Posts tagged with "imac"

Jason Snell’s Hands-On with the M3 MacBook Pros and iMac

Jason Snell of Six Colors got a sneak peek at the new Macs announced at yesterday’s Scary Fast Apple event. A lot of specs were thrown around by the company yesterday, but a software feature called Dynamic Caching really stood out because it’s clear that Apple is doing all it can to squeeze every bit of performance out of its GPUs. Jason’s explanation of how it works is excellent:

There’s also a big new feature Apple is calling Dynamic Caching. Put very simply, Apple’s chip engineers were extremely motivated to eke out even more performance from their graphics subsystem—and found that the way memory was traditionally allocated was inefficient. Memory is usually allocated to different threads at compile time, meaning that some threads allocate a larger amount of memory in order to handle peak need, while other threads might choose a smaller amount of memory but risk a bottleneck.

The M3’s graphics system dynamically allocates the memory per thread in a way that’s completely transparent to software developers. Apps don’t need to be rewritten to take advantage of the new system, which Apple says makes some huge gains by wringing a lot of memory efficiency out of the system. Memory that was previously reserved for a specific thread can be given to a different thread instead. A thread that’s in a bottleneck can be given more space. It’s all to the goal of increasing overall throughput.

The fact that these improvements come ‘for free,’ meaning developers don’t have to change their apps or games to take advantage of Dynamic Caching, is at least as important as the efficiency gains enabled by the technology. Especially when it comes to things like videogames, the more Apple can do to make it easy for developers to take advantage of Apple silicon Macs, the better.

Jason also got some hands-on time with the new MacBook Pros, including the new Space Black model:

I got my greasy monkey paws on a Space Black laptop and can report that Apple’s as good as its word in the sense that it seems generally more resistant to fingerprints and other smudges.

But I don’t want to exaggerate this feature: you can still see fingerprints. They just aren’t as prominent. This is a progressive improvement over something like the Midnight M2 MacBook Air, but it’s not a cure-all.

Despite its name, Jason reports that Space Black is more gray than black, but it’s still a noticeable shift from Space Gray.

With the details of the new Macs dissected, it’s going to be interesting to see how the M3 MacBook Pro’s latest CPU and GPU configurations perform relative to the M2 models that were released at the beginning of the year. As Jason also points out, the benchmarks we see from the new laptops and the M3 iMac should give us a good idea of how M3 MacBook Airs, Mac minis, and Mac Studios will perform when it’s their turn to be updated.

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Apple’s October 2023 Scary Fast Event: All The Small Things

Apple’s presentation moved fast this evening, and since the event concluded, more details have emerged about everything announced. We’ve been combing Apple’s product pages, social media, and other sources to learn more about everything announced, which we’ve collected below:

  • The 13” MacBook Pro with Touch Bar has been officially discontinued and is no longer available for sale, marking the end of the Touch Bar era at Apple.
  • None of the desktop accessories for the iMac – Magic Mouse, Magic Trackpad, and Magic Keyboard – were updated with a USB-C connector (or any other features).

  • The new ‘Space Black’ color of the 14” and 16” MacBook Pros with M3 Pro and M3 Max chips is apparently not so black, based on first impressions from people who saw it in person already.

  • Speaking of the color black, Apple now sells a 2-meter, black USB-C to MagSafe cable.

  • As it turns out, ‘Scary Fast’ was applicable not only to the new M3 series chips unveiled today but also the unusually short runtime of the event, which clocked in at 30:32, judging from the presentation’s YouTube video.

  • The event video was shot on an iPhone 15 Pro Max and edited on a Mac.

Not a very long list this time around, but at just over 30 minutes and no new accessories, there weren’t many tidbits surrounding this event I’m afraid.


You can follow all of our October 2023 Apple event coverage through our October 2023 Apple event hub or subscribe to the dedicated October 2023 Apple event RSS feed.


Apple’s October 2023 Scary Fast Event: By the Numbers

Today’s Scary Fast online Apple event was packed with facts, figures, and statistics throughout the presentation and elsewhere. We’ve pulled together the highlights.

M3, M3 Pro, and M3 Max Chips

  • These are the first chips built on a 3-nanometer process.
  • This process can fit up to 2 million transistors in the cross-section of a human hair.
  • The M3 architecture grants up to 2.5x faster performance than the M1 generation.
  • The M3 CPU’s performance cores are 30% faster than M1 and 15% faster than M2; the efficiency cores are 50% faster than M1.
  • The Neural Engine is faster and more efficient in M3 as well. Specifically, it’s 60% faster than M1 and 15% faster than M2.
  • The M3 Max chip is up to 80% faster than the M1 Max.
  • The M3 has 25 billion transistors, while the M3 Pro has 37 billion, and the M3 Max has 92 billion.

