Apple’s New iMac Thicker Than It Seems (Photos)

| Analysis

Apple's new iMac is, using The Mac Observer's own headline, insanely thin, but during the hands-on session, we found that appearances can be deceiving. This next generation iMac is extremely thin at the edges, but when you look at it from the side, it becomes clear that it's quite thick in the middle.

Our own Dave Hamilton was at the hands-on session, and took some photos so we can see. The image below shows the device from the roughly the same angle that Apple showed the device during Tuesday's media event and on its website. From that angle, it looks incredibly thin.

Hands On Apple's New iMac

Apple's New iMac: Thin from this Angle

The image below was taken from Apple's iMac site (and is the same at Apple's PR site). Interestingly the tech specs for the iMac list height and width, but not thickness or depth. Depth for the stand, however, is listed.

iMac Promo Pic

Apple's New iMac

The image below, however shows the device from the side. From that angle, you can see that it's quite thick in the middle.

Does This Stand Make Me Look Fat?

iMac Thinness: It's All About the Angle

Certainly it's still gorgeous, but it simply isn't as thin as we were led to believe. That said, it is smaller. Apple Senior Vice President of Marketing Phil Schiller said that it weighed 8 pounds less than its predecessor, an impressive accomplishment for the company.

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Scott B in DC

So? This “revelation” doesn’t curb my iMac envy!


Do consumers want thin? Why the drive for thinness in Apple devices?

If the sleek, thin look comes at the expense of harder to cool or harder (more expensive) to repair, is it worthwhile?


I noticed there weren’t many side views in the online information, so knew it wasn’t as thin as some people thought. smile

Bryan Chaffin

I agree, gents. It’s a gorgeous device—and the Fusion Drive is very exciting—but I fell for the thin line, hook, line, and sinker. Glad Dave got these pics.

Plus, the weight savings still matter for materials, shipping, and recyclability.


This is nice but the SDHC card slot is now in a awkward spot on the backside where, on my desk, it will be inaccessible.  As a photographer I use it daily.

Bosco (Brad Hutchings)

@WetcoastBob: For $15, you can probably pick up an SD card reader at Staples along with some double stick tape to attach it under the obligatory Mr. Potatohead.


The optical illusion is clever, but in a couple of years we’ll see the real thing!!


For some reason I’m glad I got the 2011 iMac just for the optical drive, even though I can’t remember the last time I used it ...  I guess it’s just an excuse to not envy the new thing.


Not a bit surprised.  In fact, I assumed it would be thicker in the middle.  If you truly thought it was going to be less than 1/4” all the way across, where did you think the HD was going to go?

I also suspect that what you thought it was would have been structurally very difficult, even impossible, especially on the 27” model.  There wouldn’t be enough stiffness to prevent warping during the cycling of heating-cooling.


I use the optical all the time since I’m too cheap to get an HDTV. Still, screen improvements are a huge enticement. Not really convinced that thinner is more than a minimal aesthetic. I don’t spend much time look at mine from an angle at which I can see any side.


Watching the keynote stream it was evident to anyone who paid attention that it was only thin at the edges.


jfbiii said:
> I use the optical all the time since I’m too cheap to get an HDTV.

I have a normal $40 DVD player.  I’m too cheap to care if my movie is hidef, and I like to watch it on the couch anyway instead of in the office.  But I do watch Dr. Who on the iMac via iTunes (since I’m too cheap to pay for cable, netflix, etc.)

> Not really convinced that thinner is more than a minimal aesthetic.

It might be nice to be lighter.  I’ve moved around my 1998 iMac and my 2006 iMac quite a bit.  Haven’t had much need to move around my 2011 one yet, but it is nice that these things move so easily.  Other than that, I think you’re right that it’s just aesthetic.  (Unless the thinner body makes it easier to vent heat somehow?)

aardman said:
> Watching the keynote stream it was evident to anyone who paid attention that it was only thin at the edges.

