Where did the 21.5- and 27-inch iMacs go?

Did I just miss this as a news item? I have a 27 inch iMac, presumably the last Intel model (dated 2019 but bought in 2020). A friend called me yesterday (8 November) to discuss the replacement of a really old iMac and what the spec should be, so we looked at the Apple Store site (UK) together, and there is only one size of iMac available, and that’s the previously unheard of 24 inch! I was amazed. I could not see it referred to in recent editions of Tidbits, but as I said, maybe I just missed it. It makes me wonder about the future of the iMac, especially for people who want the maximum screen size. It appears that the 24 inch screen is the only size available if you buy a complete desktop Mac which works right out of the box. Otherwise you have to buy a ‘screenless’ Mac and a separate monitor or settle for a laptop.

Has anyone any understanding of this?

The Apple Silicon transition left us with just one (smaller) iMac. Like the mini, where that transition left us with a new low-end, while the better option was not updated. Some argue Apple sees the low-end MS with SD as the replacement for the 27" (with the higher end MS+SD replacing the iMac Pro). Even if in terms of specs/features that’s not inaccurate, it also means folks who were in the 27" iMac market will be paying a whole lot more for their new Mac, not to mention losing AIO. Some have hope that the 27" iMac will return with Apple Silicon later (like the higher-end Mac mini) or even be replaced with a 30" or 32" iMac. I’m not holding my breath.

The TidBITS article on the new iMac is here:

And here’s what a certain someone thought about replacing his 27". :wink:


Ha! I had not gone back so far. I think that until very recently you could still buy Intel Macs, at least in the UK, perhaps because M1 Macs took some time to appear in the physical stores. So I missed the moment when they were no longer sold at all (logical from Apple’s point of view). As I wasn’t in the market for an iMac at the time of the announcement, I quickly forgot about its significance. Sorry if I wasted people’s time.

not holding my breath

Me either…I think the single iMac is it and higher end people get a Studio and either the Studio display or an LG or whatever and we will get the Mac Pro eventually. I can see the iMac Pro going away as I don’t believe it ever sold that well proportionately…and that the 24 iMac splits the difference between the old 21 and 27…and the Mini and a monitor is in that position in the lineup as well.

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All in one desktops aren’t selling like they used to and the market has been contracting. Apple is the only manufacturer that is currently doing well in the market, and a lot of it has to do with supply chain issues and the fact that Apple is making its own chips, etc.


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In my opinion, nobody should buy an iMac unless Apple has substantially improved its thermal characteristics, especially (but not limited to) the fans/vents design. And improved the ability to get the air-clogging dust out of the iMac without taking a crowbar to it. :skull_and_crossbones:

It’s possible that the new M1 or M2 processors are so much better thermally that it’s less of an issue now. But how can you know, until the machines have been around for a few years? (It can take that long for dust to clog up the vents, any thermal paste to degrade, etc.)

OK, I’m biased, true… based on very painful experience. :scream_cat:

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Thanks for that. Do you think this is a common problem, and if so, how far back does it go in iMac models? I have an old iMac that can’t get past High Sierra, so is probably 2011 vintage. It is absolutely solid and never overheats or crashes. My new iMac seemed to survive very high ambient temperatures last summer, working in an averagely dusty environment.
Actually the person I’m helping doesn’t really have much choice. He wants to replace a desktop Mac with another desktop Mac, and would not be happy about configuring a machine where he had to buy a monitor separately. I think BTW that Apple will come back with other screen sizes, a bit like they reverted to HDMI on some of the laptops. I think they moved too fast for the market.

I don’t know how common the overheating problem is, but it certainly made my 2017 iMac 27" 5K inoperable. Of course, since I inherited the iMac when a relative died, I don’t really know what conditions it had been subject to. There had been a window air conditioner nearby so maybe the room didn’t overheat, but on the other hand, the iMac had also been his housecat’s favorite hiding place, so maybe cat hair was involved too.

Another exacerbating factor may have been the extended scaffolding/masonry work done on this building over the summer, so I couldn’t put in my window air conditioner near my computer desk, and the A.C. from the back of my (typically very hot) apartment wasn’t adequate cooling. (The iMac had worked fine prior to that.) Anyway I plan another attempt to resurrect the iMac but it’s probably toast.

Also I’m used to my 2010 Mac Pro tower (what I’m typing this on now), which is approximately the opposite of an all-in-one like the iMac. There’s a reason it’s called the “cheese grater”, those are cooling holes. It may be an archaic antique, but it kept cool enough to work even when the place was hot, I can open it up to clean out dust, upgrade components, etc. I’d never buy an all-in-one, but I’m reluctant to just throw out the iMac because of its gorgeous screen. I wish I could use it as just a monitor, without the computer circuitry even being on.