MacBook Pro

  • The M3 Max MacBook Pro supports up to 128 GB of unified memory and 8 TB of storage, with a maximum 16-core CPU and 40-core GPU.
  • The M3 MacBook Pro can run for up to 22 hours on one charge, playing movies using the Apple TV app.
  • The new MacBook Pros are up to 11x faster than the last Intel-based models.

iMac

  • The M3 iMac is 2x faster than the M1 model, 2.5x faster than the 27-inch Intel model, and 4x faster than the 21.5-inch Intel-based iMac.
  • The M3 iMac has a 4.5K Retina display and features a 6-speaker sound system.
  • Apple offers up to 24 GB of unified memory and 2 TB of storage in the M3 iMac.

You can follow all of our October 2023 Apple event coverage through our October 2023 Apple event hub or subscribe to the dedicated October 2023 Apple event RSS feed.


Apple Reveals New M3 iMac

The new iMac.

The new iMac.

Just over two years ago, I spent the summer with a 24” M1 iMac on my desk and loved it. The elegant simplicity of an all-in-one Mac with just a couple of cables trailing off the back side of the computer is wonderful. The all-in-one design of the M1 iMac wasn’t new, but it was a stunning departure from its predecessor, with a slim, flat design that wasn’t possible in the Intel era. Plus, it came in a variety of vibrant, fun colors, which is all too rare in Apple’s product lineup.

Today, Apple announced the successor to that iMac that features an all-new M3 chip that, by Apple’s account, is ‘scary fast.’ Just how fast the new iMac is compared to other models will require hands-on testing, but from the specs alone, the new iMac is impressive.

Let’s take a look.

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The Verge Marks the iMac’s Silver Anniversary

Yesterday, the iMac turned 25, and The Verge had an excellent trio of articles, plus a visual history, covering the computer’s impact on Apple, the computer industry, and culture.

The series includes a look back at the introduction of the iMac in 1998 by Jason Snell and the many controversial design choices the iMac introduced like foregoing a floppy drive and including USB-A ports. The iMac also introduced color and transparency to consumer electronics that spread throughout the gadget world, but I agree with Jason’s take that the most important contribution of the iMac was that it pulled Apple back from the brink of financial disaster:

[P]erhaps the iMac’s strongest legacy is Apple itself. The company was close to bankruptcy when Jobs returned, and the iMac gave the company a cash infusion that allowed it to complete work on Mac OS X, rebuild the rest of the Mac product line in the iMac’s image, open Apple Stores, make the iPod, and set the tone for the next twenty five years.

The Grape iMac.

The Grape iMac.

Alex Cranz looked at how Apple marketed the iMac to college students at the turn of the millennium to build a foundation of life-long customers:

When it launched the iMac, it also launched a then exorbitantly pricey marketing campaign focused not just on traditional Mac owners but also students. “Being the first computer truly owned by a student entering college gives a company like Apple tremendous brand leverage over future computer loyalties,” Laine Nooney, a computer historian, professor at New York University, and author of The Apple II Age: How the Computer Became Personal,told me over the phone. “That marketing isn’t just paying for a couple of years of sales… it’s helping create a generation of users.”

The M1 iMac.

The M1 iMac.

However, as important as the iMac has been to Apple historically, the lack of an update in over 800 days can’t be overlooked. The iMac’s role in Apple’s lineup is a shadow of what it once was. The Verge’s Monica Chin’s contribution to the site’s series wonders aloud what’s next for the all-in-one desktop:

The iMac was once the computer that everyone I knew had on their desk. That is now, without question, the MacBook. The laptop, as a category, has come so far and permeated culture so thoroughly in the past two decades that it’s hard to see any desktop — regardless of its purported numbers — as a mainstream option. I wouldn’t be surprised if, like the Mac Studio, the iMac leans more into a niche over the next few years. Maybe that’s offices that want a beautiful setup. Maybe that’s people with yellow bedrooms. 

Or maybe it’s the high-performance space. If there’s an opening in the market for a premium desktop like the Mac Studio, I don’t see why there’s not a larger one for a premium iMac. It could essentially be a MacBook Pro with a much larger built-in screen than any MacBook Pro can provide. Plus, maybe this one could also come in yellow.

My first Mac was a white plastic Intel-based iMac. I also owned an early aluminum model. However, other than testing a loaner M1 iMac, my Apple desktops in the years since have been Mac minis and my current Mac Studio paired with a MacBook Air for on the go.

