Apple announced a refreshed range of iMacs during its keynote at the Worldwide Developers Conference this week, offering three stock configurations of the new 27-inch model with Kaby Lake processors, Thunderbolt 3 ports, and faster graphics, with optional memory and storage upgrades at purchase.
While Apple offers a 64GB RAM upgrade option for its mid-range 3.5GHz and high-end 3.8GHz 27-inch iMacs, it only offers up to 32GB RAM for the least expensive 3.4GHz base model, which has led some observers to question whether the limit is arbitrarily imposed by Apple or hardware-related.
To answer the question, hardware maker OWC tested the low-end 3.4GHz iMac through its MaxRAM Certification program, which determines the maximum amount of memory that can be installed in a Mac as validated by a series of in-house laboratory tests, and found that it does indeed support up to 64GB of RAM, despite Apple not offering the option at sale.
OWC is offering its own 2017 27-inch iMac memory upgrade modules at MacSales.com, including a 64GB Kit (16GB x 4) for $579.99 that users can install themselves. Apple's 5K iMacs come with four user-accessible memory slots that support up to 16GB per slot, so Apple customers are advised to select the lowest RAM configuration when buying an iMac if they want to replace the existing modules with the less expensive OWC memory.
OWC notes that while MaxRAM configurations exceed Apple's officially supported maximums, all OWC-brand memory upgrades are "assured to perform flawlessly" and are covered by a Lifetime Advance Replacement Warranty and Money Back Guarantee.
Last November, longtime Mac vendor OWC was among the first wave of companies to announce Thunderbolt 3 docks designed to expand the capabilities of the new MacBook Pro. It's taken a while to finalize the product design, testing, and manufacturing, but OWC's Thunderbolt 3 Dock is now just about ready to ship and we've had a chance to spend some time with a production-ready unit.
Priced at $299, OWC's Thunderbolt 3 Dock includes an array of 13 ports to allow you to connect a host of devices to your MacBook Pro. It all comes in a package measuring about 9 inches by 3.5 inches and an inch thick, with brushed aluminum around the sides and glossy black plastic on top and bottom.
First up is the Envoy Pro EX with Thunderbolt 3, a pocket-sized, bus-powered SSD with desktop-class performance and speeds up to 40 Gb/s. Storage capacities will start at 240GB. As it remains a prototype, no release date was specified. OWC's existing Envoy Pro EX with USB 3.0 starts at $199.99.
Mercury Helios 3
OWC's new Mercury Helios 3 is a PCIe expansion chassis with a dedicated cooling fan and two Thunderbolt 3 ports with speeds up to 40 Gb/s. It can accommodate a half-length, full-height, double-width PCIe card. OWC said it will be available in the second quarter of 2017. Pricing was not disclosed.
Other products include the Helios FX external GPU powered by Thunderbolt 3, ThunderBay 6 six-bay RAID with Thunderbolt 3, and Mercury Viper portable Thunderbolt 3 SSD suitable for daisy chaining. OWC said the ThunderBay 6 is coming in late 2017, but no word on pricing or availability for the other products.
With the release of the 2016 MacBook Pro, there were a slew complaints over the compromising thinness and the removal of ports. For professionals who rely on the MacBook Pro, this latest iteration fell short of expectations. The outcry was so loud, in fact, that Apple slashed prices on its USB-C adapters, a move rarely seen from the company.
The DEC attaches to the bottom of the MacBook Pro by replacing the screws that hold on the bottom plate. This method won't void your warranty, but it will allow for the dock to be securely attached at all times.
At first glance the DEC looks comically large, but in person the size and weight are more than manageable. OWC claims that when attached to a 2016 MacBook Pro, the DEC will be as thin as the 2012 MacBook Pro. Weight didn't seem to be an issue, but this is an unfinished prototype that doesn't have all the hardware in place.
When considering the functionality of the dock, the size and weight compromises may be worth it. The DEC connects to the MacBook Pro over Thunderbolt 3 and will bring USB Type-A ports, Gigabit Ethernet, an SD Card Slot, and up to 4TB of storage. Additional features are also being considered, such as an expanded battery pack.
The models shown here are still in prototype phase, but OWC assured us the final models will be available within months. The DEC will come in both Silver and Space Gray, and at release it will be available for the 15-inch MacBook Pro. Pricing is not yet available, but OWC expects it to be priced lower than the BTO 2TB storage upgrade available from Apple.