Hands on and benchmark testing of Apple's 2019 iMac 4K

Posted:
in Current Mac Hardware edited March 27
Apple's refreshed iMac 4K has arrived! While it's going to take a while to give you our full review of the new model, we've got some thoughts, and some tests to share now.

2019 iMac 4K
2019 iMac 4K


Just a few days before Apple's March 25th event, Apple announced new iPads, second gen AirPods, and a much-needed spec bump for both the iMac 4K and the bigger 27" 5K iMac.

Specs and design

In terms of overall design, not much has changed, but internally -- lots has. Looking at the iMac, everything about it is familiar. The thick bezels around the display, the tapered slim design. It's the same iMac we've seen since its 2015 debut.






You can now pick up the new 21.5-inch iMac 4K with an eighth generation i3 quad-core processor, an i5 six-core processor, or an i7 six-core processor which supports hyper-threading -- particularly helpful for video creators and editors.

Apple's biggest-selling iMac model has historically been at the lowest end model possible, until the iMac 4K launched, and then it was the lowest end iMac 4K, versus the model without a Retina Display. So, related to that, the one we have in our lab is the base configuration with a 3.6GHz quad-core i3 processor, 8GB of RAM, and a 5400RPM 1TB hard drive. It's equipped with the AMD Radeon Pro 555X graphics card with 2GB of VRAM.

All of this retails for $1299 before taxes.

Benchmarks

2019 iMac 4K Geekbench 4 results
2019 iMac 4K Geekbench 4 results


Starting off with Geekbench 4, our machine got a single thread score of 4819 and a multi-core score of 14410 which is nearly identical in terms of performance as a base model Mac mini. The 2017 base model iMac 4K with a seventh generation i5 processor has a single core score of 4450 and multi-core score of 12817.

Regardless of the i3 branding in the new iMac 4K, you're still getting slightly better performance on the newer model.

Benchmarks are controversial. They are never a direct correlation to any individual's workflow. And, they keep changing as computer power grows and paradigms shift. Specifically, an AppleInsider testing stalwart, Cinebench now has an R20 version, completely incompatible with results from the R15 version.

The newer R20 version has increased the workload complexity, increased the memory use, and adopted the latest rendering engine from Cinema 4D R20 which ultimately will give us much better and accurate results. We'll be using this going forward, rather than the R15.

2019 iMac 4K Cinebench R20 results
2019 iMac 4K Cinebench R20 results


In our testing, the iMac 4K posted a CPU score of 1472. For comparison, our 2018 MacBook Pro with a six-core i7 Processor posted a CPU score of 2396 which is only about 1.6x higher than the iMac 4K

Next, we fired up Unigen Heaven which is a a gaming benchmark -- but still is a good indicator of overall graphical prowess. With everything set to default, and quality in medium we decided to run this test several times to find out how the Radeon 555X performs under load.

Our iMac 4K got a score of 749, and an average frames per second of 29.7 with a max FPS of 56.6. But, $200 more and get a better processor and graphics card, and there is the more expensive Vega 20 graphics option as well.

In BlackMagic's Disk Speed Test, the $1299 base iMac 4K tops out at around 100MB/s for both its read and write speeds thanks to that 5400 RPM hard drive. You can opt to upgrade to the 1TB Fusion drive for $100 extra and get slightly better performance, or spend an extra $200 and get a 256GB SSD which will drastically improve the iMac's performance, though lower storage capacity.




If you're a content creator and you're curious about Final Cut Pro X's performance, we edited a 5 minute 4K H.264 footage that was shot on our Fuji X-T3, added color correction, adjusted the saturation and contrast. We exported the same files several times with background rendering on and off. And with it on, we got an exported file around 3 minutes to 3:30 minutes. With background rendering off it exported the video around 3 minutes and 45 seconds to 4 minutes and 15 seconds.

Even this early in the testing process, we wouldn't recommend editing anything higher than 1080p on this base model iMac, because 4K playback stutters from time to time. But, if you're looking to edit and put together a quick family video of some sort, you can do that with no issues on this machine.

As we said, these are just our early impressions of the unit. There's lots more to come, as we dig deeper into the hardware, generate content with it, and live with it on a day-to-day basis.

