The iMac has long been the core of Apple’s desktop lineup, but it hasn’t received any updates since June 2017. Now, however, Apple has quietly updated the 21.5-inch iMac with Retina 4K display and the 27-inch iMac with 5K Retina display while keeping prices the same. The bargain-basement non-Retina 21.5-inch iMac remains for sale, but received no changes.
These updates are targeted at improving performance, so you won’t see any changes to the case, screen, or even networking capabilities. But if faster CPUs, GPUs, and memory are what you want, now’s a good time to buy.
The new 21.5-inch iMac boasts speedier 8th-generation Intel quad-core processors and an optional 6-core processor at the top of the line that delivers up to 60% faster performance than previous models. For even greater speed boosts—Apple claims up to 2.4 times faster performance—look to the 27-inch iMac, which now offers 9th-generation 6-core Intel Core i5 processors running at 3.0, 3.1, or 3.7 GHz. If that’s not enough, you can choose an 8-core 3.6 GHz Intel Core i9 processor for the best performance short of an iMac Pro.
Modern computers rely heavily on graphics processors for both silky smooth screen drawing and computationally intensive tasks. By default, both new iMac models have updated versions the previous Radeon Pro graphics chips, but anyone who needs more power can instead choose a blazingly fast Radeon Pro Vega. For the 21.5-inch model, Apple says the Radeon Pro Vega is up to 80% faster; for the 27-inch iMac, it’s up to 50% faster.
Note that both iMacs now use 2666 MHz RAM instead of the previous 2400 MHz RAM. It probably won’t make much of a performance difference, but it’s worth keeping the speed in mind if you’re buying RAM separately from the iMac.
For those ordering a Custom Order iMac from us, if the options you want are in the top-level configuration, start there rather than in the next configuration down. It’s possible to configure two Macs to have the same options for the same price but get a better Radeon Pro graphics processor if you start from the top-level configuration.
For storage, we generally recommend SSDs over Fusion Drives—add external storage if you need more space. Whatever you do, don’t buy an iMac with an internal hard drive because it will destroy the performance.
For those looking for the ultimate power in an iMac Pro, Apple also quietly added options for 256 GB of RAM (for a whopping $5200) and a Radeon Pro Vega 64X GPU ($700) while simultaneously dropping the prices on some other RAM and storage options.
Apple’s new iMac Pro has started shipping, and it’s an astonishing machine. Put simply, it’s the most powerful Mac ever, a title it will likely retain until Apple releases a new version of the Mac Pro, promised for sometime in 2018. But for now, what’s special about the iMac Pro, and should you buy one?
The main thing to know about the space gray iMac Pro is that it’s aimed at high-end professionals, and as a result, it gets pricey fast. The base configuration starts at $4999, and if you max out all its options, you’ll spend over $13,000. That’s a lot of money, but you get a lot of bang for your buck.
The power starts with the processor, an 8-core Intel Xeon W. If that’s not enough performance for you, there are also 10-core, 14-core, and 18-core options. Apple didn’t skimp on RAM either—32 GB comes standard, and you can bump it to either 64 GB or 128 GB. The default storage is a 1 TB solid-state drive, but you can increase that to 2 TB or 4 TB. You can’t upgrade the iMac Pro in any way yourself, but you can take it to an Apple Store or Apple Authorized Service Provider to have more RAM installed after the fact.
The screen is a stunning 27-inch Retina 5K 5120-by-2880 P3 display, and the iMac Pro drives all those pixels with a Radeon Pro Vega 56 graphics card with 8 GB of memory, though you can get even more graphics processing power from an optional Radeon Pro Vega 64 card with 16 GB.
Most of the iMac Pro’s other specs are similar to the existing 27-inch iMac with Retina display—a 1080p FaceTime camera, 802.11ac Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.2, an SDXC card slot, four USB 3 ports, and a headphone jack—but it also boasts four Thunderbolt 3 ports for driving external displays and large storage arrays, along with 10 Gb Ethernet for lightning-fast network access.
It comes with a space gray Magic Keyboard with Numeric Keypad and a space gray Magic Mouse 2. You can switch to a space gray Magic Trackpad for $50 or buy both input devices for $149, which you might want to do because the space gray peripherals aren’t sold separately.
Many of the iMac Pro’s options come with eye-watering price tags—$2400 for the 18-core processor and another $2400 for 128 GB of RAM—but those stratospheric costs make the purchasing decision fairly easy. If you’re in a line of work where increased performance translates directly to increased productivity, you’ll want an iMac Pro as soon as you can get one. It’s ideal for video editors who need to work with 8K video, engineers using complex modeling software, and developers suffering through long compile times. Put simply, if time is money for you, you’ll want an iMac Pro.
And if you’re a professional whose needs aren’t nearly so rarefied, you can rest easy knowing that the regular 27-inch iMac can give you more than enough performance for a lot less money.
101 N. Main St. Suite. I
Greenville, SC 29601-4841