Because it was inconceivable to me that it could really be that thin.  Especially with the angles they were showing.  If it had been that thin I would have been flabbergasted.

p.s. where’s the “reply” or “quote selected text” feature now?


We all get thicker in the middle as we age.



We all get thicker in the middle as we age.


Constable Odo

Seriously, an observant child would be able to figure out that the thickness of the iMac at some point would have to be at least the thickness of a standard 3.5” hard drive and then some.  The only reason I can figure out why Apple made it as thin as it is would be to save on materials.  Multiply whatever amount of aluminum was taken away from earlier thicker models by millions and it could be worth significant savings in aluminum stock.  Apple has to find whatever way it can to keep profit margins reasonably high.  I mourn the passing of an optical drive and if I didn’t have an iMac that has one, I’d likely have to purchase an external one since I’m not quite ready to give up on an optical drive as a backup device.  At least Apple kept the SDXC slot as a commenter mentioned.  Think of all the wasted case material those Wintel PCs used for all those years since most consumers never populated all the drive bays.  They sure made for a lot of recycling or landfill.

I think that Apple is going a bit overboard on the minimalist approach for my taste but that’s just my opinion and I’m sure Apple knows what it is doing for its own reasons.  You don’t get to become a $600 billion company and a company that has amazing consumer demand for products on just pure luck.  It’s been said that you can’t be too rich or too thin and Apple seems to be following that saying to a T in all of its products and revenue/profits.


Regardless of some of the evident disappointment (which I find a bit perplexing — even the earlier rumors said the back was convex), the machine is quite beautiful.  And while some may think the shape is a cheat, I can honestly tell you that it has been many months since I’ve seen the back of either of my two iMacs, but I see the front and edge views every day.  Aesthetics is not unimportant as technology evolves;  devices we see and use everyday have a huge impact on perceived quality of life.  It’s a great way to distinguish between products that have become commodities.

As to material savings, remember that cutting 8 pounds off every iMac not only saves aluminum and the associated energy costs but also saves significantly on transportation costs and headaches — both for Apple and for users.

Rather than wailing that Apple’s design ethic has gone too far, I think it might be a bit more reasoned to actually try using one (at least for a few minutes in a store) before condemning the effort.  Apple is far from perfect, but not nearly as stupid or perverse as so many of their customers seem to think.  Not so many years ago there was lots of weeping and gnashing of teeth over Apple’s switch to metal laptops from plastic.  Earth still here.  Stay calm and carry on.


Still looks fantastic but yeah I fell for it also. Definitely misleading. Thought the whole device was that thin and kind of wondered how they fit everything in there. Still great though.


I was fooled for about five seconds. Then I realized how beautiful the design was regardless, not to mention the nice specs compare to what we’re using. You know the PC makers are already trying to copy the design—it will be unsuccessful of course, because where are they going to put all those legacy ports? And in a year we’ll look at the boxes we have now and wonder why they look so clunky.
We’ll take two 27-inchers.

john m getz

I have a 24 inch iMac from some years ago and I think overall mine is thinner on average.  The sides are about an inch thick but the back has no huge bulge.  Not really a deal breaker for me either way.  For portability I have a laptop.


Yeah.. so nice. And to make it so nice they removed the optical drive, Firewire 800, put the card reader on the REAR, downgraded the HDD to a 5400 RPM… on a desktop!!

And in the 21” model the RAM is, apparently, not upgradeable… no really, a desktop with no possibility in upgrading RAM.

Sorry, but too much of a compromise for the ILLUSION of thinnes.


This was the picture I wanted to see: the straight on side view showing its maximum thickness. What I find surprising is the clever angling which keeps the illusion of thinness from about the same angles of the screen’s viewing angles, perhaps about 187°.


What are they doing?  Too much too fast.  The main focus of this computer should be using the customers purchase of the hybrid drive to push down the prices of flash drives across the board to push the availability of larger more competitive flash drives and to make flash drives the leading drives in desktops and laptops.