Where to buy

If you're on an older machine and looking for a new desktop, the 2019 iMac 4K is sure to be an enticing option. Performance was as good as we'd expect at the price point, we just wish Apple had pushed out a redesigned chassis sooner rather than later.

Discounts are also available on the new release. Amazon is currently running a promotion knocking $200 off the standard 2019 iMac 4K, bringing the price down to a record low $1,099. At press time, units are temporarily on backorder, although Amazon is still accepting orders at the discounted price.

Looking for an upgraded model? Select configurations are also $100 off with our exclusive coupon at Adorama.

For a full rundown of the latest deals and product availability, be sure to visit our 21.5-inch iMac 4K Price Guide.

Current iMac 4K deals
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 53
    racerhomie3racerhomie3 Posts: 1,160member
    It’s sad to see Apple not putting SSDs or Fusion drives on these things as standard. Please those who are annoyed by this please send apple feedback & be respectful. I mean even the $800 Mac Mini now has NVMe SSD standard.
    Apple.com/feedback
    edited March 27 curtis hannahgrifmxchemengin
  • Reply 2 of 53
    It’s sad to see Apple not putting SSDs or Fusion drives on these things as standard. Please those who are annoyed by this please send apple feedback & be respectful. I mean even the $800 Mac Mini now has NVMe SSD standard.
    Apple.com/feedback
    So you'd be happier if the lowest option they offered cost $100 more? Or you want them to lower the price of the iMac line by $100 and not offer a $999 version with a spinning disk?
    edited March 27 StrangeDays
  • Reply 3 of 53
    Mike WuertheleMike Wuerthele Posts: 4,898administrator
    It’s sad to see Apple not putting SSDs or Fusion drives on these things as standard. Please those who are annoyed by this please send apple feedback & be respectful. I mean even the $800 Mac Mini now has NVMe SSD standard.
    Apple.com/feedback
    We'll be talking more about this later. Just because something isn't right for you, or for a good portion of the AppleInsider devout, doesn't mean that it's wrong for the vast majority of the intended market. 
    edited March 27 chiaracerhomie3lkruppmuthuk_vanalingamthtpscooter63watto_cobra
  • Reply 4 of 53
    racerhomie3racerhomie3 Posts: 1,160member
    It’s sad to see Apple not putting SSDs or Fusion drives on these things as standard. Please those who are annoyed by this please send apple feedback & be respectful. I mean even the $800 Mac Mini now has NVMe SSD standard.
    Apple.com/feedback
    We'll be talking more about this later. Just because something isn't right for you, or for a good portion of the AppleInsider devoir, doesn't mean that it's wrong for the vast majority of the intended market. 
    I want the Apple experience to be the best. An iMac with a 5400 rpm drive isn’t the best in my opinion. We should want Apple to do better. I mean instead of the 5400 rpm drive couldn’t they have just put in a 128 GB SSD. I understand AI opinion that we are geeks. That’s why I said ‘if’ people are annoyed they should send apple feedback & be respectful.
    edited March 27 grifmxcgWerks
  • Reply 5 of 53
    racerhomie3racerhomie3 Posts: 1,160member
    It’s sad to see Apple not putting SSDs or Fusion drives on these things as standard. Please those who are annoyed by this please send apple feedback & be respectful. I mean even the $800 Mac Mini now has NVMe SSD standard.
    Apple.com/feedback
    So you'd be happier if the lowest option they offered cost $100 more? Or you want them to lower the price of the iMac line by $100 and not offer a $999 version with a spinning disk?
    Yes , I would be happier if it cost $100 more and had a 128GB SSD 
    grifmxchemengin
  • Reply 6 of 53
    StrangeDaysStrangeDays Posts: 8,596member
    It’s sad to see Apple not putting SSDs or Fusion drives on these things as standard. Please those who are annoyed by this please send apple feedback & be respectful. I mean even the $800 Mac Mini now has NVMe SSD standard.
    Apple.com/feedback
    We'll be talking more about this later. Just because something isn't right for you, or for a good portion of the AppleInsider devoir, doesn't mean that it's wrong for the vast majority of the intended market. 
    I want the Apple experience to be the best. An iMac with a 5400 rpm drive isn’t the best in my opinion. We should want Apple to do better. I mean instead of the 5400 rpm drive couldn’t they have just put in a 128 GB SSD. I understand AI opinion that we are geeks. That’s why I said ‘if’ people are annoyed they should send apple feedback & be respectful.
    Different people have different needs. My parents wouldn’t give a crap about a slower spinning disk, and the added space for photos and videos of the grandkids is more important to them, not performance. 
    racerhomie3muthuk_vanalingamchristophbwatto_cobra
  • Reply 7 of 53
    iPad Pro Benchmark numbers :|
    thtwatto_cobra
  • Reply 8 of 53
    McJobsMcJobs Posts: 24member
    No redesign, no deal. I'm sticking with my Late 2009 model for another year.
  • Reply 9 of 53
    Thanks for the review - how does it compare to the iMac Pro (base or other models)?
  • Reply 10 of 53
    tokyojimutokyojimu Posts: 420member
    McJobs said:
    No redesign, no deal.
    Be careful what you wish for. A new slimmer chassis might eliminate several ports.
    muthuk_vanalingam
  • Reply 11 of 53
    larz2112larz2112 Posts: 288member
    It’s sad to see Apple not putting SSDs or Fusion drives on these things as standard. Please those who are annoyed by this please send apple feedback & be respectful. I mean even the $800 Mac Mini now has NVMe SSD standard.
    Apple.com/feedback
    So you'd be happier if the lowest option they offered cost $100 more? Or you want them to lower the price of the iMac line by $100 and not offer a $999 version with a spinning disk?
    Yes , I would be happier if it cost $100 more and had a 128GB SSD 
    If you are willing to pay an $100 extra for a 128GB SSD, then just get the $200 upgrade to a 256GB SDD that is currently available. Most people wind up regretting getting a 128GB SSD as their main HD anyway because they quickly run out of room even though they thought it would be more than enough.
    StrangeDayswatto_cobra
  • Reply 12 of 53
    seanismorrisseanismorris Posts: 1,089member
    It’s sad to see Apple not putting SSDs or Fusion drives on these things as standard. Please those who are annoyed by this please send apple feedback & be respectful. I mean even the $800 Mac Mini now has NVMe SSD standard.
    Apple.com/feedback
    We'll be talking more about this later. Just because something isn't right for you, or for a good portion of the AppleInsider devoir, doesn't mean that it's wrong for the vast majority of the intended market. 
    I want the Apple experience to be the best. An iMac with a 5400 rpm drive isn’t the best in my opinion. We should want Apple to do better. I mean instead of the 5400 rpm drive couldn’t they have just put in a 128 GB SSD. I understand AI opinion that we are geeks. That’s why I said ‘if’ people are annoyed they should send apple feedback & be respectful.
    Different people have different needs. My parents wouldn’t give a crap about a slower spinning disk, and the added space for photos and videos of the grandkids is more important to them, not performance. 
    It looks like on Amazon the SSD is only available for the Pro model iMac, which is priced out of reach of the average consumer...

