Apple recently announced that they have no plans to make a 27-inch iMac with their own Apple Silicon chips. This news, first reported by Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman, indicates a major shift in Apple’s desktop computer strategy. In this in-depth article, we’ll cover everything you need to know about the discontinued 27-inch iMac, Apple’s reasoning behind this decision, what it means for iMac users, and the best alternatives for those needing a large-display Mac desktop computer.
Overview of the Discontinued 27-Inch iMac
The 27-inch iMac has been a staple of Apple’s desktop lineup since 2009, favoured by creative professionals, developers, and other power users needing expansive screen real estate.
The last 27-inch iMac model was released in August 2020. This model featured a gorgeous 27-inch 5K Retina display, 10th-generation Intel Core processors up to 10 cores, AMD Radeon Pro 5000 series graphics, and up to 128GB of RAM.
Storage topped out at a whopping 8TB SSD. It also included Apple’s T2 security chip, a 1080p FaceTime HD camera, studio-quality mics, and a 6-speaker sound system with force-cancelling woofers.
So while the 27-inch iMac was certainly due for an update, the 2020 model still represented one of the most powerful and well-appointed all-in-one desktops available.
Why Apple Is Discontinuing the 27-Inch iMac
Given that the 27-inch iMac was so well-spec’d, why would Apple decide to discontinue it entirely? There are a few key reasons behind this move.
Transition to Apple Silicon
The biggest factor is Apple’s transition away from Intel processors to their own custom silicon.
In 2020, Apple started replacing Intel chips with their own M1 processor in entry-level machines like the MacBook Air. The M1 brought dramatic leaps in efficiency and performance.
In 2022, Apple brought even more powerful iterations like the M2 and M2 Pro to the MacBook Pro lineup. But so far, Apple Silicon chips have only appeared in smaller-footprint devices like laptops and the 24-inch iMac.
The 27-inch iMac still relied on Intel processors. Developing an Apple Silicon system-on-a-chip powerful enough for a high-end desktop is likely a tougher engineering challenge, which will take Apple more time.
Emphasis on Portability
Another reason for Apple phasing out the 27-inch iMac is the company’s increased focus on portable devices.
Sales of desktop computers – especially large, expensive models like the iMac – have declined steadily compared to sales of portable devices like laptops, tablets, and smartphones.
Apple has clearly invested more resources into mobility – see the success of the iPhone and iPad, and lightweight MacBook laptops. For most users today, a desktop PC is not essential.
So from a business perspective, it makes sense for Apple to streamline their desktop offerings to cut costs. Less demand means lower production of the more niche 27-inch iMac.
Environmental sustainability has become a high priority across the tech industry. Large devices require more raw materials, energy, and create more waste.
With Apple committing to aggressive sustainability initiatives like going fully carbon neutral by 2030, cutting back on larger desktop computers supports these green goals.
The Future of the iMac: 24-Inch Model with M3
With the 27-inch iMac phased out, where does that leave the iMac line as a whole?
Right now, the focus is on the 24-inch iMac introduced in Spring 2021. This model comes with Apple’s M1 chip, a 24-inch 4.5K Retina display, up to 16GB RAM, and up to 2TB SSD storage.
Just this past June, Apple announced a new version of the 24-inch iMac powered by their latest M2 chip. It offers modest performance gains over the M1, but the same overall design.
And Apple recently unveiled their new M3 chip for laptops, which is expected to come to a refreshed 24-inch iMac sometime in 2023. The M3 chip brings more significant speed improvements that make it viable for pro users.
So while the 24-inch iMac lacks the large screen of its 27-inch counterpart, Apple is progressively making it more powerful and capable for professional workflows. The 24-inch design also has advantages like taking up less space and improved portability.
What Does This Mean for iMac Users?
The discontinuation of the 27-inch iMac leaves current owners and prospective buyers who need a large display Mac desktop with uncertain options. Here is what you need to know:
Purchasing a New 27-Inch iMac is Not Recommended
Since Apple has ended production of new 27-inch iMacs, buying a new one is no longer ideal for most users:
- Limited supply – Retailers only have remaining inventory left to sell. Once sold out, the only way to get one is secondhand.
- No upgrades – With no new models coming, the 27-inch iMac will become increasingly outdated specs-wise. No more processor, memory, or storage bumps.
