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Updated: if you’re interested in the 2020 iMac model, read its review here.

For almost 4 years I worked on a 15-inch MacBook Pro: creating music, editing clips, retouching photos, writing articles.

I liked everything about him, he did not look for souls. Except for one thing: it was a laptop.

It spent 99.9% of its life on my desk, connected to the adapter, and in fact was used as a desktop.

Yes, I made the wrong choice. I needed an iMac. I promised myself not to look in the direction of the new MacBook Pro with a touchbar and ordered this handsome man:

Meet the new 27-inch iMac 5K 2017

Huge, powerful, with a bomb display and the possibility of an upgrade.

iMac in a thin body came out at the end of 2012. Since then, the design has not changed. I was waiting for a radical update this summer, but this did not happen. Even the brand new iMac Pro was introduced in the same case, only in Space Gray color.

Or did it happen? Let’s compare it with a similar model from 2015:

Advantages of iMac 5K 2017 over iMac 5K 2015

one.Thunderbolt 2 is everything. Now the ball is ruled by a connector with a distant and bright future: two multifunctional USB-C with Thunderbolt 3 support. The speed has increased by 2 times – up to a crazy 40 Gb / s.

New devices and accessories with USB-C will connect to it without adapters.

2. Updated display, made using new technology. 10-bit dithering is supported, a billion colors are displayed. And most importantly: one and a half times brighter. No glare.

3. Up to 50% faster SSD (including Fusion Drive), switched to PCI-E 3.0 standard. Supports SSD configuration up to 2TB.

four. Fusion Drive is installed in all base configurations.

5. New 7th generation processors with increased frequencies in all modes. Supports hardware decoding of 10-bit HEVC video.

6. The maximum amount of RAM has doubled: 64 GB. But the most important thing is the new DDR4 strips (against DDR3 in the previous generation). The frequency has increased to 2400 MHz (against 2133 MHz).

7. More powerful graphics (up to 5.5 teraflops) with a maximum of 8 GB of video memory (against 4 GB before).

Did such a list turn out to be sickly? 🙂

Mmmm, I would add an updated case here … But wait a minute. Is it so important for a monoblock? With a time-honored and time-tested design that is still relevant today?

I don’t like to use the word “ideal” because nothing is perfect. But, yes: this body, damn it, perfect .

In addition, the Magic Keyboard 2, updated in 2015, gives the computer a certain novelty that you feel with every interaction.

The keyboard is very comfortable. On the new MacBook Pro, the keys are literally pressed into the case and are almost at the same level with it, here they are slightly raised.

Say – big frames. There is such. Only if on smartphones you need to strive to get rid of every millimeter for the sake of their compactness, on a candy bar it does not matter. I even like it: black frames visually fence off the content from everything that is behind the case.

Bottom line: For me, these innovations are a big leap for the iMac line. Not huge, but big. There is no point in waiting for something completely new, no one is in a hurry to update the design. This is confirmed by the presentation of the iMac Pro in the same case, which has not even appeared on sale yet.

And also – a new, thinner and more compact case would undoubtedly “hit” the price tag. Now Russian resellers have quite reasonable prices for iMacs.

We figured out the model range. Now it’s time to talk about it in detail after a month of work and testing.

Display. He’s great

It is very big. So much so that for comfortable work it is enough for applications to occupy only 40-50% of its space.

So, using the multi-window mode is a real pleasure. You work in two programs at once and do not feel any tightness. I, like many, are only bothered by the implementation of the Split View mode in macOS. I’m sure Apple knows this and will rethink it in future updates.

The native resolution of 5120 x 2880 can be increased to 6400 x 3600 pixels for even more free space. True, the fonts will be very small and slightly blurry.

In the monitor settings, you can select the sRGB profile to unleash the full potential of extended color gamut. The picture becomes very juicy, while everything looks natural. The profile is not suitable for work, just a game of muscles.

The backlight is VERY bright. At maximum settings blinds the eyes. You can forget about glare and other problems due to daylight.

What is missing?

After the iPad Pro 2017 with the ProMotion display (120Hz refresh rate vs. 60Hz before), all other displays, even the iPhone, seem to be a bit sluggish.

120Hz is SUPER smooth screen movement. To understand my feelings, you can remember the difference between 30 fps and 60 fps.

Today, Apple’s only new iPads support this technology. Not delivered to Mac. It’s a pity, moving windows around the screen and flipping through lists would be more pleasant. If you’ve ever seen the new iPads, you’ll understand. 🙂

UPDATE: After a month of using the new iPad, I can say that my eyes are already accustomed to this smoothness and almost do not notice it. Those. I do not feel any discomfort when working with other displays, as it was in the first days after buying the tablet.

