Rumors abound that Apple’s (s aapl) popular all-in-one desktop computer is set for an update in May. The iMac line will reportedly inherit the recent improvements made to the MacBook Pro, complete with Sandy Bridge processors from Intel (s intc) and a new Thunderbolt port. It’s an upgrade that’s worth waiting for, maybe more so because the iMac is a desktop.
I’m on record as being somewhat underwhelmed by the MacBook Pro update, because the changes didn’t address my needs in a mobile computer, which include better battery life, improved display quality and instant-on capability. Those same updates in a desktop machine are a different story altogether. As an inexpensive workhorse, the iMac stands to gain quite a bit from faster, stronger guts and new connectivity options.
According to the report, which stems from Cnet’s Brian Tong (s cbs), who heard the news from a reliable source, the new iMacs will be shipping soon in advance of an early May launch. As I mentioned above, they include Intel’s Sandy Bridge chip processors and the new Thunderbolt port, which was developed by Intel working with Apple and provides high-speed dual-channel I/O communication in addition to DisplayPort connectivity for external monitors. The update will be the first since the iMacs got Core i3, i5 and i7 processors last July. Tong also reports that the iMac will get no major cosmetic changes with this update.
The improvements in iMac speed and processing power are in line with what we’ve seen from MacBook Pro benchmarks and will be a welcome upgrade. iMacs also have the benefit of being less concerned with power consumption, so in theory, they should beat their portable rivals on most measures. All that extra power will really come in handy for processor-intensive desktop computing tasks like long video-encoding sessions and outputting complicated animation.
Thunderbolt, which currently doesn’t really provide much to MacBook Pro owners (the accessory ecosystem, with a few exceptions, has yet to really embrace and make good use of the standard), should find a better and more useful home on the desktop, too. It’ll be easier to set up semi-permanent hard drive arrays for backup and additional storage, and as camera manufacturers adopt the tech (Canon (s caj) at least has suggested that it will), the iMac will become an even more attractive option for professional and advanced amateur video editors. Overall, Thunderbolt is a tech that makes more sense on a stationary computer that can take advantage of its high-speed, high-fidelity transfers during long and complicated tasks.
Maybe it’s just me, but I never find myself being terribly concerned over the sluggishness of my laptop the way I do my desktop. That’s probably because I use my iMac to do all the heavy lifting, and keep the MacBook light and breezy. My iMac is about due for an upgrade, too, so I’ll likely make an investment when the update comes down. What about you?