iMac Overview Updated October 18, 2016


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.

317 iMac stories

November 2008 - October 2016

iMac Stories October 18

AAPL: 117.47

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Apple is said to be introducing an entirely refreshed lineup of Macs later this month. The event is said to be on October 27th, which we first speculated earlier this month. The new Macs are expected to be available to consumers this month, as well.

As is often the case with Apple events, we already know a good portion of what the company has up its sleeve. Read on for a roundup of what to expect…

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iMac Stories October 11

AAPL: 116.30

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[Update 10/14: Float Shelf is now available for all earlier iMacs, and Apple Thunderbolt & Cinema displays, including 17″/20″/21.5″ iMacs, 24″/27″ iMacs, 27″ Thunderbolt displays, 20″/23″ Cinema displays, and 24″/27″/30″ Cinema displays.

Float Shelf initially only supported newer 21.5″ and 27″ iMacs without SuperDrives. Now two additional versions which will fit older generations iMacs and Apple Thunderbolt & Cinema displays are available through the campaign.]

Earlier this year at CES I met the folks at Prism Designs who have some interesting new accessories for Apple products in development. The latest is called Float Shelf, which is an aluminum panel that attaches to the back of your iMac to provide a handy stand for decluttering your desk. Float Shelf is launching as a Kickstarter project today with nearly $9,000 (and climbing) in funding already, and we recently got a chance to go hands-on with Float Shelf for iMac…

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iMac Stories August 29

AAPL: 106.82

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We already know a lot about Apple’s upcoming iPhone and MacBook Pro refreshes, but a new report today from Bloomberg details a bit more about what the company has up its sleeve for the rest of the year. The report claims that in addition to the new iPhone and MacBook Pro lineups, Apple is planning to refresh the iMac and MacBook Air and will also introduce a new 5K display, as we’ve reported in the past, in partnership with LG. On the software side of things, Apple is reportedly working on a variety of new features for the iPad Pro.

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iMac Stories June 10

AAPL: 98.83

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iMac Stories June 1

AAPL: 98.46

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Update: No new Apple display at WWDC … timing unclear but integrated GPU next-gen Apple Display is still in development.

The current $999 (!) Thunderbolt Display is showing its age to put it mildly, now significantly overshadowed by Retina MacBooks and iMacs in terms of screen resolution and quality. Reaffirming earlier reports, we have heard that stock of the Thunderbolt Display at Apple Stores is quickly running out with no indications of more units on the way to replenish availability. This is often a good indicator that a refresh is imminent. We are led to believe that WWDC will be very light on new hardware. However, given the opportunity for cheers in the audience, perhaps Apple could announce the new display at the keynote with a release pencilled in for later in the year.

Independently, we have heard some rumblings about what the new display might offer. Finally bringing it up to speed with its Retina display Mac cousins, the new ‘Thunderbolt Display’ will likely feature a 5K resolution display 5120×2880 pixels. Moreover, sources indicate that Apple will take the display in a surprising direction, specifically suggesting that Apple plans to integrate a dedicated external GPU into the display itself

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iMac Stories May 26

AAPL: 100.41

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The team behind Pixelmator has today released yet another free update to its Mac photo editor, Pixelmator version 3.5 ($29.99 in the Mac App Store). Alongside the usual round of performance improvements and bug fixes, the app includes a few handy new end-user features. There’s a smarter Auto Selection tool and a brand new Magnetic Selection tool to accurately and quickly cutout objects from a scene in a photograph. There’s also a brand new Retouch extension for the native OS X Photos app, integrating refined brush-style edits into iCloud Photo Library. Video demo after the break …

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