Apple brought it upon itself, it practically begged ordinary mortals to overcome its elitist tendencies. And while I still think Macs are computers for people who hate computers, I don’t agree with the wave of hate being directed at their new hardware; I think the new iMacs running the M1 look rather nice. What’s more I think they are emblematic of the potential seismic shift in computing, and perhaps most interesting, for gaming PCs.
The general reason behind so many complaints about the new 2021 ultra-thin iMacs is precisely their slight design, and why that might be bad or at least uninspiring. After all, you don’t. Need A desktop computer should be thin, and it won’t be if it’s an all-in-one where you’ll be looking at the screen anyway.
The low-power Apple M1 processor, with impressively powerful ARM cores, is what allowed Apple to create a desktop device just 11.5mm thick. Sure, it’s an all-screen laptop with no keyboard, but for places you’ll find an iMac, that’s fine. They are machines that are meant to be elegantly unobtrusive in a design studio or artist’s workshop.
This portable asset doesn’t mean you can just hide the sleek M1 SoC behind the screen while still maintaining the 11.5mm aesthetic with the rest of its feature set. This means that the new iMac is not a bulky iPad Pro; It has a large “chin” under the screen, which is an extension of the screen chassis that houses ARM-based electronics.
That big chin, and the relatively chunky white bezels around the Retina 4.5K display panel, have people suggesting that Apple lost its great design, potentially ceding leadership on that front to Microsoft and its Surface Studio.
I mean, naaaaaaaah. Have you seen the Surface Studio? It looks like some old Noctua heatsink installed a glossy screen on top of it. And it’s not like the bezels are particularly thin, they’re just glossy black instead of white.
Personally, I love the very simple design of the new iMac. And I’m not a big fan of Apple. I guess you could say “I’m a PC”, but I really hate those old adverts and unwise recent replays.
But I fully appreciate the style of the i2021 Mac, which matches the classic iMac aesthetic, while featuring related new features that speak to the new way we work and where iMacs are used. The new 1080p webcam and speaker set are the funniest outgrowth of the work-from-home world we live in right now, and Apple has called it big.
On the PC, we don’t often see the skill Apple brings to its products, although fortunately that is changing, and the introduction of the Razer Blade and Corsair One a few years ago brought us some original icons of PC style. Unfortunately in other places, we still get the angular, overly aggressive “player” aesthetic that we feel increasingly played out.
However, there are some legitimate concerns about the new iMac beyond the visual design, due to Apple’s decision to include only a quad array of USB Type-C connectors (with Thunderbolt support on two of them).
No Type-A, No LAN, None; It’s very restrictive, and this is the Apple I’ve grown to hate. Dictatorship company that decides how to use your machine, removing choice from the equation and claiming a premium price for the franchise.
But the iMac running the M1 is also a harbinger of the possible future of computers, too. Apple’s ARM-based processor demonstrated its power and demonstrated computing power beyond the dominance of the x86 architecture. This is something Nvidia has been focusing on lately, and not just because it’s still desperately trying to move forward with its embargoed Cambridge tech purchase.
Nvidia and MediaTek (one of the largest creators of ARM-based silicon) recently announced a partnership that sees GeForce GPUs optimized to work with the ARM architecture for gaming and other workloads. The implication is that gaming laptops of the future could run with powerful Nvidia mobile GPUs and still deliver PC gaming performance on ARM CPUs thanks to the x86 emulation type demonstrated by Apple’s M1 silicon.
And if we’re honestly talking about future Nvidia ShieldBooks with ARM chips, we can consider very different form factors than future laptops and desktops. Well, a GeForce GPU is probably the most power-hungry, heat-generating component of a modern gaming laptop, but pairing one with a power CPU can only help.
In the PC world, we’ve been tied to x86 architecture for so long, it seems scary that we might move too far from it, but more choice of components can only be a good thing. Something highlighted by the massive shortage of chips we find ourselves in today. If there are more ways to eventually find silicon to fill our new gaming PCs, I’m in for it.
Hell, we might as well see some GeForce-thin all-in-ones as well.