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New iMacs Released - 4K 21.5" and 5K 27"


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#1 Sneaky Snake

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Posted 13 October 2015 - 09:11 AM

Apple updated their iMac line today with a spec bump on the 5K 27" iMac and a new 4K option on the 21.5" iMac.

Best possible specs are as follows:

21.5" 4K iMac:
  • 3.3 GHz Core i7 Quad Core
  • 16 GB RAM
  • Intel HD 6200 Iris Pro Graphics (no dedicated GPU option available on the 4K 21.5" model)
  • 2 TB Fusion Drive or 512 GB SSD
27" 5K iMac:
  • 4.0 GHz Core i7 Quad Core
  • 32 GB RAM
  • Radeon M395X GPU with 4 GB VRAM
  • 3 TB Fusion Drive or 1 TB SSD
There is no option to purchase a non-retina 27" iMac. The 21.5" option still has a "1920x1080 sRGB display" option with minor spec bumps as well.

What is Made Clear by this Update:
Apple really does not care about graphics performance in anything other than their highest end computers (15" rMBP, 27" 5K iMac and Mac Pro are the only computers available with dedicated GPU's and all of them start at over $2K CDN). The HD 6200 Iris Pro card is fine for any tasks other then gaming, but falls quite short in the gaming department (it is roughly equal to an overclocked R7 250X, or a GTX 560 (non-Ti).

Performance Expectations:
The new 4K 21.5" iMac is a great option for productivity focused users, but Mac gamers will find the performance quite lacking in newer titles. Games will still run, but do not expect to run newer games at anything beyond medium settings at 1080p.

The updated 5K 27" iMac will be slightly faster than last years model, but will still struggle to run any demanding games at full 5K resolution. Benchmarks are not yet available, but expect performance to be about 10-20% faster then the 2014 model. Newer games should run at High-Ultra settings at 1080p.
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#2 nick68k

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Posted 13 October 2015 - 09:32 AM

Yeah, I'm disappointed by the GPU options for the 21.5" model. I was looking to upgrade my 2011 iMac...now I'm hesitating.

The question is, which will give better (gaming) performance at 1920x1080 resolution - the HD 6000 in the non-retina model, or the HD 6200 in the downscaled retina?
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#3 Jan

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Posted 13 October 2015 - 09:42 AM

View Postnick68k, on 13 October 2015 - 09:32 AM, said:

Yeah, I'm disappointed by the GPU options for the 21.5" model. I was looking to upgrade my 2011 iMac...now I'm hesitating.

The question is, which will give better (gaming) performance at 1920x1080 resolution - the HD 6000 in the non-retina model, or the HD 6200 in the downscaled retina?

There is a non-retina model with Iris Pro 6200.
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#4 Sneaky Snake

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Posted 13 October 2015 - 09:50 AM

View Postnick68k, on 13 October 2015 - 09:32 AM, said:

Yeah, I'm disappointed by the GPU options for the 21.5" model. I was looking to upgrade my 2011 iMac...now I'm hesitating.

The question is, which will give better (gaming) performance at 1920x1080 resolution - the HD 6000 in the non-retina model, or the HD 6200 in the downscaled retina?

Is there a performance hit when running a retina display at 1080p? If you are setting the OS to scale at a different resolution there is a slight performance hit, but when telling a game what resolution to render at there is no performance hit (as far as I know).

I believe that they would perform identically if they are both set to the same settings. The 1920x1080 iMac would have the advantage of looking a little nicer though, since running retina screens at non-native (even the 'halved' resolution) makes them look a little fuzzy.
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#5 nick68k

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Posted 13 October 2015 - 09:56 AM

View PostSneaky Snake, on 13 October 2015 - 09:50 AM, said:

Is there a performance hit when running a retina display at 1080p? If you are setting the OS to scale at a different resolution there is a slight performance hit, but when telling a game what resolution to render at there is no performance hit (as far as I know).


According to the Ars Technica review: "Intel's HD 6200 is more than up to the task of driving the 4K iMac's screen at its native resolution. Dropped frames and choppiness begin to creep in once you start asking it to do more than that, though, whether you're driving the iMac's screen in the scaled-up 2560×1440 mode, connecting an external 4K display, or some combination of the two."

Although I might be misunderstanding this...2560x1440 is not 1080p, right? (The reason I ask is that I have a lot of older games, and I don't know if they'll work non-windowed on the retina display)
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#6 Sneaky Snake

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Posted 13 October 2015 - 10:09 AM

View Postnick68k, on 13 October 2015 - 09:56 AM, said:

Although I might be misunderstanding this...2560x1440 is not 1080p, right? (The reason I ask is that I have a lot of older games, and I don't know if they'll work non-windowed on the retina display)

2560x1440 is higher resolution than 1080p (it is what the old 27" iMacs ran at). 1080p is 1920x1080 resolution. The new 4K display is the pixel doubled version of a 1080p screen, so it works quite well at the 21.5" display size.

