Apple has launched refreshed iMacs with the biggest changes coming to the 27-inch models. While there are compelling updates like 10th generation Intel CPUs, new AMD GPUs, and a 1080p FaceTime camera, the switch to Apple Silicon could bring a truly all-new iMac design (which we didn’t get today). Follow along for a 2020 iMac comparison versus the previous generation along with some help deciding if you should buy the new iMac.
An iMac update has been anticipated for some time now and while a number of solid upgrades have arrived with the 2020 iMac, it still sports the same design that we’ve seen since 2012.
The 27-inch iMac is really the focus with the 2020 update, but the 21.5-inch models did get a bump from the 1TB spinning HDD or Fusion Drive to all SSD storage starting with 256GB (even the $1,299 base model).
Below we’ll look at a detailed iMac comparison of the 2020 and 2019 27-inch models as well as the 16-inch MacBook Pro for those who may be weighing a desktop setup with a larger display vs the portability of a notebook (if you need the power of an iMac Pro, you probably know if an iMac won’t work for you).
2020 iMac comparison – hardware
Of the hardware components compared below in this first section, the 2020 iMac has seen upgrades or changes to all of them except for the Wi-Fi card (no WiFi 6 support here).
That includes new 10th generation Intel CPUs with up to 65% faster performance, new AMD Radeon Pro 5000 series GPUs that bring up to 55% faster graphics performance (up to 16GB of memory), the switch to all SSD storage (now up to 8TB), double the RAM capacity, the T2 security chip, as well the important and overdue bump to 1080p for the FaceTime camera.
For a look at how valuable the new AMD GPU options are, check out the fine details from Jeff Benjamin here.
And the T2 security chip does more than just offering improved security for your data and the boot process — it also helps with the new 1080p FaceTime camera thanks to its Image Signal Processor, as noted by Apple.
…the FaceTime HD camera now features 1080p resolution, while the Image Signal Processor in the T2 Security Chip brings tone mapping, exposure control, and face detection for a much higher quality camera experience. To complement the improved camera, the T2 Security Chip also works with the speakers to enable variable EQ for better balance, higher fidelity, and deeper bass.
2020 iMac comparison – I/O
More valuable updates with the 2020 27-inch iMac include “Hey Siri” support thanks to the T2 chip, the option to custom configure the desktop with 10Gb Ethernet for $100, the bump to Bluetooth 5.0, as well as the studio-quality three-mic array that arrived with the 16-inch MacBook Pro.
Video output also sees an improvement with support for up to two Pro Display XDR monitors (or other 6K displays) with the high-end AMD GPU.
2020 iMac comparison – display
Two notable changes for the 2020 27-inch iMac display are True Tone support and the ability to upgrade the screen with the nano-texture matte glass for $500 that first debuted with the Pro Display XDR.
Strangely enough, while Apple updated the iMac Pro base model to a 10-core processor today, it didn’t add the nano-texture glass option for its display like it did for the standard iMac — which is definitely an upgrade that pro users will be more interested in. Maybe we’ll see that in the future.
2020 iMac pricing
Pricing for the new 27-inch iMac starts at the same $1,799 that the previous generation did. However, with new upgrades like the nano-textured matte glass, 10Gb Ethernet, and SSD storage going all the way up to 8TB now, and 128GB RAM option, the price of a maxed out iMac is $2,000+ higher than before at $8,799.
However, you can still configure a powerful and very capable iMac before getting to the $5,000 mark of the base model iMac Pro.
All in all, the 2020 27-inch iMac is a very solid update across a number of important areas. But the two big things that could hold buyers back are that it comes with the same design that it’s had since 2012 and that the shift from Intel to Apple Silicon is coming soon.
Reliable Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo has predicted that a 24-inch iMac could be the first Mac with a custom Apple processor alongside a 13-inch MacBook. Those could land between Q4 2020 and Q1 2021 (notably, Kuo also correctly predicted the 2020 Intel iMac refresh that just happened). Apple CEO Tim Cook confirmed that timeframe at WWDC but didn’t share details about what the first Apple Silicon Macs would be. The first iMacs with Apple Silicon are expected to see an all-new design with slimmer bezels similar to the Pro Display XDR.
Buy or wait?
If you need a new Mac and you’re on the fence about whether you should buy the 2020 iMac, you shouldn’t be put off by concerns about support in the future. The full transition to Apple CPUs will take several years, and even then, the company will continue to support Intel Macs for years into the future. And particularly if you need a new Mac for work, the new upgrades including new CPUs, GPUs, storage options, 1080p FaceTime camera, and more will make it a valuable upgrade.
There’s also the argument that you may have a smoother experience making sure all your apps are supported and run well by sticking with Intel for now.
But if you don’t absolutely need a new Mac right now and an all-new design and Apple Silicon feel like important factors, waiting 4-7 months is probably worth it.
What do you think of the new iMacs? Excited to upgrade or easy to hold off? Share your thoughts in the comments below!
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