Large iMacs Gone Forever?

Does today’s announcement mean that the large 27" or equivalent iMacs are now gone forever?

Apple said that the only thing left to update was the Mac Pro, and the 27" Intel iMacs are gone from the online Apple Store.

If so this is a real kick in the teeth – the minimum price for Studio computer + display is going to be $3600, which used to get you a very nicely equipped large-screen iMac.

Dave

[Note: I just looked at apple.com to check what the 27" iMac configs go for now…they are gone. IIRC they started at $2k?]

I wondered the same thing when I heard that…really interesting comment to make right at the end. As a long-time 27" iMac user, I hope not, but I can see why Apple might make that decision with what they announced today, and answering some of the points brought up in Adam’s recent article/discussion on here.

Screen
The 27" iMac has an amazing screen, but as mentioned it can no longer be used as an external display (iirc target display mode was only available for a few years in the teens). The screen, for me, was one of the main value drivers of the iMac, there were no comparable external displays anywhere close to quality that weren’t very high end, and that’s without a computer build it.

Studio Display is a beautiful looking monitor, with the high end camera from the iPad that people clamored for in a desktop. But it costs more than a consumer level Mac, so at least it’s named correctly for the target market.

I spent $1k on a Dell 2405FPW 24" monitor that was large and high-ish end in the day, probably mid 2000s. It was my second monitor until a year or two, and I still use it with a mac mini in my workshop for CNC control and videos/music. Point being a good quality monitor can easily outlast a computer by a long time.

Desktop Mac
The presentation made a clear point about the Studio Display being perfect with a mini, laptop, or the Mac Studio. So you could make the case that Apple is solving a lot of the complaints in Adam’s article about not meeting the non-creative professional by adopting a mix-and-match approach.

You choose the level of processing power you want (ex: mini vs studio) and then display quality/price point you want. It avoids the problems of a obsolete mac with a useful display inside it. They also now offer an adjustable display option, or vesa mount, another pain point mentioned.

It’s definitely a change, but if you wanted a basic setup, $1600 + $700 for a Mac mini isn’t much more than an iMac was. Or upgrade your processing power in a few years to a laptop or studio, and you still have an amazing monitor. Less waste, better customization? A little less one size fits most approach than Apple’s had the last decade.

Edit: $400 for the tilting stand is outrageous though!

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And I doubt that they would set the pricing at that if they were going to come out with a $2300 27 inch iMac that came close on processing power.

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That Mac Studio “minimum” config gives you a 10 core processor, 24 core GPU, 16 core neural engine, 32GB of memory, 512GB of integrated SSD, 6x TB 4 ports, 2 USB-A ports.

The 2017 iMac Pro started at $4999 and had an 8 core Xeon CPU, 32GB of memory, Radeon Pro Vega 56 graphics with 8GB of VRAM, 4 USB3, 1 TB SSD, according to AllMac.com.

The last 2020 iMac Pro 27" Core i7 starting at $2599 had a 8-core Core I7 CPU, 8GB memory, a 512GB SSD, a Radeon 5700/XT with 8GB VRAM, 4x USB3.

Not including the monitor specs, I think the the Mac Studio would be a more than competent replacement for both of these. If it’s anything like my M1 Mini, you’d be more than satisfied. And you get ports on the front (no more reaching behind that monitor to access SD card, USB or TB ports).

All of this being said, from what we know about Apple, never say never. Although one can question whether they really need a 27" Apple Silicon iMac after this announcement.

The base stand also tilts. The premium stand also has about 4 inches of height adjustment. Note the lowest height of the premium stand matches the basic stand; so if your problem is that the iMac is too high, you’re out of luck.

One of my questions is whether the Mac Studio supports Touch ID. For that matter, do the Apple Silicon Mac Minis support Touch ID?

There appear to be new versions of the Magic Keyboard (the ones mentioned in the event, there are both white and black versions) in the Apple Store which specifically call out having Touch ID and compatibility with the Mac Studio.

They also appear to support any Apple Silicon Mac, including the Mini. There’a also a smaller Magic Keyboard sans keypad with Touch ID that is also compatible with Apple Silicon Macs. But that one does not list compatibility with the Studio - don’t know if that’s intentional or that they feel that the Studio machine should have a keypad.

The base model 27 inch iMac cost roughly $2300. That’s the one you should be comparing to the base model Studio.

