iMac Kaby Lake (2017) review: The iMac’s excellence continues on – Macworld (blog)

It’s been nearly two years since Apple updated the iMac, which may not seem like such a big deal, especially for a desktop computer. So, understandably, if you bought an iMac in the past three or four years, maybe you aren’t looking for a new computer right now. But if your Mac is older than that, you’re probably looking to upgrade, and it’s hard to convince yourself to invest in a computer that was released so long ago.

Apple has finally updated the iMac, so if you’re in the market for a new computer, now’s the time to do some shopping. In this review, I take a close look at the high-end 21.5-inch iMac with a 3.4GHz Core i5 Kaby Lake processor, which sells for $1,499.

Kaby Lake upgrades, new graphics, RAM

The 2015 21.5-inch iMacs had Intel’s fifth-generation Core processor, code-named Broadwell. The 2015 27-inch iMacs had Intel’s sixth-generation Skylake processors. The new 2017 iMacs have Intel’s seventh-generation processor, called Kaby Lake. The 21.5-inch Macs have dual-core Core i5 Kaby Lake processors, while the 27-inch iMacs have quad-core Core i5s. (Apple offers customization options to a Core i7 processor in some models.) The processor in our $1,499 iMac review unit is clocked at 3.4GHz, and it has Turbo Boost up to 3.8GHz.

imac 2017 21in sideRoman Loyola

The 21.5-inch iMac stands 17.7 inches tall with a width of 20.8 inches. The stand depth is 6.9 inches.

Apple also improved the graphics hardware. The $1,499 iMac in this review has a 4GB Radeon Pro 560, and all of the new iMacs except for the $1,099 entry-level model now use Radeon Pro graphics. The 2015 21.5-inch iMacs used Intel Iris Pro Graphics 6200, while the older 27-inch models used older Radeon cards. The new $1,099 iMac uses Intel Iris Plus Graphics 640.

All new iMacs come with 8GB of memory, and you can add more RAM when you order your iMac, which also increases the overall price. With previous 21.5-inch Macs, it was a good idea to add more RAM when you bought the iMac, because there was no way to install an upgrade. Apple has changed its tune for these iMacs; more RAM can be added later, but you need to bring the iMac into an Apple store and have them install the RAM. The 27-inch iMacs have user-upgradeable RAM.

Faster performance

To gauge the performance of the $1,499 iMac, we ran benchmarks from Geekbench 4. We then compared the results to older iMacs, including the Retina and non-Retina 21.5-inch iMacs from 2015, a 1.6GHz Core i5 (Haswell) iMac from 2014, and a 2.9GHz Core i5 (Haswell) iMac from 2013. We also included benchmarks from a 2013 3.7GHz quad-core Mac Pro, for your reference.

Geekbench 64-bit Single-Core and Multi-Core CPU Test

2017 21 imac cpu tests IDG

Longer bars/higher scores are better. Click to enlarge.

Compared to the 2015 3.3GHz iMac, the new 3.4GHz model is about 8 percent faster in single-core performance, which involves tasks like using productivity software and web browsing. With multi-core performance—which is of interest by users of pro apps—we found that the performance between the two iMacs is virtually the same.

Before you think that’s disappointing, we need to take into consideration what’s coming in the fall from Apple: macOS High Sierra. There’s a potential for better gains when Apple’s new Mac operating system is released. I’ll elaborate in a bit.

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