I guess I’m part of the problem. I love the simplicity and elegance of the iMac, but the power and modularity of the Mac Studio paired with a laptop fit my needs much better these days. Still, my sense is there’s room for both a consumer-level iMac that serves as a shared family computer or a simple space-saving desktop solution and a more powerful, big-screen iMac for tasks like photo and video editing.

Rumors point to an iMac refresh this fall, so the drought should be over soon. I just hope what Apple introduces takes some chances aimed at broadening the iMac’s user base beyond where it is today.


Two Months with Apple’s New M1 iMac

The very first Mac I owned was an iMac. That white polycarbonate, first-gen Intel iMac was the epitome of a family computer, sitting in a central location where everyone in my family could use it for work, school, and projects. I had an early aluminum iMac too, but gradually, portable devices took over, satisfying everyone’s computing needs, and the iMac fell by the wayside.

In the ten years or so since then, the Macs I’ve bought for myself have been laptops and the Mac mini. It’s a flexible combination that has served me well. The mini isn’t as customizable as the Mac Pro, but it suited my needs well, allowing me to easily set up and tear down various peripheral configurations, which became even more useful when I started writing at MacStories. Combined with the MacBooks I’ve owned over the years for when I want to get away from my desk, I haven’t pay much attention to the iMac for a long time.

The iMac has come a long way since the first one I owned (left) and the latest M1 model (right).

The iMac has come a long way since the first one I owned (left) and the latest M1 model (right).

As a result, when Apple sent me an M1 iMac to test, I was curious to see how it would fit in in my home, but I didn’t expect it to rekindle my interest in an all-in-one Mac. Boy, was I wrong.

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Stephen Hackett Compares the Orange M1 iMac to Its Tangerine G3 Predecessor

MacStories pal Stephen Hackett has published a video on the 512 Pixels YouTube channel comparing the M1 and G3 iMacs. If you follow Stephen’s work, you know that he knows a thing or two about Apple’s colorful G3 iMacs. In 2016, Stephen acquired all 13 colors of the iMac G3, donating them to The Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, Michigan the following year.1 The project spawned several articles, podcast episodes, YouTube videos, and even a book.

Apple’s colorful M1 iMacs began arriving on customers’ doorsteps at the end of last week, and Stephen got an orange model that he compares to the Tangerine iMac G3. The competition is far from fair given the advances made since the iMac G3’s debut in 1998, but it makes for a fun setup to show just how far the iMac has come in the past 23 years.

I’m glad Stephen chose the Tangerine iMac G3 and Orange M1 iMac for his video. The two are my favorite colors from both eras and really show off the designs of each well.


  1. I tagged along with Stephen to see his iMac G3s in an exhibit at The Henry Ford Museum during Maker Faire that summer. It was terrific to see those landmark Macs end up in a good home, especially since it’s a museum I grew up visiting for grade school field trips. We even got to see the museum’s working Apple I as a bonus treat. ↩︎
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M1 iMac Review Roundup

The new M1 iMac, iPad Pro, and Apple TV 4K will begin arriving on customers’ doorsteps and be available in Apple Stores this Friday. However, today, embargoes have lifted for just the iMac.

Here’s what reviewers are saying about Apple’s colorful new desktop Mac:

Jason Snell writing for Six Colors thinks Apple made the right choice by going with subdued colors on the front of the iMac:

But when you sit down to work at the iMac, you get a different impression. The bright color is there, visible on the stand. Above that is a more muted version of the accent color on the “chin” beneath the display. The bezels around the display itself are a neutral gray. It’s effectively a gradient, with your peripheral vision noticing the bright color, but that accent fading away until you’re left with whatever is on the display itself. It works really well, though I imagine that if you’re someone who prefers using Dark Mode in brightly lit rooms, it will be a pretty dramatic contrast. (I’m a Light Mode person myself, and I found the overall effect quite harmonious. But then, my office wall is orange.)

Jason and Myke Hurley recorded a special episode of their podcast Upgrade, which is out today too.

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Apple Shows Off New M1 iMacs in Beautiful, Vibrant Colors

I’m excited about the new iPad Pros, but the new 24” iMac took my breath away. I’ve long wanted Apple to return to the vivid colors of past Macs but wasn’t convinced the company would go that direction. Leading up to today’s event, mockups of iMacs in the pale color schemes of the iPhone 12 circulated. Today, however, Apple took the iMac in a wholly different direction with bright, saturated colors on the back of the new computer and paler hues on the front.

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