The Next iMac: How thin can it get?

Discussion in 'iMac' started by kevinhirsh, Oct 31, 2010.

  1. kevinhirsh macrumors member

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    #1
    I currently own a late 2009 21.5" iMac and really love it. I was thinking about the future of the iMac and how the design can continue to evolve. Does anyone know how thin an optical drive can be made? I was looking at the profile of my iMac and wondered how thin the overall design can get... I was also wondering how and if we will ever see a radical departure from the current design, as we saw with the introduction of the iMac G4 when compared to the G3. The design has become so simple, I really don't see how they will abandon the "entire computer floats in mid air" design. Any thoughts?
     
  2. Hellhammer Moderator

    Hellhammer

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    #2
    Thinner = less space = more heat = slower components = fail

    It doesn't really matter how thin it is. One inch this or that way, what is it going to change? I bet more people would like a thicker iMac with 1) more upgradeability 2) faster components (desktop GPU) 3) cooler operation. It's not a laptop so making it thinner would be a downgrade.
     
  3. TMRaven macrumors 68020

    TMRaven

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    #3
    The iMac will continue to get more compact as it matures no doubt, but I don't think apple will make it small enough to the point where it'll sacrifice too much on the performance side.

    The iMac has gotten more and more powerful with each new release (relative to its current tech during release, of course)

    The biggest gains you'll see in the iMac being made smaller will be from logic board and hdd, no doubt. I think apple will eventually go with onboard flash memory on all of their computers eventually, which will save lots of space.
     
  4. raysfan81 macrumors 6502a

    raysfan81

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    #4
    Yeah thats a problem. Thats why I still think the MacBook air is still underpowered and overpriced. They just made it super thin and sacrificed performance. The iMac is thin enough right now.
     
  5. iDutchman macrumors 6502a

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    #5
    I assume you mean the MacBook Air is underpowered.:rolleyes:
     
  6. netdog macrumors 603

    netdog

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    #6
    Um....fail.

    Eventually the whole computer will reside on a chip, or on/in whatever has replaced chips.

    You'll just need ports (unless everything has gone wireless) and a display, or at least something to project a display.

    Keyboard probably won't go away for some time.
     
  7. raysfan81 macrumors 6502a

    raysfan81

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    #7
    Haha yeah thats what I meant. :cool:
     
  8. Hellhammer Moderator

    Hellhammer

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    #8
    World ends in 2012 so we won't see something like that :D

    But seriously, at some point it will be like that but not anytime soon. I was talking about the near future, not about some cyber-future that is decades or centuries away.

    Well, technically iPhone is a computer and it's faster than many older computers are so basically we already have what you mean. It just lacks a proper video output. It gets more power every year but it will never be as fast as a real computer with power hungrier components.
     
  9. old-wiz macrumors G3

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    #9
    I would much much rather see an iMac get thicker, not thinner. A thicker iMac would have more room for cooling, more room for a better GPU, more room for additional HDDs or solid state drives and more room for additional USB or firewire ports. You could even have room for 3 drives plus an optical drive. A thinner laptop is fine, but I don't really see the point in making an iMac thinner since it just sits on your desk.

    I know many other users will see my opinion as heresy or the utterings of an idiot, but thinner is not necessarily better in a desktop like an iMac.
     
  10. HunterMaximus macrumors member

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    #10
    I'm with old-wiz. There's not much point to making it any thinner, it's pretty much constrained by thermal power issues. Most of the time you can't even notice the thickness of an iMac. I'd rather they spent their time optimizing the space so that something like a user-replaceable hard drive is possible.
     
  11. TMRaven macrumors 68020

    TMRaven

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    #11
    Making the iMac thicker won't help it get desktop gpus, unless you're talking tower thick.
     
  12. cherry su macrumors 65816

    cherry su

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    #12
    Apple could just solder those GPUs and the memory directly onto the logic board and slap a thin but space hogging heatsink over it. There is no need to actually use the default (double-wide) PCIe cards.
     
  13. IndustrialSpace macrumors 6502a

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    #13
    What Ive heard is that we will all eventually just have a monitor and keyboard, and everything will be accessed via a remote cloud or virtual desktop. No more HDDs etc. Just wires and antennas. :)
     
  14. Hellhammer Moderator

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    #14
    Sounds plausible. However, the obvious answer is that none of us knows what will the future computers be like ;)
     
  15. old-wiz macrumors G3

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    #15
    I wasn't thinking of going so far as a full desktop GPU, just a better one.
     
