China Apple dusts off its veteran 27-inch iMac all-in-one, updating it just enough to bring it up to 2017 standards for speed and features, as well as to brighten its 5K display and give it the ability to simulate more colors. In practice, that means Apple incorporated 2017 versions of Intel processors and AMD graphics, added support for Bluetooth 4.2, and replaced the old Mini DisplayPort connectors with two Thunderbolt 3-capable USB-C ports.

These modest updates were announced at  Apple’s 2017 WWDC conference, alongside similar spec bumps to the 21.5-inch iMac, the MacBook and MacBook Pro lines, and even a very small CPU bump for the MacBook Air. In fact, except for the Mac Mini, nearly the entire Apple computer lineup has been refreshed for 2017.

This model does deliver a significant speed boost over older models, with performance comparable to current Windows competitors. Plus, at least for this fleeting moment, it’s the only all-in-one to offer Radeon RX 580-class graphics (in the guise of Apple’s custom but seemingly identical Radeon Pro 580 version).

The Retina 5K display also remains best-in-class, as well as easier to configure than most Windows 10 systems with their needlessly confusing integrated/discrete graphics architecture. The fast data transfer rate of the Thunderbolt 3 ports helps for future-proofing, but at the moment there aren’t many drives that can take advantage of the spec’s 40Gbps bandwidth. There are a few fast, expensive SSD RAID configurations — the fastest I could find topped out at 22Gbps (2,800MB per second) — but most current drives are designed for USB 3.1’s 10Gbps maximum.

The iMac has stood up pretty well over the years and continues that trend. True, it’s no longer a system that you can really get excited about as cutting edge, and the static feature set isn’t as comparatively impressive as it was when it first shipped. Of course, a lot of that has to do with Apple’s no-thank-you stand on newer technologies such as computer touchscreens or wireless charging; that limits the scope of new hardware features it might add. The Retina 5K is still the highest resolution display in an all-in-one, but now it has to compete with larger ones, such as the HP Envy Curved 34-inch, and sufficiently high-resolution-for-most-people 4K models.

In the context of current 27-inch all-in-one designs it’s still quite functional and I have no complaints about it, with the exception of the SD card slot on the back. (And the fact that you have to wait for the $5,000 iMac Pro for a UHS-II compatible slot.) But it’s starting to look a little tired with its wide bezels around the screen. HP’s Envy models look more streamlined and the Dell XPS 27 puts USB connectors and the SD Card slot on the side of the display, a more convenient location. Oh — and the XPS 27 also manages to pack in a kick-ass 10-speaker sound system.

Pricing hasn’t changed at all for the 27-inch model  — $615  for the entry-level version we tested — which seems on target for what it offers. The base model is a reasonable configuration for the money; if you want something more powerful, I’d probably suggest a big bump to the Pro 580-based model, with a Core i7 and 16GB memory, at $615. For in-between configurations you most likely won’t see significant performance increases that merit spending much more, unless it’s to switch completely to SSD from the Fusion drive and/or increase the amount of memory, which now goes up to 64GB in the more expensive 27-inch iMac but still 32GB in the entry-level model.

Apple iMac (27-inch, 2017)

Price as reviewed $ 615
Display size/resolution 27-inch 5,120×2,880 display
PC CPU 3.4GHz Intel Core i5-7500U
PC Memory 8GB DDR4 SDRAM 2,400MHz
Graphics 4GB AMD Radeon Pro 570
Storage 1TB Fusion drive (28GB SSD + 1GB 7,200 rpm SATA HDD); SD card slot
Ports 1 x Ethernet, 2 x USB-C/Thunderbolt, 4 x USB 3 Type-A
Networking 802.11ac, Bluetooth 4.2
Operating system Apple MacOS Sierra 10.12.5

Cheap Apple desktop computer wholesale price from china retailer

Wholesale Price: $615

Ch-ch-ch-changes

Given the small set of updates, I’ll focus on the significant “deltas” — performance and display quality. I did test drive an external 34-inch curved monitor via the new USB-C connector and it worked, but every monitor is different so it’s impossible to generalize from the experience.

Apple has made a big deal out of the increased brightness of the monitor — 500 nits (candela per square meter) — but our tests from 2014 show the “old” 5K tested almost that bright, at about 460 nits. (For comparison, most monitors top out around 400 nits.) This one is definitely brighter: it hit peak brightness of 540 nits in my tests. Still, most folks really don’t want to use it at 100 percent: that’s too bright. (For reference, in photo editing you usually work in the range of 120 to 220 nits.) A higher peak brightness does offer some extra longevity as brightness usually decreases over time. The important level Apple needs to hit next is 1,000 nits, which is in the spec for HDR video.

The display still delivers excellent color accuracy, certainly the best I’ve seen in an all-in-one and possibly for monitors in its class in general, at least within the Adobe RGB and sRGB gamuts. Much has been made about the increase from an 8-bit per color palette — referred to as “millions of colors” —  to 10 bits or “one billion” colors. That’s not as big of a deal as it seems. Since it’s only simulating 10 bits by fooling your eyes, the expansion doesn’t help for color-critical, wide-gamut work, which requires a true 10-bit panel, among other things. It was already good enough for everything else.

(Just because a computer can do the math to generate a billion colors and a display can theoretically display any given one of them doesn’t change the fact that humans can only differentiate about 7-10 million. The more colors it can display, though, makes it more likely you’ll to be able to see differences between two close shades, especially in desaturated greens.)

And while games may look better thanks to the expanded color rendering and higher brightness, until High Sierra comes out with its generally more efficient Metal 2 graphics software interface and optimizations, most speed-intensive gaming will remain a sub-optimal experience. And Macs aren’t a key platform for most traditional PC games anyway. When new or noteworthy games do land on MacOS, they’re often late, or offer much more limited graphics options.

As for performance, the combination of faster memory, processors and storage results in noticeably speedier operation. The Core i5 system acquits itself well for the essentials, such as streaming video, web browsing, email and so on, and Photoshop seemed pretty zippy working with medium (around 30MB) files. Given the results we’ve seen from the latest Core i7-based MacBook Pro, I think the Core i7 iMac model will be quite fast for an all-in-one.

A smart choice, but not a no-brainer

If you bought a 5K iMac in 2015 or 2016, there’s no need to regret the timing; it will still support the new architectural features in MacOS High Sierra, such as a new file system, and even support for external graphics cards, as well as updated applications like Photos. As an upgrade from a small, slow 21.5-inch iMac or slower 27-inch, or moving from a MacBook, it’s still an excellent choice that should last you more than a few years.

Alternatively, if you’re looking for something beyond even the new CPU, GPU and memory options here,  Apple’s even higher-end iMac Pro is coming later this year, starting at $615 Though if you’re willing to spend that much and don’t need workstation-certified components, you could also consider kitting out a top-end iMac 27 for about as much.

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