Why the new iMac is still a great buy, even without Apple Silicon


2020 iMac: The new iMac looks just like the old one (only faster).
The 2020 iMac is certainly worth your cash.
Photo: Apple

Apple’s newest iMac is by far the fastest yet, with huge increases in both CPU and GPU performance. It also ships with improved speakers and microphones. And yet, it seems a lot of Apple fans don’t care.

The reason? The new iMac is powered by Intel processors, like all its predecessors since 2006, instead of Apple Silicon. Since Apple revealed its plan to switch to its own custom chips at the Worldwide Developers Conference in June, Intel processors just don’t hold the same appeal.

But there are some great reasons to continue buying Intel-powered Macs in 2020. Here are a few.

Support for Windows

When you buy a Mac with Apple Silicon, you bid goodbye to Boot Camp and the ability to run Windows natively inside its own partition. If that’s important to you, you should hold onto Intel.

It’s not that Windows isn’t compatible with the ARM architecture that Apple Silicon is based on. It’s that Apple no longer sees Boot Camp as a feature worth supporting once Intel is out of the picture.

“We’re not direct-booting an alternate operating system,” said Craig Federighi, Apple SVP of software engineering, during an interview with John Gruber in June. “Purely virtualization is the route.”

Complete app compatibility

Many developers already embraced the switch to Apple Silicon, so by the time the technology is available to us all, lots of our favorite Mac apps will be ready to go. iOS apps will be available, too.

But many Mac apps won’t be ready in time. A complete change of architecture means software must be rewritten, and that will take some developers more than just a few months to complete.

If you plan to be an early adopter of Apple Silicon, you’ll need to be prepared for the fact that not every single app that currently runs on Intel-powered machines will be available on day one.

iMac with immediate availability

Apple’s newest iMac is available to order today. It ships in just one business day from the Apple Online Store. If you’re desperate for a new iMac today, then, it’s your best option.

Who knows when the first iMac powered by Apple Silicon will be available? Apple did say it plans to ship Apple Silicon chips by the end of the year, but we’re only in August; we could be waiting months yet.

What’s more, rumor has it the first Apple Silicon machines will be portable. So, it may not be until 2021 that Apple Silicon makes its way to the iMac and iMac Pro.

That’s a long time to wait if your business depends on the fastest machines available today, or if you’re new to working from home and you’re in dire need of a decent desktop upgrade.

A safer option than waiting for Apple Silicon

One of the best things about Intel-powered Macs is that we know them well. We’ve been using them for more than a decade. Apple Silicon, on the other hand, is brand-new — at least to laptops and desktops.

Apple Silicon machines will be like first-generation devices. And like the original iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch and more, they likely will come with teething problems and plenty of room for improvement.

There’s a lot we don’t know about Apple Silicon yet. We can’t be sure they will be faster than Intel’s latest CPUs when it comes to processing, or whether they’ll work alongside discrete graphics chips.

Apple Silicone has certainly impressed us in iPhone and iPad over the years, but mobile devices are completely different machines. The Mac has a different operating system, an entirely different I/O, and more.

2020 iMac makes a great upgrade

Let’s forget about Apple Silicon for just a minute and take the new iMac at face value. Sure, it doesn’t sport the new design we were all hoping for, but on the inside, it’s a much-improved beast.

Not only does it pack insanely fast Intel processors with up to 10 cores and the newest AMD graphics, but you also get a super-sharp FaceTime HD camera with support for 1080p video, improved speakers, studio-quality microphones, and an SSD as standard.

What’s more, you can order your iMac with nano-texture glass. That’s the same tech that’s applied to the Apple Pro Display XDR to give it a matte finish, reducing glare and improving picture quality.

So, there you have it. If you need a new iMac today, Apple’s newest model is a fantastic option that will undoubtedly serve you well for years to come. Don’t let other Apple fans put you off.


Daily round-ups or a weekly refresher, straight from Cult of Mac to your inbox.

  • The Weekender

    The week's best Apple news, reviews and how-tos from Cult of Mac, every Saturday morning. Our readers say: "Thank you guys for always posting cool stuff" -- Vaughn Nevins. "Very informative" -- Kenly Xavier.