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

This might be the last iMac I can ever use at work. I am a Mac user who wound up getting a job as a Windows programmer. I run Visual Studio under Parallels but everything else I use is Mac software. Notepad++ is a sorry substitute for BBEdit.

I am extremely happy to be wrong and find out that the new 27” iMac has user-upgradeable RAM. Wish the same was true for the hard drive.

Welcome 2020 27-inch iMac. As previously resolved, I needed it sooner, so I will be happy without the T2 chip and next-gen graphics.

However, I went for broke and purchased the 2019 version with the high-end CPU and optional GPU, along with 128 GB RAM (twice what Apple was offering, and at a lower cost than their 64 GB RAM configuration) from OWC. Unlike @ace, I have crushing graphics needs right now with video production. The New One produced its first 30 minute program last weekend and rendering time on the longest version of it went from ~90 minutes to < 10 minutes. (The Old One was my late-2012 27 inch machine, which is now happily residing on my spouse’s desk and still available to me on the network.)

@doughogg should feel confident purchasing the minimum RAM configuration and dropping in his own boards. It’s a 10 minute operation if you’re being deliberate about it.

I am happy with my purchase, and okay with having missed a new version of iMac by a month. I still have the option to drop down to Mojave with this one, and hope that the next Mac OS iteration straightens out the weird stuff with bifurcation. I suspect it is the reason that Compressor has been turning out videos with missing media placeholders, which FCPro renders in full.

Thanks for the report, Adam!

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That’s an attractive configuration that I might use to replace my 2013 iMac 27" home computer. I’ve maxed out the memory on this one but it still labors to process my recorded lectures and video and just about anything else. The thing is, if I go with your configuration, I’m going to want to hold onto it for at least five years, and that will put me a couple of years behind Apple Silicon iMacs. I have a huge investment in software for the current machine and I’m wondering if future upgrades for the software will continue to support Intel. Maybe choosing a less expense configuration from among the new iMacs and upgrade to Apple Silicon earlier? Plus I run Windows in Fusion.

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2 posts were split to a new topic: Why are Apple’s base RAM and storage configs so low?

I’m sitting here pondering the configuration I need/want for the new iMac, at 81 years old I still believe that for cars and computers you can never have too much power so I’m leaning toward the 27in (which it is replacing) with the 10 core i9 processor and 64GB of third party memory.
I don’t need the powerful Radeon processor or the fancy glass, delivery is a couple of weeks so lots of anticipation, in the natural and established order of things my wife will get this 27in with its new screen (courtesy Apple) and Fusion drive, her 21.5in will go to charity.

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I’m also on a 2014 27". All ‘so-far-so-good’ 'til two weeks back SmartReporter popped up a red flag on the HHD. I was too busy to respond and two days later it was proven correct and it died. My friendly Mac specialist fitted a 2TB Barracuda (€68!) and I’m back up again with Time Machine. However, looking ahead I would anticipate giving myself a present of the new 27" in '21, but one major reservation - if Apple’s only config is SSD, can it be swapped out for an ‘old school’ spinning Barracuda? Adam didn’t mention this…

No, there’s no more SATA connection or mount for a disk left. The SSD is now soldered to the board (as on the MBP). The 4TB and 8TB CTO options are socketed, but using a proprietary Apple connector.

I’m OK removing spinning disk options, but a slotted SSD (and ideally accessible, without disassembling the entire enchilada) would have really made sense. On a desktop (unlike a MBP where you could argue every mm counts) this is such an annoying development. Heck, even the RAM is slotted and remains user-accessible.

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Last week, I bought 4 TB and 8TB HDDs and moved my music and video files (about 1.4TB total) to the 4TB drive. I then set up the 8 TB drive with 4 partitions to handle Carbon Copy Clone backups of the boot and media drives (as well as a 2nd clone of my laptop)). This brought the storage used on the 3TB Fusion drive on my 2015 iMac to just over 1TB. So I can now be comfortable with 2TB of internal storage on a new iMac.

Yesterday, I bit the bullet and ordered a new 27" iMac with the I7 processor, 2TB SSD, minimal RAM and the middle graphics processor option. Apple gave me an early September date. I then ordered 32GB of RAM from OWC which should arrive in the next week.

Appreciate the clarification Simon. Been using Mac since we paid €6737 for a IIfx – I still cringe – but at the time there were no other options for our move to digital recording. We’d generally laud Apple for design and usability – with their definite exception of no micro SD in their iPhones and worse, excluding us from easy access to iMac drives. As Adam alluded to – we Apple users are pretty handy at troubleshooting and keeping our Macs
going, but this one has always and will continue to baffle. Zero marks on that one Apple.

