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Due next from Apple: refreshed 20- and 24-inch iMacs

post #1 of 184
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Assuming last minute snags are avoided, the coming weeks should bring new iMacs, rounding out Apple's 2008 hardware introductions as the company enters the holiday shopping season with one of its strongest product portfolios ever.

Avid AppleInsider readers will notice that our little 2008 hardware roadmap -- published back in August and reprinted below -- has thus far panned out quite nicely, clearing the way for new iMac models to edge their way to market sometime in the next four weeks.

People familiar with the company's plans have said changes to the iMac family will largely consist of performance improvements and technology refreshes. And while there's admittedly been few concrete details to go by since the August report, this week's notebook overhauls offer a window into the future of the iMac line, which sports an architectural resemblance to the MacBook lines.

CPU

While the processors used in the existing iMacs largely resemble those of Intel's current Montevina-based offerings, they're actually a special run of the chipmaker's Santa Rosa-based offerings developed at Apple's request. They operate at high clock speeds and support a faster 1066MHz bus versus the 800MHz of the Santa Rosa-based parts that were available to the broader market at the time.

Since then, Intel has unleashed its Montevina (Centrino 2) platform, which umbrellas new Core 2 Duos that are shipping inside the new unibody MacBooks, and are destined for the fall iMac line at clock speeds close to those currently available.

Intel has also been working diligently on quad-core mobile chips that should eventually find their way into iMacs, especially around next year's release of Snow Leopard; the operating system will include Grand Central technology designed to leverage Macs with an increasing number of processor cores.*

As it stands, the chipmaker currently offers a quad-core 2.53GHz Core 2 Extreme mobile processor that sports a similar thermal envelope to the special run 3.06GHz Core 2 Duo employed by the existing top-of-the-line iMac. With its $1000+ price tag, however, Apple may be hesitant to use the chip even if there*doesn't appear to be anything else stopping the firm from adopting the chip this year for a high-end iMac.



DisplayPort

Processor performance aside, Tuesday's MacBook introductions hinted at a couple of other technologies that should find their way into iMacs. The first is DisplayPort, a new royalty-free, digital audio/video interconnect that chief executive Steve Jobs noted would be built into every suitable product Apple develops.

"This is what we're going to for all video out on all of our products. It's pretty outstanding," he said during Tuesday's event. "We can do everything [a full-size DVI] connector can do and more -- including driving 30-inch displays -- out of something a fraction of its size. Now the new industry standard Mini DisplayPort. We're building it into everything we make."

Graphics

The other potential but less certain technology advancement would be a move towards more of NVIDIA's latest graphics technologies. The Mac maker is clearly impressed by the chipmaker's latest offerings.

"We said 'this is fantastic'," Jobs said of NVIDIA's pitch to Apple months ago regarding a next-generation part that initially combined the chipset with a powerful embedded graphics processor for desktop systems, not notebooks.*

Apple currently offers an ATI Radeon HD 2400 or 2600 paired with an Intel chipset as the baseline offering in existing iMacs. *An NVIDIA GeForce 8800 GT is listed as a $150 build-to-order option.

It's possible Apple could use the same or a related NVIDIA controller in the iMac that it enthusiastically demonstrated in the new MacBook lines.

Apple to speak on Tuesday

The next time we hear from Apple will be on Tuesday, when the company holds a conference call with analysts and members of the media to discuss the results of its fourth fiscal quarter of 2008 and announce how many iPhone 3Gs were sold during its first three months on the market.*
post #2 of 184
Let me be the first to ask. What about the Mac Minis? I see no mention of them.
post #3 of 184
Quote:
Originally Posted by VisualZone View Post

Let me be the first to ask. What about the Mac Minis? I see no mention of them.

Oh they'll be getting displayport too, don't you worry.
post #4 of 184
.... When are we going to see a Mac Pro update that doesn't cram everything into the "long in the tooth" PowerMac G5 case?

