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Apple launches new Retina 4K 21.5-inch iMac, all 27-inch iMacs now feature Retina 5K displays

Screen Shot 2015-10-13 at 13.35.18

Apple has today announced updates to the entire iMac family. Most notably, the company has brought Retina to the 21.5 inch iMac range, with 4K resolution displays. Apple has also dropped the non-Retina 27 inch iMacs, so they feature 5K displays across the board. The new iMac displays include faster processors, upgraded graphics, improved wider color gamut and two Thunderbolt 2 ports. The new iMacs have launched alongside updates to the Magic Trackpad, Magic Mouse and keyboard.

Details about the new iMacs has been slowly leaking over the past few months, so their debut comes as no surprise. Apple SVP Philip Schiller described the new hardware as ‘stunning’, in a press release.

“From the first iMac to today, the spirit of iMac has never wavered — deliver the ultimate desktop experience with the latest technologies, gorgeous displays and cutting-edge designs,” said Philip Schiller, Apple’s senior vice president of Worldwide Marketing. “These are the most stunning iMacs we’ve ever made. With our gorgeous new Retina displays, more powerful processors and graphics and all-new Magic accessories, the new iMac continues to redefine the ultimate desktop experience.”

The 4K Retina iMac features a 4096 x 2304 resolution display, totalling over 9 million pixels. The displays feature a P3 color gamut, which features 25 % large color space for more detailed and more life-like image reproduction. Internally, the 4K iMac features a fifth-generation Intel Core processor with updated Intel Iris Pro graphics, priced from $1499. The 27-inch iMacs are equipped with the latest AMD Radeon R9 graphics cards and sixth-generation Intel processors, starting at $1799.

Note the distinction between fifth and sixth-generation processor architecture. This means that only the 27 inch iMacs feature the latest Skylake Intel chips.


Apple is heavily promoting the 4K display in tandem with the iPhone 6s’s 4k video camera. Seeing as the new Apple TV is not 4K, Retina iMacs is one of the few ways users will be able to see their iPhone 6s videos at full resolution in the Apple ecosystem. You can do everything from the iMac: import clips from the iPhone, edit using Final Cut or iMovie and then play back your video at its full resolution on the Retina Display.

Apple is also changing up the Fusion Drive configuration options, to make it more affordable. You can choose a Fusion Drive that pairs a 1 TB hard drive with 24 GB of flash memory for fast application and data cache. A higher end 2TB and 3TB HDD with 128 GB SSD is also available.

The new 4K and 5K iMacs are available today online as well as Apple retail stores and select resellers. Every new iMac comes bundled with the new Magic Keyboard and Magic Mouse. The Force Touch Magic Trackpad is available as an optional add-on accessory.

Alongside the updates, Apple has also posted a ‘Then and Now’ iMac memorabilia page which shows the development of the iMac over time and celebrates the growth of Apple over that period. The new iMacs are 366x times faster and feature 1000x more RAM than the flagship iMac from 1998. The page concludes with a reaffirmation of Apple’s promise to continue progress in desktop computing: “1 unwavering commitment to craft the ultimate desktop computer.”

Screen Shot 2015-10-13 at 14.02.13

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  1. Nic Buhrman - 7 years ago

    If you’re gonna do it… if you’re going to spend $1500; I think the jump to the base-level 27″ at $1800 is a far better buy. Larger screen + discrete graphics is one of the better $300 jumps you can make in the Apple world.

    • o0smoothies0o - 7 years ago

      The 27″ was $2,499 1 year ago. There’s reason to believe the 21.5″ will be several hundred dollars cheaper in 6-12 months. So one could also wait.

      • Nic Buhrman - 7 years ago

        Hence… “if you’re gonna do it”

  2. What is the “Wired Apple Mouse” that they now offer? That seems to be new too.

  3. j0hnf23 - 7 years ago

    they still built in the hard drive with 5400 rpm as base model …

  4. t3d (@robotstorm) - 7 years ago

    Wonder if they’ll ever drastically redesign the iMac? It’s kept this basic look for years now.

    • Ilko Sarafski - 7 years ago

      Well, that’s true but how do you suggest to be done? It’s basically a monitor, how can you transform a… monitor… um, drastically? They make it thinner and thinner every once in a while, which I find perfectly enough. The only thing I can think of are the bezels. They can shrink them, for instance.

      • t3d (@robotstorm) - 7 years ago

        I’m not suggesting anything, just wondering. Yes, it’s basically a monitor, but iMac design #2 (desk lamp) to design #3 was quite a redesign. And they’ve kept that same basic form ever since.

    • o0smoothies0o - 7 years ago

      When they can reduce the bezel drastically, they will. Obviously the ideal design would be pixels to the edges.

  5. taoprophet420 - 7 years ago

    Little disappointed Skylake didn’t make both screen sizes.

  6. Joseph Frye - 7 years ago

    No USB-C support? I thought that was something they were including across their Mac product line?

    • Ilko Sarafski - 7 years ago

      Yeah, that’s a bummer. As of 2015, that might not seem as the biggest problem, yet if you buy the newest desktop PC you probably are going to use it at least 3 (and most of the times – 5 and more) years. And as of 2018, the USB-C will be pretty much THE standard. So yeah, bummer.

    • inferno10 - 7 years ago

      My guess is that they’re restricting USB-C to portables for now.