That’s similar to what I ordered last week. I too got the i7 and minimal RAM, but I went just for 1 TB of SSD and the Radeon Pro 5500 XT, rather than the 5700, since I just don’t do graphics or machine learning stuff that is likely to tax the GPU. I also ordered 32 GB from OWC. When I ordered, Apple was predicting ship dates at the end of the month, but just this morning I got the tracking info and it just left Shanghai and is slated for delivery on August 18th. Nice that Apple underpromises and overdelivers.

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iFixit has a teardown now.

I figure it’s anybodys guess as to when we may see a truly new iMac 27. The “new” 2020 version’s RAM will definitely be user upgradable. What bothers me most is the eye-watering price range for SSD’s.
My current setup includes a 3TB fusion drive which I was quite happy with. I’m wondering if I should order the smallest SSD and upgrade with a large external SSD. How about that? Will there be a speed issue or any other trouble lurking?

Thanks iFixit and Adam for giving us this brill feature. My takaway: " With display and Zoom-accessories accoutrements dispatched, we turn to the guts. Surprise, surprise: looks like Apple has filled that vacant hard drive space with … nothing! The huge 3.5” desktop drive that used to occupy the spot above the power supply may have been past its prime, but we appreciated how easy it was to find replacements and procure [upgrades]. Since the space isn’t being used, *we can only hope Apple left the SATA headers in place on the back of the logic board. Fingers crossed that upgrades are still viable—we’ll find out for sure once the board is out." You know sometimes when we say: “no brainer”…it’s an assumption that others ‘get it’, unfortunately sometimes Apple doesn’t…

That makes sense to me, and I think you’ll get better performance than with the Fusion Drive.

I’m not a major user of drive space and have lived with 512 GB in my 2014 iMac fairly happily. When my SSD died and I had to switch to booting from an external SSD, I moved to 1 TB and put my Photos library back on the boot drive. So with the new iMac, I went to 1 TB internal. Most of what I have beyond that is archival information and can stay on an occasionally accessed hard drive.

I have the 1TB SSD on my new machine which has just been superseded. I’m using Dropbox to offload little used files, but you could use iCloud or a similar scheme as long as you trust it. I only have about 350GB stored on the internal drive, which I think represents system and app files along with music and photos.

I have a thunderbolt RAID that is configured with 4 spinning 2TB disks and is set up for Level5 RAID, resulting in 6TB storage. The enclosure is a Thunderbolt 2 interface which was purchased in the spring for my old iMac. It handles all my video files and is fast enough for my purposes.

The USB-C/Thunderbolt 3 option feels, to me, like having another internal drive. It’s certainly less expensive than one of Apple’s higher-capacity SSDs, and it can be fitted with SSDs itself rather than spinners.

Mine now shows as already shipping from Shanghai with an estimated delivery date moved from Sept 1-Sept 9 to August 20.

Interestingly, some cables on the same ordered that are being shipped via UPS from Southern California to Northern California show a delivery date of August 13 on the Apple site and August 14 on the UPS site. Detailed tracking on the UPS site shows they haven’t left the Southern California UPS depot. During the spring, UPS had a terrible record clearing deliveries> I had one Costco item that showed no movement for a week. Thinking it was lost, I contacted Costco and they sent me a replacement, only for the original shipment to arrive the next day.

At least the computer is being sent via FedEx.

And my iMac just arrived a day earlier than the previous estimate. So we have to take those delivery dates with a grain of salt, but in a good way. :slight_smile:

But is it worth it when it will be replaced by an AS version in about 6 months?

Yes, for various reasons that have been stated elsewhere. The initial Apple silicon models are likely to lack some features that we’ve come to take for granted on Intel-based models. To me the biggest jolt will be easy-ish Windows virtualization that was available from multiple vendors and from Apple itself. Having run versions of that operation in emulation under Virtual PC on some of the last PowerPC Macs, I can tell you it was a treat (speed and performance-wise, anyway :neutral_face:) to have an actual Intel chip in the system and to see Windows work better (again, speed and performance-wise) on my Mac than it did on a typical Windows box.

I’ll be able to continue doing that with my current iMac until I’m past the point of needing it any more. It’s totally worth it vs. installing a Windows machine and a KVM setup as I had to do at one of my work settings.