If ARM Macs are on the way would an updated iMac be worth it?

Luke's Desk 2017
Luke's Desk 2017 (Image credit: Luke Filipowicz / iMore)

There are rumors that some sort of new iMac will be introduced at WWDC this year, that not only will be a bump in specs but an actual design change. The rumor is the machine will have limited bezels like the iPad Pro design language, switch to AMD Navi GPU, and finally drop the Fusion Drive. While all of these changes sound great, the timing of releasing a new iMac seems a little off considering all indications is that Apple plans to switch to ARM processors in its Macs sooner rather than later. So, would it be worth getting a new iMac if it's announced at WWDC?

The last iMac upgrade

Apple hasn't fundamentally changed the design of the iMac since 2007 — that's 13 years of the same design language. As Apple has been doing its best to make bezels smaller on all of its devices, the iMac (and the iMac Pro) stand out of its lineup like a sore thumb. If there's anything to get excited about with this rumor, it's for a change-up in the design to make it more modern and less clunky looking.

In March of 2019 was the last time Apple updated the iMac lineup. The upgrade was all just internal specs, giving consumers the option of 8th and 9th generation Coffee Lake processors and upgraded Radeon Pro graphics, all of which were better than the previous models that were released two years prior. Two years seems to be the standard for a spec bump in the iMac lineup, so coming out with a new iMac this year looks like odd timing.

The biggest question is whether a new iMac makes sense to buy when Apple seems to be transitioning into ARM processors, maybe even as early as later this year.

Should you wait for an ARM iMac?

Non-Retina iMac

Non-Retina iMac (Image credit: iMore)

The answer isn't apparent. On the one hand, if you love the all-in-one design of the iMac and have been holding on to the same 2017 or 2015 model for the past few years, you're likely dying for a significant upgrade. If you have the 2019 iMac, who might want the new design (who wouldn't), but its probably a less dire update than someone who has waited longer.

On the flip side, the ARM Macs are coming at some point, when that is no one knows for sure. If Apple is planning on upgraded its iMac lineup before ARM processors become the new normal, it's not unreasonable to think that the iMac may be one of the last products to get the new processors. This could mean that if you choose to wait for an ARM, iMac will result in a very long waiting period for some customers.

There's also the question of how stable or good quality the new processors will be right at launch. As with most new technology, it's usually a good idea for the average consumer to wait a bit to see if there are any bugs or kinks that need to be worked out. Would you be willing to upgrade to an ARM iMac if you were going to be the guinea pig to see how it all works out?

Either way, the answer is really up to you. Do you feel like you need an updated iMac the moment you can get it? Or, can you wait possibly another 1-3 years to see if the ARM iMac is worth your time?

What do you think?

Let us know in the comments down below!

Luke Filipowicz
Staff Writer

Luke Filipowicz has been a writer at iMore, covering Apple for nearly a decade now. He writes a lot about Apple Watch and iPad but covers the iPhone and Mac as well. He often describes himself as an "Apple user on a budget" and firmly believes that great technology can be affordable if you know where to look. Luke also heads up the iMore Show — a weekly podcast focusing on Apple news, rumors, and products but likes to have some fun along the way. 

Luke knows he spends more time on Twitter than he probably should, so feel free to follow him or give him a shout on social media @LukeFilipowicz.

  • No, I will not wait for an ARM iMac. If a new iMac is introduced and still uses Intel I will trick it out for as much money I can afford, then sit back and wait for the carnage to pass during the transition period. The only non-Apple apps that are important to me are Microsoft 365 and Quicken. eMail and browsers are platform agnostic. Some have said an ARM Mac would nothing more than an expensive Chromebook.
  • "Some have said", doesn't sound like a very reliable source. I'm not sure exactly what ARM will bring to the Mac, but I'd rather wait and see what Apple says than read some fake news online and people's "negative opinions"
  • Is 'Design Language' actually a feature that matters, even in Apple-land? Isn't it more about performance, screen quality, etc? I feel like I stumbled through the looking-glass, and everybody looks at everything backwards, or at least, backwards compared to me. As the proud owner of a 2019 Mac Pro that cost way more than my car, I can tell you the way it *looks* has nothing to do with why I bought it.
  • Apple have always seen design as a very important thing. If you have an iMac sitting in your modern room, you want it to look nice, rather than it being something ugly you want to hide away like some computers are. That's not to say that the things you mentioned aren't important either
  • As a photographer I see no benefit going to ARM processing my images. I work on ultra-large images at deep resolution levels. Even my 2013 Mac Pro struggles with some of my images! If anything I likely jump to an AMD Threadripper based system (Are you listening Apple!) Intel costs to much for the higher thread count CPU's and don't offer any real performance benefit over AMD any more. Intel missed the window with 10 nm. 15" MacBook Pro TB & 13" Fn systems displays are failing due to the heat buildup damaging the T-CON logic, just look at iFixit!