The latest version of Apple's 21-inch iMac sports a 4K Retina screen, and many consumers are no doubt wondering if it's worth buying. Fortunately, a slew of reviews of the new 4K iMac have been released, and the buzz from critics seems mostly positive with a few caveats.
The Ars Technica review of the 4K iMac
Andrew Cunningham at Ars Technica notes the lack of a Fusion drive option in the new 4K iMac:
The best thing about the 4K iMac is that you don't have to use a gigantic 27-inch model if you want to get a Retina display. There are plenty of people who prefer the larger screen, but for those who find it intimidating or just too big for their workspace, the 4K model is here and it's waiting with open arms. The more-than-doubled resolution and Retina scaling modes give it more multitasking potential than the non-Retina iMacs too.
But screen size aside, the 21.5-inch iMacs are inferior to the new 27-inch models in many ways. It's typical for the smaller iMacs to have smaller build-to-order storage options and weaker GPUs, but in this case Apple has entirely removed dedicated GPUs from the equation and isn't offering 1TB SSD upgrades or 3TB Fusion Drive upgrades (though this may be due to space limitations inside the smaller case). Even worse, Intel's frustrating release calendar means that the 21.5-inch models are now a full CPU architecture refresh behind the 27-inch models, and the 4K model won't even have the option of upgrading to Skylake until early in 2016.
If you're OK with the list of omissions and you can spring for the storage upgrade, the 4K iMac gets you a great professional-quality screen and a powerful quad-core processor for a pretty reasonable price. The 27-inch iMac is the computer that most blurs the line between consumer all-in-one and high-end workstation, but as long as you aren't gaming you can get some pretty serious work done on the 21.5-inch iMac. If Apple can make Fusion Drives and 4K screens standard on all iMacs when the Skylake refresh comes around, we won't have much left to complain about.
The Macworld review of the 4K iMac
Jason Snell at Macworld calls it a "a high-resolution desktop Mac for the masses":
The 5K iMac is an incredible computer, one of the best Macs ever made—but it’s also just too much for many people. A 27-inch display can dominate a desk or a room, and though the price tag has come down a lot in the past year, it’s still on the pricey side. In contrast, here’s the iMac with 4K Retina display.
It offers a lot of screen space but isn’t awkward to maneuver around a table top. The prices on the three models are more reasonable though you’ll want to upgrade the hard drive to a Fusion Drive or pure flash storage if it fits within your budget.
Most importantly, it’s got that screen. 9.4 million pixels of screen, making your photos and your webpages and your word-processor documents and even the text of your emails look substantially better than ever before. Retina has arrived on Apple’s most affordable iMac model. You won’t regret the upgrade.
A YouTube video review of the 4K iMac
DetroitBORG has an interesting YouTube video review of the 4K iMac that includes some GPU benchmarks and disk speed data:
The Engadget review of the 4K iMac
Dana Wollman at Engadget noted the improved color accuracy in the new 4K iMac: