On the Design of a Theoretical Retina iMac

Since the introduction of the MacBook Pro with Retina display, Apple fans have been longing for another Mac with such a caliber of screen. Desktop fans, unsurprisingly, have wanted Apple’s latest technology to come to the iMac.

When thinking of an iMac with Retina display, lots of factors come to mind — price and availability of panels big enough, mainly. But the way Apple would build such a beast is also worth considering.

Apple took the Retina MacBook Pro as an opportunity to move forward with the internals of the machine, adding on-board RAM and SSD storage. However, the screen itself also changed rather drastically. The Retina display isn’t covered with as thick of glass as non-Retina machines.

Apple uses the glass to keep the display and housing together, and to hide the mounts in the bezel that are used to keep the LCD in place.

(The matte MacBook Pro swaps the glass for an aluminum bezel in front of the display to keep things sandwiched together.)

Currently, the iMac also uses a glass panel to keep things nice and neat, however, unlike the MacBook Pro, where the glass is applied with adhesive, the iMac’s glass panel is held on with magnets. The aluminum frame behind it screws in to the back of the machine. The glass keeps everything looking nice and neat. If Apple moved to thinner, adhesive-stuck glass on the iMac, I don’t see how the current design would continue to work.

The white G5 and Intel iMacs of 2004–2007 didn’t have a sheet of glass, using a white plastic bezel to hide the mount points around the display.

(Before adding the iSight camera, these iMacs opened from the back, as opposed to getting to the internals by removing the display. Would Apple go back to that design? I know lots of technicians who would welcome it.)

As a desktop user at home, I would love to see Apple release a Retina iMac soon. Doing so, however, would more than likely require some significant changes to the iMac as we know it.