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Review of the new 27-inch iMac: a mixed feeling

Bright tested the new iMac model, with the tenth generation Intel chip. Perhaps the last iMac with an Intel chip. Last June, Apple announced a proprietary ARM chipset with higher performance and lower power consumption.

Wonderful promises, but according to Apple, the transition will take at least another two years. Meanwhile, there is still room for new Intel computers and Apple promises good support for Macs with Intel chips in the coming years.

Still, a lot is unclear: when will the first iMac with the new Apple chip follow? How big is the performance difference? And the price difference? Will your software be ready for the ARM processors? The current new iMac gives a double feeling: a stable iMac in an unstable period.

Pick up yourself

The iMac is available in a variety of configurations, ranging from a 6-core i5 processor to a 10-core 5.0GHz i9. Graphically, the new iMac is equipped with the Radeon Pro 5000 series and GDDR6 memory. Our test model has an Intel 8-core i7, a Radeon Pro 5500XT 8GB graphics card and 500GB SSD. A powerful computer worth € 2599, but with 8GB DDR4 RAM not sufficient for heavy programs.

Up to 128GB of RAM can be upgraded at Apple, but you pay up to 3250 euros for this. An abnormally high amount. Fortunately, a hatch on the back of the iMac allows you to add RAM to your own liking.

Nano-texture glass

The only visual innovation on the outside of the iMac can be found after a 625 euro upgrade: a matte finish of the glass screen. According to Apple, this matte option is not a coating, but rather a nano-layer that is buffed off the glass. This ensures a calm image to the eye and little to no reflection. The nano texture was introduced with the Pro Display XDR and has been well received by professional users. Why the option for a matte screen is not yet available for the iMac Pro, Apple cannot tell.

In addition to the option for a matte screen, the iMac is also equipped with TrueTone for the first time. The screen can adapt to the light balance in the room and is therefore quieter to the eye.

Perfect for working from home

A surprising but much-requested upgrade is the 1080p video quality of the built-in webcam. Previously, this was always 720p, too low a resolution for a desktop of more than 2000 euros. The new 1080p FaceTime camera also works with the new built-in T2 security chip that is also in iPhones. The chip ensures that the camera image is better tuned to faces and performs better in low light conditions. The speakers and microphone also benefit from the computing power in the T2 chip. For example, the new iMac supports “Hey Siri” recognition.

A third microphone has been added on the back for better noise cancellation. This is clearly audible with audio recordings, but in FaceTime calls it still seems to be inferior to the microphone in the iPhone and external microphones from third parties. The speakers in the iMac sound fine for the standard user, but there are plenty of better options for professional use.

The new iMac appears to be partly aimed at the new home working market due to the corona crisis. The improved camera and microphone are a nice improvement, but the FaceTime software seems to make insufficient use of this quality. Apple’s own video calling software can also use an update to address the home worker.

Conclusion

The new iMac offers a solution in these home working hours, but has become an extra difficult choice because of the new ARM processor that is expected in the first new Macs.

However, the average user does not need to worry. The new iMac is a stable choice that can last for more than 5 to 10 years, especially because of the possibility to expand the working memory. The current iMac design is still satisfactory after 8 years.

Internally, at least, the iMac is poised to compete with the new line of ARM Macs, which may have a long way to go before they are as stable a desktop choice as this “trusty” 27-inch iMac.

Stijn Goossens, video editor Bright

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