Apple iMac with Retina 5K display (27-inch, Mid-2017)
More of the same for Apple’s big-screen Mac, but that’s not a bad thing.
There’s been a big wait for the latest generation of 5K iMac updates — almost two years. With that kind of gap, we were hoping for some truly big changes. However, it looks like we’ll have to rely on the iMac Pro release in December for our fix of wild new features.
Firstly, that glorious 5K screen is basically the same. Same huge 5,120 x 2,880-pixel res, same 27-inch size, and the same wide P3 gamut for more realistic colours than the average screen. To it’s credit, the 2017 display comes with boosted brightness, and the difference is noticeable, adding an extra level of vibrancy that’s pleasing. That’s not a revolution, but it’s impossible to overstate how impressive this screen is when it’s packing a ridiculous amount of detail into images that really pop. The extra brightness also helps curb reflections.
Let’s move on to the iMac’s innards, because the 5K iMac still represents Apple’s most powerful computer that people actually buy. If it’s purely processor power you’re after, the bigger iMac isn’t necessarily a must-buy over its 21.5-inch 4K iMac sibling. The top-end 4K iMac ($2,199) and this entry‑level 5K model actually share the same 3.4GHz quad-core Intel chip, 8GB of memory and 1TB Fusion Drive. The $500 difference gets you the bigger screen and better graphics performance.
Apple offers a lot of iterations when it comes to processor, RAM and storage, giving you options to choose which model works best for you. The big iMac changes this year lie in graphics, with a speedy AMD Radeon Pro 570 with 4GB of video memory under the hood.
If you’re not planning on gaming or doing 3D work, the extra memory won’t make much difference. But for those that do, it’s an important upgrade. If you’re doing that stuff you’ll probably want to step up to the $3,449 model, which comes with a faster GPU and 8GB of video memory.
Even if you’re not a gamer or a 3D pro, you’ll benefit from the graphics unit being generally more powerful — many apps, including Photos, take advantage of it to speed up certain tasks. In terms of storage, you get a 1TB Fusion Drive in both the entry-level 5K iMac and the next model up, with a 2TB drive in the top model. The flash memory is extremely fast (with read speeds of over 700MB/s and write speeds of 575MB/s), making the computer feel really snappy in use.
The 8GB of main system memory is enough for most home users, but you can add more when ordering from Apple, but you can install more yourself.
You’ve also got additional ports with this model — two Thunderbolt 3 ports that double as USB-C, in addition to the same four USB 3.0 (Type-A) ports, SD card reader, and Gigabit Ethernet port as before.
As lovely as it is, the design feels like it’s a bit behind Apple’s other products. But these are minor irritations; the 5K iMac is still really strong, marrying satisfactory power with an unmatched display quality.