Is the $500 nano-texture finish worth it on the 27-inch iMac?

Posted:
in General Discussion edited August 2020
Among other new features, the recently refreshed 27-inch iMac offers a Nano Texture display finish for the first time. But is it worth the $500 price of admission?

Credit: Andrew O'Hara, AppleInsider
Credit: Andrew O'Hara, AppleInsider


Here's what you should know about the new matte display option, and whether you really need to upgrade when buying your own 27-inch iMac.

What is a Nano Texture display finish?





Previously only seen on the Pro Display XDR, the nano-texture finish is an anti-reflective option for the 27-inch iMac.

Instead of adding an anti-reflective coating to the display glass, Apple has taken a different approach with the nano-texture. The glass itself is precisely etched for a finely textured surface.

What that means is that ambient or direct light doesn't have a single surface to bounce back from. That will significantly cut down on glare and reflectivity, without any significant increase in haze or contrast compared to traditional anti-reflective coatings.

Pros and cons of the Nano Texture display

An illustration of how the Nano Texture finish diffuses light. Credit: Apple
An illustration of how the Nano Texture finish diffuses light. Credit: Apple


The primary upside of the Nano Texture finish is that it makes the viewing experience much more enjoyable, particularly in environments with bright light.

You're not going to see as much glare or reflectivity on the matte finish display, meaning that lights and reflections on the screen won't be a distraction to your workflow.

Compared to anti-reflective coatings or screen protectors, you're certainly not going to see any much haze or lowered contrast, either.

There are a couple of downsides to the display, however. For one, the matte finish commands a $500 premium, which isn't a cheap upgrade.

Also, images and text won't be quite as sharp as on a traditional glossy screen. Unless you have the two displays side-by-side, the difference isn't significant. It is noticeable, however.

The Nano Texture Matte Finish is fairly delicate, so Apple recommends that you only clean it with its own cleaning cloth. There's one included in the box, and you can purchase more from Apple's website.

Should you get the Nano Texture finish on an iMac?

Credit: Apple
Credit: Apple


Really, the Nano Texture finish is an option for specific users working in specific circumstances. Particularly those in environments with challenging lighting conditions who can't afford the distraction of glare or reflectivity on their screens.

For the average user, controlling glare and reflectivity isn't too much of a concern. But the Nano Texture finish is an excellent option for professionals who don't or can't work in an office with controlled lighting.

There is a personal preference aspect to this, of course. Some people like the look of a matte display, and if those people are willing to shell out an additional $500 for the finish, then it's an option here.

But for most people buying a 27-inch iMac for professional or creative purposes, it really comes down to work environment and circumstance. Those that need a high-quality, matte finish display already know that they do.

Deals on the new 27-inch iMac

Apple's new iMac is already on sale, with exclusive coupon discounts on models with standard glass or nano-texture glass.

Check out the AppleInsider 27-inch iMac Guide for the lowest prices on a variety of models with standard glass.

For deals on nano-texture configs, use coupon code appleinsider at Expercom to grab bonus triple-digit savings of up to $447 off.

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 18
    sflocalsflocal Posts: 5,736member
    I just purchased a 2020 iMac.  128GB, 8TB SSD, 10-Core i9, and I struggled with buying the NanoTexture display.  It would not be that much more money in the big picture of price to include it.  What prevented me was the very special care necessary to keep the screen clean, and more importantly, the unknown variable of constant cleaning of the screen might wear down the display texture over time.

    I'm border-line OCD when it comes to clean monitor screens.  I'm always cleaning it.  I didn't want to risk ruining the screen in some way from cleaning it "too much".  Don't know.  I'm curious to read how durable this texture a couple years down the road for folks that have purchased it.
    muthuk_vanalingamwatto_cobra
  • Reply 2 of 18
    sflocal said:
    I just purchased a 2020 iMac.  128GB, 8TB SSD, 10-Core i9, and I struggled with buying the NanoTexture display.  It would not be that much more money in the big picture of price to include it.  What prevented me was the very special care necessary to keep the screen clean, and more importantly, the unknown variable of constant cleaning of the screen might wear down the display texture over time.

