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32-inch iMac Pro: What you need to know about the rumors

Tuesday March 14, 2023. 12:16 PM , from Mac Central

Prior to March 2022 Apple sold two sizes of its iMac desktop computer. The smaller-screened model was more suited to home users due to its less powerful processor, while the larger 27-inch model, with more speed, higher-end features and high-res display, was meant to be powerful enough for more demanding users.

When Apple introduced the 24-inch iMac in 2021 with a colorful redesign and M1 chip, it was the beginning of the end for the high-end version. First Apple discontinued the iMac Pro, and a year later introduced the Mac Studio with the 27-inch Studio Display in March 2022 and discontinued the 27-inch iMac at the same time.

But the story doesn’t end there. Ever since it was retired, there have been rumors that Apple has plans to introduce a new version of the iMac Pro that would also mark the return of the 27-inch iMac–although it could have an even bigger screen, perhaps 32-inches! In this article, we’ll evaluate the reports that suggest that Apple could revive the old brand with a brand-new iMac Pro. Read on to find out when it could launch and what features it might offer.

Is there even a need for a new iMac Pro now the Mac Studio has arrived? We think there will always be room for a pro desktop with a large screen built in. See: How the iMac Pro could come out of retirement to dominate the desktop.

With Apple having updated the iMac at an event on October 30, could we soon see it revive the larger iMac? Now that Apple has introduced the M3, M3 Pro and M3 Max chips, it’s feasible we could see a new iMac Pro with a M3 Pro chip, although Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman doesn’t expect this iMac until 2024 or 2025.

Is a new iMac Pro 27-inch (or 32-inch) coming out?

The rumors that Apple would revive the iMac Pro have been circulating for years. Back in October 2021, in a tweet that is no longer online, retired Apple leaker Dylan made predictions about an iMac Pro. Clearly, Dylan was incorrect about the timing of his prediction, but even if we discount him, others have also claimed that Apple is working on a new iMac Pro.

Analyst Ming-Chi Kuo made predictions about a new iMac Pro back in March 2022. Suggesting that Apple would ship an iMac Pro in 2023. However, that prediction came just before Apple introduced the Mac Studio and removed the 27-inch iMac from the lineup.

[Updated]2023: Mac Pro, iMac Pro and Mac mini— 郭明錤 (Ming-Chi Kuo) (@mingchikuo) March 11, 2022

Kuo had been quiet about the new iMac, until October 18, 2023, when he tweeted that a 32-inch iMac could arrive in 2025.

New iMac prediction update:1. 24-inch iMac refresh in 2024.2. Higher-end 32-inch mini LED display iMac in 2025.— 郭明錤 (Ming-Chi Kuo) (@mingchikuo) October 17, 2023

It’s not only Kuo who sees a larger iMac in Apple’s future. Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman wrote in April 2022 (after the launch of the Mac Studio): “For those asking, I still think an iMac Pro is coming. It just won’t be anytime soon.”

In June 2023 Gurman mentioned the larger iMac again in a weekend newsletter. He claimed that Apple “is also conducting early work on an iMac with a screen over 30 inches.”

Then towards the end of October 2023, Gurman wrote that the larger iMac, although “tabled” a while back “due to cost concerns”, was never “canceled”. “This larger model is still poised to follow the 24-inch one, coming in either late 2024 or 2025,” he wrote in his October 22 newsletter.

There is evidence that development was even at prototype stage before being put on hold: In July 2022 a report on Macrumors, based on information shared by a source to a forum member—so we can’t vouch for its accuracy—suggested that “Apple prototyped at least three larger iMac models with Apple silicon chips” in 2021.

If these reports are true Apple has been working on a replacement for the 27-inch iMac (and iMac Pro) for some time, and yet nothing has materialized. It seems that there are difficulties that are leading to delays. In December 2022, Gurman indicated that the iMac Pro had been delayed, citing (as with the new Mac Pro) high development costs and difficulties engineering chips as the cause of the delay. In his first newsletter of 2023, Gurman also wrote that the iMac Pro “has been on and off Apple’s road map”, and that “I would be surprised at this point if it arrives in 2023”.

iMac Pro: Release date

2024 or 2025, according to Mark Gurman, Bloomberg.

When Gurman referred to the big iMac in July he claimed that the 32-inch iMac has entered the early testing phase of development and could launch in late 2024 at the absolute earliest, although we could be waiting until 2025. In his October 22 newsletter Gurman reiterated this, writing: “This larger model is still poised to follow the 24-inch one, coming in either late 2024 or 2025.”

Kuo’s October 2023 tweet also indicated that we might have to wait until 2025.

Before this new iMac with a larger screen appears Apple is expected to launch an M3-powered iMac, perhaps in late 2023 or early 2024.