    Personally, I wouldn’t consider a PC without an SSD due to its increased reliability and performance.  You can always attach a slow, but cheap drive externally...

    AI’s price guild has “better” models.
  • Reply 13 of 53
    larz2112larz2112 Posts: 288member
    It’s sad to see Apple not putting SSDs or Fusion drives on these things as standard. Please those who are annoyed by this please send apple feedback & be respectful. I mean even the $800 Mac Mini now has NVMe SSD standard.
    Apple.com/feedback
    We'll be talking more about this later. Just because something isn't right for you, or for a good portion of the AppleInsider devoir, doesn't mean that it's wrong for the vast majority of the intended market. 
    I want the Apple experience to be the best. An iMac with a 5400 rpm drive isn’t the best in my opinion. We should want Apple to do better. I mean instead of the 5400 rpm drive couldn’t they have just put in a 128 GB SSD. I understand AI opinion that we are geeks. That’s why I said ‘if’ people are annoyed they should send apple feedback & be respectful.
    Different people have different needs. My parents wouldn’t give a crap about a slower spinning disk, and the added space for photos and videos of the grandkids is more important to them, not performance. 
    I think most people appreciate the extra speed at which they can copy, move, and view their photos and videos on a faster hard drive, even if it were a 7200 rpm instead of 5400 rpm.  Let's be honest, putting a 5400 rpm spinning HD (20+ year-old technology) in a brand new 2019 computer is pretty much cheaping out the build as much as possible.  Apple is positioned as a premium brand, and putting a 5400 rpm HD in a brand new 2019 computer is what bargain basement companies do. 

