First impressions of the new 27-inch iMac

On Tuesday, Apple released a major update to the 27-inch iMac, with 10th-gen processors, improved speakers and microphones and a 1080p webcam. I’ve purchased the mid-range six-core i5 model, with 8GB of RAM (more on that later) and a 512GB SSD.

The webcam now uses a larger 1080p sensor to deliver a much clearer image. It uses face detection and tone mapping to ensure you’re never under or over-exposed and looks clear in most scenarios. Compared to the 720p webcam on previous iMacs, it’s brighter, crispier and generally more balanced and this is due to the T2 chip, which controls many hardware components.

Apple has improved the speakers using this Security Chip and has variable EQ, higher fidelity and deeper bass. The hardware is the same but software tweaks make the speakers sound loud and clear, although they do still lack bass. The microphone certainly sounds better – but not as loud as many cameras – and is what Apple calls ‘studio quality’.

The 512GB SSD delivers quick start up times and improves performance. Due to Apple’s choice of SSD over hard drive (a very, very good move), the T2 Chip can finally work with the iMac and adds drive encryption and secure boot up.

I’ll upgrade the RAM in this 27-inch to 32GB but have purchased it with only 8GB. Apple overcharges for memory upgrades and using a third-party site to purchase it and upgrade instead can save you $200 or more. I expect performance to heavily improve with the increase in memory, too.

This is my first 27-inch iMac, having owned a 2011 and 2017 iMac both in the smaller 21.5″ size. The display is beautiful – 5K, TrueTone, P3 colour support and ambient lighting make this more than a high resolution display panel. The size means I no longer need a second monitor and can work with multiple desktops on macOS, and photos and videos stand out.

The iMac really is the centrepiece of my room. I still think it has a stunning design and can only hope that Apple sticks with it for future generations. Those bezels are annoyingly obvious, and why Apple, why? But, they don’t bother me during my workflow and are only a minor design flaw with the device.

I think, if Apple were to change the design of the iMac, which they’ve been rumoured to do for years now, they’d take a Pro Display XDR approach – squared edges and more ventilation around the back. I just don’t think the iMac will ever be as sleek and thin as it is now – one could argue that’s a good thing.

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Ben Ward

Senior Editor, discussing everything Apple and supporting other writers and members of Apple TLD's team of volunteers.

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