iMac

Originally released in 1998 with its most recent redesign in 2012, the iMac ($1,099 and up from the Apple Store) started life as Apple’s fun all-in-one computer, evolving into a more serious “right for practically everyone” option over time. Currently available in 21.5″ (1920×1080-pixel) and 27″ (2560×1440-pixel) versions, the iMac is effectively a non-portable MacBook Air or MacBook Pro with a larger screen. The lowest-end model ships with a slow Air-like 1.4GHz Core i5 processor, quickly stepping up to 2.7GHz and 3.5GHz i5 and i7 chips as the price climbs; hard drives range from a slow 500GB disk to a fast 1TB SSD, with better graphics processors at higher prices. You get most of the Mac Pro’s performance, ports, and features, plus an integrated screen, all at a lower price.

The iMac tapers to only 5mm thin at its edges, a design change that required the loss of optical drives and the movement of card readers to the computers’ rears, near their ports. It’s also impossible to upgrade the 21.5″ model’s RAM after purchase, so you’ll need to buy the machine customized with the amount you want. But those are the only compromises, as the thin iMacs feature top-grade internal specs like fast processors, USB 3 ports, and optional SSD or Fusion Drives. A Fusion Drive combines an SSD with a standard Hard Drive in order to provide the benefits of flash storage, while still providing the 1TB or 3TB of storage space that many customers would expect from the iMac.

Apple last updated the regular iMac in September 2013, but in mid-2014 introduced a minor update to the 21.5-inch iMac offering MacBook Air-quality chips at a more affordable price point. If you’re looking to save a comparable amount without compromising on performance, Apple sells refurbished iMacs at a discount, and they’re indistinguishable from new machines.

In the fall of 2014, Apple introduced a top-of-the-line 27″ iMac that looks identical from the outside, except for the addition of a “Retina 5K display.” With a $2,499 price tag from the Apple Store, the iMac with Retina 5K display includes a 3.5GHz Core i5 processor, and sells for a $500 premium over a comparably-equipped standard 27″ iMac. In addition to the sharper display, the 5K iMac can be customized with a faster 4.0GHz Core i7 processor, a 4GB graphics card, and up to 32GB of RAM. Like with the Retina MacBook Pros, it’s likely that the Retina iMac prices will come down over the course of the next few years. We expect to see a 21.5-inch Retina model in the future.

Need extra cash to upgrade? Sell your old iMac to Gazelle.

Read our full coverage for details.

Our recommendation:

Strongly Recommend
What's not to love about the new iMacs? Remember that the new 21-inch iMac won't have user-upgradable RAM so stock it up with as much as you'll need. If you can afford an SSD, give it serious consideration, as it radically improves the iMac's speed.

All iMac Generations

Release Date Age
October 16, 2014 10 months, 15 days ago

iMac ▪ August 10

AAPL: 115.52

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Intel recently announced plans to bring its professional-class Intel Xeon processors to notebook computers for the first time. The Xeon family of chips is notably only used by Apple in $2,999 and up Mac Pro desktop computers. According to Intel, the high-performance processor will make its way to portable computers starting with processors based on the next-gen Skylake architecture. Specifically, the Xeon E3-1500M v5 family will be the first to bring contemporary workstation power to portable computers, while Intel promises “the right balance of power and mobility” for the upcoming chips. But would Apple ever use Xeon chips in MacBook Pros? expand full story

iMac ▪ August 4

AAPL: 114.64

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iMac

We reported back in June that El Capitan beta 2 seed included assets and code references to a rumored 4K 21.5 inch Retina iMac, which would accompany the 5K 27 inch Retina iMac in the family. El Capitan beta 6 was released last night and also includes some juicy references to the as-yet-unannounced 21.5 inch Retina Mac desktop.

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iMac ▪ July 25

iMac ▪ June 24

Like Apple Watches, home offices are “personal” — the look and furniture that work well for one person might not seem “right” to another. But the unified metal and glass aesthetic of Apple products works really well with modern office furniture, and there are also some iconic decor items Apple lovers can incorporate into a home office.

I spend a lot of time working from my home office, and have considered it a work in progress ever since I started building it around an aluminum PowerBook many years ago. Below, you’ll find a collection of items that will help you build a beautiful, practical home office that really spotlights your Apple gear, based on a mix of affordable and small investment-worthy choices…

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iMac ▪ May 27

Over the past six months, I’ve published quite a few tutorials to help Mac users improve the performance of older computers, as well as some great guides to the best Mac accessories across a variety of categories. Today, I’m tying them all together in this handy, one-stop roundup of the best Mac accessories and upgrades.

This guide walks you through everything: in one place, you can learn about the best Mac hard drives, RAM upgrades, docks, keyboards, trackpads, stands, bags, and travel accessories out there. And you can also get free apps to improve your Mac’s storage and responsiveness, find plain English explanations of your Mac’s technical specs, and learn about the little security screws Apple uses to tamper-proof its machines. There’s a lot inside, so you may want to bookmark this piece for future reference!…

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iMac ▪ May 26

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After many complaints from the developer community about poor networking performance on Yosemite, the latest beta of OS X 10.10.4 has dropped discoveryd in favor of the old process used by previous versions of the Mac operating system. This should address many of the network stability issues introduced with Yosemite and its new networking stack.

The discoveryd process has been subject to much criticism in recent months as it causes users to regularly drop WiFi access and causes network shares to list many times over, due to bugs. Many developers, such as Craig Hockenberry, have complained about the buggy software and workarounds have been found to include substituting the older system (called mDNSResponder) back into Yosemite.

discoveryd would cause random crashes, duplicate names on the network and many other WiFi-relate bugs. In the latest beta, Apple appears to have applied the same fix as the enthusiasts by axing discoveryd completely.

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