Compared: 2020 27-inch iMac vs 2019 iMac 5K

Posted:
in General Discussion edited August 2020
Apple on Tuesday unveiled a new generation of 27-inch iMac with faster processors, the T2 chip and only SSD storage options. Here's what's new versus the 2019 iMac 5K -- and whether it's worth an upgrade.

Gorgeous True Tone display on 27-Inch iMac
Gorgeous True Tone display on 27-Inch iMac


This is not the radical iMac redesign that many users were expecting, but it does modernize the iMac form factor with some of Apple's latest features and Intel's latest available hardware.

Although the changes are incremental, there are some notable updates. Here's how the new 2020 27-inch iMac compares to the previous iMac 5K model from 2019.




Specifications

27-inch iMac (2020)iMac 5K (27-inch, 2019)
Processor10th-generation Intel
starts with 3.1GHz 6-core Core i5 processor with Turbo Boost up to 4.5GHz
8th- or 9th-generation Intel Core
Starts with 3GHz 6-core Intel Core i5 with Turbo Boost up to 4.1GHz
GraphicsRadeon Pro 5300 with 4GB of GDDR6 memory
Configurable up to Radeon Pro 5700 XT with 16GB memory
Radeon Pro 570X with 4GB of GDDR5 memory
Configurable up to Radeon Pro Vega 48 with 8GB memory
RAM8GB base
Configurable up to 128GB
8GB base
Configurable up to 128GB
Internal storage256GB internal SSD (base)
Configurable up to 8TB SSD
No Fusion Drive
1TB Fusion Drive Base
Configurable up to 2TB SSD
Display5120 x 2880 Retina display
True Tone
5120 x 2880 display
Connectivity802.11ac Wi-Fi
Bluetooth 5.0
10Gb Ethernet available for $100
802.11ac Wi-Fi
Bluetooth 4.2
Microphone + Camera1080p FaceTime Camera
Studio-quality, three-mic array
720p FaceTime camera
Standard microphone
Video outputUp to two 6K displays at 60Hz, one 5K at 60Hz, or two 4K displays at 60HzOne 5K display at 60Hz or two 4K displays at 60Hz
Special featuresT2 chipset
Hey Siri support
Nano-texture glass ($500 upgrade)
N/A
PriceStarts at $1,799, configurable up to $8,799 when spec'd out
Best 2020 27" iMac prices
Starts at $1,799, configurable up to $6,399 when spec'd out

Processor, RAM, and graphics

The 2020 27-inch iMac models feature incrementally updated Intel chips -- so no Apple Silicon here. With that being said, there are measurable gains in performance.

Apple says the new 10th-generation Intel processors deliver up to 65% faster performance. Similarly, on the graphics front, the new AMD Radeon Pro options can bring users up to 55% better graphics performance.

RAM is upgradable on 27-Inch iMac
RAM is upgradable on 27-Inch iMac


The previous iMac 5K model packed either 8th-generation or 9th-generation Intel processors, depending on the specific tier.

Internal storage

Apple has done away with the Fusion Drive on the new 27-inch iMacs. For users, that means you'll always have top-tier storage performance thanks to the all-SSD lineup.

There are some compromises when it comes to actual storage space. The base model 27-inch iMac this year starts with a 256GB SSD, down from the 1TB Fusion Drive included with the previous generation.

For those with the wherewithal, the 27-inch iMac can be configured with a lot more storage. The previous model topped out with a 2TB SSD, while the new 2020 refresh can be customized with up to an 8TB SSD.

Display

Resolution, aspect ratio, pixels-per-inch and brightness are all exactly the same between the 2020 27-inch iMac and the 2019 iMac 5K. But there are a couple of notable differences.

5K display of the 2020 27-Inch iMac
5K display of the 2020 27-Inch iMac


The new iMac model supports Apple's True Tone technology, which adjusts the color temperature of the screen based on a user's environment. Apple says it makes for a more pleasant viewing or reading experience.

For an additional $500, users can also opt to upgrade to nano-texture glass. First introduced on the Pro Display XDR, the upgrade adds high-quality, anti-reflective technology to the display glass.

Other considerations

The 27-inch iMac is the first of Apple's all-in-ones to sport a T2 chipset. That enables Hey Siri, introduces upgraded security functions, and may even speed up certain video-encoding related workflows.

Ports on the rear of the 2020 27-Inch iMac
Ports on the rear of the 2020 27-Inch iMac


Compared to the previous generation, the 2020 27-inch iMac should feature a better video and audio recording experience. That's thanks to a new 1080p FaceTime camera and a "studio-quality" three-mic array similar to the one on the 16-inch MacBook Pro.

