back to article What an eyeful: Apple's cut price 27in iMac with Retina Display

The last time Apple released a ‘more affordable’ iMac it turned out to be a damp squib of a thing that fully merited the oft-hurled criticism about Apple kit being over-priced and under-powered. I was, therefore, a bit worried when Apple announced a less expensive version of the 27-inch iMac With Retina 5K Display. Apple iMac …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    That's quite a machine......

    ...but can it run NetHack?

    *Runs. Like. Hell*

    1. Groaning Ninny

      Re: That's quite a machine......

      Who'd want to try with that keyboard layout?

    2. AbelSoul
      Trollface

      Re: Runs. Like. Hell.

      And if we catch you in the back seat trying to pick her locks

      We're gonna send you back to mother in a cardboard box

      You better run.....

  2. Roger B

    Good idea

    Pretty good price and you get the great screen, then after a couple of years a RAM, CPU and graphics upgrade keeps the machine on top form.

    1. Dan 55 Silver badge
      Stop

      Re: Good idea

      CPU and graphics upgrade on an iMac? Ahahahaha.

      Count your blessings if you can mess about with the RAM and hard drive.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Good idea

        well, you can still use a piece of cloth to remove fingerprints from the screen, so it's not all bad, you know.

    2. Richard 81

      Re: Good idea

      I'm pretty sure that iFixit have demonstrated that it's all but impossible to upgrade anything on the current iMacs. They're nice and all, but the overpriced options you choose at purchase are what you're stuck with.

      1. dogged

        Re: Good idea

        Can't you even swap out the spinning disks for an SSD?

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Good idea

          Can't you even swap out the spinning disks for an SSD?

          That's a good question, but I vaguely recall there's a problem with non-Apple SSDs in that OSX doesn't support certain commands, I think it was TRIM. On Macbooks, the most cost effective disk is one to a SSH/spinning rust hybrid disk. It certainly would deal with that 32 seconds boot time, that is indeed rather on the slow side.

          Personally, I prefer to buy a machine that has some headroom, so I'd want SSD storage and 16GB or RAM from the outset, also because an SSD machine makes absolutely *no* sound other than when you give it so much work that the fans have to spin up to cope with the heat, and I *definitely* would want a full size keyboard, which usually means getting a wired one (which is then also a good place to plug in the stubby for a Logitech wireless mouse - not a fan of Apple mice either).

          So, in short, it's probably not the machine for me :)

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Good idea

            >> That's a good question, but I vaguely recall there's a problem with non-Apple SSDs in that OSX doesn't support certain commands, I think it was TRIM. On Macbooks, the most cost effective disk is one to a SSH/spinning rust hybrid disk. It certainly would deal with that 32 seconds boot time, that is indeed rather on the slow side <<

            Trim issue was fixed a couple of years ago IIRC. The start time does indicate some performance issues but most iMac users don't turn off the machine anyway - it just goes in to sleep mode with immediate return - so start up time not particularly relevant in the real world.

          2. RPF

            Re: Good idea

            You can spec. iMacs with SSD from the get-go and 16GB of RAM, plus wired keyboard.

            That's exactly the spec. of my BTO iMac.

            I even have a LogiTech mouse receiver in one of the keyboard USB slots......so it could easily be the machine for you.

          3. Joe Gurman

            Re: Good idea

            The iMac comes with two internal connectors: a SATA one for and HD (or a brave user-supplied SSD) and a sort-of proprietary one for PCIe flash memory (https://d3nevzfk7ii3be.cloudfront.net/igi/PbQAPKwGOYbMTIqh) – using "SSD" to refer to only standard form factor devices. Apples uses both, of course, to implement its "Fusion" hybrid drive.

            Unless the third-party SSD comes from Angelbird (an Austrian firm that appears to have filched Apple's secret TRIM sauce), enabling TRIM involves modifying a kext (driver) that gets replaced every OS upgrade — and interferes with upgrades.

            For those (such as the gentle readers of this site) who are not frightened by a command line interface, booting into single-user (text interface) mode on a Mac with a third-party SSD will perform TRIM when you issue an "fsck -ffy" instruction. This is not such a great imposition, though, because most TRIM work occurs on SSDs when the system has been largely idle for a while.

            1. Dan 55 Silver badge

              Re: Good idea

              TRIM Enabler is the point-and-dribble way to sort out TRIM for 3rd party SSD.