According to the product page for the Touch ID keyboard, yes to both Mini and Studio.

IIRC the base 27" was $1799. But IMHO in terms of specs/performance, the Studio needs to be compared to the iMac Pro. That said, IMHO there’s no denying there will be a hole in the line-up as long as we don’t see a Pro/Max Mac mini with more ports (essentially the $899 Intel model with M1 Pro). If we’d get that I don’t see an issue with dropping the 27" iMac.

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Actually, what I realized thanks to the folks on this thread is that the real equivalent of my beloved 27" iMac from 2010 is going to be the combination of last year’s M1 Mini along with today’s Studio Display. I paid around $2800 for my maxed-out iMac. The M1 Mini with 16GB and a 2TB HDD would be $1700, and the new screen would be $1600, which isn’t that much of an increase for a lot more powerful setup. (I’d still likely need to add on a SuperDrive, a TB4 dock, and something that reads SD cards, but that’s not going to break me.) And if technology improves to the point where I want to replace the Mini in 4-5 years, that’s a LOT cheaper than if I were to get locked in to an all-in-one solution.

Dave

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Fair enough. I was thinking about an updated 27 with reasonable specs, which would likely come in around 2500.

The base Studio comes with an M1 Max, which would likely be in the iMac I’m thinking of. The M1 Ultra is comparable to the iMac Pro in positioning terms.

It took me a minute as well to realize that it’s more comparable that I thought. If a higher end mac Mini with a M1 Pro was introduced, that would probably be what I’d choose, but for right now I’m still leaning towards a 14" MBP that I’ve been contemplating for a while (no Apple Silicon machine yet).

Another thing that helped me was checking on the 32" Dell UltraSharp U3219Q I bought in 2019 for $640. It’s now $890!

I don’t think the 27” iMac was a good fit. The iMac format is a consumer design. The M1 24” iMac is a wonderful consumer machine.

The 27” iMac just didn’t fit a consumer scenario. It was obvious that this was for professional development, but at the same time, it wasn’t flexible configuration for professionals. You couldn’t even adjust the height of the monitor.

The Mac Studio is a much more flexible in configuration and is more tuned for professionals. Meanwhile, the M1 iMac is a true and wonderful consumer machine. I wouldn’t be surprised if the 27” iMac goes the way of the iMac Pro.

Truthfully, looking at the performance of the iMac Studio, I’m not sure what to expect about the Mac Pro. This machine can runs circles around it.

Maybe there will be another all-in-one iMac.

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This was exactly our case. I was using a MBA with TB Display while my wife had a 27” iMac. We gave the 27” to our son and got two M1 iMacs. Haven’t missed the lost screen real estate.

If I was still working and had my choice I would go with 2 of the new displays. One in landscape and one in portrait. Portrait mode is great for code since you can get a lot more lines on the screen.

I sure hope not. I love my 27 inch iMac. It is a consumer product and I don’t need the pro versions. It’s a great computer for normal consumers.

A Mac mini + Studio Display will be in a similar region cost-wise and is essentially the same (performance and display-wise) as what you’d get with a 27" iMac.

Stepping back, though, I think Apple’s comment about the Mac Pro being the only model left to update to Apple Silicon is because they have already transitioned the iMac. The 27" is just an iMac variant, not a different machine, so nothing stopping them adding a larger screen size to the iMac line at some point. Just like they will vary the ports and options of the iMac and Mac mini over time: the lines have been transitioned, but the specific specs and number of variants are not set in stone.

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A Mac mini is limited to 16 GB RAM, which differentiates it quite a bit from the 27" iMac.

(And pricing out a mini at 16/512 plus display gets me to $2700, which I guess is a ‘similar region’ but still nearly 20% more)

Maybe, but they told Ars Technica that the 27" was EOL, which suggests they did see it as distinct from the 24".

I’d be tempted to say that in that case there’s still the consumer 24" iMac. And to that perhaps you would reply that a 24" screen sucks compared to 27" 5K even for non-pro use. With which I’d tend to agree. And then I think we’d be discussing exactly what @ace was getting at recently.

I don’t think that’s quite right. If you previously got a 27" iMac for ~$2k, that leaves only $400 after you get a Studio Display.

But the cheapest mini is $599 and that’s M1 8/256 so not necessarily the type of config I guess most 27" prosumers got used to.

It’s funny, these discussions are just highlighting once again that the 27" iMac was really quite decent value.