First Review: 2017 iMac, MacBook Pro & MacBook

The "longer than you'll get in the shop" first test of the WWDC 2017 updated devices

Here in San Jose at their Worldwide Developers Conference Apple really laid it on thick with the news on Monday morning – over two hours of non stop talking about new stuff, and all of it very interesting and some of it downright awesome.  Today, we got hands on with three shiny new devices to get a first impression of just what Apple is up to in the Mac space.

Now let me be very clear, I’ve had the 21.5 inch iMac, 13 inch MacBook Pro and MacBook for a grand total of around 12 hours – so this is hardly a comprehensive review.  But I’ve decided to look at it this way, you’re thinking of buying one of these bad boys; you might get 10 – maybe 20 mins to play around in an Apple Store?  More likely you’re just going to buy it online without ever touching it – so my time is way way more than you’d hope for – let me help you out.

iMac

I can’t lug the iMac back to Australia in my luggage – so let me start with that first.

It’s been a few years since I cracked open a freshy – a direct from the factory iMac sealed and ready for it’s first dose of electricity in the real world.  You know what, it’s still a bloody great feeling.  Jesus Apple do this well.  And I’m ok to admit – I was wrong.

I recently said Apple needed to update the design of the iMac to compete with Microsoft’s Surface Studio.  Yes, it’s an older design, but strewth it stands up well when you sit it in a clean, clutter free environment.

Out of the box it’s as simple and special as ever.

Power it up and Immediately the screen brightness is noticeable – then I realise it’s not pumped up to the max.    According to the specs its 43% brighter and supports 1 billion colours – Look, I haven’t counted them, nor have I an older iMac to compare it to, but you won’t be disappointed here.

What about power?  Running Intel’s 7th Get “Kaby Lake” processor should boost things more than a little.  Good old Geekbench to the rescue – producing a score about 500 points higher on the single core and 1500 points on the multi-core as compared to the 2015 comparative model.

 

At a glance it appears to me you’re getting at least 2015 Core i7 style performance from a 2017 Core i5 model.

The only other thing I can realistically test at this time is the new faster SSDs.  This speed improvement comes on pure SSD machines and on Fusion drives – with the SSD component of those also being improved by 50%.

A simple test of this?  Big file duplication.  A 250Mb video file – duplicated in the blink of an eye.

Around the back you’ve now got two USB-C ports for Thunderbolt compatible connectivity – maybe a couple of 4K screens? A Raid array?? All good with those new additions.

Pair all this with the new configuration options like up to 32Gb RAM on the 21.5 and 64Gb on the 27 inch, and the fancy new Magic Keyboard that comes standard, and the optional Magic Keyboard with number pad and it feels like Apple have really got an answer for every consumer question.

Price as tested: $2,199.  Solid value I reckon.

MacBook Pro & MacBook

Honestly, I can’t give these nearly as much time as the iMac.  They are much more incremental in their upgrades.

The big news is the 7th Gen Intel Core processors, a common move for Apple to get those into their machines and keep the performance of the lineup fresh.

But to aide that and boost things even more – the same faster SSD technology I mentioned in the iMac is also here.  Again, very noticeable on average use.  50% faster is a lot, plus there is room for more memory and the Pro now has more powerful discrete graphics.

Critically, the MacBook now has the second generation butterfly keyboard mechanism.  Making it identical to the MacBook Pro to use, and frankly ushering in a huge improvement – the first gen was just a touch too innovative.

Price as tested:  MacBook : $1,899 // MacBook Pro with TouchBar: $2,699

Overall

Sure If you just bought a MacBook Pro you will be all “man I’m annoyed” – but breaking news, that happens with all tech.

It’s tax time – so stop your whinging, these bad boys are available now, and these are the perfect kit to burn through cash for the tax deduction for.

As the owner of a pre 5K 27 inch iMac, the time has come.  Yes, there is a iMac Pro coming in December, but there’s no level of madness in my head to justify that expense for the silly stuff I do on the computer.  This new upgrade though?  Perfect timing – great speed, wonderful colours and performance – time to get on board.

 

Trevor Long travelled to San Jose as a guest of Apple for WWDC 2017 – click here to read our commercial interests and disclosures in full.

 

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Tech

Trev produces two of the most popular technology podcasts in Australia, Your Tech Life and Two Blokes Talking Tech. He hosts a nightly radio show on Talking Lifestyle, 8pm Monday to Friday in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane, appears on over 50 radio stations across Australia weekly, and is the Tech Expert on Channel 9’s Today Show and A Current Affair. Father of three, he is often found down in his Man Cave.

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