  16. IndustrialSpace macrumors 6502a

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    #16

    Before any of this stuff happens, the internet infrastructure needs vast improvements in security and speed. At this point, its become quite clear that the internet has all but become the spine of society and there will be an imperative to revamp these systems to accomodate the future of computing.

    In essense, we will be able to access our own personal virtual servers/desktops from any where in the world. It will no longer be stored locally but on paid servers. It will be akin to purchasing storage space and security with insurance.
     
  17. D'Illusion macrumors regular

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    #17

    Nailed it. The iMac is a classic example of form winning out over function.
     
  18. telepati macrumors regular

    telepati

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    #18
    When is SSD price get down then iMac can be thinner. It can be 2 or 3 years after. This just a guess!
     
  19. Icaras macrumors 603

    Icaras

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    #19
    I will have to disagree with you on this. I understand the logic you're coming from, but it simply takes a quick glimpse of the history of computer evolution to understand that things will continue to shrink in size.

    I also disagree with you on people (in general) wanting a thicker iMac. I don't differentiate the roles of desktop or laptop in this case, as their both still regarded as popular, consumer computers. You should already know by now how obsessed with thinness Apple is, and again, looking at the current evolution, the iMac has ALWAYS shrunk in size. Why would Apple steer from that course now?

    Apple and Jobs WILL push for thinner iMacs. They'll take their knowledge from the Air, with flash drives and no optical drives, and easily shrink the iMac in size even further. Yes, CPU clock speeds will go down just like the Air, and yes, to people who simply look at numbers, it will be a "downgrade". But that's just not how Apple views their products. You get to a point in the numbers where it just doesn't really matter. It'll be able to run Mail, Safari, iPhoto, iTunes, and be able to type up that report in Pages all in good measure. This is mostly what matters to consumers, and all what they care about. I don't think they really care about the latest GPU or if it's an i3/i5/i7/iWhatever processor. Newer generations of iMacs will get smaller and smaller and will just continue to "wow" people and sell. And there's really nothing wrong with that.
     
  20. Hellhammer Moderator

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    #20
    27" iMac is bigger than any iMac before it. It's actually slightly thicker than 24" as well. Apple made it 27" so they could give some horsepower to the iMac. They could have made it 2cm thick and use ULV CPUs but who really wants something like that?

    Even G4 Mac is able to run Mail and Safari but if you take a look at what Apple is currently offering, there are no G4 CPUs. Bill Gates said that home user will never need more than 640KB of RAM. He was wrong, totally wrong. Technology will develop and we will see faster CPUs and GPUs in all computers.

    Software is getting more demanding, that's why. Sure you can play SD video in G4 Mac but think about Blu-Ray rip, it won't work. And no, Blu-Ray nor 1080p is the point where everything ends, there will be newer, more demanding technologies. For instance Super Hi-Vision. It sounds impossible at the moment but so did Full HD in 2000. BTW, uncompressed Super Hi-Vision is around 3GB/s (24Gb/s). You need some serious horse power to play that.

    Web browsing is starting to be pain in your ass with older computers as their CPU isn't juicy enough to playback Flash fine.

    Sure things will get smaller (there was no MBA in early 2000s for example) but the logic that "current computers are already fine" is not valid. People would sill be using their G3 Macs if they really fulfilled their needs. But looks like they don't.

    It's just my opinion but I can't see ultra-thin iMacs anytime soon. Apple has just made them bigger all the time
     
  21. AAPLaday Guest

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    #21
    Thick/Thin meh. Just make it height adjustable :D
     
  22. Brien macrumors 68020

    Brien

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    #22
    We will eventually hit a plateau with technology, but yeah, things will always get better for a while.

    I do think Apple will definitely push the iMac and MBP to super-thin like they have with the MBA; Apple will likely change the product lines so content creators are steered towards a Mac Pro. For the general consumer, almost everything is "good enough", and Apple is going to follow the market.
     
  23. TMRaven macrumors 68020

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    #23
    What better gpu? The iMac basically uses THE best mobility card on the market when it was released during that specific update this past summer. By basically I mean the only card that tops the mobility 5850 in terms of performance for that time was the mobility 5870, which is the exact same card except clocked 10% higher. Clocking the mobility 5850 10% under windows to achieve same performance and TDP as mobility 5870 in windows is real easy.

