In the Year of iPad, Mac Not Forgotten

This WWDC has two big winners: iPad software and Mac hardware.

Yes, there’s that new 10.5-inch iPad Pro, and yes, we’ll be running macOS High Sierra come this fall, but I think these two categories are the biggest stories to come out of the keynote.

iOS 11 is finally giving iPad users the tools they need to get work done more efficiently and with more power. It all looks amazing, and I cannot wait to try it out.

But I really want to talk about Mac hardware.

Right off the bat, the entire notebook line got a bump. The MacBooks and MacBook Pros are now shipping with Kaby Lake Intel processors, but the latter is still capped at 16 GB of RAM. Everything got updated GPUs, and the entry-model MacBook Pro without Touch Bar now runs $1299.

These moves signal that Apple is committed to the pro notebook, as the updates come just months after releasing these computers. I hope Apple keeps its foot on the gas here, and works to keep things updated more aggressively from here on out.

The MacBook Air also got an update to the “newer processors,” but Apple didn’t even give the dead-man-walking notebook a “New” badge on its website. That’s just cold.

Even colder? The Mac mini was not mentioned or upgraded. It is, however, still for sale.

The iMac line got refreshed as well. Fusion Drives are now standard on all 27-inch configurations and the top-end 21.5-inch iMac. The updated, brighter displays are powered by new GPUs. All the systems — thanks with Kaby Lake processors — are noticeably faster than the ones they replace.

Around back, the four USB A ports remain. The full IO list is now:

  • Headphone
  • SDXC card slot
  • Four USB 3 (Type A)
  • Two Thunderbolt 3
  • Gigabit Ethernet

Then there’s the big story. The iMac Pro. Apple mentioned it was working on “pro configs” of the iMac, and when this think ships at the end of the year, I’d say they would have delivered.

Donned in Space Gray, this iMac is just as thin as its Retina 5K sibling, but is all-new inside:

  • 8, 10, or 18-Core
  • Up to 128 GB EEC RAM
  • Up to 4 TB SSD
  • Radeon Pro Vega 56 GPU
  • Four USB 3 (Type A) ports
  • Four Thunderbolt 3 ports
  • 10Gb Ethernet

Even its periphals are in Space Gray. It looks dope:

A post shared by Ren Caldwell (@settern) on

All of this is made possible by an all-new cooling system that has added those intake slots along the bottom part of the back case. I hope Apple’s learned their Mac Pro-shaped lesson about that sort of thing and that this thermal arrangement will allow for component updates down the road.

(I did notice the lack of a RAM door in Serenity’s photo. I’m hoping that it is there on the finished product, but I think I’m going to be sad.)

Update: Apple says the RAM is not user-replaceable.

Starting at $4,999 when it goes on sale later this year, the iMac Pro is pushing the sometime-after-2017 Mac Pro to the fringe. We don’t know anything about that machine yet, but assuming it has expansion slots, that, multiple processor support and a freedom of display choice may be its biggest selling points.1

  1. The iMac Pro’s price point also says something about the upcoming Mac Pro. Ouch.