Apple Announces Major Update for 27" iMac

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Today, Apple extended its recent flurry of new product releases by announcing a major update for the 27" iMac. At first glance, the newest iMac looks indistinguishable from its predecessor. However, under the hood, Apple’s latest desktop features several significant boosts, including a faster Intel® processor, improved webcam (at last!), and SSDs that now come standard across the line. There are plenty of exciting customization options as well—perhaps none more enticing than “nano-texture” glass, which we first saw in the stunning Pro Display XDR.    

While it’s not light years beyond the previous generation, the latest iMac is undoubtedly the most powerful of its kind. Part of that power comes from the latest 10th-generation Intel® Comet Lake™ processors (available in 6, 8, and 10-core configurations) and next-gen AMD graphics, which, in tandem with the now-standardized SSDs, will deliver demonstrably faster performance. How much faster? According to Apple, using Final Cut Pro X with the updated 27" iMac will deliver up to 30 percent faster timeline rendering and up to 40 percent faster 8K ProRes transcode speeds. That's the kind of performance enhancement you'll get across the board with new 27" iMac. Not to mention that those superfast SSDs we mentioned come with a ton of storage. They start at 256GB, and are customizable all the way up to a massive 8TB. That’s four times more than the previous-gen’s max.

Customers have been asking for an updated FaceTime camera for a while now, and the new iMac finally delivers—just in time, too. With a large portion of the population relying on webcams for remote work, having an internal camera that can compete with external devices is a huge selling point. The iMac’s updated camera features 1080p resolution—a first for the non-Pro variant—as well as tone mapping, exposure control, and video face detection (for conferencing only). The end result should be the highest video image quality we’ve ever seen from an iMac FaceTime camera, which could end up being a major benefit to many customers.

Probably the biggest driver behind the updated webcam's improved performance is the iMac's T2 chip, which makes better image processing and all those new features possible. In fact, you could reasonably argue that the inclusion of the T2 chip is the biggest selling point of this updated iMac. In addition to improving the overall performance of the webcam, the T2 chip either enables or boosts a bevy of features, including HEVC video transcoding speeds, "Hey Siri" performance, and audio quality.

Speaking of audio: The iMac's updated speaker setup should also top the previous generation's, thanks in part to all the new features the T2 chip provides, including better balance, higher fidelity, and deeper bass. Couple those improvements with what Apple claims is a "studio-quality microphone array" capable of capturing high-quality audio and it does sound like this new iMac will have more to offer for both music lovers and anyone who needs to record (or transmit) high-quality audio.


Camera and performance aside, the most exciting “new” feature might be the optional nano-texture glass coating. Technically, we’ve seen this technology before in the Pro Display XDR, which is an objectively stunning display. The nano-texture treatment adds a matte finish to the display, reducing both reflectivity and glare without hindering the overall image quality. It’s an optional treatment, one that you don’t necessarily have to have. But if you’ve ever seen how the Pro Display XDR holds up in sunlight, it’s going to be tough to pass up.

The 27" model wasn’t the only iMac to receive an update. Both the 21.5" iMac and the iMac Pro did as well, though not to the same extent. The big update for the 21.5" model is that, for the first time, SSDs will now come standard across the line—although customers can still choose to configure their 21.5" with a Fusion Drive. Similarly, the baseline for the iMac Pro has also been upped. The new standard is now a 10-core Intel® Xeon™ processor. However, as before, the iMac Pro can still be configured up to 18 cores.

As with almost all of Apple’s devices, the updated iMac and iMac Pro can be configured to your specific needs. Choose from a bevy of options, including number of processor cores, storage capacity, RAM size, 10-gigabit Ethernet, SD card reader, and more. The deep customization options mean you should have no problem kitting out your ideal iMac. If you do have questions on how to customize your new iMac, or if you even need one at all, be sure to drop us a line in the Comments section, below.  

17 Comments

I can't tell for sure from the list of 1TB models above -- is it possible to order this iMac from B&H with the upgrade to the Magic Keyboard with Numeric Keypad?

At the moment it appears we do not have the versions with the numeric keypad (my preference as well). We are continuing to update these SKUs and it is possible we will be adding those models as well.

OK, thanks for the update, that would be my request for sure if you can pass that along

Its a $30 upgrade on the apple store.

Will you be able to upgrade the ram on the new 27” iMac yourself?  Also I’m interested in at least a 1TB SSD drive but not seeing the option to upgrade and customize the computers on the pre order.  I have been going back and forth debating on ordering an iMac I have a Lenovo laptop now and it just didn’t handle the work well. I’m a photographer and have heard many different things on getting the iMac what is the best suggestion for specs on the iMac? I know I want the 27” SSD drive with a min of 1TB hard drive what would you suggest for specs? 

The standard 27” iMac has a way to access RAM and upgrade, as detailed on Apple’s webpage here: https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT201191#install1

I’ve done it myself on a 2017 model and confirm it is easy for anyone at all familiar with computer components.