So with Display Port are we going to see the back of the Mac Pro's graphics cards feature it too? That doesn't really seem that cost effective when no one else is featuring it.
post #5 of 184
Come to think of it, how did Apple manage to make that iMac face/frame without having to resort to hollowing out a solid block, and why didn't that carry over to the new "unibody" notebook chassis design?
post #6 of 184
Quote:
Originally Posted by KindredMac View Post

.... When are we going to see a Mac Pro update that doesn't cram everything into the "long in the tooth" PowerMac G5 case?

Crammed? It seems like they did a pretty good job with it. There isn't anything in there that makes me think that it's a kludge.

Quote:
So with Display Port are we going to see the back of the Mac Pro's graphics cards feature it too? That doesn't really seem that cost effective when no one else is featuring it.

I don't think there is anything preventing ATI from releasing an updated 37xx or 47xx based board with DP.
post #7 of 184
Quote:
Originally Posted by KindredMac View Post

So with Display Port are we going to see the back of the Mac Pro's graphics cards feature it too? That doesn't really seem that cost effective when no one else is featuring it.

Virtually all computers will come with DisplayPort within a few years. DisplayPort will replace DVI as effectively as DVI replaced VGA.
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post #8 of 184
Quote:
Originally Posted by JeffDM View Post

Come to think of it, how did Apple manage to make that iMac face/frame without having to resort to hollowing out a solid block, and why didn't that carry over to the new "unibody" notebook chassis design?

I'm not sure what exactly you're asking... The iMac's front plate is obviously carved from a single piece of aluminum, but there's nothing about that that would "carry over" to the unibody. The novel feature of the unibody design is that there is no internal frame structurally supporting the body of the notebook; the outside plate *is* the frame.

That's not the case with the iMac, and there's not that much need to apply the unibody blueprint to it either. It's not a portable computer subject to constant movement and pressure.

So, long story short, the iMac just has a single-piece outside, but still uses a more traditional internal frame.

Quote:
Originally Posted by KindredMac View Post

.... When are we going to see a Mac Pro update that doesn't cram everything into the "long in the tooth" PowerMac G5 case?

Which parts of the G5 design are you unhappy with? I'm honestly asking.
post #9 of 184
Quote:
Originally Posted by macless View Post

Oh they'll be getting displayport too, don't you worry.

Sorry, I just had to reply to get a reaction. It seems when other Apple products get updated, the Mac Mini gets left out. Maybe it's the end of the line for the Mini?
post #10 of 184
I will second the ardent pleadings for a little Mac Mini Love. Seriously, around two years with nothing more than a processor bump? You are killing us Apple!

Quote:
Originally Posted by KindredMac View Post

So with Display Port are we going to see the back of the Mac Pro's graphics cards feature it too? That doesn't really seem that cost effective when no one else is featuring it.

This is not at all true. Display Port is the way that computers are moving. And while there are very few devices out there at this time which use display port there is support for it.

http://www.displayport.org/certified...es/default.htm

Also, I recall much the same being said when Apple moved to USB and there were very few USB devices.
post #11 of 184
Let's hope FW stays.
post #12 of 184
Uh oh... the current iMacs might be the last new ones we buy for our small retail business if they pull FireWire from the line because it's a "Pro feature."

For our primary office system, which acts as our POS server and fileserver for common files, we're going to using an external FireWire two-drive RAID 1 box as the boot drive to the iMac. This will allow us to quickly swap in another Mac temporarily if the iMac goes down and needs repairs. (Yes, it has happened once already.)

Although the external drive case supports FW400/FW800/USB2.0, Macs don't support booting from USB.

Also, we do daily rotating backups using a single-drive hot-swap FireWire unit. That would also be incompatible and require additional consideration for us. Oh my.
post #13 of 184
I know you weren't asking me, but I think the G5 Mac Pro case is just way too big. It was designed that big to accommodate the liquid cooling systems for the 1.0 dualies (I had one, it burned out about 2 yrs ago), and now the extra space seems a bit unnecessary. It's great if you're a true pro that needs two optical drives and four hard drives and whatever, but I'm sure the case could use a nip and a tuck here and there, along with some modernization and sexy new lines. I believe the tiny cheese grater holes were also for cooling purposes.

