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New Retina iMacs Released - 4K 21.5", 5K 27"


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#1 Sneaky Snake

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Posted 13 October 2015 - 09:00 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 Jan

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Posted 13 October 2015 - 09:27 AM

Thank god my old Mac Pro is still running (well). If this machine goes haywire, I might go MacBook (Pro) + Wii U + PS4/or a console-like Steam Machine. A specced out iMac or Mac Pro is simply overkill to run iA Writer. :P
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#3 Cougar

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Posted 13 October 2015 - 09:51 AM

The lack of a dedicated graphics option in the 21" perplexes me. Sometimes I wonder why Feral and Aspyr bother anymore. But I understand I'll never be the target market for one of these things.

Some of the design choices they made with the new peripherals are a bit baffling. Magic Mouse 2 cannot be used while charging because the Lightning port is on the bottom. Magic Trackpad 2 is $129 and white, so it'll look even dirtier than the keyboard. Speaking of which, the key travel is  less than before (though Jason Snell at Six Colors likes it better than the old one). It's not the same as the Retina keyboard, thankfully, (it's scissor, not butterfly) and you can pretend the trackpad and keyboard are wired by keeping them plugged in all the time.

Meh, maybe I'm just bitter that they didn't release a wired, black, backlit extended keyboard.

#4 Sneaky Snake

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Posted 13 October 2015 - 10:03 AM

View PostCougar, on 13 October 2015 - 09:51 AM, said:

The lack of a dedicated graphics option in the 21" perplexes me. Sometimes I wonder why Feral and Aspyr bother anymore. But I understand I'll never be the target market for one of these things.

I'm pretty sure their target markets are:
  • Average consumers dude who is using the computer for nothing beyond web browsing, media consumption, light photo/video editing stuff with iMovie/iPhoto
  • Small/medium sized business who are using the computer for nothing other then using business software or a terminal that customers can use
  • "Creative professionals" - Final Cut Pro, Logic X, Aperature, Lightroom, Photoshop, etc.
None of those markets require a decent graphics care. The only market that could potentially use it would be the creative professionals market with the right optimization, but even that is pretty rarely supported. Gaming just doesn't factor into any of their markets on the Mac. They make a huge push for it on iPhone and now with the new Apple TV but it their marketing has been completely silent about gaming on Mac (other then talking about usages for Metal on Mac, but lets be honest... which big name game developer is going to utilize Metal for their game.... )
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#5 Cougar

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Posted 13 October 2015 - 10:12 AM

None of that precludes them for keeping  the option for better graphics, though. My best guess is that nobody was buying the graphics upgrade because they'd already written off the iMac.

Apparently Blizzard will be using metal in all their games within six months or so. But yes, don't expect it to be widely implemented, especially with its small feature set.

#6 Sneaky Snake

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Posted 13 October 2015 - 10:40 AM

View PostCougar, on 13 October 2015 - 10:12 AM, said:

Apparently Blizzard will be using metal in all their games within six months or so. But yes, don't expect it to be widely implemented, especially with its small feature set.

You are correct: Metal Coming to Blizzard Games. Looks like WoW is the first game to get it with SC2 and HotS getting it later (not for at least a year it sounds like).

This is good news for Mac gamers. I didn't believe that any multi-platform games would utilize Metal, but I stand corrected.
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#7 Cougar

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Posted 13 October 2015 - 11:00 AM

View PostSneaky Snake, on 13 October 2015 - 10:40 AM, said:



You are correct: Metal Coming to Blizzard Games. Looks like WoW is the first game to get it with SC2 and HotS getting it later (not for at least a year it sounds like).
.

The link says SC2 will get it within six months.

#8 Janichsan

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Posted 13 October 2015 - 11:41 AM

Epic is also committed to support Metal: keep in mind that they were on stage to demonstrate Metal for Mac during the WWDC.

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#9 Cougar

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Posted 13 October 2015 - 11:57 AM

View PostJanichsan, on 13 October 2015 - 11:41 AM, said:

keep in mind that they were on stage to demonstrate Metal for Mac during the WWDC.

Bungie also revealed Halo at WWDC. ;)

#10 Sneaky Snake

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Posted 13 October 2015 - 12:15 PM

View PostCougar, on 13 October 2015 - 11:57 AM, said:

Bungie also revealed Halo at WWDC. ;)

At least Halo 1 did eventually make it to Mac. Played the popsnizzle outta that game. Server 1EV - Capture the Flag on Blood Gulch... good memories. Played with the same crew of guys for 2-3 years straight.
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#11 Cougar

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Posted 13 October 2015 - 12:40 PM

View PostSneaky Snake, on 13 October 2015 - 12:15 PM, said:

At least Halo 1 did eventually make it to Mac. Played the popsnizzle outta that game. Server 1EV - Capture the Flag on Blood Gulch... good memories. Played with the same crew of guys for 2-3 years straight.

As a shooter, not a tactical game...point is, a lot of promises are made by third parties at WWDC that never seem to materialize. This seems particularly common with game developers. More recently, that iOS Infinity Dungeon game was cancelled.

