Apple Just Upgraded Its iMacs, a Little

Apple is refreshing its 27-inch iMac, though you'll need a keen eye to spot the differences. The new model doesn't look any different from its predecessors, sporting the same classic look Apple has used for several years now with thick bezels surrounding the 5K display. You won't find any radically new features here either. There's still no biometric authentication, meaning there's no Face ID or Touch ID, and the screen uses the exact same panel and pixel resolution as before. Most of the changes are on the inside and impact performance.
New, Better NumbersThe 27-inch iMac will use Intel's newer 10th-gen Comet Lake processors, with six- or eight-core configurations as the standard. Power users, you'll be happy to hear a 10-core Intel Core i9 option is available. Apple says these improvements should offer up to a 65 percent CPU performance increase over last year's refreshed 27-inch iMacs.On the graphics front, you'll get options within AMD's Radeon Pro 5000 series, with the 5300 XT and 5500 XT being offered with 8 gigabytes of VRAM in the standard configurations, but you can also shell out for a 5700 XT with 16 gigabytes of VRAM for up to 55 percent faster GPU performance.
Those bumps in CPU and GPU performance will be complemented by a complete move to DDR4 solid state drives for all models. That means Apple's entire iMac line now uses SSDs, including the 21.5-inch iMacs, which should mean dramatically faster read and write speeds. The base configurations will be 256 to 512 gigabytes, but you can go all the way up to a whopping 8 terabytes.Clearer, Better-Sounding Zoom CallsSince the chassis isn't changing, there's no fancy iPad Pro-like redesign here. You're stuck with the same thick bezels as the iMacs from several years ago, but there are two notable changes to the screen. There's now support for True Tone, the feature available in Apple's MacBooks and iPhones that changes the color temperature of the screen to match the ambient light around you for a more comfortable reading experience.
You can also now choose nano-texture as an option for the glass. This is an option recently introduced in Apple's $6,000 Pro Display XDR monitor, and it essentially offers a matte finish, severely reducing the glare on the screen. You'll have to cough up a lot of dough if you want this upgrade, though.

The webcam is getting a bump to 1080p (thankfully), and Apple says it has made some tweaks to improve low-light performance. A lot of these updates are due to Apple's T2 security chip. It's the chip that houses the Secure Enclave, which encrypts and decrypts your data and adds an extra layer of security. But it also has an image-signal processor that helps with face recognition—not for Face ID, mind you—but for tone-mapping and exposure control to improve the webcam quality.

Similarly, the audio controller in the T2 chip improves the speakers in the new iMac. The speaker's hardware hasn't changed, but Apple says the controller helps add better balance on everything you listen to, adding higher fidelity and deeper bass at lower volumes.

What is new are the three "studio-quality" microphones, two on the chin and one on the back of the chassis, and they're the same as the ones Apple introduced on the 16-inch MacBook Pro in 2019. The trio detects echoes and cancels out ambient noise, allowing your audio to come through cleaner than before, whether you're recording a podcast or just on a Zoom call.

Unchanged Price

Pricing remains the same throughout. The 21.5-inch iMac with new SSDs start at $1,099, and the 27-inch model starts at $1,799. It's available for order now and will start shipping this week (the smaller model ships next week). Since the iMac now has a 10-core i9 upgrade option, Apple is also bumping the base model of the iMac Pro to offer the same processor, and this version is also available to order today.

There have been several rumors of a new iMac with a design refresh and ARM-based chips, but this isn't it. The wait continues for Apple's big switch to new processors.

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