27-inch iMac Receives Significant Update, Other iMacs Get a Nod

Originally published at: https://tidbits.com/2020/08/04/27-inch-imac-receives-significant-update-other-imacs-get-a-nod/

At long last, Apple has updated the workhorse of its desktop Mac line, the 27-inch iMac with Retina 5K display. The new iMac features faster Intel processors, a higher RAM ceiling, next-generation graphics chips, more storage, and Apple’s T2 security chip. Also welcome will be a 1080p FaceTime HD camera, an option for nano-texture glass, and better speakers and mics.

I don’t suppose that the RAM is user upgradeable 5 years from now when I might need 32 GBs (and the price of RAM has dropped).

According to Apple’s published specs, the RAM is user accessible.


I’m not clear where you are coming from… Today, I can buy RAM to upgrade my 5-year old iMac from OWC or Data Memory Systems at very reasonable prices. The sites are easy to use (they list available options by Mac Model and year). Of course, swapping memory on a 27-inch iMac is one of the customizable options that a user can perform without assistance or specialized tools.

Since the 2020 iMacs use the same memory as the 2019, I can check the prices on those sites for upgrades to the new iMac. Frankly, it doesn’t make sense to buy anything more than the minimal memory configuration from Apple. For 70% of the upgrade price from the base 8GB to 16GB, I can upgrade to 32GB using components from either of these these two vendors.

Note: while I was writing this entry, the entries for the 2020 iMacs showed up on the OWC site and confirmed that the specs haven’t changed from 2019.


This is the big deal. It’s easy on your 27" iMac. On other models (like the 21.5" iMac), a RAM upgrade requires a nearly-complete teardown, because you need to remove the motherboard in order to access the sockets.

For most people, this is going to mean paying Apple or a third-party repair shop to do the installation. Yes, you can do it yourself, but it’s difficult to do without breaking something.

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But the topic IS the 27" iMac. Unlike almost every other Mac, it has had and continues to have user-accessible memory.

Yep, we’re all in extreme agreement here!

I’m very close to placing my order. I think I’m going to get a separate 32 GB elsewhere so I end up with 40 GB total. That ought to hold me for a while, and if I don’t get the RAM as quickly as the iMac, I’ll have a few days to see how functional it really is with 8 GB.

Adam, I’m very interested in what you decide to get; I’m also trying to decide the “best combination of CPU and GPU for my needs” and I also run a lot of apps, plus I do some gaming. Thanks!

I’m leaning toward the 3.8 GHz 8-core i7, which is the base model of the high-end configuration. 1 TB of storage, 8 GB of RAM (with another 32 GB acquired elsewhere), and the standard Radeon Pro 5500 XT.

My rationale for this is that I want a lot of performance—hence the i7—but since I don’t do heavy graphics work or other CPU-intensive processing that would likely take advantage of multiple cores, the 10-core i9 and the beefier Radeon Pro graphics chips are unlikely to be worth the cost.

No nano-texture glass either—glare isn’t a problem for me. And 10 Gigabit Ethernet would be overkill.

$2500 total from Apple, which feels like an entirely reasonable price for such a powerful Mac.

Thanks, Adam. I’m leaning towards upgrading the graphics chip for gaming longevity. I’m trying to hold off until reviewers get their hands on these, but it’s hard; I haven’t bought an iMac since 2013.

It wouldn’t make much sense to update the 27-inch iMac with 10th-generation Intel chips in August and revise it again with new Apple silicon within a few months.

I wouldn’t be so sure. I remember buying an iMac G5 iSight which was succeeded by an otherwise identical Intel iMac within a few months. To be specific, it was released in October 2005 and replaced by the Intel model in January 2006.

Similarly the Late (October) 2009 Mac mini I bought was replaced with a completely new design in June 2010.

Your luck may be better. :wink:

I’m following a path close to Adam’s. I first need to do some preparation as my 3.25 TB currently holds 2.5TB of data. However, most of that is in media files (recorded music and video accessible via iTunes). So, I am currently off-loading my Music folder to an external drive and will repoint the Music and TV apps to that location. So, I will have a bit over 1TB of data and am looking at the 2 TB SSD option. My heaviest duty work is doing video conversion into .mp4 files readable usable by the Apple TV app, so I am looking at a combination of the I7 processor and the AMD 5700 graphics processor. I’m hoping to see benchmarks before I order. Finally, I’ll be going with the plain, non-etched screen as I don’t have a glare problem. My issue is that there is window just tone side of my computer that, when the sun is low, requires me to wear a baseball cap to view the screen. Given that nothing else in my house supports more than 1Gb Ethernet, I’ll stick with that, too.

Monday was the date on my calendar to upgrade to a new iMac, Apple 11-inch iPad Pro Wi‑Fi 128GB, 2nd gen. pencil and Smart Keyboard Folio for iPad thanks to the SBA’s EIDL loan. Thankfully, I didn’t get around to pulling the trigger on all that new hardware as I had planned. So…I just took the leap on the mid-range 27K i5 with the 1TB SSD upgrade and 32GB of RAM ordered from OWC. No nano textured glass. Same as Adam, glare’s a non-issue. Oh, and non need for 10 gigabit enet.

For once, my procrastination was rewarded! :grin:

First benchmarks are out for the low-end 27". Improvements are modest, primarily multi-core scores, similar to what we say on MBPs when they were updated with 10th-gen Intel Core.

I am one of those consultants who could not possibly be more delighted by this long overdue shift to SSD standard in all configurations. It was standard in no configurations, including the top iMac 27", until two days ago!

And correct about the Fusion drive – but the 1 TB model has especially been a joke since 2015, when they started using 24 (and later 32) GB SSD’s rather than the 128 GB SSD in the 2 TB and 3 TB models. And the only place this is documented is in the online store checkout, if you happen to click “How much storage do I need?” It’s not in the tech specs.


Thanks for the information. This looks like what I need, as I don’t do a lot of graphics, but am looking for much faster processing than my 2015 iMac 27".

Raw processing power as in CPU performance will not be dramatically better (see benchmarks above), but user perceived speed is likely to be substantially improved if for example your previous iMac ran off a hard disk or was hobbled by limited RAM.

I recently replaced a 2013 Core i7 MBP with a 2020 Core i7 MBP. The raw CPU performance didn’t even double, in spite of the 7 years between the two. But the I/O and memory bandwidth is far superior. If the old MBP had still had a HDD it would have been a night-and-day difference. And good news for you, desktop gains should be slightly better than on the mobile side going to 10th-gen.

This Nano screen option is actually the most interesting thing, IMO.

But at the price, for many it’s a luxury rather than a simple add-on. Wonder if they’ll upgrade other machines with this? I’d likely get it if I liked all-in-one desktops (prefer MBPs for portability and Mac Mini’s w/ separate LG 5K3K for noise away from me (tinnitus) – though an Apple 5K Nano Display would sell gazillions! [never gonna happen, BTW]).

10GbE is worth it if you use local NAS-type connections that you could make use of (Thunderbolt 3 DAS is obviously WAY better though)…or are lucky enough in the US to live in the handful of places with 10GbE ISP connection (see Youtube SnazzyLabs latest video!).

So much good, so much meh. :expressionless:

Anybody can subscribe to 10G service, and even faster speeds. But you’re going to pay a lot of money for that connection (especially if it requires the company running fiber to your location) since those are usually only leased by businesses, not individual consumers.

The big deal about Verizon and others offering gigabit service isn’t the speed, but the fact that they are offering it for a price normal people are willing to pay.

This was the video:

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