iMac 5K 27-inch (2020) review: Still a powerhouse

by birtanpublished on November 6, 2020

Apple silicon is coming and it's the future of the mac platform so then what do we do with this the brand new 27-inch 5k imac that's sure to be one of the very last intel based macs ever made kind of puts you in an awkward position as someone who's potentially going to go out and buy a new imac especially if you're looking today conventional wisdom is just to wait it out but i think there are a few things that apple has done this year to breathe some new life into the imac now normally i'd start out talking about

The design of this product but honestly it hasn't changed for years and there's things about it that i've been complaining about for years so it's not really worth spending too much time going through every nook and cranny of this thing it is what it is but let's get through the five things really fast just to set those aside and move on to the interesting stuff so one the bezels are still huge and the chin is still huge two the stand it can only tilt it can't adjust up and down in height

Three you only get two thunderbolt three ports in the back instead of four which even the mac mini comes with four there's no touch id or face id or really any way to get into this computer without typing in a password unlike pretty much every other apple product you can get in 2020 and lastly five there's the magic mouse which has kind of become the laughing stock of the internet because you can't even recharge it and use it at the same time i'm hoping that a lot of those issues will be addressed in

The rumored redesign of the imac that could be coming in 2021 but for now this is kind of what we're stuck with and honestly apple has actually addressed some long-standing issues with the imac lineup in this year's update probably the most important one is with storage the fusion drive is no longer an option in the 27 inch size goes straight to the ssd in the past you actually had to pay for an upgrade to get to the ssd which you

Technically still have to do on the 21.5 inch version and then there are a number of quality of life changes that i want to get to before we get to performance and these really do go a long way towards making this computer feel a little fresher now my favorite of these updates has to be the facetime webcam which finally goes from 720p up to 1080p making it the first mac product to have a 1080p webcam we're all discovering just how bad our laptop webcams are because we're all

Stuck at home on zoom calls all day so this is a really timely update to the imac that i really appreciate it's not just an upgraded resolution actually apple's also included a new backside illuminated sensor to help with low-light scenarios for those late evening zoom calls all this is made possible because the t2 co-processor has finally been brought to the imac which allows apple to get its hands in there and start tweaking with algorithms and you even get things like

Face detection and tone mapping to help with the image quality of the webcam experience that t2 coprocessor also helps out with things like the mics and the speakers both of which have gotten an upgrade this year they're not actually a new set of speakers but again apple has gone in there and started tuning them and they do sound quite a bit better than last year's model there's more bass and i could totally see somebody putting this in their living room and using in the same way as

You would a bluetooth speaker and then there's the most exciting of all these changes which is the option for using the nano texture glass on the display which is a first for the imac this feature comes from the pro display xdr that came out last year and basically it's apple's attempt at a matte display except they're doing it in a way that pretty much no other company has ever done there's no protective layer or anti-reflective coating on the display itself it's just what apple is doing

With the glass that has made the biggest difference and it's pretty amazing it's unlike anything i've ever seen on a display it's kind of incredible at reducing reflections and glare even if you're sitting by a bright window and working but the amazing thing is that it does all of that without giving you any reductions in image quality most mac displays give you a reduction in contrast when you're looking at the display and that can be a real problem for

People who actually need to see the full breadth of the colors that are on their display that they're working on with this nano texture glass that is not a problem at all you can see the 5k display here for all its worth including going up almost to 500 nits in terms of brightness and it is just a really bright brilliant screen with the nano texture now the normal glass apple uses is already pretty good at reducing glares but this really is an awesome upgrade the

Only problem is that it costs 500 which it's hard to say to somebody whether or not that's actually going to be worth it but i know that after spending some time with this i wish that every other device i had with a screen on it had the same kind of technology and this imac originally launched performance was not really the big feature it was all about having a clean and sleek all-in-one computer that has changed over the past few years though as apple has started to use these core i9 processors from

Intel all of a sudden the imac is becoming a powerhouse computer that can actually be used for serious content creation tasks and the latest imac continues that trend the one i've got here comes with the 10 core 10th generation core i9 processor from intel those two extra cores and four extra threads are new from intel this year so this is a big upgrade just from last year and outside of the imac pro there's not really another all-in-one computer that even attempts to put a chip like that in this type of form

Factor when you look at a lot of the competitors out there like the surface studio 2 the hp envy 32 or even the dell inspiron all-in-one pcs those are all nice computers but none of them really even attempt to do what the imac does at least this year never mind the fact that you can add up to 128 gigabytes of ram or 8 terabytes of storage in this thing it's really in a class of its own and then there's the graphics this year apple is updated to

Amd's most powerful graphics the radeon pro 5000 series and mine is the top of the line 5700 xt putting that all together will cost you 4500 which is a lot of money but what you get in exchange is a really powerful content creation machine in a cpu-bound application like handbrake this year's imac is 19 faster than last year's imac but the real test is when you can use the cpu and the gpu together because both have been improved this year and a good example of that is in adobe premiere

This new imac outperformed last year's model in the same video export test that i always run by a whopping 48 which is fantastic year over year improvement now that sounds like really impressive performance and it is but i do have two caveats and the first is that if you put these components into a desktop pc whether it's a gaming pc or a workstation and you're gonna get better performance it's gonna be able to push those components a little more than an imac can and then as strange as it

Might sound you also have to consider how fast laptops are getting these days a good example is the dell xps 17 which with its eight core processor and rtx 2060 graphics card can complete that same video export in just about the same amount of time and all that is being done on a laptop now of course the elephant in the room with all of this is apple silicon apple is about to make the biggest transition in its processor technology

In over a decade and that's a really big deal and i totally get if you have concerns about the shelf life of these types of macs or about how long apple is going to support it and software updates and all those types of things and i think those are all good things to be thinking about but if you are in the target audience for this powerful imac and you are mostly concerned with doing professional creative work on it i think you have less to be worried about than

Let's say the average person apple has promised to support these intel based macs well into the future probably longer than you'll even want to keep this particular imac and in those early stages of the transition they're going to be mostly concerned with replicating what these intel macs can do to create as smooth a transition as possible now obviously if you can wait a full year for the imac to finally transition to apple silicon which is i think what you're about gonna have to wait

By all means be patient and wait because i think there could be some really cool things happening down the line but a lot of that is up in the air there's just a lot we don't know about apple silicon how developers will take to it and the direction that apple will ultimately go with it and in my mind that makes this imac a really safe bet even today between the highly improved performance and all of the quality of life changes like the speakers and the webcam this 5k

27 inch imac is an even better purchase today than it was six months ago hey thanks for checking out our review of the new 5k 27 inch imac leave us a comment below and let us know what you think of the imac and also what you think about the future of apple silicon and of course you can always head over to digitaltrends.com for the full review

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