Apple is slowly moving its Macs to its own ARM architecture called Apple Silicon. Apple uses its own ARM-based CPUs in all other products, including iPhones, iPads and Apple Watches, but as for Macs, Apple still uses CPUs from Intel. At 2020 WWDC, Apple said it will slowly move to Apple Silicon on Macs and it will take 2 years. There are still no ARM-based Macs, only special developer kit for developers, a Mac mini based on A12Z SoC from iPad Pro 2020 and Apple said it plans to release new Macs based on Intel’s CPUs. Apple just updated 5K iMacs and also Apple did minor updates to 21.5-inch iMacs and iMacs Pro.
Unfortunately, design remains the same. Probably the new design will come with Apple Silicon-based iMacs. That makes sense, but design of current iMacs is outdated, Apple uses this design since 2012. Let’s look what changed. Let’s start with core of every computer – CPU:
New 5K iMacs use 10th generation Intel Core processors with up to 65% faster performance. There is an option for 10 core i9 CPU with 3.6 GHz base clock and Turbo Boost up to 5 GHz.
GPU is interesting. After years with Radeon RX 580 or Vega 48, Apple uses Radeon Pro 5300 with 4 GB of VRAM in base models. Hi-end model uses Radeon Pro 5500 XT with 8 GB of VRAM upgradeable to Radeon Pro 5700 with 8 GB of VRAM or even Radeon Pro 5700 XT with 16 GB of VRAM. All GPUs use GDDR6 memory. According to Apple, it offers up to 55% faster performance in compare to previous maxed-out generation.
RAM is upgradeable up to 128 GB. It’s still user accessible. Storage options were boosted up to 8 TB SSD. SSD is now standard, so bye-bye Fusion Drive in 5K iMacs (finally!).
Do you love True Tone on your iPhones and iPads? Now it comes to Mac! But still no Face ID, we will probably have to wait for Apple Silicon-based 5K iMac. Webcam was boosted to 1080p from 720p, but still not 4K, maybe with ARM iMac with Face ID?
Nano-Texture glass is available as a 500 USD upgrade option. The same option is available for Pro Display XDR, but for double of price. Also, new 5K iMacs can handle two Pro Displays XDR at native 6K resolution, but probably you will need to max-out GPU for that.
Finally T2 chip is coming to 5K iMacs. It also works with the speakers to enable variable EQ for better balance, higher fidelity and deeper bass. Interesting.
Microphone quality was boosted. Apple said it’s now studio quality microphone, we will have to wait for first tests.
New 5K iMacs start at 1799 USD. Maxed-out option with both Magic Mouse 2 and Magic Trackpad, 10 Gbit Ethernet and Nano-texture glass costs 8928 USD. My recommended (and relative affordable) configuration (Standard glass, 10-core CPU, 8 GB of RAM, Radeon Pro 5700 XT 16 GB, 1 TB SSD, 10 Gbit Ethernet and Magic Mouse 2) costs 3499 USD. Add 400 USD for 2 TB of disk storage. And why only 8 GB of RAM? Answer is simple – as I said, it’s user accessible.
Though I recommend to wait for Apple Silicon-based iMacs, for some users with old Macs who still want Intel CPU is this probably the best option.