Outcome

iMac 2017 installed best 5K display on the market. In terms of brightness and the number of displayed colors, it significantly exceeds the recently released LG UltraFine 5K Display for $1300. The price is relevant only in the States, we are much more expensive.

SSD and Fusion Drive

I chose the top-end base package with 2TB Fusion Drive. It comes with a 128GB PCIe SSD and a 2TB hard drive.

Models with 1TB Fusion Drive are equipped with a 32GB SSD, which may not be enough for super-resource-intensive tasks.

The question is brewing: does it make sense to overpay and wait for a custom iMac configuration with a more capacious SSD, but without a hard drive?

⚔️ Fusion Drive vs SSD:

Let’s compare the read and write speeds of iMac with 2TB Fusion Drive and iMac with 1TB SSD.

iMac 5K 2017 2TB Fusion Drive:

iMac 5K 2017 1TB SSD:

As we can see, there is no difference in reading speed. Only minor test error. Recording – yes, in a model with a 1 TB SSD, it is much faster due to the larger volume.

But you need to understand two things: firstly, it is the read speed that has priority (but not the main thing), which is identical for them (starting the system, programs, opening files and projects), and secondly, the write speed of 800 Mb / s is more than good indicator.

Last argument:

2TB Fusion Drive – $0 (price included in configuration cost)
2TB SSD – plus $1400. For Russia, add another 30%. About 115,000 rubles. to the cost of a computer.

Yes, there is nothing to argue here, in terms of performance, 2 TB SSDs are doing 2 TB Fusion Drive. But if the tasks are not super-serious, the difference will not be fundamental and very noticeable. Sometimes it will not be noticeable at all (the speed of starting the system, programs, navigating in the system, working in most applications, and so on).

Let’s now take a look at the hard drive that comes with the Fusion Drive.

HDD:

The 27-inch iMac, unlike the smaller models, comes with a nimble 7200 rpm hard drive.

Their development also does not stand still. Maybe. 🙂

These are far from SSDs, which get a tangible performance boost every year. But the test results are encouraging:

206 mb/s reading! Like an old SSD.

In practice, high performance is very noticeable. My Logic Pro tools used to reside on a 5200 RPM external hard drive connected via USB 3.0. I have now transferred them to the iMac hard drive. The launch speed has increased by 2-3 times, the response is almost instantaneous.

Outcome:

For excellent performance in professional applications, a 2TB Fusion Drive will suffice. There are additional tips for speeding up Fusion Drive here.

If you need an iMac for office tasks, work in Photoshop, GarageBand, small projects in Logic and Final Cut, you can look at the model with 1TB Fusion Drive. Today, the officers sell it for just 131,990 rubles. In this case, the system and applications will start instantly.

Processors

I will not devote a large amount of text to this section, because detailed tests of processors and graphic systems, if necessary, can be found on specialized resources. I will provide only the bare minimum.

Everything is simple here: the more expensive the equipment, the more powerful the processors and graphics. Let’s try to make a choice.

There are three iMac 5K 2017 configurations in total:

one. Intel Core i5 3.4 GHz + Radeon Pro 570 with 4 GB VRAM
2. Intel Core i5 3.5 GHz + Radeon Pro 575 with 4 GB VRAM
3. Intel Core i5 3.8GHz + Radeon Pro 580 with 8GB VRAM

… and custom modification with i7:

Intel Core i7 4.2 GHz + Radeon Pro 570/575/580

Which processor to choose?

Let’s look at the results of the popular GeekBench 4 test:

All processors of the i5 line, plus or minus, are the same. The i5 3.4 GHz is slightly behind, but the result is also good. i7 takes the lead in performance, the difference with the top i5 is obvious.

So:

i5 3.4 GHz is a fairly powerful processor by today’s standards. Will cope with all tasks.
i5 3.5 GHz – for working on heavier projects.
i5 3.8 GHz – like i5 3.5 GHz, only overclocked.
i7 4.2 GHz – will tear everyone and fly into space.

Again, if a more detailed assessment is important, I recommend reading the reviews of the processors themselves.

Graphic arts

Graphics performance is now fashionable to demonstrate in teraflops.

Flops is a non-system unit used to measure the performance of computers, showing how many floating point operations per second a given computing system performs.
(Wikipedia)

For example:

Playstation 4- 1.8 teraflops;
PlayStation 4 Pro (4K) – 4.2 teraflops;
Xbox One X (new, 4K) – 6 teraflops;

Geforce GTX 960 – 2.4teraflops;
Geforce GTX 1060 with 6 GB – 4.4teraflops;
GeForce GTX 1070 – 6.5teraflops;
GeForce GTX 1080 – 9teraflops.

