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Review: Apple’s new Retina 5K iMac computer

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Apple iMac with 5K Screen

Apparently Apple decided that 4K wasn’t enough to  create a splash in the market. Instead, they have brought you the next generation all-in-one iMac computer, with a 5K screen. Either they are seeking to impress, or they felt a little intimidated by the sudden boost 4K screens have been getting lately.

This 27-inch iMac will attract most graphic designers, photographers and video pros for sure. With it’s oh-so-sweet resolution (5,120×2,880) using technology derived from the well-known retina screens, you will find it very difficult to look for imperfections.

Inside the new screen, you will find an AMD Radeon R9 290X along with an 3.5ghz Intel i5 quad-core CPU. Not exactly top of the line specs for a brand new (and supposedly competitive) computer, but not at all a weak beast.

The design of the new iMac hasn’t changed in this round, making it the 3rd generation to use this body style. This isn’t a bad thing since the design is very smooth, thin and easy on the eyes. We haven’t found anything to complain about in the previous models. It blends in just about anywhere you want to place it.

Accessory-wise, the mouse and keyboard haven’t changed. All connection and ports are available on the back-side of the monitor (4x USB 3.0, 2x Thunderbolt, sd-card, ethernet, headphone and microphone inputs) and the RAM chips are easily accessible from behind (everything else remains difficult to get to). The system supports both Wifi and Bluetooth.

We spent some time comparing the screen to multiple displays we had sitting around. It was pitted against a previous generation model, a few Samsung 27″ LEDs and a slightly smaller 24″ Viewsonic. The new iMac won without a challenge. Everything including edges, text, shadows and color wheel demonstrations. Nothing could compare to the new 5K screen. It is also very bright, and consumes less energy than the previous model.

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The big question (and only question), is do you need it? The new 5K screen is wonderful. As we mentioned, it will attract a great deal of professionals. Normal users however, may not find a need in the higher resolution, which happens to be the main selling point of the new iMac. Unless you are a hardcore gamer or media enthusiast, the new resolution might have a feeling of overkill. It all comes down to personal preference.

On the topic of media enthusiasts, we benchmarked the new system using a number (all) of 4K samples we have in our collection. All of which resulted in an amazing picture. The tiniest of details were noticeable while watching. What began as just a few test videos, resulted in going through our entire library. It’s like listening to hi-fi music. Sometimes once you start, it can be hard to put it back down and walk away.

If only video games would also start reaching for the 4K prize, so that they can contribute to this experience. Sadly, most computers still wouldn’t be able to handle 4K+ gaming. You may have the screen, but the parts would need a major enhancement that only a self-built (and expensive) computer can deliver.

Inside: The Radeon R9 290X chipset features 2GB of GDDR5 memory. There is a 1TB Fusion drive, but we would recommend upgrading this as 1TB feels so much like yesterday. A 3TB Fusion drive would suit this system much nicer. There is 8GB (2x4GB) of memory (1600MHz DDR3) which can be upgraded to a total of 32GBs, spread across 4 total slots. We would also recommend an upgrade there as well, to at least 16GBs in order to really bring the system to life. Installed, you will find Mac OS X Yosemite.

Performance-wise, there isn’t much difference between the new iMac and its predecessor. The hardware specs are almost identical outside of the screen and video card. Buying into the new system, you would definitely be doing so for the screen more than anything. It’s best to consider it as you are buying a 27″ 5K monitor that happens to have last years computer attached to it.

Our Conclusion

The new system is impressive, but so was last years. The screen is the only thing worth boasting about, and is what earns most of this system’s score that we have given it. We feel that the new screen is a jaw dropping feature. We just feel that the internal specs could have been a little more impressive as well. Regardless, we decided to give it an 8/10 rating, because if you are a professional, you are going to get a kick out of this. If you are an average Joe, you may be interested in last years model (also an 8/10).

 

8 / 10 stars           

Video:

Specifications:

Display

27-inch (diagonal) Retina display with IPS technology; 5120?by?2880 resolution with support for millions of colors

Processor

 

3.5GHz quad-core Intel Core i5 processor (Turbo Boost up to 3.9GHz)

 

Memory

 

8GB (two 4GB) of 1600MHz DDR3 memory; four SO-DIMM slots, user accessible

Configurable to 16GB or 32GB.