  7. lexxkoto - 7 years ago

    Go to the Tech Specs page and look at the RAM in each model. The 27-inch iMacs say “8GB (two 4GB) Memory”, while the 21-inch iMacs say “8GB of On-Board Memory”.

    You know what that means? Soldered RAM on the 21-inch iMac – even the Retina model.

    • darcyf - 7 years ago

      Hasn’t that been the case for a while now? The only Mac I’m aware of in recent years that you’ve been able to upgrade the RAM in after the fact has been the 27″ iMac.

      • lexxkoto - 7 years ago

        The previous 1.4GHz model had soldered RAM, but I believe the other 21 inch models didn’t. I might be wrong.

  8. Doug Bixler - 7 years ago

    I have last year’s 27″ i7 4.0GHz that turbos up to 4.4GHz, I noticed that this year it is only turboing to 4.2GHz…
    Is it an upgraded i7? Haven’t found a model number yet for the processor.

  9. Gaming Mason - 7 years ago

    As much as I would like to get the new imac, the greedy pricing on ssd is a turn off. Still as greedy as ever. sigh

    • thepedestrianoff - 7 years ago

      It’s a high performance SSD that you won’t find cheaper elsewhere.

  10. Tomasz Zaremba - 7 years ago

    So when you buy a basic model of 27inch for $1799 and upgrade to Fusion 1TB for $100 it is cheaper than to buy a mid model with exactly the same spec for $1999? Why would they do that?

  11. iali87 - 7 years ago

    No skylake! WHY?!

  12. babywrinkels - 7 years ago

    Ordered a 27″ 5K iMac last thursday… Apple took their sweet time processing, and updated it automatically at no additional price to the new model with the same tier of CTO options for no additional charge!

    Pretty cool of them to do, rather than make me deal with the exchange.

  13. Joseph Frye - 7 years ago

    I am also sick and tired of Apple using a 2010 pricing structure for upgrades in 2015. Below is a small price comparison of what a component is priced from Amazon verses Apple:

    1 TB SSD
    Amazon: $168
    Apple: $500

    8GB 1866 MHz Ram
    Amazon: $50
    Apple: $200

    Should also mention that the price of the base components are already included in the price and can’t be removed. For example, if you purchase the base configuration with 5400 rpm HD and upgrade to the SSD, you should get your money back for the regular HD since you are not buying it.

  14. Joseph Frye - 7 years ago

    I am also sick and tired of Apple using a 2010 pricing structure for upgrades in 2015. Below is a small price comparison of what a component is priced from Amazon verses Apple:

    512 GB SSD
    Amazon: $168
    Apple: $500

    8GB 1866 MHz Ram
    Amazon: $50
    Apple: $200

    Should also mention that the price of the base components are already included in the price and can’t be removed. For example, if you purchase the base configuration with 5400 rpm HD and upgrade to the SSD, you should get your money back for the regular HD since you are not buying it.

  15. Thomas Yoon - 7 years ago

    A little disappointed they ended up bumping the 4GB graphics card option to only the highest tier iMac 5K. Now my powerhouse one-in-all is going to cost me about $300 CAD+tax extra, which is going to hurt with our current recession.

  16. Scott Gerber - 7 years ago

    Apple left out a few features that has me questioning an upgrade.
    1. No USB Type C ports. This has been promoted as the future standard and I feel uneasy buying my next computer without them.
    2. No extended keyboard option. I’ve been hoping (and asking) for an extended Bluetooth keyboard with black keys and LED backlighting.
    3. SD card slot remains on the back. This is unfortunate because it is extremely hard to access and something photographers use often.
    4. Base Ram remains at 8GB. Seems low but Crucial has 16GB kits for $80. $160 for 32GB isn’t bad compared to Apple prices.
    5. A facelift would have been nice. A similar look to the existing Thunderbolt Display (no chin) would have looked sharp. Simply aesthetic, but I like my Mac to look as good as it performs.
    6. Magic Mouse 2 charges from the bottom. Would prefer the Magic Keyboard 2 and Magic Mouse 2 both be useable while charging in case they go dead at an inconvenient time. And an aluminum and black Magic Mouse to match my hypothetical keyboard wouldn’t have taken much effort.

    • galley99 - 7 years ago

      From what I’ve read, a quick two-minute charge will give you nine hours of runtime on the mouse.

  17. baussie - 7 years ago

    SSD drives are much cheaper today then they were three years ago, when the first iMacs with fusion drives were announced.

    I expected Apple to increase flash component in a fusion drive from 128GB to 256GB or at least to make a fusion drive with 128GB a standard option for all iMacs.

    What have they done instead? They added a cheaper version with a pathetic 24GB flash option and made the 128GB option (now with extra 1TB of HDD) more expensive ($300 now).

    • iali87 - 7 years ago

      Probably because a coupole of months ago they reduced the imac price from 2400 to 2200.

  18. David Bradshaw - 7 years ago

    Why when the latest Dell XPS laptop has Thunderbolt 3 / USB-C is it missing from the new iMac 27? It would seem the only reason would be to keep the ports the same with the non-skylake 21.5 iMac and hence keep the marketing message simple.

  19. Angus Brown - 7 years ago

    I did it, used to own a Blueberry about 1999 – went to erm, the the other side of computing and now have a 21.5 4K, its Brilliant!


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.