Going one further than 4K, the Retina iMac’s 5K display features a pixel-resolution of 5,120 x 2,800, which lends it more than 14.7 million pixels – four times that of the non-retina 27-inch iMac.
But instead of running at its native resolution, which would render elements on the desktop uncomfortably tiny to use, the new iMac uses the same pixel-doubling scaling as Apple’s Retina smartphones, tablets and notebooks to make icons, text and Retina-coded apps appear incredibly sharp and detailed.
Going from an iPhone 3GS to an iPhone 4 (and an iPad 2 to an iPad 3) in the past, I’ve become accustomed to the leap in clarity that upgrading to one of Apple’s Retina devices brings – but the new iMac is on another level.
…At 217ppi, it’s technically short of the MacBook Pro with Retina’s 228ppi, but its larger display means that you can do more – whether it’s editing high-resolution images without having to zoom out, or editing 4K movies at 100% in Final Cut Pro X with the timeline in full view.
…Starting at £1,999 (US$2,499 or AUS$2,999), the new iMac can’t be had with loose change and Apple is pitching the machine at multimedia types who actually need all those pixels – from videographers to image editors – in addition to regular computer users with deep pockets.
The base model gets you a 3.5GHz (Turbo Boost to 3.9GHz) quad-core Intel Core i5 Haswell CPU, 8GB of RAM, a 1TB Fusion Drive and AMD Radeon R9 M290X 2GB graphics.
…It’s worth bearing in mind that Apple’s recent OS X 10.10.3 Yosemite update means that Late 2013 27-inch iMac and later can now drive a 4K display, which can now be had for under £300 (around US$448, or AUS$575). That means that you can pick up the latest non-Retina 27-inch iMac – still an attractive machine in itself – and a 4K display as a secondary monitor for less than the cost of a Retina iMac.
…Moreover, that monitor is only currently supported by the Retina 5K iMac (which you’re trying to avoid) or the Late 2013 Mac Pro, which at a base cost of £2,499 (US$2,999 or AUS$3,999) is even less affordable than the Retina iMac itself.
…iFixit rated the Retina iMac 5 out of 10 for its upgrdability difficulty (with 10 being the easiest to repair), noting the trickiness of prising the display’s glass and LCD apart (they are now sealed together rather than held together by magnets), and the need to apply fresh double-sided sticky tape to reseal the iMac into its original condition once finished.