Wish list: Nine features we want to see in an iMac refresh at WWDC 2018
At last years' WWDC in June, Apple refreshed its iMac line, and the same thing could happen again during this year's annual conference. With less than two weeks left until the big day, here's our wishlist of things we want to see in any 2018 iMacs that may make an appearance.
WWDC, running from June 4 until June 9, is usually associated with future major updates for operating systems like iOS and macOS, but Apple does announce updates to some of its hardware during the keynote address. This usually takes the form of announcing specification refreshes for Mac product families, and in some cases entirely new hardware designs.
If the iMac range receives some attention, here is a list of changes we hope Apple will have considered making to the lineup.
Intel 8700K Coffee Lake CPU
This processor will, for the first time, bring 6 cores and 12 threads to the standard iMac, potentially increasing CPU performance by over 30% and bringing the 5K iMac closer to the iMac Pro.
In our comparison to the 8-core iMac Pro, the quad-core i7-6700K model kept up quite well, but struggled when we started to edit raw video. In theory, this update could really help when working with minimally-compressed video codecs, as well as speeding up photo editing.
Ultimately, this change might not happen, as the resulting performance could be too close to the entry-level iMac Pro, making the higher-priced option less attractive when a cheaper alternative is available.
AMD Ryzen Processors
Apple fans who are tech enthusiasts have been wishing for Apple to support AMD's new architecture, which finally brings 8-core processors that can compete with Intel.
With the arrival of AMD's 2700X 4.3GHz 8-core CPU, this could be a good time for Apple to make the move over to AMD's Ryzen collection. Not only do these processors pack more cores for less money than Intel's counterparts, they also finally keep up in single-core performance when compared to previous-generation chips.
Since Apple is clearly sticking with AMD graphics, it would make sense for it to branch out to AMD processors as well.
There are many people in the hackintosh community running Ryzen CPU's on the latest MacOS, so it's definitely not an architectural limitation. The biggest hurdle would be including Thunderbolt 3 in an AMD-based iMac, as it isn't natively supported by AMD's chip line.
This, along with an 8-core $2,700 iMac getting close to matching the performance of a base iMac Pro, makes it extremely unlikely that we'll see an AMD processor in an iMac, but we can still dream.
Dual CPU Coolers
Thermal throttling can be an issue in iMacs, especially since it is an all-in-one design that packs a lot into a relatively confined space. Most of the iMacs will even run slower than the lowest rated clock speeds when under heavy loads, like when rendering video, and that includes having the fans running at full blast.
Apple did revamp the cooling system on the iMac Pro to accommodate much more power, but even with that improvement, there's still some throttling taking place under a full load.
We hope Apple reuses that dual-fan cooler design in the 2018 iMac, and hopefully with less power-demanding consumer processors's like the 8700K or Ryzen 2700X.
If this plays out, we may finally have an iMac that can run at its rated speeds without throttling.
After using it on the iPhone X, I want to see Face ID added to every Apple device I own. The convenience of unlocking a device with a glance, and not having to enter a password or scan a fingerprint, is truly freeing.
The Dell XPS notebook we recently pitted against our Macbook Pro included a feature called Windows Hello, a facial recognition technology that proved to be a worth competitor to Face ID, if not as advanced. As soon as I opened up the Dell XPS, I'm instantly greeted with my desktop, which is a sweet experience we think should be in all next-generation Apple Macs, including the iMac.
Along with effortless login, the ability to use the Keychain for password control and logins like the iPhone X would make web authentication easy and more secure.
Don't remove the user-accessible RAM slot on the 27-inch iMac
The 27-inch iMac is the only current-generation Apple computer to include a RAM door, and it needs to stay.
Currently, adding your own RAM isn't worth doing because of high memory prices, but we used to be able to save up to $600 by installing our own RAM.
This process doesn't void your warranty, and it can take only a few minutes to upgrade.
The iMac Pro doesn't have the door, which is likely due to the improved cooling system mentioned earlier, but it's also got full length DDR4 ECC RAM sticks, something that isn't needed in the regular iMac.
16GB of RAM for 27-inch Base Models
Every single base 2017 iMac configuration currently gets the same 8GB of RAM, of course with the option to upgrade to a higher amount. It would be nice if at least the next batch of 27-inch iMacs were equipped with 16GB of RAM by default.
It sucks to pay $2,300 for a top-of-the-line 5K iMac model, but to still receive the same amount of RAM as the $1100 base iMac.
Luckily, we still have user-accessible RAM, but the inclusion of extra RAM from the start would be nice.
Upgraded FaceTime Camera and Microphone
The 2017 iMac uses the same HD FaceTime camera that has been used on Macs for years. The iMac Pro, the premium desktop, uses an upgraded 1080p-resolution camera.
The quality difference between the cameras is pretty huge, as shown in our 5K iMac vs iMac Pro FaceTime video comparison. Not only is the quality better, but the iMac Pro did a better job at displaying the correct white balance.
On top of that, the microphone quality is better as well, due to it being equipped with four microphones instead of the 2017 iMac's solitary mic.
There you have it, that's our wishlist for the 2018 iMac. Apple has just confirmed that the WWDC 2018 keynote will take place on June 4th at 10 a.m. and with any luck, we'll see some of these things there.
AppleInsider will be at the keynote, and will provide full coverage of any product announcements made throughout the event.