    I am leaving out the GTX 480m of course, but you only need to look at its performance per watt comparison to the mobility 5870-- it has twice the tdp (100 vs 50) for only 10% performance gain. Clearly, that is a rubbish card. But if you want to make the iMac 1 inch thicker overall for a steeper power consumption and heat output for only 10% performance gain in graphics, then by all means.
     
  24. Icaras macrumors 603

    Icaras

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    #24
    Screen permitting, displays are the only component of a desktop system that evolves by increases in size, in terms of actual screen real estate of course. Yes, and I do agree that the 27" is made specifically for more horsepower, and seems to be the sweet spot for the prosumer/working professional bridge. I was referring more to the 21.5" models as the consumer line with their low price points and integrated GPU in the base model.

    Seems again like this is slightly treading into that fabled subject of the prophetic death of the Mac Pro in the near future, when Apple fully goes iMac for their desktop line. Without getting into that really, I would like to say that I think if the Mac Pro does indeed see it's demise, I could see Apple dividing the iMac line into an iMac and iMac Pro.

    But to reiterate my stance, the linear evolution of base level iMacs have continued to shrink in size.

    We should see faster CPUs, but we didn't see that happen at all in the new Macbook Air. Indeed, that was a downright step backwards in terms of "raw numbers". Yet, the Air is proving to be quite a success so far, as I've seen on these forums and on the numerous Youtube videos and critical press reviews.

    So, it seems it was a good idea to include flash drives as standard in the new Air.

    What type of software you referring to? I'm just talking about Mail, Safari, iLife, iWork, and those types of consumer level apps. Not pro-apps. Not serious audio or video editing apps such as FCP or Logic Studio. And as proven, consumer level apps seem to be working beautifully on the new Macbook Air's extremely modest 1.4 C2D processor so far. Also, do you know how many average consumers are even ripping blu-ray media at 1080p? :confused:

    And speaking of blu-ray, I do agree with you. It obviously doesn't stop there, and I made no assumptions that it would, but no way are we going to see anything above blu-ray anytime soon in the consumer market. Penetration for that media is still underway and is still being steadily nurtured by Studio companies. To introduce yet another medium to consumers is just asking for a mess.

    And look at downloadable media. Apple is not even on board with 1080p. The new Apple TV proves their stance with only 720p support. Also, ISP infrastructures with their bandwidth caps and limited availability of super high speed internet will get us nowhere for the time being. No, we're a ways off from anything beyond 1080p right now. As such, I doubt Apple is worrying at all about Super Hi-Vision in the near future. Apple will have adequate amount of time to shrink their products even further while staying current with practical consumer needs. And that's really the key phrase I'm trying so much to stress here: practical consumer needs.

    Breaking: http://www.macrumors.com/2010/10/27/54-of-h-264-web-video-now-available-in-html5/

    No, I don't agree technology will stop and that we should be content with that, but Apple is proving to find just the right sweet spot of technology vs. (again) practical consumer needs. Can the average consumer live with a much much slower processor to run their basic apps? Thanks to the first time ever of flash drives on a Mac, I think consumers so far are agreeing so with the new Air. You could say the flash drives on the Air is probably the primary important new addition that offsets the drop in processor clock speed, which allows Apple to reduce size. It's just a different approach, and a creative one at that, of designing a thinner computer.

    The obvious logical choice to making the iMac thinner is to simply follow the formula they had with the Air. Why wouldn't you think removing the optical drive for one, and going completely flash drive on the 21.5" models would be feasible? You can see Apple's direction with optical media. They changed the icon on iTunes and was even stated by Jobs at the All Things Digital interview with Walt Mossberg that they "see it headed in that direction", and have time and time again disagreed with blu-ray support. Anyone wanting to use optical media can just go for the USB superdrive solution. This probably actually makes Apple more money anyway so I see it highly likely that it may happen one day.

    Again, not including the 27", the current base line 21.5" is thinner than the last model, which is also thinner than the white iMac. So in terms of baseline machines, there's a natural and steady progression of size decrease.

    So I'm curious as to why you don't think at least those two approaches mentioned above (optical drive gone, all flash drive) would be practically feasible one day for the iMac? I know you say you don't see it, but judging from history and advancements in their other product lines, it is clear as daylight to me they will push headstrong into even smaller form factors in the future.:)
     
  25. TMRaven macrumors 68020

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    #25
    Baseline 21.5 inch has discrete gpu.
     

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