As it has been some years since Apple properly refreshed the iMac, with its sleek yet functional design seemingly standing the test of time. But the iMac 2021 could change that by bringing in a design that’s more in line with the tech of 2021, such as slim bezels and next-gen displays.
Naturally, Apple has been tight-lipped about any plans for the iMac 2021, but that's not stopped rumors from doing the rounds about Cupertino’s all-in-one computer. So here’s everything we know so far about the iMac 2021.
iMac 2021 release date
There’s no release date for the iMac 2021; it’s not even been confirmed yet. But there are murmurs that an Apple event might take place this March, which could spell the reveal of a new iMac. Or it might be showcased via a detailed press release rather than a major event.
Apple has in the past revealed new Mac machines around the summertime, more or less in line with Cupertino’s Worldwide Developer Conference (WWDC). With this in mind and the rumors doing the rounds, we’re inclined to suggest the iMac 2021 will arrive in the first half of the year; the second half is usually reserved for new MacBooks and the next-gen iPhones; presumably the iPhone 13.
iMac 2021 price
Again, there's nothing concrete to base pricing of the iMac 2021 on, but we’d hazard a guess that it’ll track with that of previous iMacs. Apple tends to keep pricing reasonably similar when it comes to moving from one generation of device to another; if you ignore the leap in price between the iPhone 8 and the iPhone X.
As Apple is almost certainly going to use its own in-house chips to power the iMac 2021, it can keep production costs in check as it doesn't need to pay Intel to use Core processors.
Given the 21.5-inch iMac starts at $1,099 and the 27-inch model starts at $1,799, we’d expect the same for the iMac 2021, possibly even a little cheaper at the lower end. But if Apple makes use of things like next-gen PCIe 4.0 SSD storage, then prices could rise pretty steeply as capacity increases.
iMac 2021 display
Of course, prices will depend on the type of display tech the iMac 2021 comes with. At the moment, iMacs use IPS LCD displays with a resolution that can top out a 5K. With True Tone tech and nano-texture glass - the same used on the hugely expensive Pro Display XDR - the iMac 2020’s display is very impressive but also rather expensive and limited to the 27-inch version.
There’s a chance that Apple could bring the full 5K Retina display to the smaller iMac, potentially with some upgrades, such as improved colors and better True Tone - it automatically adjusts the color of a display to match the environment it’s in. Or, going by some rumors, Apple could opt for a mini-LED display on its iMac 2021.
For the uninitiated, mini-LED displays consist of thousands upon thousands of tiny LEDs used to form the backlight of a display panel. This can produce displays that offer better contrast and effectively better color reproduction over normal LCD panels. Given mini-LED displays are hardly prolific, such tech could be prohibitively expensive and possibly kept back for a new iMac Pro, but you never know.
iMac 2021 design
The current iMac design has been with us for pretty much a decade. That’s no bad thing, given the iMac is an example of Apple's stellar industrial design, but it’s looking a little dated now.
The display bezels and large chin on the all-in-one computer certainly age it. As such, there are rumors that suggest it will use a design that’s closer to the look of the Pro Display XDR. Or it could have a more outlandish design with an integrated keyboard, as we've seen with some concepts.
We’d be inclined to put our money on the former prediction. We’ve seen how other all-in-one computers like the Microsoft Surface Studio 2 can integrate hardware into the computer’s stand. So we’d not be surprised to see the iMac 2021 do the same. That could result in a device that looks like the Pro Display XDR only with a thicker stand and back.
What we'd certainly expect to see are slimmer display bezels, especially for the iMac 21.5-inch, which could see its screen space grow to 23 inches without increasing its footprint, thanks to trimmed down bezels.
Given Apple's work on Face ID with its recent iPhones and Touch ID integrated into the iPad Air’s power button, we’d like to see some of that tech come to the iMac 2021. Biometric login, facilitated by the webcam or a power button with Touch ID would help make the iMac 2021 feel a little more seamless or use.
iMac 2021 Apple Silicon
Apple Silicon started out as a mere rumor yet ballooned into one of the biggest successes of last year resulting in a new suite of Mac machines making use of the Apple M1 chip.
The M1 didn't just run a whole suite of macOS apps, as well as third-party apps, it also showed it could outperform some of the best laptop processors from Intel. And that was from Apple's first attempts at a modern in-house designed chipset. Now in 2021, the Apple Silicon initiative is set to go from strength to strength.
And that drive this year is set to be spearheaded by the iMac 2021. Whether it'll sport boosted M1 chip, as seen in the Mac mini M1, or a brand new custom ARM-based chip has yet to be made clear.
A recent leak hinted that the iMac 2021 could come with Cupertino’s first desktop-class Apple Silicon chip, potentially called the A14T. And that chip is tipped to come paired with a custom Apple GPU, which could be integrated into the same chipset as the main processor or kept as a separate graphics accelerator.
Either way, the first Mac machines with the M1 chip have been hugely impressive and have thrown down the gauntlet to Intel when it comes to laptop-grade processors. So it'll be interesting to see if Apple can pull the same trick twice and come up with desktop chips that throw down with Intel's best Core processors.
The M1 chip doesn't support external GPUs, which is arguably a pity for people who fancy a bit of gaming or heavier video rendering work on the latest Mac machines. We’d like to see Apple bring back eGPU support with the iMac 2021, or find a way to deliver some serious pixel-pushing power with its own silicon.
iMac 2021 outlook
Everything we’ve discussed so far is based on rumors, our own speculation, and some wishful thinking. But we’re reasonably sure that the iMac 2021 is on its way.
We’re really hoping it brings with it a new design rather than just a move to Apple Silicon chipsets. There are some seriously impressive computers coming out this year, so we hope Apple really pulls an ace out of its sleeve with the iMac 2021.
If the rumors are anything to go by so far, we could be looking at a very interesting next-generation iMac. Stick with Tom's Guide for more as we hear it.