Also, we apologize but it is simply taking time for us to get all our options available as selectable choices on the product pages. They do exist if you use the filters on the left side of the iMac category to sort. Here is a sort of all the 2020 iMacs with 1TB SSD: https://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/products/iMac/ci/6490/N/4110474295?filters=fct_capacity_967%3A1tb%2Cfct_imac-model_6406%3Aimac-27in-w-retina-5k%2Cfct_model-year_5620%3A2020

As for specs, even the baseline model will actually perform very well. I have a 2017 iMac with the i7 Quad-Core and that will still handle 61MP a7R IV files without much issue in Photoshop. Now, when it comes to doing focus stacks and other intensive processes it will start to struggle. I would suspect the new one will greatly outperform it.

For your configuration, assuming it is similar to what I would need for photography I would personally go for a minimum of the 8-core processor, 8GB or 16GB RAM (but immediately upgrade yourself to 24-32GB), and upgrade the graphics to the 5500 XT with 8GB RAM at least. See here: https://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/1581918-REG/apple_z0zx_mxwv_06_bh_imac_27_3_8g_8c_10g_i7_8gb_1tb_rp_5500_xt.html

Of course, the 6-core processor will likely do just fine in most practical situations, but I always configure machines so that they still perform well years down the line, especially since Apple computers tend to do so (for example, my 2017 iMac and MacBook Pro). So a few key upgrades in the processor and graphics can lengthen the life of a machine. If you need more help please feel free to reach out to our sales team who can give much more detailed real-time guidance.

Krystal... i thought I was the only person that had this concern. Apple continues, to build into its plan, a goal of shaking down the consumer in the name of efficiency and innovation. They are purposely reducing all their products RAM and drive space: 1. To make much more money off of your desire to have larger drive capacity and RAM... they even solder the RAM into the computer so you cannot upgrade... their solution, very pricy RAM you have to buy from them... same thing with their drives. 2. In the name of expansion, their thoughts are to have you purchase the external drives because the minimal 256gb drives in these large Macs are only efficient enough to run their massive operating systems which I find this thought process blinded by greed... and financial control of the consumer who is at the mercy of a monopoly. In all due respect, the PC companies are doing this on their computers. These new Macs are OK but, selling a underperforming computer to purposely pick your pockets in order to make your $2,000+ investment a working machine is shameful. Plan on at least spending another $1,000 if you want a competitive computer.  

The RAM is not soldered in on the 27” iMac and is user-upgradeable.

I believe its soldered if you have the VERY pricy 32gb RAM installed. As mentioned, plan on at least spending another $1,000 if you want a moderately competitive computer.  The low-end Mac configuration is like buying a Ferrari with a 4 cylinder engine in it.  

I haven’t been able to find many sources to confirm this. Most places still list it as upgradeable. It may be possible that people are getting mixed up with the SSD and RAM. The SSD is now soldered in as part of security measures with the T2 chip, supposedly.

It is upgradeable it has the door on the back.

I just spoke with Apple about this new iMac.  The RAM is not upgradeable by the customer.  If you order an iMac with 32Gb of RAM, the RAM cards are soldered in place, preventing you from buying RAM from a 3rd party vendor, such as Crucial, and installing it yourself.  Apple charges a fortune for RAM - this is a disappointing change in Apple's protocol.

Apple will not advise that you upgrade the RAM yourself, but the 27” iMac is relatively easy to upgrade yourself. (The 21.5” and iMac Pro however do not have this capability). The standard 27” iMac has a way to access RAM and upgrade, as detailed on Apple’s webpage here: https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT201191#install1

I’ve done it myself on a 2017 model and confirm it is easy for anyone at all familiar with computer components.

Help. If I order it will be my 3rd iMac 27. Have a 2014 gen with 3TB fusion, which recently crashed and I had a new 4TB hacked into it but it’s slower and Photos is crashing a lot. I have nearly 200k images in Apple photos (2TB). I’ve got lots of hours in this software tagging etc.  I have another 3TB video that’s in an old Apple file format that I’d like to convert to photos. I’d like one place to see my entire collection, and I prefer internal storage for running as my master storage device with time machine and additional backups. My main camera is a Sony A7iii. I don’t heavily edit lots of pics but I manage a lot of pics. I want a computer that will handle these tasks (importing, deleting, mass exporting, mass editing).  If I know I want an 8TB (2500 ouch), how would you configure. I’m not playing video games or using Final Cut Pro etc. thx

Hank - I'm not associated with B&H or Apple, but I also ran into that same problem with my Mac back in 2014. Here's how I solved it:

- Moved all photos/videos onto a NAS (Network Attached Storage) drive. 
- Only used my computer to access .LRCAT (Lightroom Catalog) files (nothing but programs & basic data stored on the Mac itself)

By doing this, you're removing all of the internal stress and strain that the computer is seeing by trying to load thousands of photos, and by using the Lightroom Catalog, you're only seeing the files you need for that particular project (so, no more scrolling past the photos that you won't use). It's a vastly superior method than storing everything on the internal Mac drive, plus you'll still be able to see all of your collection if you want to. (Side note: software/metadata tagging is one thing, but breaking those down into catalog projects is a generally more reliable method of quickly accessing photos)
 

Robert-really appreciate the advice. I’ll have to investigate a NAS solution.

Robert provided some solid advice here. While it seems easier to host all your photos and data on the internal drive, having your main drive loaded up can slow performance. Going with an external device can help for many reasons, and if you opt for a RAID device you can get some limited protection with some configurations.

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