If the new 27-inch iMac (or larger) arrives in 2025 that will be three years after the equivalent model was discontinued. That’s a long hiatus.

iMac Pro 27/32-inch: Design and colors

In a July 31, 2021 newsletter, Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman suggested that the new iMac Pro will have “a similar design to the current M1 iMac.”

It makes sense that the iMac Pro will borrow some of its design inspiration from the 24-inch iMac. Apple offers the 24-inch iMac in several color choices, but there haven’t been reports on what color choices Apple will use for the iMac Pro. To create a differentiation between the consumer and pro levels, Apple may decide on different color choices as with the iPhone Pro, or stick with the traditional silver like that on the 27-inch iMac or Space Gray as on the discontinued iMac Pro.

Another difference we could see on the larger iMac is dark bezels rather than a white border around the screen. There may also be a notch as there is with the 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pro. This could allow Apple to extend the height of the screen as it has with these models. We’d also like to see the iMac Pro lose some of its “chin.” Based on teardowns of the iMac and the Studio Display, and the low power and heat requirements of Apple silicon, a chinless iMac Pro could be possible.

The next large iMac Pro will probably look nothing like the current 27-inch model (right) and more like the 24-inch iMac (left).Apple

iMac Pro 27/32-inch: Display size

Display analyst Ross Young and others had stated that the iMac Pro will have a 27-inch display, the same as the predecessor, which we have to admit to being disappointed by. However, in June 2023 Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman indicated that he had information suggesting that Apple is developing an iMac with a screen larger than 30-inches. He then elaborated further a few weeks later suggesting that a giant 32-inch iMac is reportedly in testing. In October 2023 he reiterated that the new iMac Pro “will have a 32-inch display, making it the biggest iMac in Apple’s history.” Currently, the 32-inch Pro Display XDR is Apple’s largest display.

Kuo agrees that this new larger iMac could have a 32-inch display, as per his October tweet. Neither Kuo or Gurman expands on the screen specs, but it will presumably have ProMotion and XDR (Extreme Dynamic Range).

A larger display would certainly make the iMac Pro more attractive to potential buyers. Next to the 24-inch iMac, with its 4.5K display (4,480 x 2,520 pixels), the 27-inch iMac only looks slightly more impressive with its 5K display (5,120 x 2,880 pixels). But it’s not only the 24-inch iMac that the iMac Pro will be compared to. The 27-inch screen also doesn’t compare particularly favorably with many modern displays that are larger than 30-inch (including the 32-inch, 6K Apple Pro Display XDR). We would like to see a 32-inch display on the new iMac Pro.

Gurman has previously predicted that the 27-inch iMac could see its display size increase by a similar amount to the 24-inch iMac: “I absolutely still believe that a larger, redesigned iMac to replace the Intel 27-inch models is en route. Apple increasing the screen size of the smaller model from 21.5 inches to 24 inches seems to indicate that the 27-inch model could see a size increase as well,” he wrote in July 2021.

A larger display could be possible without increasing the size of the iMac significantly. The 27-inch iMac measured 25.6-inches wide, 20.3-inches tall, and 8-inches deep, and Apple’s new design helps make the 24-inch iMac smaller than even the 21.5-inch iMac it replaced (21.5-inches x 18.1-inches x 5.8-inches vs. 20.8-inches x 17.7-inches x 6.9-inches). Apple could also incorporate a notch into the top of the screen to accommodate the FaceTime camera, thereby reducing the size of the bezel at the top of the screen.

The new iMac Pro wouldn’t actually need to be as big as the Pro Display XDR to offer a 6K display. A 30-inch display with smaller bezels could still accommodate the 6,016 x 3,384 pixels for Retina 6K resolution and a 6K iMac.

It is possible that the screen of the iMac may be more comparable to the quality of the current 27-inch Studio Display, which lacks ProMotion and HDR, but these are both features that would be beneficial to an iMac Pro user. Apple has added those features to its other Pro devices–iPhone, iPad, MacBook, we’d like to see them here too.

To get an idea of what we could expect with the display in the larger iMac if Apple takes it beyond the Studio Display we can look at how it compares to Apple’s Pro Display XDR.

Pro Display XDR: 6K Retina display (6,016-by-3,384 resolution), 1,000 nits (XDR) or 500 nits (SDR) brightness, wide color (P3), True Tone

Studio Display: 5K Retina display (5,120-by-2,880 resolution), 600 nits, wide color (P3), True Tone

The upcoming larger iMac is likely to have smaller bezels than the 27-inch iMac and iMac Pro, which could help the display reach a higher pixel density without having to make the display much bigger. A rumor by Ross Young in October 2021 and a follow-up report in December 2021 claimed that Apple will bring a Liquid Retina XDR display with “around 1,000 zones and over 4,000 mini-LEDs” to the iMac. That would be fewer than the 10,000 mini-LEDs in the iPad and the 8,000 mini-LEDs in the MacBook Pro, though it would likely be visually indistinguishable due to the size and viewing distance.

