Unfortunately, Apple’s New Mini-LED iMac Pro Isn’t Coming This Spring

iMac Pro Concept Render 2022 Credit: AppleyPro / Twitter
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If you were hoping to see a larger iMac arrive in the next couple of months, it looks like you may have to wait a little longer. The good news, however, is that it appears what we’ll eventually see will be worth the wait.

Ever since Apple unveiled its colourful new 24-inch M1 iMac last spring, rumours have been swirling about what form its larger sibling would take. They’ve run the gamut from merely a larger version of the current iMac to a high-end “iMac Pro” that could feature a mini-LED screen as large as 32 inches.

Although we may not get all that, however, most of the information we’ve been hearing lately has been pointing to the more promising scenario.

Some reports have also suggested that Apple may have two new larger iMacs in the works, but Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman recently threw some cold water on that idea, with sources saying that Apple is only working on a single version of the larger iMac — and it’s going to be an iMac Pro.

This is somewhat understandable considering the approach that Apple is taking to its Mac lineup:

  • The standard M1 chip has gone into the entry-level Macs: the MacBook Air, the 13-inch MacBook Pro, the most affordable Mac mini, and the 24-inch iMac.
  • Meanwhile, the M1 Pro and M1 Max chips power the newest higher-end 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pro models.

So, it stands to reason that the larger and more expensive 27-inch iMac will also feature an M1 Pro/Max configuration, and once Apple goes there, it might as well go all the way and call it the “iMac Pro.”

It’s a move that will certainly speak to how powerful Apple’s Silicon is. To be fair, the 27-inch iMac has always been a higher-end machine, on par with Apple’s 15/16-inch MacBook Pro. The last major update to the 27-inch iMac in 2020 added a 10th-gen Intel Core i9 CPU with up to 10 cores — the most powerful chip Intel had available at the time — and as we observed back then, this already had it pushing into iMac Pro territory.

The actual iMac Pro, of which there has only ever been one model, released in 2017, was also quietly discontinued nearly a year ago, clearing the stage for Apple to reuse the name for something arguably even more deserving.

At the time, Apple marketed the 2017 iMac Pro as “the most powerful Mac ever,” but it was also largely intended to be a stopgap to tide pro users over until the Mac Pro was ready. Apple had last updated the Mac Pro in 2013, with an unpopular cylindrical design that became cynically referred to as “the trash can.” It took until 2019 before a new Mac Pro came along that returned to the more established modular design.

What’s Coming (and When)?

Although many hoped that we would see a larger iMac make a debut this spring, most of the reports were in agreement that if such a thing were to appear, it wouldn’t be the more powerful iMac Pro we’ve been hearing about.

There remains a non-zero possibility that a larger version of the 24-inch M1 iMac could appear in the coming months, but it’s highly unlikely, both in terms of what we’re hearing and what we’re not hearing.

If such an iMac were in the works, it would already be making its way through Apple’s supply chain, and yet those sources have had nothing to say about this at all.

On the other hand, we’re seeing information that’s putting a firmer timeline on an iMac with a mini-LED display, which will almost certainly be the rumoured “iMac Pro.”

According to display analyst Ross Young, who has a solid track record when it comes to predicting the screens that go into everything from the iPhone to the MacBook, the necessary mini-LED display components simply won’t be ready until at least this summer.

Young also added that even though the iMac Pro will use a mini-LED backlighting system, it may end up with fewer zones than the one used in the iPad Pro and MacBook Pro. If true, that could result in poorer contrast ratios and more blooming of light across zones. That seems like an unusual move for Apple, especially on such a large screen, but it’s also possible that the engineers have some other tricks up their sleeves.

As to specs, the iMac Pro will surely feature at least M1 Pro and M1 Max chip options, although we’ve recently heard that it could gain an even more powerful ‘M1 Ultra’ — a souped-up version of the M1 Max with up to 12 CPU cores.

While Apple’s M1 Max chip already blows the doors off anything else out there in laptop performance, it’s fair to say that people expect more from a desktop iMac, so it makes sense that Apple is looking to raise the bar — and it’s going to have to if it plans to use the iMac Pro name, since it’ll have bigger shoes to fill. The original 2017 iMac Pro featured an 18-core Intel Xeon CPU — the same class of chips used in the Mac Pro.

The M1 Max may be insanely fast and powerful, but it’s still edged out by the higher-end iMac Pro and Mac Pro configurations in multicore performance. We’re pretty confident that’s not going to be good enough for Apple; to earn its name, the new iMac Pro will have to pack in an M1 chip that’s not just faster, but an order of magnitude faster than the Intel version that preceded it.

[The information provided in this article has NOT been confirmed by Apple and may be speculation. Provided details may not be factual. Take all rumors, tech or otherwise, with a grain of salt.]

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