The all-in-one desktop computer gets its first major redesign in a decade
For the first time in a decade, Apple has revealed a major visual overhaul of its iMac computer. The new model shares its design language with Apple's Pro Display XDR monitor, and is available in a range of colors for the first time in a generation; not since the iMac G3 of 1998 has an Apple desktop had color options to pick from.
But what really matters is what's inside the new iMac. As expected, Apple has fitted the new iMac with the same M1 chip that first appeared in the 2020 MacBook Pro and MacBook Air. Here is a quick look at how the new iMac compares to its predecessor.
New 2021 Apple iMac vs 2020 iMac: Design
Apple redesigning the iMac is a big deal. The previous design with a slim and tapered display suspended on a central aluminum foot has been with us for a decade now, having replaced the sunflower-style iMac G4.
Although it aged remarkably well, the last iMac had attracted criticism in recent years for the size of its bezels and the 'chin' beneath the display. Such expanses of glass and aluminum were perfectly acceptable, impressively compact even, in years gone by, but in 2021 displays with the smallest possible bezels are preferred.
In its place is a computer that still has a chin, albeit a smaller one than before, and bezels reduced to the extent that a 24-inch screen now fits in a frame only slightly larger than the previous-generation 21-inch iMac. Apple says the improved thermal efficiency of the M1 chip compared to its Intel predecessors means it has been able to reduce the overall volume of the iMac by 50 percent.
No longer a tapered design, the iMac is 11.5mm thick and is available in a total of seven colors. These are blue, green, pink, silver, yellow, orange and purple. However, only the first four colors are available on the entry-level $1,299 iMac, with the full seven options offered at the $1,499 and $1,699 price points.
The nw iMac retains the same aluminum build of its many predecessors, and the entire front is covered by a sheet of glass. There is no longer an Apple logo on the chin beneath the display.
New 2021 Apple iMac vs 2020 iMac: Display
As mentioned above the new iMac is available with just one display option. This is a 23.5-inch panel that Apple is marketing as 24 inches. It has a 4.5K resolution of 4480 x 2520 at 218 pixels per inch, with support for one billion colors, 500 nits of brightness, the P3 wide color gamut and Apple;s True Tone technology, where the display adjusts its color throughout the day to match ambient lighting conditions. By comparison, the ongoing 21.5-inch iMac had a resolution of just 1920 x 1080.
The 27-inch iMac, which remains on sale and is unchanged after today's event, has a 5K resolution of 5120 x 2880, 500 nits of brightness, True Tone and the P3 color gamut.
New 2021 Apple iMac vs 2020 iMac: Processor and performance
After the new design, the big talking point is the 2021 iMac's processor. It is the latest Mac computer to undergo Apple's transition from Intel chips to its own, and joins the Mac Mini, MacBook Pro and MacBook Air, all of which adopted the M1 chip in 2020.
For the iMac, the same M1 chip is used again and there are two slight variants to pick from. Both have an eight-core CPU split into four performance cores and four efficiency cores, plus a 16-core neural engine. The difference is how one model has a seven-core GPU and the other has an eight-core GPU.
In comparison to the outgoing 21-inch iMac, Apple says the new 24-inch iMac has a CPU that is up to 85 percent faster, which GPU performance (such as while using Photoshop) is double that of the old model.
Apple also said the new iMac's GPU performance is 50 percent faster than the most powerful discrete graphics offered on the 21-inch iMac. As an example of its potential performance, the company said the new computer can let users edit five streams of 4K video, or one stream of 8K, without dropping a frame. It is also claimed how machine learning on the new iMac is three times that of the old model.
The new iMac is offered with 256GB or 512GB of storage as standard, but these can be configured to 512GB, 1TB or 2TB at the point of purchase. Memory is 8GB as standard and can be configured to 16GB.
The 2021 Apple iMacApple
New 2021 Apple iMac vs 2020 iMac: Camera, speakers and ports
The new iMac has a 1080p FaceTime HD camera that Apple says is better than that of the previous iMac thanks to the M1 chip, plus a six-speaker sound system capable of spatial audio and Dolby Atmos, and a three-microphone array with beam forming.
As for ports, there are fewer options with the new iMac. The old 21-inch model had a headphone jack, SD card slot, four USB-A ports, two USB-C ports with Thunderbolt 3 and a Gigabit Ethernet connection.
For comparison, the new 24-inch iMac has just a pair of USB-C ports with support for Thunderbolt, Display Port and USB 4 as standard, along with a headphone jack, and an Ethernet port attached to the power adapter instead of the computer itself. The adapter then connects to the iMac using a two-meter cable and new magnetic attachment.
The new iMac can be optioned with an additional pair of USB 3 ports, but there are no USB-A connections and no SD card slot either.
New 24-inch iMac on the left and the preexisting 27-inch iMac on the rightApple
New 2021 Apple iMac vs 2020 iMac: Price
The 21-inch iMac had a starting price of $1,099, and the new iMac now starts at $1,299. This price goes up to $1,499 and $1,699 when adding the eighth GPU core, extra storage and the second pair of USB C ports. It isn't known yet how much it will cost to double the RAM to 16GB and increase the storage to 1TB or 2TB. The new iMac is available to order from April 30 and will begin shipping in the second half of May.
New Apple iMac with Retina 5K Display (27-inch, 8GB RAM, 256GB SSD Storage)