The 27-inch iMac has a nano-texture glass option (right) that does a better job of resisting glare and reflections.IDG

The 27-inch iMac used to ship with standard glass on the front of the display, but (for $300) Apple offered a nano-texture glass that provided a matte-like finish and did a good job of cutting down glare. Apple will probably continue to offer this with the new iMac Pro. As you can see above, it dramatically cuts down on the gloss and glare.

iMac Pro: CPU and GPU

Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman reported back in January 2022 that the iMac Pro would have “similar chips to the M1 Pro and M1 Max processors inside of the MacBook Pro.” That rumor came before the launch of the Mac Studio, which did ship with M1 Pro and M1 Max chips, so it seems likely that Gurman’s source was referring to that machine.

With the M3, M3 Pro and M3 Max already on the market, we can get some idea of what to expect from a larger iMac. It’s likely to feature the M3 Pro – or, if it doesn’t launch until 2025, an M4 Pro.

The M3 Pro offers an 11- or 12-core CPU and 14- or 18-core GPU.

In comparison, the standard M2 Pro offered 10-core CPU, 16-core GPU.

Will this iMac only offer the M3 Pro, or will it offer the M3 Max too? It’s unclear but the expectation is that Apple will differentiate the Mac Studio and Mac Pro from the iMac Pro by offering just the M3 Pro with that model, as it does with the Mac mini.

The M3 Max offers a 14- or 16-core CPU and 30- or 40-core GPU.

iMac Pro: RAM

The M3 Pro can support up to 36GB Unified Memory (up from 32GB) while the M3 Max can support up to up to 128GB Unified Memory. The 27-inch iMac did support up to 128GB RAM, so that’s one reason why the new iMac Pro may support the M3 Max.

The M3 Pro comes standard with 18GB Unified Memory, the M3 Max comes with 36GB Unified Memory as standard (previously 32GB). Other configurations include 48GB, 64GB, 96GB and 128GB.

One limitation of Apple’s RAM is that it will not be user upgradable. The 27-inch iMac had RAM slots that were user-accessible. With Apple silicon RAM – properly called Unified Memory – is built into the SoC, so it is not user upgradable.

iMac Pro: Storage

An October 2021 tweet from the now-retired account from ‘Dylan’ suggested that there will be 512GB storage as standard with the new iMac (Pro).

That would be an improvement on the 256GB offered by the entry-level 27in iMac prior to it being retired. It would follow the pattern of the 16-inch MacBook Pro, which has 512GB and 1TB options for the standard machines (and 8TB as a build-to-order option).

It’s also hopeful that omitting the 256GB SSD from the lineup will be a benefit because the 256GB SSD has been seen to be slower.

iMac Pro: Ports and Expansion

The 24-inch iMac comes with two USB 3 ports, two Thunderbolt 4 ports, and a headphone jack. After Apple launched the MacBook Pro with HDMI and an SDXC card slot, rumors suggested the iMac would follow suit. The thin enclosure could be an issue, but Apple solved that issue on the 24-inch model by putting the headphone jack on the side. Apple could position the SD slot similarly to avoid making the iMac thicker.

Thunderbolt 5 is now on the horizon so we may see that in this Pro iMac. Thunderbolt 5 offers double the bandwidth at 80 Gbps.

For all but the entry-level 24-inch iMac, Apple placed the ethernet port in the power adapter brick. The same power adapter is likely to be used for the larger iMac as well.

The ethernet-equipped power adapter will probably be standard with the larger iMac Pro.Apple

iMac Pro 27/32-inch: Other features

The 24-inch iMac has an improved FaceTime camera that uses the M1’s ISP to provide better image quality. That same FaceTime camera implementation is expected for the larger iMac Pro as well.

We’d like to see the camera also support Face ID. True Depth references were spotted in macOS Big Sur indicating that this was something Apple had looked at. However, no Mac has yet arrived with support for Face ID. If it doesn’t have Face ID, the new iMac will have Touch ID built into the keyboard, that being offered with the 24-inch iMac and the Touch ID keyboards. Read: When will Face ID come to Mac?

iMac Pro 27/32-inch: Price

As for the price, it will likely fall in line with the pricing of the 27-inch iMac, which started at $1,799 since Apple kept similar pricing to the 21.5-inch iMac when it launched the 24-inch model. It’s also possible that the price will be a bit higher, perhaps starting at over $2,000, which would be more in line with Apple’s price increase for the higher-end MacBook Pro.

A higher price is likely outside the U.S. where Apple has been increasing prices in line with the exchange rates.

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