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 1 year, 1 month, 15 days ago

iMac November 26

AAPL: 118.03

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iMac November 13

AAPL: 112.34

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Apple has launched a holiday gift guide microsite today, featuring Apple products and accessories targeted at a wide variety of audiences. The list is separated into six main sections: Gaming, Photography, Music, Fitness, Learning and Travel. Naturally, Apple prominently features its own devices in the recommendations (iPhones, iPads, Apple TV, Beats headphones) alongside third-party accessories and suggested apps.

For example, in the Photography category of its gift guide, Apple lists the brand new iPhone 6s as the ‘world’s most popular camera’ alongside silicon cases, the olloClip Active Lens telephoto mount, a Gorillapod tripod as well as apps like Instagram, VSCO and Darkroom. Also, check our own gift guide for photography here.

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iMac October 15

AAPL: 111.86

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Following the corresponding update to Pixelmator for iOS 9, the company has released the latest version of Pixelmator for the Mac ($29.99) with full support for El Capitan. This includes compatibility with changes to the OS as well as an overhaul in the Pixelmator user interface to feature San Fransisco, Apple’s new system font. The update, version 3.4, also includes official full-screen Split View support on El Capitan, so users can dock Pixelmator next to any other app on the system filling the display.

Perhaps most interestingly, the app now includes a editing extension …

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iMac October 13

AAPL: 111.79

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Apple has today announced updates to the entire iMac family. Most notably, the company has brought Retina to the 21.5 inch iMac range, with 4K resolution displays. Apple has also dropped the non-Retina 27 inch iMacs, so they feature 5K displays across the board. The new iMac displays include faster processors, upgraded graphics, improved wider color gamut and two Thunderbolt 2 ports. The new iMacs have launched alongside updates to the Magic Trackpad, Magic Mouse and keyboard.

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iMac September 30

AAPL: 110.30

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Apple has officially released OS X El Capitan for the Mac, adding some new improvements as well as bringing parity with changes in iOS 9, released two weeks ago. OS X El Capitan (version 10.11), can be installed on any Mac that runs OS X Yosemite: simply download the free update from the Mac App Store. The release does not feature anything radically new — like the major visual overhaul that came last year — but there are new features as well as a strong focus on overall performance and stability improvements.

Here’s what’s new in Apple’s latest version of the Mac operating system …

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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


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