You can’t push a computer no one really wants to buy as a desktop unit.  The macbook air customer is not the desktop customer.  Apple has done goofs like this before….but I don’t think Steve Jobs would have pushed so quickly on making an Imac air.  Leave that for later after the customer has brought the price of the flash hard drive market down in a market that is slow.

I don’t no maybe its not a goof…but I have a feeling their will be some adjustments to this model in the coming six months to one year.  No optical drive seems like a goof…but maybe that will give more financial leverage to the hard drive companies to make flash drives main stream.


No optical drive…more hard drive purchases more money for seagate and western digital to invest in the flash market…makes sense to me.



First desktop with a paunch

I noticed that during the presentation, Apple speaker was simply making quick moves to hide the paunch of the computer.

So it looks pretty much like a skinny but paunchy computer…


I think many people did not get the scope of the Imac and for that the idea behind the all in one.
Many are complaining about upgrades and modifications, but the all in one is not a desktop tower compressed into one table top display, but is mainly a lap top for the desk with a huge display and better performances.
How come that no one complains the lack fo upgradability of laptops ?
This is the way I always saw it, and i chose the Imac ( coming from Windows PC )  for this reason, otherwise I would have bought a mac pro. Or a Tower PC with windows , if windows was not such a bad OS.


I can’t believe that anyone (including Mac Observer and all the other supposed journalists) fell for the “5mm thin at its edges” hogwash to begin with. It was immediately and patently obvious that the actual thickness of the device was much greater. The “at its edges” wording should have immediately put a question mark in the head of anyone thinking at all. When was “at its edges” ever considered a way to measure the thickness of something?

So this is not a story about the design of the new iMac (nice or not). It’s a story about how mindlessly the entire media establishment just repeats the PR of big companies like Apple (especially Apple who is treated like they walk on water and never questioned about their many dubious claims—e.g. most of Apple’s “innovations” were actually copied from others or taken from companies they just gobbled up with their billions).

Apple makes nice devices. But it’s also so full of bull its ridiculous. In many ways, Apple’s real talent is not technology or innovation, it’s marketing. Steve Jobs was a modern day PT Barnum. And everyone falls for it every time.


I’m all for making it look beautiful from the viewing angles most people will see. It’s obvious it’s going to be thicker in the centre.
What I didn’t like is how they’re showing it off on their website and how they tried their hardest at the keynote to only show certain angles. Come on.
Apple’s a great company with cool products. So why try to pull the old “look at my left hand” routine? It just makes Apple seem desperate to be the leader in design, when they actually ARE the leader in design.

Nels Anderson, Jr.

November 13, 2012

Dear Mac Observer:

Is Siri on the new iMac?

Can I run all phone apps on the new iMac?

Will I be able to run PowerPC applications on the new iMac?

Thank you,

Nels Anderson, Jr.
Anchorage, Alaska

Bryan Chaffin

Hi Nels, Siri has not been brought to the Mac yet. iOS apps run in a developer simulator, but do not run natively. PowerPC apps haven’t been supported for several generations of OS X, and the new iMac only runs Mountain Lion (and eventually later versions).


Cool, I can use it as a door wedge. Say what you like about Apple machines—right back to the Mac Plus, pretty much all of them make excellent doorstops. This is an often overlooked feature, and possibly their most useful one.


I’ve always been a pc man.  I have built my own pc’s and programmed them myself.  Now I want an all in one pc.  The problem is all of the the all in ones except this new iMac have very inferior video cards.  This new 27 inch Imac with the 680mx card is going to be a dream for gaming or video editing.  I love the friction stir welding on it’s edges to make it look beautiful. I love the inventiveness of removing the space between the glass and the super hi def led screen.  Not to mention reducing 75% of the glare off the glass.  As for this bulge in the back, the only way to have this computer be thin all the way across is to put the computer guts in its base like Vizio has.  Anyway, this pc man is just waiting to jump on this new 27 inch iMac with all of it’s bell’s and whistles and just play and work and play all day long.

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