Last updated: 2 weeks ago
The iMac has utilized the same external design language since its move to aluminum in 2007, but that all may change at WWDC 2020. It is rumored that Apple will introduce an all-new 23-inch iMac with a design similar to the iPad Pro or the Pro Display XDR.
● iPad Pro like design language
● New internal component layout
● All models will have SSD, no more HDD or Fusion drives
● 23-inch Display
● Concept from @appledsign on Instagram
The external design of the iMac has not changed much in 13 years, with minor alterations to screen size or aspect ratio being the most noticeable alterations. The 2020 iMac is rumored to break that cycle and offer an all-new design paradigm similar to other modern Apple devices.
Not much is known about this potential all-in-one desktop, but the updates it may receive can be inferred from other product rumors and recent releases.
2020 iMac Rumored Features
The redesign will not be the only news surrounding a refreshed iMac, as other technologies could debut in the machine. It is expected that Apple will finally ditch spinning disk drives altogether, and maybe introduce a new LED technology.
Signs point to an ARM Mac coming within the next year, and it is anticipated that Apple will announce its efforts to transition to ARM at WWDC. Don't expect the rumored iMac to have ARM, however, because developers will need time to make apps for the new platform before Apple releases actual hardware.
Ming-Chi Kuo suggests that the newly designed 24-inch iMac will have an ARM chip and be released sometime in 2021.
The iMac is an all-in-one desktop PC with all of its computing components tucked away behind the screen. This means that Apple has had to work with an increasingly high thermal load in the same hump-back casing. As Intel chips improve, their cooling needs grow too, and the same goes for discrete graphics.
The iMac Pro changed the internals entirely to allow better airflow and quieter fans, but the thermal limitations still exist. The redesign is expected to take on elements of the iPad Pro or the Pro Display XDR, both of which reflect Apple's modern design philosophy.
The iPad Pro saw a major redesign in 2018 that removed the home button and chin in favor of a near bezel-less display, Face ID, and flat sides. If the iMac does shift to a similar design, it will mean pushing the 21.5-inch display out to 23-inches by removing the large bezels and chin.
A Twitter user with the handle "iFinder" posted the icons found in leaked iOS 14 code which indicate some change to the iMac form factor. The bezels indicated by the icon do seem more uniform, but not as thin as rumors suggest.
The Pro Display XDR has a design similar to the Mac Pro tower, with an all-screen display, "cheese grater" holes in the back, and a stand that can pivot and rotate the display. The controversial stand is $999 and fits in with a sleek aluminum design.
The 2020 iMac with similar design aesthetics could make for a good looking machine, but still faces the same issues with cooling. The iPad Pro doesn't have the same cooling needs since it is using ARM at a much lower power threshold. The Pro Display XDR also has natural cooling, since the computational power comes from the Mac Pro.
Apple will need to confront these design constraints if they want to build a more modern all-in-one computer. Microsoft has taken a unique approach by placing all of the processing "brains" in an external enclosure that acts as the stand for the display. Almost like a Mac Mini with a gigantic display hovering above it.
Like with the previous major iMac refresh, it is likely only one model will be updated this year, and the other updated at a later time. Rumors point to a 23-inch display, meaning the smaller iMac 4K will get the redesign first. A recent legal filing for a single Mac also suggests that only one model will be updated.
There is little reason for the resolution to change for the larger display, as 4K at 23 inches will maintain the Retina pixel density. Technologies used for improved color accuracy found in the Pro Display XDR could be used in the 2020 iMac, however.
Reports from Ming-Chi Kuo suggest a move to Mini LED across the Mac line, which will allow better contrast and color recreation similar to OLED.
The most obvious update for refreshed iMacs is upgrading to the 10th-generation Intel processors. Combine that with a new AMD Navi GPU as rumored, and Apple will have a very capable desktop offering.
The recently released Comet Lake series used in the 13-inch MacBook Pro are likely to be used again. Due to the Intel Iris Plus Graphics, they feature 80% more graphics performance over the previous year.
The AMD Radeon Navi 2X cards were announced in March 2020 and could bring powerful new graphics operations to the Mac. It is unknown if the chips are ready yet, but once released, they will improve everything from gaming to rendering on the iMac.
One rumor places the first-generation Navi graphics in the 2020 iMac, which is far more likely than the announced second-generation.
The same rumor also says that Fusion Drives will be abandoned in this model. Apple has moved to SSD only configurations in every other computer they sell, with the iMac being the last holdout. An SSD will improve speeds across nearly every process on the machine as loading apps and documents from storage will be much more responsive.
The iMac Pro changed the connectors from USB-A to USB-C with Thunderbolt 3 support. The 2020 iMac will likely have a similar port arrangement. The latest Intel chips with Thunderbolt 3 support also means the Pro Display XDR will be compatible with the updated iMac.
The latest in Ethernet should be here as well, with a 10GB Ethernet port. It is included as a separate option on the Mac mini for an additional $100, and could be implemented similarly here.
2020 iMac Price
The 4K iMac has acted as a good entry point for first time Mac buyers. For just $1,299 you got a decent processor, 1TB HDD, and discrete Radeon Pro graphics.
The 2020 iMac will likely have the same starting price despite the redesign. Expect the specifications to only meet the need of a casual user, however.