In a late 2016 missive sent to Apple employees, Apple CEO Tim Cook said that Apple remains committed to the Mac and has “great desktops” in the works. He specifically pointed towards the iMac, calling it the “best desktop” Apple has ever made and said the desktop is “very strategic” for Apple.
Apple has new iMacs in the works, but we don’t know exactly when the updated machines will debut. An October 27, 2016 event came and went with no new iMacs, suggesting we won’t see a refresh until the early months of 2017.
Apple’s chip plans for the iMac are difficult to decipher. Intel has not released desktop class socketed Skylake chips with integrated Iris or Iris Pro graphics appropriate for the lower-end iMacs that currently use integrated graphics, so it is not clear what Apple is going to do in terms of processor upgrades for those machines. Kaby Lake processors appropriate for 27-inch iMacs were announced in January at CES and will be going out to manufacturers during the first quarter.
According to Bloomberg, future iMacs will include USB-C ports and AMD graphics chips. Major design changes are not expected, but standalone keyboards with a Touch Bar and Touch ID are a possibility.
AMD has won a contract with Apple to supply the discrete graphics chips for future high-end 27-inch iMac and 15-inch Retina MacBook Pros. Performance of the new graphics chips is expected to be double that of their predecessors, measured on a per-watt basis, and rumors suggest future iMacs will use graphics cards from AMD.
Discrete graphics cards are only available in the 27-inch iMac, so this information applies only to those models. 21.5-inch iMacs use integrated graphics from Intel.