Apple is clearly letting their iphone and ipod design focus test for their other hardware. It's obviously successful and helps gain new business/switchers. "Do people like the new ipod/iphone? Great, lets make our laptops and imacs look like that. Do people like the new laptops and imacs? Great, let's do the same for our desktop machines."

It used to be the case that desktop machine design was the company's flagship. No more, so now we wait.

Is the case flawed, other than the size? Of course not, it's perfectly functional, but this is Apple, and I expect more than mere functionality.
post #14 of 184
Quote:
Originally Posted by iPeon View Post

Let's hope FW stays.

I think it will. The more I look at it I see the design tradeoffs that
afflict the macbook. It's so small and compact that I believe Apple
"could" have added FW but didn't want to go through the design
difficulties.

The iMac is expansive by comparison and there's no excuse not to keep
the FW on it. In fact I'd love if they standardized on FW800 and moved to
one of those USB/eSATA combo ports.
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post #15 of 184
I'd like to see black keys on the keyboard and either back to a black mouse like the old pro one, or maybe an aluminum one.

That way I can get a new MBP, one of the displays, and the keyboard and mouse, and it won't look weird.
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post #16 of 184
Quote:
Originally Posted by HellaDude View Post


Although the external drive case supports FW400/FW800/USB2.0, Macs don't support booting from USB.
.

PowerPC Macs cannot boot from USB. All Intel Macs can.
post #17 of 184
Quote:
Originally Posted by johnqh View Post

PowerPC Macs cannot boot from USB. All Intel Macs can.

Actually, it seems I was wrong...PowerPC Macs can too

boot PowerPC Macs from USB
post #18 of 184
Create the affordable mini tower we desperately need.

or

Make the mini big enough to put in a real graphics card and at least 8 gigs of ram, update chip.

or

Release an iMac with a designer grade, matte screen.

or

I think about going to the dark side after using Macs since 1984.



Dear Steve J,

Get your head out of your tuchus, stop making toys and computers for super rich yuppies or super computers for the highest of high-end pros exclusively, and come back to us pro designers and photographers in the middle who have been supporting Apple since there was Apple. You are systematically removing our workable options or pricing us into no other choice but to switch, and not the way you want. It's not the pudgy PC guy who is trying to banish the Mac kid that is costing you sales. It's YOU who are banishing me from being able to make my next computer another Mac. Your killin' me dude, and not softly.
post #19 of 184
Quote:
Originally Posted by KindredMac View Post

.... When are we going to see a Mac Pro update that doesn't cram everything into the "long in the tooth" PowerMac G5 case?

So with Display Port are we going to see the back of the Mac Pro's graphics cards feature it too? That doesn't really seem that cost effective when no one else is featuring it.

I don't know what the hell you're talking about, but the PC industry case offerings are garbage next to the Mac Pro tower design, modularity and minimalistic need for cables.
post #20 of 184
On an aesthetic level, could they perhaps make that black Apple logo on the chin, smaller?
post #21 of 184
The new iMacs are also almost certainly going to incorporate LED backlighting seeing as Apple just announced a 24" LED display and made LED standard for their MacBooks.

LED backlighting, improved nvidia graphics, and hopefully one or two other nice surprises and a price drop will make the iMac UNSTOPPABLE!

Oh and in the world of impossible hopes, A MULTI-TOUCH SCREEN FOR GOODNESS SAKES OR SOME KIND OF MULTI TOUCH MOUSE REPLACEMENT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
post #22 of 184
Apple has never taken longer than 10 months to refresh pro systems. Surely there's gotta be new Mac Pros in the next month.
post #23 of 184
Quote:
Originally Posted by johnqh View Post

Actually, it seems I was wrong...PowerPC Macs can too

boot PowerPC Macs from USB

johnqh: thanks for the (corrective) information! I'm going to give it a try.

I'm glad I started migrating away from FireWire to USB when I "saw the writing on the wall" when Apple introduced the MacBook Air.
post #24 of 184
Quote:
Originally Posted by Leppo View Post

I know you weren't asking me, but I think the G5 Mac Pro case is just way too big. It was designed that big to accommodate the liquid cooling systems for the 1.0 dualies (I had one, it burned out about 2 yrs ago), and now the extra space seems a bit unnecessary. ....