        2. Oh Matron!

          Re: Good idea

          To be fair, in my time at a Mac consultancy in London, most clients used to use external RAIDed drives for Video editing anyway. I personally use thunderbolt attached SSDs using thunderbolt 1 and it's more than quick enough

          If thunderbolt doesn't float your boat, USB3.0 and SSD is also quick

          1. Julz

            Re: Good idea

            Does anybody here upgrade their washing machines, toasters, ovens, HiFi amps, AV equipment, etc. ?

            1. James Boag

              Re: Good idea

              Yes , I assume that you don't !

            2. Richard 81

              Re: Good idea

              "Does anybody here upgrade their washing machines, toasters, ovens, HiFi amps, AV equipment, etc. ?"

              Sorry, crap analogy. I rather expect my washing machine or oven (both of which cost less than this 'affordable' iMac) to last for at least 10 years. Sensible people buy AV equipment in modules, i.e. buying a separate amp, tape/disk/holo-disk-from-the-future reader, radio etc. and swap the individual components out as they become obsolete/break. As for toasters, I wouldn't spend more than £25 on one but I'd still expect it to last a few years.

              1. Joey

                Re: Good idea

                I doubt if you will find a washing machine that will last ten years - unless you spend a lot of money. Washing machines typically give 1 year per £100 spent. A 10-year Miele will cost £1000+

                Also, if you are lucky enough to get five years out of a washing machine before it dies, you have to scrap it. An iMac has a decent residual value after five years.

                1. werdsmith Silver badge

                  Re: Good idea

                  As long as the drum bearing is good the washing machine is good.

                  My old Hotpoint is 13 years old, I've changed the sprung carbon brushes three times (a consumable part).

                  Family of four, very regular use. I think it was £250ish.

                  1. DaneB
                    Mushroom

                    Re: Good idea

                    Yeah, screw computers...

                    El reg can we have a washing machine round-up please?

                    My Baumatic cost £210 and it's flippin' brilliant.

                2. Alex Walsh

                  Re: Good idea

                  Our first Bosch washing machine cost us around £400 and lasted ten years (the last 3 with two small kids). Had to replace the brushes in the motor at one point but that was very painless to do thanks to an instructional video on YouTube.

            3. Kevin McMurtrie Silver badge

              Re: Good idea

              Fortunately, my washing machine has never refused to wash new clothes without an upgrade. There are definitely people who like tinkering with their appliances. If you're on a budget or like retro styling, and like to tinker, upgrading aging AV equipment is for you.

            4. Jack of Shadows Silver badge
              Happy

              Re: Good idea

              Yes. My current project is going to solar+battery LED outdoor lamps on the perimeter and LED's for the overhead lamps. All the nightlights have been converted. New coffeepot next and a new (tougher) vegetable chopper. Always something!

              Serious IT projects, but that's always a given.

            5. MCG

              Re: Good idea

              Does anybody here upgrade their washing machines, toasters, ovens, HiFi amps, AV equipment, etc. ?

              Yes, it's a simple process involving getting rid of the old appliance and buying a new one. Perhaps if you ask a grown up they might help you?

        3. Alan Edwards

          Re: Good idea

          "Can't you even swap out the spinning disks for an SSD?"

          Yes, but you have to take the glass front cover and LCD out to do it. All the gubbins is behind the LCD, the only thing you can get at from the back is the RAM - https://www.ifixit.com/Guide/iMac+Intel+27-Inch+Retina+5K+Display+SSD+Replacement/30537.

          It takes a special tool and a fair bit of force to unglue the glass, so it's probably best to get a specialist to do it for you. It may be cheaper to pay for Apple's SSD upgrade when you buy the machine.

          There was a problem with TRIM being disabled by OSX on non-Apple SSDs. I think that's been sorted now.

    3. Roger B

      Re: Good idea

      We really need some kind of subtle sarcasm icon please!

  3. jason 7

    Can it handle...

    ....editing 4K video streams?

    One would think this might be why people would buy it?

    1. jason 7

      Re: Can it handle...

      I take it that it can't.

      1. Dave 126 Silver badge

        Re: Can it handle...

        All reviews suggest that it can edit 4k video in native resolution, with clips queued up and the timeline visible. And that was last year's model.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    5K?

