Apple iMac 4K
Apple refreshed its iMac lineup on March 19, 2019 after a two-year wait, introducing 8th and 9th-generation Coffee Lake processors and upgraded Radeon Pro Vega graphics options for major performance improvements over 2017 models. Apple’s tagline for the update, is, in fact “freaking powerful.”
The 2019 iMac update was a spec refresh only, and there were no design changes or external updates. The 21.5 and 27-inch 4K and 5K iMacs continue to use the same “ultra-thin” slim-bodied design that was first introduced in 2012.
There were also no updates to the display, which was refreshed in 2017 with what Apple said at the time was the “Best Mac display ever,” offering 500 nits brightness and 10-bit dithering for accurate reproduction of up to a billion colors.
Apple’s 21.5-inch iMacs have been updated with Intel’s 8th-generation chips with up to 6 cores at the high end, while the highest-end 27-inch iMacs feature Intel’s 9th-generation chips with up to 8 cores.
Apple says the 21.5-inch iMac is up to 60 percent faster than the previous-generation model, while the 27-inch iMac is up to 2.4 times faster.
For the first time, Apple has introduced Radeon Pro Vega graphics in both the 4K and 5K iMac models. In the 4K Macs, Radeon Pro Vega graphics offer 80 percent faster graphics performance, while in the 27-inch model, the upgraded option provides 50 percent faster graphics performance.
These high-end processor and Radeon Pro Vega graphics options are add-on upgrades and are an additional cost over the base iMac pricing. The 21.5-inch 4K iMac is priced starting at $1,299, while the 27-inch 5K iMac is priced starting at $1,799.
All 27-inch models and the higher-end 21.5-inch iMac ship with Fusion Drives as a standard storage option, but they can be upgraded with SSD storage for an additional cost. The entry-level 2019 4K 21.5-inch iMac and the still-available low-end 2K 21.5-inch iMac continue to come with traditional hard drives.
Both the base 21.5-inch 4K iMac models can be configured with up to 32GB of fast 2666MHz RAM, while the higher-end 27-inch iMac models can be configured with up to 64GB of 2666MHz RAM.
The new iMac models are equipped with two USB-C Thunderbolt 3 ports, 4 USB-A ports, a headphone jack, an SD card slot, and a Gigabit ethernet port. A FaceTime HD camera, stereo speakers, and a microphone are also standard on all models.
Apple hasn’t changed the design of the iMac since 2012, when it introduced the slim unibody design with razor thin 5mm display, aluminum stand, and aluminum border at the bottom of the machine.
All 2019 iMac models use this design, with a single plug at the back for power and ports at the rear for connecting accessories. On 27-inch machines, there’s also a rear hatch for accessing the RAM for upgrade purposes.
The 21.5-inch iMac measures in at 17.7 inches tall and 20.8 inches wide, with a stand depth of 6.9 inches and a total weight of 12.5 pounds. The 27-inch iMac measures in at 20.3 inches tall and 25.6 inches wide, with a stand depth of 8 inches and a weight of 20.8 pounds.
All iMacs ship with a wireless Apple Magic Keyboard and an Apple Magic Mouse 2, with a Magic Trackpad 2 available as a $50 upgrade option. A wireless Magic Keyboard with Numeric Keyboard is also available for an additional $30.
All 4K and 5K iMac models feature displays last upgraded in 2017 with 500 nits brightness and support for 10-bit dithering and wide color gamut. These features allow the displays to accurately reproduce up to a billion colors for more a vivid, true-to-life screen.
Apple’s 5K 27-inch iMac has a resolution of 5120 by 2880, while the 4K 21.5-inch iMac has a resolution of 4096 x 2304. Apple also continues to sell a low-end 21.5-inch iMac with a non-Retina 1920 x 1080 display.
All of the 27-inch iMacs feature upgraded 5K displays, 1TB or 2TB Fusion Drives as the standard storage option, and support for up to 64GB of 2666MHz DDR4 RAM. 8GB of RAM is the standard in all 27-inch iMacs, so most people will likely want to upgrade this or do after-market upgrades to increase performance.
All iMac models can be upgraded with faster solid state storage and higher-end processors.
CPU and GPU
The 2019 27-inch iMacs come equipped with Intel’s 8th and 9th-generation desktop class Coffee Lake processors, which offer decent speed improvements over the Kaby Lake chips in the previous-generation 27-inch iMac models.
Apple’s base 27-inch iMac and middle tier model both use 6-core 8th-generation Intel Core i5 processors at 3.0 and 3.1GHz, respectively, while the higher-end base configuration features a 9th-generation 3.7GHz 6-core Core i5 processor.
The middle and high-end machines can be configured with a 9th-generation 3.6GHz 8-core Core i9 chip with Turbo Boost up to 5.0GHz.
According to Apple, the new 27-inch iMac models are up to 2.4 times faster than the previous-generation 27-inch iMac models. The maximum stated performance increase is, however, based on this upgraded chip rather than the base chips in the new machines.