I know you weren't talking to me but ...

As an owner of a recent MacPro I think you are talking nonsense here. The only "empty" space in the case is for expansion cards, every other section is 100% utilised. One could argue that the average user doesn't need to put in many expansion cards since there basically aren't many cards that go in there anyway, but it's not like it has dozens of open slots either.

It also makes no sense to ask that they remove the cooling fans or the holes that make the case run so cool and silent. Do you actually desire the thing to run hotter or be noisier? That's crazy-talk!

You are actually arguing for that stupid X-Mac/mini-tower in this "redesign" aren't you?
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post #25 of 184
Quote:
Originally Posted by macosxp View Post

... SOME KIND OF MULTI TOUCH MOUSE REPLACEMENT! ...

Well, (sans the shouting) I will second this motion.

I can't figure out when multi-touch has been around for two generations of products already, why Apple hasn't made a simple mousepad that's multi-touch so we can ditch the mouse altogether.

Something wireless and about half the size of the wireless keyboard seems like a natural easy-to-make product that would sell like crazy.
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post #26 of 184
Quote:
Originally Posted by GMHut View Post

Create the affordable mini tower we desperately need.

or

Make the mini big enough to put in a real graphics card and at least 8 gigs of ram, update chip.

or

Release an iMac with a designer grade, matte screen.

or

I think about going to the dark side after using Macs since 1984.



Dear Steve J,

Get your head out of your tuchus, stop making toys and computers for super rich yuppies or super computers for the highest of high-end pros exclusively, and come back to us pro designers and photographers in the middle who have been supporting Apple since there was Apple. You are systematically removing our workable options or pricing us into no other choice but to switch, and not the way you want. It's not the pudgy PC guy who is trying to banish the Mac kid that is costing you sales. It's YOU who are banishing me from being able to make my next computer another Mac. Your killin' me dude, and not softly.

Mac Maxi?
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post #27 of 184
Quote:
Originally Posted by Leppo View Post

I know you weren't asking me, but I think the G5 Mac Pro case is just way too big. It was designed that big to accommodate the liquid cooling systems for the 1.0 dualies (I had one, it burned out about 2 yrs ago), and now the extra space seems a bit unnecessary.

I'll second that. The bulk is what puts us off putting them into our studios. That and the way over the top price and poor choice of monitors to go with it.
post #28 of 184
If Apple were preparing a Mini refresh, I would have thought we would have heard some solid rumours by now, weve had nothing at all really....since the last update.

I really am starting to think it's not going to be refreshed.
post #29 of 184
By switching, you mean buying a cheaply built PC with generic parts that you will end up buying again in less than a year. I'm so tired of everyone bitching that Macs cost so much. They do NOT cost more than an equally equipped PC. Often they are (part for part) cheaper. Do your homework.
post #30 of 184
Quote:
Originally Posted by city View Post

Mac Maxi?


Yes! A Mac Maxi, but I don't anticipate the need for wings. I doubt we need to worry about embarrassing leakage.

I'm really hoping the neglect of the mini is indicative of a better affordable headless mac as a replacement in the next quarter or 2, but I'm not betting on it.
post #31 of 184
Quote:
Originally Posted by FlashmanBurgess View Post

By switching, you mean buying a cheaply built PC with generic parts that you will end up buying again in less than a year. I'm so tired of everyone bitching that Macs cost so much. They do NOT cost more than an equally equipped PC. Often they are (part for part) cheaper. Do your homework.

Not really. Since Apple has gone Intel or Nvidia parts it's actually easy to make the comparisons now and frankly it highlights the premium Apple charges.

It's likely the reason why Apple keynotes focus on how Green the product is or the manf process but rarely focuses on how their computers are advancing "computing"

Products like the Mini have been dying on the vine while Dell is picking up the mantle

http://www.dell.com/content/products...=19&l=en&s=dhs

And even the iMac is under siege

http://www.dell.com/content/products...n&s=dhs&~ck=mn

Software is keeping this platform alive..the hardware has sucked for years.
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post #32 of 184
Quote:
Originally Posted by satchmo View Post

On an aesthetic level, could they perhaps make that black Apple logo on the chin, smaller?

