Apple Refreshes iMac with M1 Processor, New Design

image credit: Apple

published by Chad Evans
April 26, 2021 at 9:03 p.m.
  • Apple recently announced a new, redesigned 24″ iMac featuring the M1 processor, with a look patterned after the iPhone and iPad.
  • With the M1 processor using less energy and generating less heat, Apple’s newest iMac is much thinner than its predecessor.
  • The new 24″ iMac goes on sale in mid-May, with pre-orders starting on April 30.
  • Equipped with 256 GB of storage space and 8GB of RAM, the base 24″ iMac starts at $1299.

Apple Releases Pretty New 24″ iMacs

Apple’s new iMac instantly grabs attention with immaculate and modern lines. It finally unifies iMac design with that of the iPhone and iPad. The previous iMac looked like a bloated second-generation iPad — elegant yet currently unfashionable. The new model looks like a massive iPad Air. It’s a more contemporary form and a throwback to the iPhone 4.

The iMac is, after all, mostly about fashion. Perhaps some software engineers and hardcore geeks purchase these, in addition to other computers and devices. For the most part, the iMac is a stylish all-in-one for offices and upscale small businesses, typically where computers are visible to the customer. You’d be hard-pressed to find one of these at your local auto parts store, but the iMac fits in well at a PR firm.

The iMac’s tenuous existence is partly due to the fact that few take it seriously. The entire Mac lineup accounts for a small fraction of worldwide computer use. Apple’s desktop offerings are an even smaller segment of this cohort. MacBooks are Apple’s most successful Macs, and they don’t dominate the market. They’re not even close.

As more users rely solely on smartphones and tablets, macOS market share struggles to grow. The rise of mobile computing affects Microsoft dramatically, as Android is now the world’s most popular operating system. Nonetheless, in terms of laptop and desktop computers, there are almost five times as many Windows users as macOS. Most iPhone owners possess Windows PCs. Apple’s new iMac is pretty, but it’s unlikely to convert Windows users or the computerless.

Mid 2021 24″ iMac Specifications

Apple’s newest iMac comes equipped with its latest M1 processor. Developed in house, it signals the end of Apple’s relationship with Intel. The new chip, similar to Apple’s A-series processors used in the iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and Apple TV, boasts surprisingly low power consumption with blazing fast single-core speed.

Many of Apple’s M1 claims bear scrutiny from Intel and tech analysts as being oversold. For example, Apple claims the M1 MacBook Air is three times faster than the best-selling Windows laptop in its class. The assertion is misleading because the most popular Windows machines are inexpensive with unimpressive specs.

There are dozens of Windows laptops that mop the floor with the MacBook Air. Furthermore, what constitutes speed? The M1 processor excels at single-core tasks, but the latest Intel processors offer better multi-core scores. AMD also provides wickedly fast processors.

Power efficiency is the M1’s most significant advantage, which isn’t essential for a desktop computer. The M1 chip is a mobile processor. Apple added it to the iMac because it’s less expensive than designing two processors for the Mac — one for notebooks and a beefier one for desktops, perhaps an M1X.

The M1 also integrates every other Apple chip into one. Apple’s new processor is an omnibus of sorts, containing the CPU, T2 security chip, Neural Engine, and other system-on-chip components. This, coupled with lower power consumption, allows for a smaller case and fewer, less powerful fans. The M1 chip benefits the iMac by allowing a slimmer design. Other than that, it’s a mobile processor repurposed for a desktop computer to contain costs.

The new 24″ iMac boasts a 4.5K display and comes in multiple colors. Apple managed to enable secure, wireless Touch ID on the Magic Keyboard; however, this is only available on more expensive models.

All of the new iMacs boast solid-state drives. Gone are the days of the horribly unreliable Fusion Drive. Apple just recently discontinued sales of its last Fusion Drive iMac — the 21.5″ model. The Fusion Drive, plagued with problems, affected several Mac owners, including myself and Appledystopia’s editor-in-chief.

One Size Fits All, Only One iMac Model Now

Don’t let the rainbow of colors fool you. There’s only one iMac now, and it’s for a good reason. The last generation of iMac offered two models — a 21.5″ and 27″ model. To save costs, Apple stuck with one size, helping them realize economies of scale.

Beyond the single size, these new all-in-one machines only offer one choice in processor. Beyond a few customization options, even the iPad has more variation in its product line.

Simplicity is a smart move for Apple. Its designing chips for its devices and streamlining the iMac into just one model. Unfortunately, it signals the Mac’s loss of stature in the company. Once Apple’s darling, it’s now a product that’s rarely refreshed, only to take on years old characteristics of its siblings.

All the while, Apple and its devotees applaud the new iMac as innovative. It is a radical departure from previous models, under the hood. It’s still an iMac — a computer suited for a limited audience, mostly Apple fans. It’s a creative way to become more profitable, but they’re selling a mobile experience to desktop customers. There are other disadvantages to owning a brand-new iMac that’s undergone such radical changes.

M1 Macs Can’t Run Windows 10

If you’re one of the few who use BootCamp to run Windows 10 on your Mac, the new iMac is a disappointment. macOS for the M1 chip doesn’t support BootCamp. At the time of this writing, there’s no consumer-oriented version of Windows capable of running on the M1 chip.

When the Mac used Intel processors, accommodating Windows was a matter of creating drivers for all of Apple’s internal hardware. After all, Windows already runs on Intel processors. Windows compatibility was a primary reason why Apple switched to Intel processors in the first place.

Although the Mac still suffers from insignificant market share, iOS is quite popular. Although it’s less popular than Android, by far, with its lucrative customer base, developers are willing to cater to iOS. macOS already supports iOS apps, and this support will continue to mature. Eventually, the iMac will not only look like an oversized iPad Air — it will essentially become one.

Running Windows on an iMac may not be a necessity. There are so many macOS apps now, and with the inclusion of iOS apps, there’s no shortage of software titles for the Mac. Still, if running Windows apps is necessary, you may want to skip this new iMac until you can run BootCamp or a suitable virtualized Windows 10 environment on macOS.

Beware of Declining Apple Quality

Apple is known for creating top-quality products; however, declining quality plagues the Cupertino tech giant in recent years. From bent iPads to butterfly keyboard mechanisms rendered useless by a crumb, Apple products have seen better days.

The fact that Apple completely redesigned the iMac is cause for concern. For example, the new 24″ iMac features novel ventilation and fans. What if the “improved” fans suffer from some manufacturing defect?

Those unlucky enough to purchase Apple’s discontinued AirPort Extreme WiFi router found out the hard way that the company can’t even design a fan properly. The routers’ spinning air-circulators started to fail as they lacked adequate lubrication. Countless AirPort Extreme customers suffered from constant Internet connectivity drop-outs as their units overheated due to broken fans.

Don’t assume that the new iMac will be perfect. Let the Apple fans line up for it and test it. One of the reasons why Macs enjoy such high customer satisfaction is that Apple fanboys buy them. Anything Apple produces is perfect in their minds. Using both Macs and Windows PCs, I can honestly admit, I’ve had less trouble with the latter. I’ve had $300 Windows laptops that have lasted for over a decade and $2600 MacBooks plagued with problems from the get-go.

Unless you’re a die-hard Apple fanatic, you may want to skip this one. There’s just too much change, and the M1 processor has yet to prove itself. There are some things to be excited about with the M1 processor. Most notably, it’s remarkably power-efficient. Unfortunately, this does little for an all-in-one computer, other than shrink its size immensely and your power bill imperceptibly.

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