Apple has refreshed its iMac line for late-2015, making Retina 5K displays standard on 27-inch models and introducing a new 21.5-inch version with a Retina 4K screen. The new iMacs also get faster processors and graphics, new internal storage options and two Thunderbolt 2 ports.
The Retina 5K display was first available on a more-expensive 27-inch iMac, initially priced starting at $2,499, that Apple introduced a year ago, and is now being made available as standard equipment on iMacs costing as little as $1,499. Meanwhile, the Retina 4K display is available for the first time on a 21.5-inch iMac, be it as an option.
The Retina 4K display on 21.5-inch iMacs means a resolution of 4,096 by 2,304 and a pixel density of 218 ppi. The Retina 5K display that is offered on 27-inch iMacs has a resolution of 5,120 by 2,880 and a pixel density of 217 ppi. They are basically identical as far as pixel densities go, which is to be expected.
What you need to know is that, while the high-resolution screen costs nothing if you opt for a 27-inch iMac, to get to similar levels of quality you have to shell out $1,499 to get a 21.5-inch iMac with a Retina 4K panel. The entry-level 27-inch iMac kicks off at $1,799.
In terms of processors, all iMacs get sixth-generation Intel Core chips and Iris Pro Graphics (21.5-inch models) or AMD Radeon R9 GPUs (M380, M390 or M395, depending on which 27-inch iMac you get). There is also 802.11ac Wi-Fi connectivity on board that enables transfer speeds of up to 1.3 Gbps.
A memory upgrade, from 8 GB of RAM to 16 GB of RAM, adds $200 to the cost, while an upgrade to a Fusion drive or SSD ups the price by at least $100. A 1 TB Fusion drive is standard equipment only on the $1,999 and $2,299 27-inch iMacs, being available as a $100 option on the other iMacs.
The least-expensive SSD upgrade adds $200 to the cost of most iMacs, for which you get only a 256 GB drive. The SSDs are said to be up to 2.5 times faster than before, based on Apple's testing. The mid-range 27-inch iMac can be had with an SSD for $100 more, while the top-of-the-range model offers one as a no-cost option, replacing a 2 TB Fusion drive.
Alongside the new iMacs, Apple has also introduced a new Magic Keyboard ($99 on its own), Magic Mouse 2 ($79 on its own) and Magic Trackpad 2 ($129 on its own). All are battery-powered, and the last of the bunch even gets Force Touch. Battery life is said to be up to a month. Magic Mouse 2 is a no-cost option, but Magic Trackpad 2 will add $50 to the cost of your new iMac, and if you want the bundle you will have to tick the $129 option.
As you might expect, all new iMacs ship with OS X 10.11 El Capitan, and they are available starting today, October 13, from Apple Store. Also available today are the new accessories.