    When screen resolutions are usually quoted, be it 480, 576, 720 or 1080, doesn't that refer to the number of horizontal lines?

    Which marketing dick decided that all of a sudden it was OK to use the number of vertical pixels to define this, started by the 4K misnomer?

    Here, buy my new 6K screen, it's amazing (6000x480 pixels)

    And yes, I know it wasn't an Apple idea.

    1. Jediben

      Re: 5K?

      Umm the number of horizontal lines and the number of vertical pixels are the same thing? There are 1080 horizontal lines of pixels in a 1920x1080 display, ergo there are 1080 pixels in a single vertical plane of alignment with one another...

      I presume you mean the number of HORIZONTAL pixels in each horizontal line?

      The 4K misnomer was just some shitty rounding of 3840 to the nearest thousand which, yes, was horizontal pixel count bollocks.

    2. Michael Jennings

      Re: 5K?

      The television industry has traditionally quoted the number of lines (480p, 720p, 1080i) etc.

      The film industry (or at least, the associated FX business) has traditionally quoted the number of columns, rounded to the nearest thousand (2k, 4k, etc).

      For some reason the TV and computer industries have been switching to the convention of the film industry in recent times. Possibly because editing movies is one of the more important applications of screens like this, but mainly I suspect because the numbers are bigger this way and it sounds more impressive.

      1. Kristian Walsh Silver badge

        Re: 5K?

        I can't remember the source, but my recollection is that the difference is because in film production, the width of the shot image is constant, not the height. Width then depends on the film stock used in shooting (16, 35, or 70mm)

        Originally, shooting on 70mm film was essential for widescreen firms, but as 35mm emulsions got better, and then were replaced by digital capture, it became possible to get to the image quality of the much more expensive 70mm shooting system using the cheaper 35 setups. (the cost in 70mm isn't the film stock, but the much better lenses needed), and masking the top and bottom of the frame to get to a 1.7:1 (16:9) or 2.35:1 ("scope") ratio.

      2. Neil Lewis

        Re: 5K?

        "For some reason the TV and computer industries have been switching to the convention of the film industry in recent times."

        I'm pretty sure the reason is as explained in Dilbert some years ago. Bigger numbers *always* mean 'better' to the uneducated buyer. That makes it far easier to sell yet another expensive upgrade to consumers who really don't need it but like to have bigger model numbers and flashier kit than their neighbours.

        1. Dave K Silver badge

          Re: 5K?

          It's all about making it sound fancy. That's why people were all taken in by posh sounding names such as "FullHD" - usually not realising that such screens sometimes had *less* pixels than the 1920x1200 screens they were replacing. And don't get me started on standard "HD" screens. If ever there was a way of marketing 1366x768 as a good resolution...

          1. David Glasgow

            Re: 5K?

            *fewer* pixels.

            1. Chris Fox

              *fewer* pixels

              If only Robert Baker had made one fewer proscription, up with this shibboleth we would not have to put.

  5. FlossyThePig

    Upgrade your RAM?

    Had a look at Apple UK for upgrade prices.

    Standard RAM

    8GB 1600MHz DDR3 SDRAM - 2x4GB

    Upgrade options

    16GB 1600MHz DDR3 SDRAM - 2x8GB [+ £160.00]

    32GB 1600MHz DDR3 SDRAM - 4x8GB [+ £480.00] (How do they calculate that price?)

    Crucial offer

    16GB 1600MHz DDR3 SDRAM - 2x8GB for £86.39 inc. VAT

    So do a user memory upgrade to 32 GB for little more than Apple's 16GB and get to keep the original 8GB

    1. Cynical Shopper

      Re: Upgrade your RAM?

      "How do they calculate that price?"

      8GB = £160 (included)

      16GB = £320 (so an extra £160)

      32GB = £640 (so an extra £480)

      So it's £20 per GB, for the same stuff that Crucial will sell you for £5.40 per GB.

  6. trevorde

    Why does everyone buy a Mac and then run Windows on it?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Because they're stoopid?

    2. big_D Silver badge

      Usually because they have some piece of software that only runs under Windows that they need for some task.

      Often there are equivalents under OS X, but they might lack functionality, not fully support the file format of shared files or the corporate bosses won't certify the OS X version and you have to run the Windows version.

      A lot of business software is Windows only, although much of it is slowly moving to being cloud based (and I'm talking about bespoke software, ERP software, CRM etc. not Office), although SAP have had an OS X GUI for a few years now...