Or give it light and make the whole face black? Get rid of the raccoon look please.
Answer me someone please- why a 24" iMac needs a display port?
post #33 of 184
I don't expect this refresh will offer much more than a new chipset and LED backlit displays.

The current CPUs already have most of the improvements of the Montevina Penryns so all we're going to see is a bit lower power consumption. Apple should get somewhat better pricing on standard CPUs than they currently get on a special part. It's highly unlikely that Apple will include a quad core processor because of CPU cost and because it would introduce too many comparisons with the much higher priced Mac Pro.

I hope for, but do not expect the following:
- an easy way to replace the hard drive - the current system is way too much work, even for technicians
- two eSATA ports - we'd probably have seen it on the MBP if it was coming soon
- two FireWire 800 ports or the current one FW800, one FW400.
- more than three USB ports
- a minimum 500GB HD
- a decent video chip - I can get a 512MB PCI express video card for a PC with a Radeon 4650 or GeForce 9500GT for just $79 retail. Apple should be able to put something similar in a $1500 computer.

iMacs don't excite me though. What has my blood pumping is a future based around displays like the new 24" one they introduced this week. To me that display is begging for new low power desktops to plug into it.

My solution is two machines:
Mac Nano - the MacBook minus its display, keyboard and battery.
Mac Blade - the 24" iMac minus its display plus eSATA ports

My only concern with the Mac Blade is that maybe the 24" display's MagSafe connector wouldn't be able to provide enough power for a machine based around a 3GHz CPU, GeForce 9800 class GPU and 3.5" HD.
post #34 of 184
Would an iMac with a optional Bluray drive be to much to ask for? \
post #35 of 184
Quote:
Originally Posted by pixelcruncher View Post

Apple has never taken longer than 10 months to refresh pro systems. Surely there's gotta be new Mac Pros in the next month.

The first generation Mac Pro was introduced in August 2006 and didn't change specs or price until it was replaced in January 2008. That's 17 months.

If the iMac is updated this month it would leave Apple with virtually nothing to talk about at Macworld in January. Therefore I suspect they'll use that occasion to introduce the new Mac Pro based on the Nehalem architecture. Intel considers Nehalem one of the most significant advances since the introduction of the Pentium so it's worthy of a place at Macworld.
post #36 of 184
What about a full size bluetooth keyboard (with the number pad) that has an aluminum frame, black keys with backlighting and the glass touchpad underneath? Maybe it could also work with USB to charge the batteries or just use as a wired unit.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Virgil-TB2 View Post

Well, (sans the shouting) I will second this motion.

I can't figure out when multi-touch has been around for two generations of products already, why Apple hasn't made a simple mousepad that's multi-touch so we can ditch the mouse altogether.

Something wireless and about half the size of the wireless keyboard seems like a natural easy-to-make product that would sell like crazy.
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post #37 of 184
If the iMac had a DisplayPort connector, you could attach the new Cinema Display for a dual monitor setup.


Quote:
Originally Posted by teckstud View Post

Or give it light and make the whole face black? Get rid of the raccoon look please.
Answer me someone please- why a 24" iMac needs a display port?
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post #38 of 184
Any chance for a new Time Capsule (one that actually works well?;p or new Cinema Displays for those of us without the new MacBook Pros?
post #39 of 184
Quote:
Originally Posted by macosxp View Post

LED backlighting, improved nvidia graphics, and hopefully one or two other nice surprises and a price drop will make the iMac UNSTOPPABLE!

I agree that a price drop would make it nearly "unstoppable", or at least a very big threat to the rest of the computer world. BUT, I wouldn't get your hopes up. There were tons of rumors that the new entry level Macbook was going to have a price drop, when in fact it actually went up! And don't give me this crap that the plastic Macbook dropped $100...that was not what the consumor had in mind when talking about an "entry level price drop".
post #40 of 184
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jarhead View Post

If the iMac had a DisplayPort connector, you could attach the new Cinema Display for a dual monitor setup.

But really- like what would the number of actual iMac users that would use that as opposed to a fire wire port? Do you think it's widely used?
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