Apple Upgrades iMac Line with All Retina Displays

| Product News

Apple updated the iMac lineup on Tuesday with a 4K Retina display for the 21.5-inch model, and 5K Retina displays for all 27-inch models. Today's updates do away with non-Retina displays across all iMacs, leaving the MacBook Air and Thunderbolt Display as the notable outsiders in Apple's high resolution display lineup.

Apple goes Retina for all iMacsApple goes Retina for all iMacs

The 4K 21.5-inch Retina Display sports 9.4 million pixels at 4096 x 2304 resolution, and the 5K 27-inch version packs in 14.7 million pixels. Apple says both offer a wider color gamut, too.

All iMacs now include dual Thunderbolt 2 ports, four USB 3 ports, Gigabit Ethernet, an SDXC card slot, three-stream 802.11ac Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0, FaceTime HD camera, built-in stereo speakers, dual microphones, and a headphone port. OS X El Capitan is pre-installed, and they ship with Apple's new rechargeable Magic Keyboard 2 and Magic Mouse 2.

The 21.5-inch iMac includes a fifth-generation Intel Core processor with Intel Iros Pro graphics, and a 1TB 5400 RPM hard drive. The 27-inch models ship with sixth-generation Intel Core processors (Skylake) and AMD Radeon R9 graphics, and a 1 TB 7200 RPM hard drive.

Apple is also offering new Fusion Drive options with a 1 TB drive paired with 24 GB flash memory, and 2 TB and 3 TB drives with 128 GB flash memory. A 1 TB flash drive is available as a build-tro-order option, too.

The 21.5-inch iMac is priced at US$1,099 with a 1.6 GHz dual-core Intel Core i5 processor and standard display, $1,299 with a 2.8 GHz quad-core Intel Core i5 processor and standard display, and $1,499 with a 3.1 GHz Intel Core i5 processor and Retina display. All three include 8 GB RAM upgradable to 16 GB as a build-to-order option.

The 27-inch iMac is priced at $1,799 with a 3.2 GHz quad-core Intel i5 processor and 1 TB hard drive, $1,999 with the same processor and a 1 TB Fusion Drive, and $2,299 with a 3.3 GHz quad-core Intel Core i5 processor and 2 TB Fusion Drive. All models ship with 8 GB RAM that's user upgradable to 16 GB.

Apple's new 21.5-inch and 27-inch Retina iMacs are available online and in the company's retail stores today.

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Since the new iMacs have quad-core i7, can we have those in the Mini too?


Lee Dronick

I suppose that soon the entire line will be retina display.


Almost certainly. The question is though where does a Retina Air fit between the MacBook and the MacBook Pro. I see more overlap there than Apple is usually comfortable with.


Apple’s site still shows the two cheaper iMac models as 1080P, not retina. Either those are left over and will disappear when stock runs out, or they’re keeping them around for the lower price point.


I’m not sure I like the idea of being forced to a retina display. More pixels means more stress on the graphics card just to drive the machine. At present I have a mid-2011 27” iMac (top of the line GPU) and it is more than adequate for everything except the newest games. So I’m concerned about updating to get a newer GPU but getting the retina display with it. In theory it can let games play full screen with a lower resolution and not incur any performance hit, so maybe it would work.

-  My 2011 iMac is the last one that comes with a DVD drive. I almost never use it, but I would hate to lose it.
- Since my 2011 iMac is top of the line, the bottom of the line late-2015 iMac does not have a better CPU, so I’d have to get a top-of-the-line again. (2011 is the only time I’ve ever done that, usually I buy nearer the bottom.)
- I think my 2011 one has 256 GB SSD and 1 TB HD, so these new models with only 128 GB SSD would be less flash storage. I’m guessing the intelligent management of a Fusion Drive makes that undetectable. And since my SSD (non-Fusion drive) is so close to full whenever I copy large files I put them on the HDD anyway so the new Fusion Drive couldn’t be any slower I guess.
- I would not use the new keyboard because it has no numpad.
- I would not use the new mouse, because my Logitech mouse is better for playing games that need 2 clicks and a scroll wheel without accidentally clicking the wrong side or accidentally triggering the scroll wheel (which usually changes weapon/tool and that is very annoying).

Well, 4 years with one iMac and it still has life so I’ll probably stick with it longer. But I was thinking about when/whether to upgrade just a few days ago.


@webjprgm, it’s not all bad for upgrade.
- You can get the lower-end model of the 21.5”, which doesn’t have the retina display, but does have a CPU and GPU that are at least three full generations newer than your 2011. The clock speeds may be the same, but the newer chips should be much more efficient in doing what they do with that clock. At the least, wait until you can compare real performance numbers.
- These Macs do come with a wired USB keyboard as an option, which includes the numeric keypad… or you can continue to use the keyboards, mice and trackpads you already own.
- Remember that Apple has a USB optical drive available, as do many third-party sources.


- Has to be 27”, I like the size. (Either that or two monitors.)
- I missed seeing the wired keyboard in the dropdown. You’re right, it is still in there.
- I have an external SuperDrive already, for my MBA and my wife’s 2014 21” iMac. So, yeah. But it just feels so wrong to have an external optical drive on a desktop computer. You make the computer smaller and prettier but then have to have lots of external things including an external hard drive. With an old-style PC box or MacPro you would just add all the extras into slots in the tower.

It’s probably fine, I’m just resisting a little. That happens all the time when Apple moves to newer paradigms quicker than my brain wants to.

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