While the 2020 iMac update doesn't introduce support for Wi-Fi 6, it does bump the Bluetooth specification up to 5.0 (from 4.2). Additionally, users can now opt to add a 10Gb Ethernet port for a $100 upgrade.

Our conclusion

The back of the 2020 27-Inch iMac
The back of the 2020 27-Inch iMac


Alongside the standard processor and GPU bumps, the 2020 27-inch iMac features some notable upgrades over the past iteration. Users who have been waiting to update from an older iMac may have just the reason to do so.

With that being said, the upgrades here are fairly incremental. We didn't see a major redesign, as many users have been anticipating. Similarly, we're in the midst of a major architecture transition to Apple Silicon.

Because of those reasons, users who have recently bought a new Apple desktop may be better served by waiting until a more substantial upgrade arrives. The patience will likely pay off.

Lowest iMac prices

Shoppers looking to pick up an iMac can find the lowest 2020 27-inch iMac prices and the best 2019 27-inch iMac 5K discounts in our AppleInsider Price Guide.

At press time, both models qualify for triple-digit savings with exclusive coupon and/or instant discounts. To bring up applicable coupon codes and instructions, click on the green price tag icon in the Price Guide next to the corresponding prices.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 24
    entropysentropys Posts: 3,107member
    Apple says the new 10th-generation Intel processors deliver up to 65% faster performance. 

    I suspect those particular stats would have more to do with the T2 chip than the 10th gen intel processor? As you say later, encoding.

    It is actually quite a nice upgrade, but I will wait to replace my dead iMac, I have received my daughter’s 2015 MBA as a hand me down, I can always buy one of these at a discount once the Apple Silicon version is released and I don’t like it. 
    edited August 2020
  • Reply 2 of 24
    BeatsBeats Posts: 2,527member
    Do you guys think Apple Silicon Macs wil come this year? If so, it would be wise to wait. I would love one for my recording studio.
  • Reply 3 of 24
    mcdavemcdave Posts: 1,754member
    So that’s the full line with a T-series chip? The end of the Hackintosh?

    That’s a large CPU performance hike, Apple must be confident its own silicon can deliver more.
    baconstangwatto_cobra
  • Reply 4 of 24
    I'm happy with my current iMac. And also not buying iMacs anymore with this outdated Design. Waiting for the redesign.
    lkruppwatto_cobra
  • Reply 5 of 24
    fastasleepfastasleep Posts: 5,689member
    entropys said:
    Apple says the new 10th-generation Intel processors deliver up to 65% faster performance. 

    I suspect those particular stats would have more to do with the T2 chip than the 10th gen intel processor? As you say later, encoding.
    Why would you suspect that? They specifically said "Intel processors deliver".
  • Reply 6 of 24
    entropysentropys Posts: 3,107member
    Yeah I am saying it isn’t the intel chip giving that performance leap.

    its just a bit if loose wording. Here is what the update actually does:

    Apple claims that when compared to the previous-generation 8-core 27-inch iMac, the new iMac delivers:
    • Up to 65 percent more plug-ins in Logic Pro X.
    • Up to 40 percent faster 8K ProRes transcode in Final Cut Pro X.
    • Up to 35 percent faster rendering with Arnold in Autodesk Maya.
    • Up to 25 percent faster build time in Xcode.
    edited August 2020 FileMakerFeller
  • Reply 7 of 24
    PylonsPylons Posts: 32member
    The previous 27-inch iMac can also use 128 GB RAM, so that is not new. It is just that Apple did not offer to sell it with 4x 32 GB SO-DIMMs. You can buy 4x 32 GB DDR4 SO-DIMMs and install yourself, or have them installed by a third-party Mac seller.
    Beats said:
    Do you guys think Apple Silicon Macs wil come this year? If so, it would be wise to wait. I would love one for my recording studio.
    I have no inside info, but my personal guess is that MB 12" or MBA 13" would be the first to go ARM, maybe late this year, and I don't expect iMac or Mac Pro until late 2021. But I hope I am wrong and we will see them earlier.

    Regarding putting an ARM Mac in a recording studio I'd be very careful for the first year, until all software and plugins have been updated to natively support it. Unless you're used to always updating your software to the latest version as soon as it comes out. In my experience, from the 3 or 4 studios I have recorded in as a musician (and previously having a small home studio myself), studios are very reluctant to experiment with the latest and would rather prefer something that is already tried and tested. That said, music production is not as computationally heavy as for example video editing, and even advanced effects or VST instruments could potentially run well under Rosetta emulation.
    Note that I am not saying that studios will prefer Intel Macs indefinitely. Of course they will also move to ARM, but as with anyone depending on a production environment for living, it may take a little longer for ARM Macs to get there. 
    mcdave said:
    So that’s the full line with a T-series chip? The end of the Hackintosh?