Another thing I never understood… if somebody wants the convenience and simplicity of an all-in-one, why not just buy a laptop and dock it when you’re home, to an external keyboard/mouse/monitor setup? That way you’d get the advantages of a self-contained computer, plus portability too. I’ve never understood the logic of the iMac, and I only own one by accident, basically. (This 5K 27" screen is spectacular, though.)

As somebody who uses that MBP + dock and peripherals setup with multiple Macs every day, I’d say there’s two main reasons:

  1. Cost. MBP + screen (even if it’s not a SD) + dock + etc is very expensive. The 27" iMac was actually a really great deal considering its 5K display.
  2. Performance. Nowadays with Apple Silicon this is becoming a non-issue, but back in the day, Intel desktop CPUs and AMD GPUs that found their way into an iMac were just that much better than the mobile stuff that made its way into the MBP. And even the totally spec’ed out MBPs that got decent performance, got really hot in your lap when you pushed them. And they throttled because they were so hard at the thermal limit (especially those thin ≥2015 models).

Yes, I can easily understand what you’re saying about performance issues (before Apple Silicon). I was impressed with the speed of my iMac (when it worked), despite having a fusion drive inside. Of course it’s pretty well maxed-out on RAM, processor options, etc.

I wish my iMac “throttled” when it overheats, as you say the laptops do. This iMac doesn’t bother trottling the speed, it just shuts down abruptly with no warning and no explanation.

Here’s another reason, which shows up in my household. We have a shared Mac that stays in one place, and a laptop that moves around with the person who needs it - usually me. Until recently my wife and I lived in two countries and were sometimes apart. The desktop Mac seemed a nice, neat, large-screen and fairly economical solution for headquarters as it were, and the laptop did the travelling. That way there was always a computer for each of us, and also for numerous family members at both ends.

Remember that you can search the full TidBITS archive on our website. Even searching for “iMac” would pull up one of those articles as the top hit.

I am a small business owner and have staff working on iMac since the dawn of their arrival. We still have 2013 machines doing many services, but our current active user iMacs are the 24" M1 and the 27" Intel latest iMac20,1 (2020). We have not experienced any over heating or fan or clogging issues on any machine since the 2015 iMac Intel versions. But when we purchased new iMacs in 2020, we sold off the old ones to staff for a $100 or less and they are all very happy with the computers.
I do hope Apple does not sunset the iMac concept as we love it. I personally use the new Mac Studio and love it. I really do not want to have to purchase Studios and monitors for all my users any time soon. I have tried Mac minis and a 3rd party monitor, but my users really do not like that combo.
So we shall see. But for my money, the iMac has been great for us.


Thanks - of course I knew that, but forgot… basically I forgot that the whole Apple silicon thing was announced so long ago. Anyway I know where i am now.

I have a 2014 27" Retina iMac which has been made obsolete by Apple – it will not run any version of macOS after Big Sur. The Studio and Displays are way beyond my budget and also are far more powerful than I need. I can get what I need from a Mac Mini with an Asus (or other) 27" display. I’m waiting to see what the M2 Mini costs but it looks as though I’ll have to wait until well into 2023.

At his store visit, Adam was impressed by the 24-inch M1 iMac. You should give it a look and see if it meets your needs. One caveat is that it was introduced about 7 months after the M1 MacBook Air and 5 months before the 14" M1 MacBook Pro, so it may be due for an upgrade in early 2023.

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Alan, thank you.
My daughter has the 24" M1 and it does look very nice. However, I can configure a Mac Mini with a 27" display for significantly less cost than an equivalent 24" so I’m leaning that way. I have a MacBook Air running Ventura and I have yet to see any app or capability there that is sufficiently impressive to cause me not to continue with Big Sur for some time.

Great discussion. This just isn’t ‘size matters’ anymore as it affects those of us w vision issues. A 27 inch or 32 inch screen is almost a necessity. I’m still putting around w my 2013 MacPro Trashcan using a Benq 32" screen. Can’t wait to ‘upgrade’ to Silicon but the prices don’t allow justification yet. But, again, visual issues often need those larger screens. Best, Patrick

Hmm - I’m beginning to have visual issues too, but I find that the default size of text on say Apple Mail or any text-using app on my 27 inch 2019 iMac tends to be a bit too small for me, so I then have to enlarge everything, which of course takes away from the magnificence of all those pixels! I have also just acquired a 14 inch MacBook Pro, where I’m tempted to choose a non-native screen size so as to avoid eyestrain, but that isn’t going to help when I really need the maximum real estate for software development… I’ll see if my optician can help. Getting old is bad news, in this as in many other respects.

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Ask for a prescription for computer glasses!
Looking at my 16" MBP screen is strain-free and sharp. (I have an external screen, too, but it is lower resolution.)
I purchased single-vision (non-bifocal) computer glasses online (using the prescription) for $50 with anti-reflection, UV-blocking coatings. [Zenni Optical is one source among several vendors.]

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