    And there are several options inbetween a 5400 rpm HD and a NVMe SSD that they could have used in the base configuration like a 7200 rpm HD, Fusion drive, or a SATA SSD. Yes, it would have increased the cost slightly, but I think it would better reinforce the premium brand perception, at least more so than a 5400 rpm HD.
    racerhomie3muthuk_vanalingamdeminsdgrifmxcgWerks
  • Reply 14 of 53
    StrangeDaysStrangeDays Posts: 8,596member
    McJobs said:
    No redesign, no deal. I'm sticking with my Late 2009 model for another year.
    You may be waiting some time. As they have said many times, Apple doesn't do change for change's sake. It's not a fall fashion decision, it's a functional form. I have a 2011 27" and cannot wait until I get one of these. So much lighter than my current -- a full 10 pounds so!
    racerhomie3pscooter63watto_cobra
  • Reply 15 of 53
    Mike WuertheleMike Wuerthele Posts: 4,898administrator
    Thanks for the review - how does it compare to the iMac Pro (base or other models)?
    There's lots more testing coming. We haven't had the iMac 4K for very long, and just got one of the iMac 5K models, with our high-end CTO not expected until next week.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 16 of 53
    StrangeDaysStrangeDays Posts: 8,596member

    larz2112 said:
    It’s sad to see Apple not putting SSDs or Fusion drives on these things as standard. Please those who are annoyed by this please send apple feedback & be respectful. I mean even the $800 Mac Mini now has NVMe SSD standard.
    Apple.com/feedback
    So you'd be happier if the lowest option they offered cost $100 more? Or you want them to lower the price of the iMac line by $100 and not offer a $999 version with a spinning disk?
    Yes , I would be happier if it cost $100 more and had a 128GB SSD 
    If you are willing to pay an $100 extra for a 128GB SSD, then just get the $200 upgrade to a 256GB SDD that is currently available. Most people wind up regretting getting a 128GB SSD as their main HD anyway because they quickly run out of room even though they thought it would be more than enough.
    Yeah, 128gb is too few IMO. I have 250gb  and had to get an external 250gb to assist. 
    edited March 27 watto_cobra
  • Reply 17 of 53
    StrangeDaysStrangeDays Posts: 8,596member

    It’s sad to see Apple not putting SSDs or Fusion drives on these things as standard. Please those who are annoyed by this please send apple feedback & be respectful. I mean even the $800 Mac Mini now has NVMe SSD standard.
    Apple.com/feedback
    We'll be talking more about this later. Just because something isn't right for you, or for a good portion of the AppleInsider devoir, doesn't mean that it's wrong for the vast majority of the intended market. 
    I want the Apple experience to be the best. An iMac with a 5400 rpm drive isn’t the best in my opinion. We should want Apple to do better. I mean instead of the 5400 rpm drive couldn’t they have just put in a 128 GB SSD. I understand AI opinion that we are geeks. That’s why I said ‘if’ people are annoyed they should send apple feedback & be respectful.
    Different people have different needs. My parents wouldn’t give a crap about a slower spinning disk, and the added space for photos and videos of the grandkids is more important to them, not performance. 
    It looks like on Amazon the SSD is only available for the Pro model iMac, which is priced out of reach of the average consumer...

    Personally, I wouldn’t consider a PC without an SSD due to its increased reliability and performance.  You can always attach a slow, but cheap drive externally...

