Apple iMac with Retina 5K display

Apple iMac with Retina 5K display

At first glance, the new iMac looks like many of its predecessors.

It has the same sleek aluminium chassis with black bezel around the display. At its sides, it tapers to a width of only 5mm thick. But it bulges at the back sitting on the aluminium stand, which has a depth of 20cm.

Its 27-inch Retina 5K display is its major highlight. The display has a whopping resolution of 5,120 x 2,880 pixels. In other words, it has 14.7 million pixels, seven times as many pixels as a full high-definition (HD) display and 67 per cent more than a 4K (3,840 x 2,160 pixels) display.

Once you look at the Retina 5K display, you will be wondering how you ever put up with full HD displays. Everything it displays is super crisp and sharp. There are no visible jaggedness with text or icons.

For photographers, videographers or video editors, this display will be amazing to use as it shows an eye-popping amount of detail.

You can easily pick out things you might not be able to see with other displays, especially those in the darker areas of images.

The display exhibits great colour contrast and wide viewing angles. There is only slight colour shift when you view the display from an angle.

I watched a few 4K movie trailers, including Interstellar and marvelled at the sharpness.

The tiny speakers at the display's base deliver good omnidirectional audio for its size.

Videographers can now edit 4K video footage in full size on this display and yet have enough display space for editing tools.

Using Final Cut Pro X, I was able to add text, effects and transitions to some 4K footage without a hitch.

The review unit came with a 3.5GHz quad-core Intel Core i5 processor, an AMD Radeon R9 M290X graphics processing unit (GPU) with 2GB of video memory, 8GB of system memory and 1TB of hybrid drive.

You can improve its performance by upgrading to a 4GHz quad-core Intel Core i7 processor, an AMD Radeon R9 M295X GPU with 4GB of video memory, 32GB of system memory and 3TB of hybrid drive.

However, you will have to make your choices before you complete your purchase - as everything is soldered permanently into the circuit boards.

The Retina iMac scored 3,880 in the 64-bit single-core Geekbench 3 benchmark test. This is a reasonable real-world test for typical consumer workload, as most applications rarely utilise multi-core processors.

By comparison, the late 2013 27-inch iMac scored 3,517 in a similar test.

In the 64-bit multi-core Geekbench 3 benchmark test, the Retina iMac scored 12,395 while the late 2013 27-inch iMac scored 11,084.

During daily use, it took just 4sec to start up Adobe Photoshop CC (2014) and 3sec to open Bridge CC (2014). A folder of about 300 images took just 2sec to display in preview mode on Bridge CC (2014).

Like other current iMacs, all the ports are at the back. Having to reach behind it to insert an SD card or plug in headphones is really inconvenient.

You do not really need the iMac's sides to be so thin for a desktop. Apple, please just make the sides thicker, so you can put the ports on the sides.

Also, you cannot use the Retina iMac as a stand-alone monitor. Otherwise, connecting it to a video-game console or media player to play games or watch movies would be a mouth-watering experience.

The iMac's price might be astronomical to some, but 4K TVs are more expensive.

Granted, 4K TVs have bigger displays, but you are getting a 5K display with a built-in computer. I say this new iMac is great value for money.

If you are a photographer or video editor, the new Apple iMac with Retina 5K display is a great choice if you want a tool to make your work stand out. For regular users, it might be an overkill.


Price: From $3,388

Display: 27 inches (5,120 x 2,880 pixels)

Processor: From 3.5GHz quad-core Intel Core i5

Graphics: From AMD Radeon R9 M290X with 2GB of video memory

Memory: From 8GB

Storage: From 1TB Fusion Drive

Connectivity: 4 x USB 3.0, 2 x Thunderbolt 2.0, 1 x Ethernet port, 1 x SDXC card slot and 802.11ac Wi-Fi

Weight: 9.54kg


Features: 4/5

Design: 5/5

Performance: 5/5

Value for money: 4/5

Overall: 4/5

This article was first published on Nov 19, 2014.
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