We check out Apple's new desktop computers and give the lowdown on the latest MacBooks and next MacOS update.
Apple has announced a new range of iMac computers, including a high-performance iMac Pro – along with beefed up MacBook and MacBook Pro laptops, and an upgrade to its desktop operating system called macOS High Sierra.
The new iMac Pro is billed as “the most powerful Mac ever”, but at a glance it looks like something that would set you back a fraction of its wallet-melting price tag. The setup looks a lot like the 27-inch, 5K iMac – a familiar façade that hides some engineering wizardry to stop its powerful specs from overheating.
A duel centrifugal fan setup cools the iMac Pro’s internals, which encompasses an Intel Xeon processor with either 8, 10 or 18 cores, a Radeon Vega graphics processing unit with up to 16GB of video RAM, and up to 128GB of system RAM. Those are pretty beasty numbers, so here’s hoping the fans do what they’re supposed to do.
We were able to spend a few minutes with the iMac Pro at Apple's annual developer conference, WWDC 2017. That's nowhere near long enough to see how the machine performs under stress. All we could do was stare in wonder at its sinister dark grey body and its 5K monitor, and imagine its internal thermal architecture whizzing around.
We were, however, able to play around a bit longer with the revamped 21.5in and 27in iMacs. These have been given faster processors, faster storage options, brighter Retina displays and Thunderbolt 3. We were shown how the 27-inch model could do a 4K video render using editing suite DaVinci Resolve on the fly, then a similar quick render using Cinema 4D Pro.
Another demo of the F1 2016 game looked gorgeous, thanks in part to Intel’s seventh-generation (Kaby Lake) processor and a display that manages 500 nits of brightness.
As well as film and design work, the new iMac is pitched as a strong machine for virtual reality, which is now more feasible with the new macOS: High Sierra. While the exterior of the machines looks relatively unchanged, this internal capability could mean big things for how Apple positions itself in the developing VR market.
Coupled with the iPad Pro’s nascent interest in augmented reality, could Apple take VR and AR into the mainstream?
The new iMacs are available now. Pricing for the 21.5in model starts at A$1,599 (with Full HD screen and 2.3GHz dual-core Intel Core i5) or from $1,899 with Retina 4K display (and 3GHz quad-core Intel Core i5), and there are options for faster processor, more RAM and SSD storage.
The 27in model starts at $2,699 (with Retina 5K display and 3.4GHz quad-core Intel Core i5), and again there are options for faster processors, more RAM and SSD storage.
The iMac Pro is due for release in the US in December, priced from US$4,999. Most likely it will be more in Australia, but at least there’s time to allow you to save up one.
MacBooks also get processor upgrades
Meanwhile, Apple also announced that all of its MacBook and MacBook Pro laptops are getting Intel’s latest seventh-generation (Kaby Lake) processors. On top of that, the entry-level MacBook Pro (without the Touchbar) now costs the same as the entry-level MacBook.
Even the much-neglected MacBook Air range gets a modest speed boost with a faster Intel processor – though the company barely gave it a mention. Still, it looks like it’s hanging around a little longer as an entry level product, even if Apple has decided not to give it a screen upgrade or any extra ports.
All the new MacBooks are available now. The 12in MacBook starts $1,899 (with 1.2GHz dual-core Intel Core m3 and 256GB SSD), with options for faster processors, and more storage and RAM.
The new 13in MacBook Pro also starts at $1,899 (with 2.3GHz dual-core Core i5 processor and 128GB SSD), or from $2,699 with Touchbar (and 3.1GHz dual-core Core i5 processor and 256GB SSD). The 15in model starts at $3,499 (with Touchbar, 2.8GHz quad-core Core i7 processor and 256GB SSD).
Apple unveils macOS High Sierra
Apple also announced macOS High Sierra, the next big release of the Mac’s operating system that will be available later this year.
As the name suggests, High Sierra is an update which builds on Sierra with features designed around performance and reliability, along with interface tweaks.
High Sierra includes the latest version of Safari, which includes performance enhancements along with auto-play video blocking, and intelligent tracking protection which helps keep your browsing private. Mail includes improvements to search, as well as a new split view for composing mail.
Apple’s Photos app also includes interface enhancements including a new sidebar as well as better filters in search. There are also improvements to the editing capabilities, and – in a feature which will please many users – information you put in about faces is synced across your Apple devices.
Metal, Apple’s low-level graphics application programming interface (API), has been updated to version two. Metal 2 includes support for virtual reality. And finally, Apple is bringing its high-performance, more reliable file system APFS to the Mac.