    That’s a large CPU performance hike, Apple must be confident its own silicon can deliver more.
    Quite likely the beginning of the end of the Hackintosh yes. But I guess Apple won't cut macOS compatibility for non-T machines until they are all classified as vintage.

    Regarding the performance hike, I think perhaps AppleInsider may have wrongly interpreted the "65% more Amp Designer plug-ins" from Apple's page as "65% faster performance", which is not quite true. This comparison is also based on
    "Testing conducted by Apple in July 2020 using preproduction 3.6GHz 10-core Intel Core i9-based 27‑inch iMac systems with 128GB of RAM and shipping 3.6GHz 8-core Intel Core i9-based 27‑inch iMac systems with 64GB of RAM. Tested using Logic Pro X 10.5.1 with project consisting of multiple tracks, each with an Amp Designer plug-in instance applied. Individual tracks were added during playback until CPU became overloaded. Performance tests are conducted using specific computer systems and reflect the approximate performance of iMac."
    where actually the double amount of RAM could have played a role.

    Finally, I find it a little bit strange that 1 GbE is still standard, when 2.5 GbE would cost about $2-3 more. It is becoming very common on AMD B550/B570 and Intel Z490 boards.
    On the other hand, $100 to upgrade to 10GbE is actually a very competitive price. Kudos to Apple for that! (That goes for the Mac mini as well.)
    fastasleepbaconstangwatto_cobra
  • Reply 8 of 24
    lkrupplkrupp Posts: 9,455member
    Beats said:
    Do you guys think Apple Silicon Macs wil come this year? If so, it would be wise to wait. I would love one for my recording studio.
    My gut says an Apple Silicon iMac will be one of the last to come out, late in the transition period.
    jony0watto_cobra
  • Reply 9 of 24
    Is the T2 / USB audio issue fixed since 10.14.4?

    I have seen mixed comment on the web but nothing solid from Apple.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 10 of 24
    yakyak Posts: 2member
    Since the future of Boot Camp is uncertain, this iMac is a very good option for those still wanting or needing that option. 
    edited August 2020 watto_cobra
  • Reply 11 of 24
    Mike WuertheleMike Wuerthele Posts: 6,259administrator
    mcdave said:
    So that’s the full line with a T-series chip? The end of the Hackintosh?

    That’s a large CPU performance hike, Apple must be confident its own silicon can deliver more.
    The 21.5-inch iMac still doesn't have it.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 12 of 24
    The most amazing thing about the 2020 iMac is that it costs about the same as a 2012 iMac with vastly improved features throughout.
    watto_cobrahippo
  • Reply 13 of 24
    Anyone know if the RAM is still user accessible/upgradable? I haven't read anything that comments on that.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 14 of 24
    yakyak Posts: 2member
    According to the Apple website, yes. It’s located in the RAM upgrade choices part of the “Buy” process,
    jpframer1986watto_cobrahippo
  • Reply 15 of 24
    BeatsBeats Posts: 2,527member
    Pylons said:
    Beats said:
    Do you guys think Apple Silicon Macs wil come this year? If so, it would be wise to wait. I would love one for my recording studio.
    I have no inside info, but my personal guess is that MB 12" or MBA 13" would be the first to go ARM, maybe late this year, and I don't expect iMac or Mac Pro until late 2021. But I hope I am wrong and we will see them earlier.

    Regarding putting an ARM Mac in a recording studio I'd be very careful for the first year, until all software and plugins have been updated to natively support it. Unless you're used to always updating your software to the latest version as soon as it comes out. In my experience, from the 3 or 4 studios I have recorded in as a musician (and previously having a small home studio myself), studios are very reluctant to experiment with the latest and would rather prefer something that is already tried and tested. That said, music production is not as computationally heavy as for example video editing, and even advanced effects or VST instruments could potentially run well under Rosetta emulation.
    Note that I am not saying that studios will prefer Intel Macs indefinitely. Of course they will also move to ARM, but as with anyone depending on a production environment for living, it may take a little longer for ARM Macs to get there. 


    "my personal guess is that MB 12" or MBA 13" would be the first to go ARM, maybe late this year, and I don't expect iMac or Mac Pro until late 2021. But I hope I am wrong and we will see them earlier."