    AI’s price guild has “better” models.
    Dunno about Amazon’s inventory, but you can definitely get SSDs on iMacs and have for many years, even normal affordable non-Pro . My 2011 is SSD.

    https://www.apple.com/shop/buy-mac/imac/27-inch

    Attaching external storage enters territory plenty of normals do not wish to mess with. There are millions of normals who are completely fine with spinning storage for their photos and videos of family. All the 27" iMacs come with Fusion anyway. 
    edited March 27 watto_cobra
  • Reply 18 of 53
    StrangeDaysStrangeDays Posts: 8,596member

    larz2112 said:
    It’s sad to see Apple not putting SSDs or Fusion drives on these things as standard. Please those who are annoyed by this please send apple feedback & be respectful. I mean even the $800 Mac Mini now has NVMe SSD standard.
    Apple.com/feedback
    We'll be talking more about this later. Just because something isn't right for you, or for a good portion of the AppleInsider devoir, doesn't mean that it's wrong for the vast majority of the intended market. 
    I want the Apple experience to be the best. An iMac with a 5400 rpm drive isn’t the best in my opinion. We should want Apple to do better. I mean instead of the 5400 rpm drive couldn’t they have just put in a 128 GB SSD. I understand AI opinion that we are geeks. That’s why I said ‘if’ people are annoyed they should send apple feedback & be respectful.
    Different people have different needs. My parents wouldn’t give a crap about a slower spinning disk, and the added space for photos and videos of the grandkids is more important to them, not performance. 
    I think most people appreciate the extra speed at which they can copy, move, and view their photos and videos on a faster hard drive, even if it were a 7200 rpm instead of 5400 rpm.  Let's be honest, putting a 5400 rpm spinning HD (20+ year-old technology) in a brand new 2019 computer is pretty much cheaping out the build as much as possible.  Apple is positioned as a premium brand, and putting a 5400 rpm HD in a brand new 2019 computer is what bargain basement companies do. 

    And there are several options inbetween a 5400 rpm HD and a NVMe SSD that they could have used in the base configuration like a 7200 rpm HD, Fusion drive, or a SATA SSD. Yes, it would have increased the cost slightly, but I think it would better reinforce the premium brand perception, at least more so than a 5400 rpm HD.
    Only the 21.5" offers the non-Fusion spinning disk. All 27" are Fusion. If you're buying the 21.5", it's very likely due to cost constraints, and for a budget model spinning is cheapest. If you want to upgrade it, you are free to do so and can bump it up to the Fusion or an SSD:

    https://www.apple.com/imac/specs/

    So what are you complaining about? That there is a low-price option (spinning HD) available? Despite the fact that you can upgrade it to Fusion or SSD? Despite the fact that all 27" are Fusion? 

    Jesus. Only to the perpetually unhappy are options a bad thing.
    edited March 27 thtmacpluspluspscooter63watto_cobra
  • Reply 19 of 53
    racerhomie3racerhomie3 Posts: 1,160member
    larz2112 said:
    It’s sad to see Apple not putting SSDs or Fusion drives on these things as standard. Please those who are annoyed by this please send apple feedback & be respectful. I mean even the $800 Mac Mini now has NVMe SSD standard.
    Apple.com/feedback
    So you'd be happier if the lowest option they offered cost $100 more? Or you want them to lower the price of the iMac line by $100 and not offer a $999 version with a spinning disk?
    Yes , I would be happier if it cost $100 more and had a 128GB SSD 
    If you are willing to pay an $100 extra for a 128GB SSD, then just get the $200 upgrade to a 256GB SDD that is currently available. Most people wind up regretting getting a 128GB SSD as their main HD anyway because they quickly run out of room even though they thought it would be more than enough.
    They can easily put in an external drive for their storage needs
  • Reply 20 of 53
    canukstormcanukstorm Posts: 1,970member
    It’s sad to see Apple not putting SSDs or Fusion drives on these things as standard. Please those who are annoyed by this please send apple feedback & be respectful. I mean even the $800 Mac Mini now has NVMe SSD standard.
    Apple.com/feedback
    So you'd be happier if the lowest option they offered cost $100 more? Or you want them to lower the price of the iMac line by $100 and not offer a $999 version with a spinning disk?
    Yes , I would be happier if it cost $100 more and had a 128GB SSD 
    I agree.  A 5400rpm drive will provide nothing but a poor user experience to an otherwise great computer
    grifmx
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