Latest OS X El Capitan beta includes more references to 4K 21.5-inch Retina iMac


We reported back in June that El Capitan beta 2 seed included assets and code references to a rumored 4K 21.5 inch Retina iMac, which would accompany the 5K 27 inch Retina iMac in the family. El Capitan beta 6 was released last night and also includes some juicy references to the as-yet-unannounced 21.5 inch Retina Mac desktop.

Consomac has digged around the OS X seed and found that Apple has included metadata for a 4K iMac screen.  The file says the iMac has a native screen resolution of 4096×2304 as well as several ‘scaled’ sizes like other Retina Macs. The icon attached to this file looks identical to current iMacs which indicates that the new iMacs will not have noticeable exterior design changes.

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The monitor definitions also include references to a couple of new 5K iMacs. This gels with a report from KGI yesterday which claimed Apple is readying iMacs with improved screen technology and internal improvements to components.

In general, the iMac is due for a refresh so an update of some kind is expected. Most models in the iMac lineup have not been updated since late 2013. It now seems almost certain that a 4K Retina 21.5 inch iMac is on the horizon.

With these references appearing in El Capitan, it currently seems like the 4K Retina iMac will ship with Apple’s new OS although it is possible for Apple to patch support into Yosemite. However, the company has a history of releasing new Mac hardware alongside new versions of the operating system.


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  1. qonstrukt - 8 years ago

    To be honest, I hope it won’t be 21.5″ but more like 24 or 25″. And with internals on equal level to the 27″ version. Especially when you can set the scaling to 5120×2880 (2560×1440 screen space) which is normally what regular 27″ screens do, it would be a bit too small on 21.5″ for my taste, but a desirable amount of screen space. (I currently have a Dell U2515 with a Retina MBP.)

  2. James Cram (@jamescram) - 8 years ago

    4096×2304 is an interesting resolution. The current 21.5″ iMacs are 1920×1080, so a retina version (keeping UI elements the same size) would need to be 3840×2160 pixels – this is the resolution of most “4k” monitors, the smallest commercially available ones being about 24″. If Apple wanted to keep UI elements the same size as they are on the current 21.5″ iMac, using a 4096×2304 screen, a bit of trigonometry suggests a 23″ diagonal size.

    Interestingly though, a 4096×2304 display at 21.5″ would result in UI elements the same size as on the 27″ iMac, so maybe this is not so unlikely. They could also use a similar trick to the iPhone 6 Plus and new MacBook, which use scaled resolutions by default – this would allow them to have a 3840×2160 image on a 4096×2304 display by default with a “More Space” option to use the native display resolution.

    A 4096×2304 screen at either 21.5″ or 23″ would be a much better option than 3840×2160 at 24″+ for anyone looking for a “retina” external monitor. Hopefully either Apple or (more likely) another company will offer a monitor using the same panel, as Dell did with the 5k display in the 27″ Retina iMac.

  3. Andrew Hudson - 8 years ago

    And how about a 5K USB-C/Thunderbolt retina cinema display for use with Mac Pros and also the new Macbook??? Bring it already!

    • Paul Van Obberghen - 8 years ago

      Would 1 USB-C connection enough to drive a 5K external display? And is the Graphic processor of the MacBook powerfull enough to drive both its own screen and a 5K Retina? I don’t know, just asking. Maybe these are the reasons why there was no 5K Retina Cinema Display then and still is not even rumors of one being available soon.

  4. I would really like them to replace 21,5 inch with a 23 or 24″ one, I just think it’s way too small these days…

  5. rnc - 8 years ago

    The retina Mac for the rest of us!

  6. Đông Hưng - 8 years ago

    im sorry but new website design look stupid


Avatar for Benjamin Mayo Benjamin Mayo

Benjamin develops iOS apps professionally and covers Apple news and rumors for 9to5Mac. Listen to Benjamin, every week, on the Happy Hour podcast. Check out his personal blog. Message Benjamin over email or Twitter.