The 27-inch iMac 5K was announced as a significant revision to the iMac line in 2014. The iMac has always been an essential product for Apple and continues to be popular with consumers thanks to its "all in one" unibody design and prosumer power. The base configuration has been the most popular desktop option for content creators since its release.
● 27-inch 5K Retina display
● 500 nits and P3 color gamut
● Configurable to 128GB RAM and 8TB SSD
● Radeon Pro 5300 Graphics
● Drive up to two 6K displays
● Starts at $1,799
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For years, until the recent advent of iMac Pro and Mac Pro, the iMac was seen as the professional's desktop Mac. Its sizable 5K display and powerful graphics options made it powerful enough for most development and production. Appleinsider considers the 27-inch iMac the perfect balance of budget and performance.
iMac 5K Features
While the 27-inch iMac has gone through a few updates, nothing about the external design has changed since its 2014 release. The frame features a 5mm tapered casing with a large hump on the back to house the internal components and a large chin under the screen.
Despite a pixel-dense screen and ever more-powerful graphics and chipsets, cooling hasn't changed, either – slotted exhaust holes run across the bottom of the screen. All ports and the power cable connect in the back, and the stand has a hole to allow for cable management.
Unfortunately, this design prevents easy user access to ports, making temporary connections harder to manage or hide.
The latest 27-inch iMac comes with 10th-generation Intel i5 and i7 chipsets by default.
The base model comes with a Radeon Pro 500-series GPU, which is a significant improvement over the previous generation's base GPU. Upgrade to the Radeon Pro 5700 XT, which is in shouting distance of the iMac Pro's Vega 56, and you will have a powerful graphics machine without jumping up to the much more expensive iMac Pro.
The 27-inch iMac has a rear door below the power cable that allows users to add or change the installed RAM. Users can upgrade the RAM up to 128GB and can use cheaper third-party solutions.
Internal storage is fixed to the logic board and cannot be removed or upgraded by the user. Storage is available in 512GB, 1TB, 2TB, 4TB, and 8TB configurations, and the 4TB and 8TB versions connect the extra storage via cable and expansion mount. The expansion mount isn't present in the lower storage options.
Even if users detached the storage and soldered in new storage, the system would reject it, as the logic board and storage are paired in hardware at installation.
The 27-inch iMac has two Thunderbolt 3 ports, allowing for two 6K monitor connections, including the Pro Display XDR. These versatile ports also allow for fast data transfer speeds, meaning external memory is limited only by its data transfer speed as if it were hard-wired.
Users who need more graphics power can attach external GPUs via Thunderbolt 3. Companies like Black Magic make powerful eGPUs that can massively boost a Mac's performance without needing a whole new machine.
If you are not a fan of the included iMac stand, you can remove it and add a VESA mount. This allows for better control over the screen position because the installed stand does not offer much movement at all.
27-inch iMac Product History
On August 4, Apple updated the iMac line to be in line with other Macs released in 2020. The naming scheme shifted to address the display size, not the resolution, to be more standardized.
The 27-inch iMac can now be configured with a nano-texture display for an additional $500. It comes with the latest 10th-generation Intel processors, and now has the T2 for added security.
These updates are expected to be the last for the classic iMac models. The next update should arrive in 2021 with a larger display and running Apple Silicon. Rumors show a 24-inch iMac is likely to hit the market first.
The iMac saw a new performance update in March 2019, while in the iMac Pro shadow, it still held steady as the budget-minded pro desktop. This iMac can fill most consumers' needs with the option to go all out and add an i9 processor and new Vega graphics.
While rumors had circulated that 2019 was the year for a new iMac design, we still received the same tried-and-true 2012 model. Concerns persist that this old design will limit thermal overhead, which may necessitate a change in design.
Also, additional USB-C ports were missing in the update. The same two Thunderbolt 3 ports are present, but instead of more USB-C ports like in the Mac Mini update, it has the same 4 USB-A ports.
The 2017 update was a significant one that introduced massively improved Radeon graphics options and Thunderbolt 3 spec ports.
Replacing the two Thunderbolt 2 ports, the Thunderbolt 3 ports offered much greater capabilities, such as connecting two 4K monitors or a single 5K external monitor.
In 2015, Apple introduced the 21.5-inch iMac 4K with various upgrades that were passed to the iMac 5K as well, like new chipsets, SSD options, and the P3 color gamut.
Also of note was the launch of Apple's new peripherals, rechargeable Magic Mouse, keyboard, and trackpad, which were included in the box.
Apple held its 2014 product keynote in October with viewers hoping for some upgrades to the ill-fated 2012 Mac Pro. Instead, we got the iMac 5K, a powerful machine with a new display.
Touted as having the highest resolution of any display at the time, Apple was quick to brag about the new timing controller and display panel they had to build from scratch to make such a display work.
Offering Intel Haswell CPUs, the machine was able to perform tasks without issue, even at the entry-level. However, the base-level 8GB of RAM struggled with some more intensive tasks, requiring users to upgrade or add RAM after the fact.
iMac 5K Pricing
The 27-inch iMac comes with a base configuration of 3.1GHz 6-core 10th-generation Intel i5, 8GB DDR4 RAM, 256GB SSD, and Radeon Pro 5300 graphics for $1,799. It can be configured with faster Intel processors up to the 10th-generation Intel i7, an 8TB SSD, up to 128GB RAM, and improved graphics with a Radeon Pro 5700 XT.
A maxed-out iMac 5K costs $8,799 and would likely perform better than the same-priced iMac Pro.
Common 27-inch iMac 5K Questions
Is 27-inch iMac 5K good for gaming?
Since macOS isn't known as a gaming platform, the iMac 5K isn't a good choice for a gaming machine. But if you already own one and want to use it for gaming, you could install Windows through Bootcamp for a decent gaming experience.
Does the iMac 5K have a touchscreen?
Is the iMac 5K upgradeable?
How much does the 27-inch iMac 5K cost?
27-inch iMac prices start at $1,799.