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Hands-on with Apple's new Core i9 iMac 5K with Vega graphics: benchmarks and first impressions

Now that we have a new line of iMacs, we've upgraded the 27-inch iMac 5K with the 8-core i9 Intel processor and the Radeon Pro Vega 48 graphics for ultimate performance. Our first impressions with this new machine are very promising, so let's check out the benchmarks that back them up.

27-inch iMac 5K

27-inch iMac 5K

Apple refreshed the new iMac line just days before its March 25th "its show time" Apple News+ services-centric event. While that event grabbed a lot of headlines, desktop users were thrilled to see a much-needed spec bump to the iMac.

We already delved into the 4K base model and found the upgrades were decent enough for the low-end model. That didn't stop us from splurging on the much more powerful 27-inch however.

Specs and design

We also picked up the larger iMac 5K with the 8-core 3.6GHz Intel i9 processor, Radeon Pro Vega 48 graphics, and 16GB of RAM.

All of that is internal as the exterior is largely unchanged from what we've seen before. The design still looks good, but with large bezels and a significant "chin," it seems near enough time for a refresh and is catching some heat for not having a new look. We understand —it just looks a bit dated at this point after it debuted four years ago in 2015.

27-inch iMac 5K

27-inch iMac 5K

Also on this machine is a 2TB Fusion drive and 2GB of VRAM.

This machine ran us $3349.00 before tax —but at press time can be had on sale for $3,149 with coupon code APINSIDER.


To start, we ran Geekbench 4. Our machine garnered a single thread score of 6313 and a multi-core score of 32954. These are pretty solid numbers, especially compared to the base iMac Pro. This model beats the base iMac Pro in single-core, and barely loses out on the multi-core test. This bump in performance is due to more cores and higher frequencies rather than any change in the actual chip architecture compared to years past.

27-inch iMac 5K Geekbench scores

27-inch iMac 5K Geekbench scores

Benchmarks are controversial. They are never a direct correlation to any individual's workflow. And, they keep changing as computer power grows and paradigms shift. Specifically, an AppleInsider testing stalwart, Cinebench now has an R20 version, completely incompatible with results from the R15 version.

The newer R20 version has increased the workload complexity, increased the memory use, and adopted the latest rendering engine from Cinema 4D R20 which ultimately will give us much better and accurate results. We'll be using this going forward, rather than the R15.

27-inch iMac 5K Cinebench R20 scores

27-inch iMac 5K Cinebench R20 scores

Our 2019 iMac 5K earned 4108 on Cinebench R20. Most importantly, monitoring the CPU with Intel Power Gadget, we saw no hint of thermal throttling below the rated speed of the machine. It never dipped below the advertised frequency even after running the test back-to-back-to-back and the heat increased.

27-inch iMac 5K Unigine Heaven

27-inch iMac 5K Unigine Heaven scores

Following this, we ran the Unigine Heaven Benchmark 4.0 which is primarily a gaming benchmark, but still a good indicator of graphics performance. We kept the settings by default and ran the test a few times. We earned an average FPS of around 68 FPS and a max of a whopping 125.3. Those Vega graphics really pay off.

27-inch iMac 5K BlackMagic disk speed test

27-inch iMac 5K BackMagic disk speed test

As we mentioned, this unit has the 2TB Fusion Drive. It is a good mix of capacity and performance garnering 725 MB/s average write speeds and 2490 MB/s read speeds in the BlackMagic disk speed test. To boost these numbers further, you could opt for a smaller internal SSD and use some external Thunderbolt 3 storage for additional capacity. That is likely what we'd do if we were to build this machine again.

We will continue to test this machine out and will have a full review coming soon, so stay on the lookout for even more coverage of the new 2019 iMac line.

How to save up to $150 on 2019 iMacs

This machine has so far impressed us —especially when it comes to comparing against the iMac Pro. If you are in the new market, and don't need the potential warranty-voiding upgradability of the iMac Pro's processor, this is a powerful machine that gets you near the same performance at a much lower cost.

27-inch iMac 5K

27-inch iMac 5K

Apple's new 2019 27-inch iMac 5K is also currently $50 to $150 off at Apple authorized reseller Adorama with coupon code APINSIDER. Prices start at just $1,949 for the CTO models after the coupon discount, with full step-by-step instructions for redeeming the code available in our savings guide.

For a full rundown of the latest deals and product availability, be sure to visit our 27-inch iMac 5K Price Guide, which is updated throughout the day.

2019 iMac 5K deals