      1. Synonymous Howard

        In which case just run it under a virtual instance of Windows .. easier and safer then running Windows all the time.

        1. AndyS

          In this case it was to run a fair, back-to-back benchmark against other machines they have tested.

          Running a benchmark in an emulator would be a bit... Unfair.

      2. Hans 1 Silver badge
        Boffin

        > SAP have had an OS X GUI for a few years

        As well as various other UNIX-like operating systems ... however, they are inferior to Windows SAPGui in a number of areas, process chains springs to mind ... mainly because SAP built some "very good" process chain editor tool that requires the highly acclaimed ActiveX technology into SAPGui, which is only available on Windows.

        So yes, most things can be done on Linux, Mac, Solaris Java-based SAPGui ... however, some things cannot.

    3. jason 7

      I'm surprised MS with its "Let's get our software on as many devices as possible" mantra hasn't planned to bring out a version of Windows 10 that will install straight on a Mac with no need for OSX to be installed.

      1. ChrisBedford

        "I'm surprised MS with its "Let's get our software on as many devices as possible" mantra hasn't planned to bring out a version of Windows 10 that will install straight on a Mac with no need for OSX to be installed."

        Eh wot?

        You've been able to do that since... oh, I dunno, maybe 2007? Probably when Macs began to be based on Intel processors? I remember setting up a Mac Mini with WinXP at least 5 years ago, and it was an old Mac. It's not about Windows, but the computer's BIOS.

        1. jason 7

          Yes but can you slap a Windows 7/8/10 DVD in a current Macbook Pro and install it as the only OS on the machine?

    4. Joe Gurman

      Not likely

      I don't.

      In a small Mac shop (seven users), one person here uses Windows. That doesn't qualify as "everybody," and of course they do it because some corporate drones but "solutions" for timekeeping &c. that only run on Windows – despite corporate policy that all Web apps must run on Windows, Macs, and Linux.

  7. Scary Biscuits

    I'd prefer a Dell 5k screen with a MS Windows PC. Better performance for less outlay and lower lifetime cost. I'd expect screen to outlast the PC or at least for the latter to need upgrading fairly soon, especially given the embryonic state of graphic card support for 5k and the rapid fall in prices. E.g. NVIDIA Titan X was launched a few months ago. Last week the GTX 980 ti was announced with about the same performance for half the price. Thus, with the same £2k budget you can now blow away the performance of the top end iMac.

    1. Kristian Walsh Silver badge

      Dell's pro monitors are certainly something special... for colour accuracy and image quality, there's nothing in their price range to touch them, and they embarrass a couple of much more expensive competitors - particularly Apple.

      I'd never buy an iMac simply because there's no way to use that display if the board inside it gives up, and it's not like the iMac range has a stellar reputation for longevity. Meanwhile, I'm still using a 14-year-old desktop LCD (Apple, as it happens) with my current PC, albeit as a secondary monitor to run mail, etc. on.

      1. Roger B

        I'm just looking at the Dell UK site at the moment and I cant see anything above 3840 x 2160, as nice as they look, its well below the resolution for this iMac, do Dell do a monitor that matches this for resolution?

        Edit: Okay, I found the UP2715K on the Dell US website, seems to be the same spec as the iMac screen except the price is $2,499 which is around £1,600? so, to get the very lovely monitor I have already spent the iMac price and now need to buy the PC box on top, how are Apple managing to offer what seems to be quite a good deal or have I missed something?

        1. Kristian Walsh Silver badge

          how are Apple managing to offer what seems to be quite a good deal or have I missed something?

          You have. The iMac screens are fairly mediocre in terms of image quality, even the Retina ones. Increasing the resolution doesn't fix the poor dynamic range and colour reproduction. If you put an iMac beside one of Apple's own standalone monitors, you can see the difference immediately (assuming that Apple hasn't cost-stripped these monitors since I last used one). But put one of Dell's professional 1440-line monitors beside that Studio Display and you'll see a better image again, and the Dell is cheaper. (there's no 5k Apple Display to compare with)

          But the real saving is down the road: If you choose a separate monitor and computer, and you can just swap out the computer, and continue to use the monitor. Pretty much any LCD display has a working life of well over a decade. How long would you realistically get out of a non-user-upgradable PC with a middle-spec CPU in it?