You can run games full-screen at non-native resolution. They will just a look slightly fuzzy or pixelated compared to running them at full-screen, native resolution.
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#7 nick68k

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Posted 13 October 2015 - 11:03 AM

Alright man, thanks for clearing that up!
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#8 macdude22

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Posted 13 October 2015 - 11:51 AM

View Postnick68k, on 13 October 2015 - 09:56 AM, said:

According to the Ars Technica review: "Intel's HD 6200 is more than up to the task of driving the 4K iMac's screen at its native resolution. Dropped frames and choppiness begin to creep in once you start asking it to do more than that.

Great so for two thousand bucks I can stare at the desktop. Cmon apple, throw us a bone here. If your lust for ultra thin means this is a TDP issue then you have truly succumb to form over function and that dog won't hunt mon sēnior.
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#9 Sneaky Snake

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Posted 13 October 2015 - 12:25 PM

View Postmacdude22, on 13 October 2015 - 11:51 AM, said:

Great so for two thousand bucks I can stare at the desktop. Cmon apple, throw us a bone here. If your lust for ultra thin means this is a TDP issue then you have truly succumb to form over function and that dog won't hunt mon sēnior.

Starts at $1500 USD, which is cheaper then I thought it would be buuuuuuut the standard HDD is a 1 TB 5400rpm drive :blarf: . An upgrade to either a fusion drive and an SSD is pretty much mandatory.
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#10 nick68k

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Posted 13 October 2015 - 12:40 PM

View PostSneaky Snake, on 13 October 2015 - 12:25 PM, said:

Starts at $1500 USD, which is cheaper then I thought it would be buuuuuuut the standard HDD is a 1 TB 5400rpm drive :blarf: . An upgrade to either a fusion drive and an SSD is pretty much mandatory.

Agreed; the $90 1TB fusion drive is a no-brainer upgrade (although why Apple didn't make this the default config is another question altogether...). Also, weirdly, the 1TB fusion drive only has a 24 GB SSD. The 2TB unit retains the 128 GB SSD. I guess this is considered 'good enough'.
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#11 mattw

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Posted 13 October 2015 - 12:45 PM

I can see the 4K 21.5" being a nice upgrade for my parents 2006 17" which is showing its age but they don't do much beyond productivity.

For me I'm glad I upgraded my 2009 Mac Pro CPUs and GPU last year as it looks like it may be a while before the iMac represents a significant improvement over this machine ( the new Mac Pro design being priced out of my range and no better for my uses).

I guess long term external GPUs may be the option for gaming performance unless there is a major jump in the mobile GPU range, I just hope the lower end models do a good enough job to keep the Mac gaming market viable.
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#12 macdude22

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Posted 13 October 2015 - 05:12 PM

2TB fusion drive is the largest you can get on the 21s.......come on apple there are GIGANTIC mechanical drives now you could slave for fusion drive. Don't make me have to have external doodles up the wazoo.
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#13 Jeyl

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Posted 13 October 2015 - 07:08 PM

How well does Fusion work with a user that intends to Bootcamp the sucker?
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#14 Cougar

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Posted 13 October 2015 - 07:20 PM

View PostJeyl, on 13 October 2015 - 07:08 PM, said:

How well does Fusion work with a user that intends to Bootcamp the sucker?

IIRC, it works fine as a spinning disk, but only OS X can use the fusion capabilities.

#15 Matt Diamond

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Posted 13 October 2015 - 08:05 PM

View Postmacdude22, on 13 October 2015 - 05:12 PM, said:

Don't make me have to have external doodles up the wazoo.

Believe me, no one wants... that.
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#16 the Battle Cat

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Posted 13 October 2015 - 08:39 PM

Actually I'd like to see that.  Maybe record it for a nature show.
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#17 DirtyHarry50

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Posted 13 October 2015 - 08:41 PM

lol
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#18 Thain Esh Kelch

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Posted 13 October 2015 - 10:37 PM

(Why do we have 2 threads on the same topic?)

Note that RAM is now soldered in the 4K iMac, so get what you need when you purchase it.
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#19 Whaleman

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Posted 14 October 2015 - 05:45 AM

Would have been nice with a dedicated GPU... would not need much and it would become a pretty decent gaming option in 1080p with doubled pixels.
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#20 mattw

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Posted 14 October 2015 - 06:06 AM

View Postmacdude22, on 13 October 2015 - 05:12 PM, said:

2TB fusion drive is the largest you can get on the 21s.......come on apple there are GIGANTIC mechanical drives now you could slave for fusion drive. Don't make me have to have external doodles up the wazoo.

It's a 2.5" hard disk in the 21s though so I think that's as large as they get....

A 3.5" would be better but thin is in it appears.
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