iMac Overview Updated June 21, 2017

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November 2008 - June 2017


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.

iMac Stories June 21

AAPL: 145.87

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I recently acquired the base model Mid 2017 5K iMac, and I have a post in the works that explains my reasoning for that decision. In a nutshell, I believe that this machine, at $1799, is by far the best bang for your buck as far as Macs go.

That said, it’s not perfect. One of the weakest points of the base model 5K iMac has to do with its stock RAM configuration. With only 8GB of RAM, the system struggles right out of the gate, and will start writing lots of data to disk in fairly short order. Thankfully, it’s ridiculously easy and relatively cheap to upgrade the 5K iMac’s RAM. In this brief video tutorial, we’ll show you how. expand full story

iMac Stories June 9

AAPL: 148.98

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iFixit discovered yesterday that the RAM in the new 21.5-inch iMac with Retina 4K display was upgradable, and a day later is already offering a kit to take advantage of this fact.

The firm notes that the base model 3.0GHz machine tops out at 16GB of RAM, and that the only way to get 32GB direct from Apple is buy the more expensive 3.4 GHz version …

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The best 4K & 5K displays for Mac

iMac Stories June 8

AAPL: 154.99

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iFixit has wasted no time in carrying out a teardown of the new 21.5-inch iMac with Retina 4K display, and has found that the RAM is user-upgradable, and the machine has a modular CPU. This means that – in theory – even the processor could be upgraded at a later date …

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9to5toys 

iMac Stories June 5

AAPL: 153.93

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Apple announced a new ‘iMac Pro’ model today set to arrive for customers this December and we had a chance to get a first look. Apple wasn’t actually allowing press to get hands-on with the new machine, but we did get an opportunity to get up close and personal with some video of the new iMac Pro (below).

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iMac Stories May 17

AAPL: 150.25

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iMac Stories April 18

AAPL: 141.20

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Apple has already announced that it will launch new iMacs later this year, including models aimed at pro users. Today, Digitimes reportedly reveals some details about what the iMac update will bring.

The report says that the consumer iMac models are going into production next month, with a launch in the second half of the year. An update is certainly due; the latest 5K iMac launched in late 2015. The pro iMac will seemingly launch later, with ‘server-grade’ components …

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