#12 Janichsan

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Posted 13 October 2015 - 01:08 PM

View PostCougar, on 13 October 2015 - 11:57 AM, said:

Bungie also revealed Halo at WWDC. ;)
But Halo didn't already support Metal on iOS and announced a Mac beta of the demonstrated game to be released some time in the next weeks. ;)

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#13 Matt Diamond

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Posted 13 October 2015 - 08:08 PM

Pretty sure my next machine after this 2008 Mac Pro will just be a used/refurb 2009 or 2010 Mac Pro.
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#14 DirtyHarry50

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Posted 13 October 2015 - 08:20 PM

Although a dedicated card would have been nice for the 21" iMac, overall the lineup in terms of what you can game on reasonably well did not change in my opinion. To play current titles at decent settings with the most options of choice both Mac and Windows you have needed to buy the top end iMac or Macbook Pro anyway. That really isn't anything new. So I don't think these updates represent any shift in any particular direction than they have already been going for a number of years now.

It is worthy of a note that a fair number of home consumers do enjoy casual gaming for which the 21" would probably be fine. Those wanting to play AAA on a Mac have to spend just like always for the best or really it just isn't worth it at all vs getting a Mac Mini and Windows PC or whatever other option you like that does not involve attempting to play demanding games on a Mac that just isn't designed to handle them at all.

I do think the top end options continue to be fine. However, from the outset I have expected that it would be a number of years before a mobile card that could drive a retina display for gaming would even exist. They still don't in my opinion. So, I would never expect to play retina resolution for gaming on the 27" iMac except in rare circumstances with a less demanding game that will actually run at acceptable settings and FPS on existant hardware. I think this issue will resolve itself in time but it is early on is all.

I don't see how this changes things dramatically for Feral and Aspyr at all myself. It isn't like previous 21" iMacs had much GPU power going for them either at 1080p even with their low end mobile cards. In fact, I wonder how the best available onboard GPU benches vs the older model's GPU card. Obviously, retina gaming is not an option on that system in any case but a lot of less demanding stuff might run fine at 1080p or 720p depending on setting choices, etc.
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#15 Sneaky Snake

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Posted 13 October 2015 - 08:44 PM

I'm just disappointed that they didn't see the need to put a dedicated GPU in the 4K iMac. I agree that it didn't change the lineup a whole lot, but according to the reviews the HD 6200 is underpowered even for pretty basic stuff with the 4K display. A mid-range mobile GPU would have gone a long way towards improving GPU power.
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#16 DirtyHarry50

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Posted 14 October 2015 - 09:14 AM

View PostSneaky Snake, on 13 October 2015 - 08:44 PM, said:

I'm just disappointed that they didn't see the need to put a dedicated GPU in the 4K iMac. I agree that it didn't change the lineup a whole lot, but according to the reviews the HD 6200 is underpowered even for pretty basic stuff with the 4K display. A mid-range mobile GPU would have gone a long way towards improving GPU power.

Yeah, I would not argue with any of that. If I wanted that size display I would be wishing for a better GPU option for sure. I was thinking more of people playing games on that at lesser resolutions though when I commented about casual stuff being okay. I don't know anything about how the integrated options for that compare vs the former model's GPU cards when one removes retina resolutions from consideration and just compares performance at 1080p and even 720p for a variety of games. Such a series of tests would be useful information but I don't know if the ARS review has anything like that or not. I haven't read that stuff yet.
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#17 macdude22

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Posted 14 October 2015 - 12:28 PM

Would be interesting to get an Aspyr/Feral perspective on these cards/resolutions. How do they feel sales will be affected etc....
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#18 nick68k

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Posted 31 October 2015 - 08:23 PM

So I pulled the trigger and purchased the 21.5" 4K iMac for home use, replacing a 2011-vintage namesake.

I bought the 3.1 GHz QC i5 model, configured with 16 Gb RAM and a 1 Tb fusion drive. The GPU is the Iris Pro 6200.  It's running 10.11.1.

Initial impressions; the screen is gorgeous. I spend a lot of time writing, so this was absolutely worth the upgrade. It's like looking at a printed page in a fancy magazine. The Finder, and window operations, are fast and responsive, as they should be.

Now the downside: this is most definitely not a gaming system. WoW is unplayable using 'good' (i.e. intermediate) graphics settings at a native resolution of 4096 x 2304. I get, on average, 10 FPS running around outside in Stormwind or my Draenor garrison. Indoor environments are obviously a little better (i.e. there are fewer things to display). This is disappointing. Halving (or strictly speaking, quartering) the resolution to 2048 x 1152 doubles the frame rate, at the cost of a little fuzziness. AA is still off. Frankly, this is the frame rate I was observing on my 2011 iMac equipped with a discrete (and antique) Radeon 6770M. This is even more disappointing. It's possible to strike a balance with intermediate resolutions between 4K and 2048 x 1152 where the display is still reasonably sharp and the framerate 15- 25 FPS when flying around in the outside world, but even so, I expected better. Metal may make a difference, but I understand it is of more use for CPU limited games, which this is not.

I've been playing a little Diablo 3 also, and again, the game cannot be played at 4K resolution on this machine. These iMacs are really crying out for a discrete GPU.
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#19 Thain Esh Kelch

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Posted 01 November 2015 - 01:35 AM

That really shouldn't come as a surprise.
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#20 Camper-Hunter

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Posted 01 November 2015 - 03:17 AM

View Postnick68k, on 31 October 2015 - 08:23 PM, said:

I've been playing a little Diablo 3 also, and again, the game cannot be played at 4K resolution on this machine. These iMacs are really crying out for a discrete GPU.
The power needs of a GPU suitable for 4K gaming aren't compatible with an iMac which is basically a large portable Mac. The case would melt. Well, perhaps not, but there would be issues with a 300 W chip in there.