 

Storage

 

1TB Fusion Drive

 

Graphics

 

AMD Radeon R9 M290X graphics processor with 2GB of GDDR5 memory

 

Video Support and Camera

 

FaceTime HD camera

Simultaneously supports full native resolution on the built-in display and up to 3840 by 2160 pixels on an external display

Support for extended desktop and video mirroring modes

 

Audio

 

Stereo speakers

Dual microphones

Headphone port

Headphone/optical digital audio output (minijack)

Support for Apple iPhone headset with microphone

 

Connections and Expansion

 

Headphone

SDXC card slot

USB 3

Thunderbolt 2

Gigabit Ethernet

Headphone port

SDXC card slot

Four USB 3 ports (compatible with USB 2)

Two Thunderbolt 2 ports

Mini DisplayPort output

Support for DVI, VGA, and dual-link DVI (adapters sold separately)

10/100/1000BASE-T Gigabit Ethernet (RJ-45 connector)

Kensington lock slot

 

Input

 

Apple Wireless Keyboard

Full-size keyboard with 78 (U.S.) or 79 (ISO) keys, including 12 function keys and 4 arrow keys (inverted “T” arrangement)

 

Magic Mouse

Smooth, seamless Multi-Touch surface with support for simple gestures (scrolling and swiping). Click and double-click anywhere. Ambidextrous construction accommodates left- and right?handed users.

 

Magic Trackpad

Glass Multi-Touch trackpad for precise cursor control; supports inertial scrolling, pinch and expand, swipe, three-finger swipe, four?finger swipe, tap, double-tap, rotate, screen zoom, scroll, click and drag, click drag and lock, secondary click A and B.

Wireless

 

Wi-Fi

802.11ac Wi-Fi wireless networking; IEEE 802.11a/b/g/n compatible

Bluetooth

Bluetooth 4.0 wireless technology

 

Size and Weight

 

Height: 20.3 inches (51.6 cm)

Width: 25.6 inches (65.0 cm)

Stand depth: 8 inches (20.3 cm)

Weight: 21 pounds (9.54 kg)

 

Electrical and Operating Requirements

 

Line voltage:

100-240V AC

Frequency:

50Hz to 60Hz, single phase

Operating temperature:

50° to 95° F (10° to 35° C)

Relative humidity:

5% to 95% noncondensing

Operating altitude:

tested up to 10,000 feet

 

Limited Warranty and Service

 

Your iMac comes with 90 days of free telephone support and a one?year limited warranty. Purchase the AppleCare Protection Plan to extend your service and support to three years from your computer’s purchase date. Only the AppleCare Protection Plan provides you with direct telephone support from Apple technical experts and the assurance that repairs will be handled by Apple-authorized technicians using genuine Apple parts. For more information, visit Apple Support or call 800?823?2775.

 

In the Box

 

iMac with Retina 5K display

Apple Wireless Keyboard

Apple Magic Mouse

Power cord

Operating System

 

 

OS X Yosemite

 

Engineered to take full advantage of your Mac hardware, OS X Yosemite is intuitive and easy to use. It features an elegant design, includes enhancements to the apps you use most, and enables your Mac and iOS devices to work together in amazing ways. Learn more

 

OS X Yosemite Includes

 

AirDrop, AirPlay, Dictation, Gatekeeper, Notification Center, Facebook Integration, Twitter Integration, Multiple Display Support, Finder Tabs and Tags, iCloud, iCloud Keychain, iCloud Drive, Family Sharing, Dashboard, Mission Control, Spotlight Search, Safari Power Saver, App Nap, Power Nap, Compressed Memory, Built-in Sharing.

Built-in Apps

iPhoto, iMovie, Garage Band, Pages, Numbers, Keynote, Maps iBooks, Safari, Mail, FaceTime, Messages, Calendar, Contacts, Time Machine, Photo Booth, Mac App Store, iTunes, Game Center, Preview, Notes, Reminders.

 

Are you a manufacturer or distributor that would like us to test something out for review? Contact us and we can let you know where to send the product and we will try it out.

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About Author

Zack

Son of a west-coast-legendary audio engineer, Zack comes with a number of years in the technology industry. Specializing in live production and sound recording, his background also extensively covers other categories such as lighting and A/V technologies. With a strong history of both covering and thoroughly understanding technology and scientific news in every category imaginable, Zack is well known for rich conversation.

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