    I'm border-line OCD when it comes to clean monitor screens.  I'm always cleaning it.  I didn't want to risk ruining the screen in some way from cleaning it "too much".  Don't know.  I'm curious to read how durable this texture a couple years down the road for folks that have purchased it.
    My thought as well. This monitor does seem like exactly what I would want and at least on paper would be awesome for all screens. My concern would be the extra care and any wear patterns.
    edited August 2020 watto_cobra
  • Reply 3 of 18
    dewmedewme Posts: 3,827member
    My hope is that this technology will eventually filter down to the masses and be a baseline feature for all displays. In the meantime, there are obviously some niches where this technology makes a cost-justifiable performance and human factors difference, perhaps in air traffic control workstation or in some harsh lighting environments. In cases where this technology matters today, its availability is a game changer and the added cost is a no-brainer. For the rest of us, we'll just have to wait for the trickle-down evolution of technology to reach our budgetary tolerance thresholds. No big deal.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 4 of 18
    sflocalsflocal Posts: 5,736member
    dewme said:
    My hope is that this technology will eventually filter down to the masses and be a baseline feature for all displays. In the meantime, there are obviously some niches where this technology makes a cost-justifiable performance and human factors difference, perhaps in air traffic control workstation or in some harsh lighting environments. In cases where this technology matters today, its availability is a game changer and the added cost is a no-brainer. For the rest of us, we'll just have to wait for the trickle-down evolution of technology to reach our budgetary tolerance thresholds. No big deal.
    I suspect it will be more affordable and common when the ARM iMacs come out.  If Apple is introducing this on the consumer-level iMac, I bet they'll do it more on the new models.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 5 of 18
    sflocal said:
    I just purchased a 2020 iMac.  128GB, 8TB SSD, 10-Core i9, and I struggled with buying the NanoTexture display.  It would not be that much more money in the big picture of price to include it.  What prevented me was the very special care necessary to keep the screen clean, and more importantly, the unknown variable of constant cleaning of the screen might wear down the display texture over time.

    I'm border-line OCD when it comes to clean monitor screens.  I'm always cleaning it.  I didn't want to risk ruining the screen in some way from cleaning it "too much".  Don't know.  I'm curious to read how durable this texture a couple years down the road for folks that have purchased it.
    I might clean my monitor screen about once per year ... like my glasses. Someone looked through my glasses and said 'now I know why you never clean your windscreen :/ Maybe I should pass on the Nano.
    watto_cobrapatchythepirate
  • Reply 6 of 18
    That’s funny, this $500 option on the iMac is a $1000 option on the high end Apple monitor.


  • Reply 7 of 18
    Highway robbery.

    Apple used to have GREAT screens - back when they were made out of antiglare plastic. 

    Glass was just plain stupid, it should never have happened in the first place.


  • Reply 8 of 18
    hentaiboyhentaiboy Posts: 1,244member
    This reminds me of the ultra expensive BMW matte paint...

    • Do not polish or wax the vehicle.
    • Do not use mechanical means of cleaning the surface.
    • Remove insect remains, tar and other residues immediately.
    • Always keep your paint protected.
    edited August 2020 darkvaderpatchythepirate
  • Reply 9 of 18
    I just set up my new iMac 2020 with the nano-texture display today.
    It is very good. Once you get used to the lack of reflection, not sure you could go back.
    Worth it? Jury is still out.
    On the other hand, I had the money.
    watto_cobrapatchythepirate
  • Reply 10 of 18
    flydogflydog Posts: 1,005member
    echosonic said:
    That’s funny, this $500 option on the iMac is a $1000 option on the high end Apple monitor.


    Why is it funny?  The XDR monitor has 40% more surface area. The cost per square inch is thus only 30% less, not half. 

    The fact that it's an upgrade for an entire machine matters.  100% of the cost of the XDR is the display, whereas the display on the iMac makes up a fraction of the overall cost, which reduces the hit against the overall profit margin, especially when a majority of people who opt for this display are spending money on other high margin upgrades such as memory and storage. There is not way to offest the cost of the nano display on the monitor alone. 

    Finally, the display tech is now nearing one year old, and as time goes on it will continue to decrease in price. 
    edited August 2020 watto_cobrafastasleep
  • Reply 11 of 18
    macguimacgui Posts: 2,047member
    sflocal said:
     What prevented me was the very special care necessary to keep the screen clean, and more importantly, the unknown variable of constant cleaning of the screen might wear down the display texture over time.

    I'm border-line OCD when it comes to clean monitor screens.  I'm always cleaning it.  I didn't want to risk ruining the screen in some way from cleaning it "too much".
    If you're so OCD how are you getting a screen dirty in the first place? Adjusting the angle while eating pizza? Sneezing on the screen? Cracking open a carbonated beverage next to it?

    I'm not OCD and clean my screens once a week to get the dust off. I use a very soft brush and I'm done. I don't need to use any liquid because I don't touch it ever. No smudges, not spots, just dust motes and they're easily dealt with.

    And from various tech journalists who have the Nano iMac the "very special care" is merely common sense. Don't use elbow grease or a rough cloth. You don't need to use Apple's included cloth as was reported early on. Don't use burlap sack swatches and polishing compound. So there's some caution required, just don't be ham-fisted about it.

    That said, $500 is much too rich for my budget and it's very easy for me to control lighting thus glare.

