared to older Intel-powered variants, and it’s likely we’ll see much the same with the desktop processor too.

You can find out more about the performance on offer in our review of the MacBook Air M1 (2020)

One leak hints at the possibility of the upcoming range sporting Apple’s first desktop-class Silicon chip, tentatively called the A14T – likely a nod to Apple’s A14 chipset in the iPhone with an extra T for ‘Turbo’ or something else equally cool.

That chipset, whatever it ends up being called, is rumoured to sport a custom Apple GPU that’ll either be integrated into the main chipset or kept as a separate graphics accelerator. That is particularly important because Apple’s current chipset doesn’t support external GPUs, meaning professionals will have to rely exclusively on Apple’s chipset to power creative-level software unless eGPU support is reintroduced on the desktop chip.

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Processor aside, there are whispers that Face ID could finally make its way to the Mac desktop range, mainly due to the existence of references to TrueDepth camera systems within macOS Big Sur, but more recent rumours suggest this might not make an appearance until the 2022 update. What’s more likely in the interim is Touch ID embedded in the power button, a feature used by plenty of Windows alternatives with great success.

We’d also like to see an upgrade to the 720p webcam – now, more than ever, people are realising the importance of having a high-quality webcam for video calls and meetings, and the iMac webcam has remained practically unchanged for years.  

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