New Retina 5K iMac

The big iMac gets a Sky­lake pro­ces­sor

Mac Format - - CONTENTS -

From £1,849 Ap­ple ap­

Pro­ces­sor 3.3GHz In­tel Core i5 Mem­ory 8GB Stor­age 2TB Fu­sion Drive

This is Ap­ple’s first really big re­fresh of its 5K iMac lineup, and it’s quite an in­ter­est­ing one. For a start, Ap­ple has stopped making non-5K 27-inch iMacs, but has brought the price of the low­erend 5K model down fur­ther, and has in­tro­duced a new mid-range op­tion, but it’s the high-end model we’ve got for re­view. All of the mod­els in­clude In­tel’s lat­est gen­er­a­tion of pro­ces­sors, but at lower clock speeds than their equiv­a­lents from last year.

There are new graph­ics cards in all of them too, and this high­est-end model of­fers a 2TB Fu­sion Drive, up from 1TB in the pre­vi­ous offering. Per­haps most im­por­tantly, though, is a new screen – still a 5120x2880pixel Retina mas­ter­piece, but it can now sup­port a wider colour range than be­fore – a 25% larger range, to be pre­cise, mean­ing more re­al­is­tic colour rep­re­sen­ta­tion, if you’ve got the right me­dia to show it off.

For cre­ative pro­fes­sion­als, this can be a big deal. It means that raw pho­tos can be pro­cessed with a new eye on their colour rep­re­sen­ta­tion, elim­i­nat­ing band­ing arte­facts in gra­di­ents, and the re­sults can be pretty strik­ing – reds es­pe­cially looked richer to us, even com­pared to last year’s Retina 5K iMac. For some peo­ple, the gamut im­prove­ment alone will make the new iMac a must-have up­grade – be­ing able to get more colour out of your raw pho­tos is a pow­er­ful draw. For the rest of us, though, it’s more of an aca­demic im­prove­ment – it will really only be no­tice­able to pros, and even then, some peo­ple won’t be keen that the dis­play still has a re­flec­tive, glossy fin­ish. That said, this is prob­a­bly the best desk­top screen ever, and we ab­so­lutely love it.

Slower, but faster

De­spite this model hav­ing a slightly lower pro­ces­sor speed than its 3.5GHz pre­de­ces­sor, In­tel’s over­all im­prove­ments to the com­plex­ity and ca­pa­bil­ity of its chips mean that this model is about 10% faster when per­form­ing real tasks – it man­aged our Hand­Brake multi-core video en­cod­ing test in 27 min­utes, while last year’s did it in 30 mins. Our bench­mark­ing tests, in­clud­ing Geek­bench’s sin­gle-core per­for­mance mea­sure­ments, re­flected this im­prove­ment too.

In terms of graph­ics, we got es­sen­tially the same re­sults here as the pre­vi­ous model. The Tomb Raider bench­mark (run­ning at 2560x1440 on High set­tings) recorded 49fps on av­er­age, which is ex­actly what last year’s scored. Our Bat­man: Arkham City test ac­tu­ally got a couple of frames lower when run­ning at 1920x1080, but we sus­pect that’s down to quirks of it be­ing a game that’s a few years old now – the dif­fer­ence was neg­li­gi­ble in any case.

For some peo­ple, the colour gamut im­prove­ment alone will make the new Retina 5K iMac a must-have up­grade

Fac­tor in that Ap­ple has dou­bled the size of the Fu­sion Drive you get, and you have a ma­chine that’s an even bet­ter deal than last year’s, which we al­ready loved. It hasn’t pro­gressed all that much in that time, but that’s kind of in­evitable – In­tel and Ap­ple are both making big leaps in per­for­mance for low-power pro­ces­sors, but at the higher end, In­tel’s progress is pretty slow. Get­ting some­thing 10% faster and with the even bet­ter screen is about as good as we could have hoped for.

Rais­ing RAM

One thing that hasn’t changed from the pre­vi­ous 5K mod­els is that it comes with 8GB of RAM – enough for home use. Call us old-fash­ioned, but we tend to feel that a £1800+ ma­chine that’s mostly at­trac­tive to pro users should prob­a­bly come The 5K iMac’s con­nec­tiv­ity hasn’t changed; there’s no sign of Thun­der­bolt 3 just yet, but what’s there is a good range of ports. with 16GB of RAM as stan­dard. For­tu­nately, you can still up­grade the 5K iMacs with more RAM af­ter you pur­chase (un­like the 21.5-inch iMacs, in­clud­ing the new 4K model, which must be con­fig­ured when you buy due to the RAM be­ing sol­dered in), mean­ing you can save money on Ap­ple’s RAM prices.

The new iMac comes with Ap­ple’s new ac­ces­sories, of course – the new Magic Key­board and Magic Mouse 2 (or you can get the Magic Track­pad for an up­grade cost). As you can see on p87, we really like the new key­board, the Magic Mouse is pretty much the same as it ever was, and the track­pad is a nice up­grade for those wor­ried about RSI or sim­i­lar com­puter-use woes.

We still thor­oughly rec­om­mend the high-end 5K iMac, of course – it’s still knock­ing on the door of the Mac Pro for high-end work such as HD or even 4K video edit­ing, un­less you’re talk­ing about up­grad­ing to an eight­core Mac Pro and ap­ply­ing a lot of ad­vanced ef­fects. For most work on video, pho­tog­ra­phy, illustration and many more tasks, there’s sim­ply no need to go pro – you get loads of power here, with an amaz­ing screen al­ready at­tached! (And, if you need even more power, there’s still a 4GHz model avail­able, which is just as­ton­ish­ingly pow­er­ful.)

Mid-range mad­ness

The pre­vi­ous high-end 5K iMac scored five stars, while this one hasn’t – why is that? We think it should come with 16GB of RAM, it’s true, but one of the big­gest rea­sons is the new mid‑range model.

That model fea­tures a pro­ces­sor that’s slower only by a couple of per­cent, a graph­ics card that’s a bit less pow­er­ful, but still of­fers a solid 2GB of VRAM, and a Fu­sion Drive at 1TB in­stead of 2TB, which is still plenty for most peo­ple. It’s £250 less, and, of course, you still get the newer, flashier 5K screen with wider colour range. Even a year on from Ap­ple’s ini­tial 5K iMac launch, buy­ing a 5K mon­i­tor separately will set you back most of the cost of even an iMac, with­out the com­puter parts. And they won’t look as good.

We think most peo­ple will find the mid­dle model of­fers all the iMac they need, and so we would mostly rec­om­mend peo­ple go for that. But this high-end op­tion is ex­cel­lent too, if you want the ex­tra stor­age space and power it of­fers. Matt Bolton Still a fan­tas­tic ma­chine, with its spec­tac­u­lar screen made even bet­ter. But do look at the mid-range op­tion.

5K dis­play bet­ter than ever

Hugely pow­er­ful

Gen­er­ous 2TB Fu­sion Drive

Only 8GB of RAM de­spite price

What you can’t see here is just how great the im­proved P3 dis­play in the new Retina 5K iMac looks – even com­pared to last year’s amaz­ing model.

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