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Next year’s iMac will have one good thing going for it

November 29th, 2016 at 5:20 PM
iMac 2016 Update

Amidst the flurry of new MacBook Pro updates this autumn, one of Apple’s other old computers was forgotten. With the exception of a new screen, Apple’s iMac has sat unchanged since you did that one InDesign class in college, but it’s still often a go-to choice for desktop computers.

There’s a big, Microsoft-shaped problem for Apple, however. The Surface Studio is a new iMac competitor from Microsoft, and on the surface, it should be a real competitor. It takes all of the key points of the iMac  — stylish design, enough power, thin form factor — and adds touch input, a great stylus, and the ability to bring the screen down to draw. If Apple wants the iMac to do better than runner-up, it will need some tricks for its next iMac refresh.

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We haven’t heard many rumors about the upcoming iMac refresh, but there is one thing that’s a lock: updated processors. With Intel owning the desktop processor market, that means the best-specced new iMacs will use the latest version of Intel’s Core i7, the Kaby Lake i7-7700. That processor wasn’t available in time for Microsoft to include in the Surface Studio, but it should be hitting new PCs at the beginning of 2017.

More importantly, the reviewers at Tom’s Hardware appear to have got their hands on an early engineering sample, and put it through its paces. Although the results aren’t final, we can get some data on the chip that will almost certainly be powering the next iMac.

Out of the box, the i7-7700K is capable of speeds of 4.2GHz, but with a processor this good, you really need to overclock. Tom’s Hardware found that on one motherboard, they could overclock the 7700K to 4.8GHz, which is crazy kinds of fast. But even without overclocking, the benchmarks show some very real performance improvements over the sixth-gen Intel chips, and therefore the Surface Studio. Your move, Microsoft.

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