- Lack of support – Apple typically provides 5 years of software support after a product is discontinued. The 2020 27-inch iMac will lose support in 2025.
- Repairs issues – Getting repairs or replacement parts for discontinued devices gets harder over time.
The 27-inch iMac will serve most users well for a few more years, but long-term it’s not a wise investment.
Current Owners Have Some Time, But Should Start Planning an Upgrade
Users who already own a 27-inch iMac have a little more flexibility, but should start thinking about alternatives. Here are a few tips:
- Continue using your 27-inch iMac until it is no longer adequately performing. With an SSD and at least 16GB RAM, it should have a decent few years left.
- Back up your data frequently as hardware failure becomes more likely over time. Maintain backups to ease transition to a new device.
- Research alternative desktop options that can meet your needs. Apple’s Mac Studio or Mac Pro tower could be suitable upgrades. Or switching to a Windows PC desktop is an option too.
- Budget for an upgrade. The discontinued iMac will lose support in 2025, so you have about 2-3 years to save up for a suitable replacement system. Start putting some money aside now.
While not an immediate concern, 27-inch iMac owners should be prepared to upgrade in the next couple years as their machines age out.
Non-Apple Alternatives Offer More Options for Large Displays
For those needing a desktop Mac with a large display, exploring options outside of Apple’s ecosystem may be required. Here are a few alternatives to consider:
- Windows desktops – Major PC manufacturers like Dell, HP, and Lenovo offer desktops with 25″+ displays that can match or even surpass the specs of high-end iMacs at often lower price points. For creative pros, gaming, or enterprise use, a Windows tower PC with a large monitor is a capable iMac substitute.
- DIY desktops – Building your own desktop PC is an option if you need customized components. Using a large monitor from LG, Samsung, Asus or others can allow you to assemble a system with the exact specs you want.
- All-in-one PCs – Manufacturers like Dell and Lenovo still produce their own robust all-in-one desktops with 24″+ screens. While not made by Apple, these can replicate a similar iMac experience running Windows.
- Use an external display – If you have a Mac laptop or Mac mini, connecting it to a high-quality external monitor is a simple way to get iMac-like screen real estate. Thunderbolt docks allow easy connectivity.
While the 27-inch iMac is going away, by exploring both Mac and PC options, you still have alternative desktop solutions for demanding creative, office, or home use cases.
Apple’s Future Desktop Plans: Mac Pro and Apple Silicon
If you need power user capabilities from a desktop Mac, where should you look towards in Apple’s roadmap? Here are two key things to keep an eye on:
A New High-End Mac Pro is Coming
Reliable Apple insider Mark Gurman has reported that an all-new Mac Pro tower is in development and expected to launch sometime in 2023.
Details are slim, but Gurman says the new Mac Pro will use “Apple Silicon processors that far eclipse the M1 series in Graphics and CPU performance”. This lines up with rumors of an M2 Ultra or M2 Extreme chip being tested.
The new Mac Pro tower is Apple’s answer for those needing the most cutting edge Mac hardware. It will likely be very pricey, but offer performance and expandability far beyond any iMac.
The Transition to Apple Silicon Will Take Time
While Apple’s custom silicon chips offer amazing efficiency, don’t expect them to fully replace Intel processors in the highest-end Macs immediately.
The M1 family has quickly matched and exceeded Intel’s laptop chips. But developing Apple Silicon to rival high-core Xeon desktop processors will be a longer process.
The new Mac Pro will be the true test of Apple’s in-house chip prowess. For compute-intensive pros, Intel towers or Windows alternatives may still be preferable for a few more years until Apple’s silicon scales up.
The 27-inch iMac’s discontinuation is a bummer, but Apple still offers stronger traditional desktop options down the road for power users.
Conclusion: Plan for a Future Without the 27-Inch iMac
The discontinuation of the 27-inch iMac marks the end of an era for Apple’s all-in-one desktop computers. This decision makes it clear that Apple is prioritizing more portable devices and streamlining their Mac lineup.
For those who still need a high-performing Mac desktop with a large display, the best options are to either make a 24-inch iMac work if possible, or start researching alternatives like the Mac Studio or switching to Windows towers and all-in-ones.
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are answers to some common questions about the discontinued 27-inch iMac and Apple’s desktop computer roadmap: