The Apple iMac, still the quintessential all-in-one desktop PC, has brushed off many a clone competitor over the years.
But while its Windows competitors have been stepping up with sleeker models, the latest iMac 5K (27-inch, 2020) has the same design that was last refreshed in 2015.
The changes are on the inside.
It now comes standard with the latest 10th-generation Intel six-or eight-core processors as well as a new 10-core i9 option.
Its graphics processing unit (GPU) has been upgraded to the next-generation AMD Radeon Pro 5000 series, which is faster and more energy-efficient than those found in its predecessor last year.
It also has solid-state drives (SSDs), which are faster than conventional disk drives. But the storage starts at a paltry 256GB, when 512GB will be more optimal for today’s computing needs.
Also rather paltry is the base 8GB system memory – the standard option even for the top model. At least 16GB is more acceptable.
Perhaps the most important upgrade is with the front-facing, or FaceTime, camera, which now has a resolution of 1,080p (up from 720p). I look significantly better than before during video-conferencing sessions, even in my dimly lit study. Plus, it comes with a face-detection feature to keep your face in sharp focus all the time.
The 5K display now features True Tone technology, which automatically changes a screen’s colour temperature to match the ambient light for more natural-looking images. There is also a nano-texture glass option that is said to significantly reduce glare.
With no design change, the new iMac 5K still has an aluminium body with a curved back that tapers to a 5mm-thick edge. Like its predecessors, all the ports, including the headphone jack, are at the rear. This means you have to reach behind to insert an SD card or a USB cable – a major inconvenience.
The review unit is the top standard model with an eight-core Intel Core i7 processor, Radeon Pro 5500 XT (8GB of video memory) GPU, 8GB of system memory and 512GB of SSD storage. It does not have the optional nano-texture glass so I am unable to see if there is really less glare as advertised.
Nonetheless, the 5K display remains gorgeous.
• Gorgeous 5K display with True Tone technology
• Overall great performance
• Better 1,080p front-facing camera
• Flash storage across all models
• Ports still at the rear
• Same design since 2015
• Meagre base 8GB system memory
PRICE: From $2,599
DISPLAY: 27 inches (5,120 x 2,880 pixels) with True Tone technology
PROCESSOR: From 3.1GHz six-core Intel Core i5 (up to 3.6GHz 10-core Intel Core i9)
GRAPHICS: From Radeon Pro 5300 (up to Radeon Pro 5700 XT)
MEMORY: From 8GB (up to 128GB)
STORAGE: From 256GB solid-state drive (up to 8TB)
CONNECTIVITY: 4 x USB 3.0, 2 x Thunderbolt 3.0, 1 x Gigabit Ethernet, 1 x SDXC card slot, 1 x 3.5mm headphone jack
VALUE FOR MONEY: 4/5
Its brightness level is rated at 500 nits and it supports up to one billion colours as well as the P3 wide colour gamut for more vivid colours. With a super high resolution of 5,120 x 2,880 pixels, you can see more details when editing photos and videos.
In terms of performance, the review unit scores 1,182 (single-core) and 7,220 (multi-core) in the Geekbench 5 benchmarking software. In comparison, last year’s iMac 5K (with Intel Core i7) scores 765 (single-core) and 4,517 (multi-core).
I find no visible lags when editing 4K videos using Final Cut Pro X (FCP X) and editing pictures in Pixelmator Pro (PP). Not to mention, PP’s Machine Learning Super Resolution upscaling imaging feature takes just three seconds to apply.
There are no performance issues or spinning rainbow wheels, too, when I open 10 to 12 tabs in both the Safari and Chrome Web browsers and run multiple apps such as Mail, FCP X, PP and Preview, while writing this review all at the same time.
Like its predecessor, the iMac 5K is not cheap. While prices start at $2,599, a fully souped-up iMac (with nano-texture glass display, 10-core processor, 128GB of system memory and 8TB of SSD) costs $12,929.
This might be the last iMac to feature the Intel processor, with Apple moving to its own processors soon. Who knows, you might end up with a piece of computing history if you get this version.
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