New iMac 5Ks:

Radeon Pro 570 with 4 GB: 3.6teraflops;
Radeon Pro 575 with 4 GB: 4.5teraflops;
Radeon Pro 580 with 8 GB: 5.5teraflops.

By the standards of 2017, the performance is very decent, especially for 580 and 575. If you are going to play modern games through Bootcamp, I would recommend these models.

iMac test results with Radeon Pro 580, resolution 2560×1440:

But even the youngest 570 pulls out 60 frames / sec in GTA V with a resolution of 2560 x 1440 at “maximum speeds”, so for many this will be more than enough.

It’s important to understand that these graphics cards are honed and designed primarily for graphics in professional software and are tightly integrated into macOS. And cards from Nvidia will perform better in games on Windows.

With macOS High Sierra, Apple introduced the new Metal 2 graphics engine. If game creators step up and start releasing content natively for macOS, we’re in for a noticeable performance boost. And if everything was bad with gaming on the Mac before, now there is a certain increase in attention from Apple and developers.

What upgrade option did you mention at the beginning of the article?

The list is below. But the main idea is at the very end.

RAM

Definitely need to take a configuration with 8 GB of memory. Because everything else is wildoverpayment. Apple branded strips are many times more expensive with similar characteristics.

Additional memory can be installed by yourself by opening the cap on the back. The user does not void the warranty. Turn off the power, press the button, the cap pops up.

I trust Kingston bars, on the official website you can find a 100% compatible model specifically for your iMac. Not advertising.

PCI-e SSD

According to the iFixit report, the SSD sticks are not soldered to the motherboard. So, theoretically, they can be replaced by more capacious ones. I have not studied the lineup from third-party manufacturers, perhaps they are not yet available at the moment and they will appear in the future. Or they won’t show up. You have to wait and see.

HDD

Need a larger hard drive? We replace the standard. If desired, you can install a SATA SSD instead to store various libraries. Or even build a Fusion Drive based on a super fast PCI-E SSD and a capacious SATA SSD and get an evil rocket. In general, there are many options.

CPU

Yes, it can be replaced too. On i7 for example. Or perhaps an even cooler one that will be introduced later. Subject to compatibility. Plus, prices will drop in a couple of years.

But the main question…

Why and when to upgrade?

Disassembling an iMac is not unscrewing a couple of screws and pulling the cover off the PC system unit. The process is time consuming and requires certain tools and skills.

The only time you should think about upgrading is when it’s time to clean your iMac of dust and replace the thermal paste. Then, at the same time, you can update its components, because the case has already been opened anyway.

When will this moment come? Depends on the specific conditions of use and mode of operation. Maybe after 2 years, maybe after 5. If the iMac starts to make noise and the coolers are overclocked more often and more strongly, this is a sure sign that maintenance is needed. Also, in a couple of years, under conditions of increased loads, the hard drive can noticeably sag.

Summary and my thoughts

The 2017 iMac is a completely polished and polished solution. Apple did not remove the standard USB connectors and slots, as it did with the MacBook Pro line (for which it receives portions of hype to this day), but replaced the Thunderbolt 2 that did not gain wide popularity with more versatile and powerful USB-C with Thunderbolt 3 support. The result – there is no need to buy additional adapters and no fuss, everything works right out of the box.

Buy today or wait for a global update? I am for the first option. In terms of technology, the new iMacs have received the most up-to-date and relevant hardware for 2017 and 2018. And they switched to DDR4 memory, many were waiting for this.

Yes, the design has not been updated since the end of 2012, but there are pluses in this: the body is honed to perfection, and the prices are not too high. I think the new iMacs are the best in terms of price-performance ratio.

And you need to remember: we are paying not only for hardware, but also for one of the most advanced 5K displays to date. A third-party monitor with similar or even less up-to-date specifications can cost more than a single iMac.

Plus “magic” Keyboard 2 and Mouse 2 included. And a Lightning cable for charging them, which obviously will not be superfluous in the home arsenal (a trifle, but a nice bonus).

I advise you to take iMac only from official resellers, since the prices are adequate. And 2 years of warranty: the first from Apple, the second under the law, if the computer is Rostest and the check is kept.

iMac 5K 2017, 1TB Fusion Drive, i5 3.4GHz, Radeon Pro 570 – RUB 131,990

iMac 5K 2017, 1TB Fusion Drive, i5 3.5GHz, Radeon Pro 575 – RUB 146,990

iMac 5K 2017, 2TB Fusion Drive, i5 3.8GHz, Radeon Pro 580 – RUB 168,990
Prices are current as of September 29, 2017.

It’s the start of the school year, so students and educators can claim the 11% Mac discount through October 28th.

If you have any questions about the new iMac, I’m ready to answer them in detail in the comments.





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One of the best iMac in terms of price and features for the entire existence of the line.

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