    I agree and hope I'm wrong.

    "Regarding putting an ARM Mac in a recording studio I'd be very careful for the first year, until all software and plugins have been updated to natively support it. Unless you're used to always updating your software to the latest version as soon as it comes out. In my experience, from the 3 or 4 studios I have recorded in as a musician (and previously having a small home studio myself), studios are very reluctant to experiment with the latest and would rather prefer something that is already tried and tested. That said, music production is not as computationally heavy as for example video editing, and even advanced effects or VST instruments could potentially run well under Rosetta emulation."

    Wow I've had a home studio also.

    I think Apple is prepared. I'm betting there will be some AU plugin "wrapper" for legacy plugins. I heard somewhere that old plugins will be incompatible for some reason. I hope THEY'RE wrong in this case!


    lkrupp said:
    Beats said:
    Do you guys think Apple Silicon Macs wil come this year? If so, it would be wise to wait. I would love one for my recording studio.
    My gut says an Apple Silicon iMac will be one of the last to come out, late in the transition period.

    My gut says iMac or Mac Mini will be last. I would just hate to buy an iMac only for the Apple Silicon version to release a few months later.

    Now that I think of it. How many Mac combinations are there?

    Macbooks
    iMacs
    Mac Mini
    (New form factor?)

    I guess "late" isn't the right word when it's third.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 16 of 24
    jdb8167jdb8167 Posts: 620member
    Beats said:
    Do you guys think Apple Silicon Macs wil come this year? If so, it would be wise to wait. I would love one for my recording studio.
    I'm going to go against the consensus here and say I expect a 23"-24" Apple Silicon iMac this year. I expect it to have approximately iMac Pro performance. To me it just seems likely that Apple will want to showcase at least one desktop Mac and one notebook this year. The alternative is a new Mac mini but Apple generally doesn't use the Mac mini as a showpiece and I don't expect that to change. For a notebook, I predict either an Apple Silicon 13" MacBook Pro or 13" MacBook Air again with current 16" MacBook Pro level performance.
    edited August 2020 watto_cobrahippo
  • Reply 17 of 24
    jdb8167jdb8167 Posts: 620member

    Pylons said:
    Regarding putting an ARM Mac in a recording studio I'd be very careful for the first year, until all software and plugins have been updated to natively support it. Unless you're used to always updating your software to the latest version as soon as it comes out. In my experience, from the 3 or 4 studios I have recorded in as a musician (and previously having a small home studio myself), studios are very reluctant to experiment with the latest and would rather prefer something that is already tried and tested. That said, music production is not as computationally heavy as for example video editing, and even advanced effects or VST instruments could potentially run well under Rosetta emulation.
    Note that I am not saying that studios will prefer Intel Macs indefinitely. Of course they will also move to ARM, but as with anyone depending on a production environment for living, it may take a little longer for ARM Macs to get there. 
    One thing that you can check up on for whatever studio software you are using is how they load their plug-ins. If they load the plug-ins in a separate process instead of sharing memory with the application, then you can mix and match Apple and Intel freely. If they load into the local memory of the application, then you have to have everything Apple or everything Intel. Obviously for performance, the first scenario is preferable. Once the application is updated to support Apple Silicon, it won't matter if the plug-in developers are slow or out of business.

    I'd certainly check before purchasing any new software or paying for significant updates.
    FileMakerFellerbaconstangwatto_cobrahippo
  • Reply 18 of 24
    jony0jony0 Posts: 345member
    lkrupp said:
    Beats said:
    Do you guys think Apple Silicon Macs wil come this year? If so, it would be wise to wait. I would love one for my recording studio.
    My gut says an Apple Silicon iMac will be one of the last to come out, late in the transition period.
    That's what my gut says too, especially since they're releasing this iMac now at the twilight of the Intel era, after years with the same design, which is why I'm not going to wait, it's been 2 long beach balling years already. There were rumours of a 24" inch in the fall or early next year which could push back the 27" even further, or worse, it could be the lone iMac compromising between 21" and 27". Who knows.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 19 of 24
    I use bootcamp for Windows, and not wanting to buy a stand alone Windows system, will probably upgrade to this iMac.  Should work well until Apple discontinues Intel operating system support in 3-5? years.
    watto_cobrahippo
  • Reply 20 of 24
    mknelsonmknelson Posts: 824member
    I'm happy with my current iMac. And also not buying iMacs anymore with this outdated Design. Waiting for the redesign.
    Are you waiting for the redesign with new silicon and other features, or is it a purely esthetic decision?
    baconstangwatto_cobra
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