    If I did get the Nano option, nobody else would be allowed near it because I've seen far too many people touch the screen for no damn reason whatsoever. I'd be especially wary of kids who had iPads or other touch screens in their formative years.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 12 of 18
    darkvader said:
    Highway robbery.

    Apple used to have GREAT screens - back when they were made out of antiglare plastic. 

    Glass was just plain stupid, it should never have happened in the first place.


    Apple's best displays were made of glass...the Trinitron-based CRT monitors were the best.  My Thunderbolt displays look far better than the older matte screen aluminum Apple Cinema displays from yesteryear.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 13 of 18

    sflocal said:
    I just purchased a 2020 iMac.  128GB, 8TB SSD, 10-Core i9, and I struggled with buying the NanoTexture display.  
    I hope you didn't buy the memory from Apple.  That was $2,000 down the drain ($599 for 128GB memory at OWC).  
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 14 of 18
    fastasleepfastasleep Posts: 5,691member
    darkvader said:
    Highway robbery.

    Apple used to have GREAT screens - back when they were made out of antiglare plastic. 

    Glass was just plain stupid, it should never have happened in the first place.


    Apple's best displays were made of glass...the Trinitron-based CRT monitors were the best.  My Thunderbolt displays look far better than the older matte screen aluminum Apple Cinema displays from yesteryear.
    Fun memory — I had a 16" Apple Multiple Scan 720 monitor back in the late 90s/early 2000s which I decided to clean with some screen cleaner wipes in packets that I got from somewhere. I noticed what looked like some sort of smudge remaining on the screen after wiping, then several, then several more — at which point I read the details on the packet and turns out the screen cleaner liquid was acetone-based and the wipes were stripping off the anti-glare coating on my screen. :(

    One of my more annoying mistakes in life, and one reason I express concern when people here talk about using various chemical-based cleaners on their gear.
  • Reply 15 of 18
    fastasleepfastasleep Posts: 5,691member

    darkvader said:
    Highway robbery.

    Apple used to have GREAT screens - back when they were made out of antiglare plastic. 

    Glass was just plain stupid, it should never have happened in the first place.


    Plastic? Which products are you referring to?
  • Reply 16 of 18

    darkvader said:
    Highway robbery.

    Apple used to have GREAT screens - back when they were made out of antiglare plastic. 

    Glass was just plain stupid, it should never have happened in the first place.


    Plastic? Which products are you referring to?

    Every LCD Apple shipped until 2006.  Every LCD iMac until mid 2007. 

    The LCD panel ALWAYS had a plastic antiglare outer layer until then.  Every MacBook Pro I sold after that was ordered with the optional antiglare screen until it stopped being an option after mid-2012. 

    You could tell immediately if you saw a properly configured MBP, the bezel was silver instead of black, and you couldn't see your reflection in dark areas of the screen or the lights behind you glaring in your face.


    At the end they were charging $50 extra for the antiglare screen.  NOT $500.  Before that it was a no-cost option if you got the higher resolution display.

    (Yes, LCD panels virtually always have glass inner layers.  Until Apple started putting glareglass on them, they always had plastic outer layers, occasionally with glareplastic instead of antiglare.)
  • Reply 17 of 18
    darkvader said:

    darkvader said:
    Highway robbery.

    Apple used to have GREAT screens - back when they were made out of antiglare plastic. 

    Glass was just plain stupid, it should never have happened in the first place.


    Plastic? Which products are you referring to?

    Every LCD Apple shipped until 2006.  Every LCD iMac until mid 2007. 

    The LCD panel ALWAYS had a plastic antiglare outer layer until then.  Every MacBook Pro I sold after that was ordered with the optional antiglare screen until it stopped being an option after mid-2012. 

    You could tell immediately if you saw a properly configured MBP, the bezel was silver instead of black, and you couldn't see your reflection in dark areas of the screen or the lights behind you glaring in your face.


    At the end they were charging $50 extra for the antiglare screen.  NOT $500.  Before that it was a no-cost option if you got the higher resolution display.

    (Yes, LCD panels virtually always have glass inner layers.  Until Apple started putting glareglass on them, they always had plastic outer layers, occasionally with glareplastic instead of antiglare.)
    Oh, I had the anti-glare 2011 MBP up until 2018. I don't know what the anti-glare coating was made of exactly, but I wouldn't have described the screen as being made of plastic, hence my confusion.

    Regardless, having seen an XDR in person, the nano texture glass is miles better than the old plastic (or whatever) coating was. I'd rather they pursue the better technology and wait for the prices to trickle down in time than stick with older inferior tech.
  • Reply 18 of 18
    MacProMacPro Posts: 19,382member
    At least it's a change of gear from the endless arguments on AI between glossy and matte screen lovers that raged endlessly a decade or so ago.
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