          This huge disparity between working lifetimes of a display and a desktop computer is why I don't like all-in-ones like the iMac range, and modern PCs are small enough now that I feel you lose more than you gain by building them into the display shell.

    2. gnasher729 Silver badge

      You go ahead and buy the same monitor from Dell, and a powerful Windows PC, and when you've done it you come back and tell us what you saved and how many hours you spent to get it to work.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Why put DOS on a mac?

    What is the point of crippling a mac? You don't need DOS anymore for anything - open office works brilliantly, and even supports the official document interchange format - open document format.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Why put DOS on a mac?

      Yeah! CPM FTW!!!

    2. casinowilhelm

      Re: Why put DOS on a mac?

      Plenty of 3d/creative design (ie the imac target market) software actually doesn't have a mac version, for a start.

      Although strictly speaking 3ds max doesn't run on DOS either, but I suppose you were trying to be funny or something.

      1. casinowilhelm

        Re: Why put DOS on a mac?

        Besides, a lot of software(*) actually runs quicker on windows with equivalent hardware, so you are actually cripppling your pc by running OSX.

        * source: assorted googling

      2. Handy Plough

        Re: Why put DOS on a mac?

        *sigh*

        It's only 3dsmax that doesn't run on a Mac, everything else; Maya, Modo, Cinema 4D, LightWave, Houdini, Mudbox (stop sniggering!) all have Mac versions. All are equally as capable; some more so.

        You'll be telling us about CAD next. (AutoCAD, VectorWorks, MacDraft, ArchiCAD, Rhino, Cobalt, Siemens NX [as used buy Apple] all run on OS X)

        *Source, actual manufacturers unlike you searchgoogletillifindshithatbacksmeup statement...

        1. casinowilhelm

          Re: Why put DOS on a mac?

          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Comparison_of_3D_computer_graphics_software

          http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Comparison_of_computer-aided_design_editors

          Seems like you missed out quite a few big hitters there I'm afraid. Besides that, there's not a single significant piece of *OSX-only* 3d software in either of those lists.

          BTW Max is still one of the most used 3d software, especially in visualisation. And AutoCAD is at least a version behind on mac, not to mention all the other missing autodesk stuff.

          Mac still has the edge for web and music people as far as I know though, so you are welcome to that lot if you like :)

          1. Handy Plough

            Re: Why put DOS on a mac?

            At no point did I say that otherwise, I refuted your implied assertion that Macs aren't useful in the realm of 3D and preempted the inevitable CAD remarks. Now to take you to task on your (pointless) Wikilists;

            Of the 37 listed programs, 12 aren't available for Mac. Of those 12, only 3 are are "big hitters", 3dsmax, SolidWorks, Solid Edge. I've deliberately left SoftImage off that list as it has been discontinued. Yes 3dsmax is popular. Your medal is in the post. You know what else is popular? Cinema 4D. As to what is better? Neither. It the person operating them dummy.

            CAD has been traditionally weak on the platform, no arguments there; however, it has useful CAD software available. You "features" bollocks is irrelevant vis à vis AutoCAD as most people use it like Etch-A-Sketch, and in all honesty MacDraft and Vectorworks are better option on the platform. PLM is poorly supported, but trust me, Siemans PLM is more than capable.

            I deal with Autodesk on a daily basis, and let me tell you, they are the worst. They make the likes of Oracle and Adobe look saintly. Their software is buggy as shit and their support is next to useless. Pointless in fact. So it doesn't really further your argument that Wintel is better than Mac because Autodesk CAD and 3D.

            BTW, vizualisation is a niche of a niche. Son, I was CAD monkeying before you were born.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Why put DOS on a mac?

              What Handy Ploug said.

              Generally, engineers have used mainframes, then PCs only in the late 90s, so parametric CAD software is on PCs. The origin of engineering CAD software was on $100k+ systems.

              Traditionally, music and video has been strongly supported by Macs, so those guys use OSX.

              Inertia.

              'Visualisation' and 'Motion Graphics' are areas where there is some cross over twixt the two. The first CAD on Macs were of the arty, 'clay-like' varieties: Some workflows will want 3d graphics composited into a video, but the outlook was unlikely to engineering drawings or CNC paths.

              Now, in CAD itself there is a development independent of OS: the combining of 'feature-tree' and 'free form' methods in one package.

              Shops might want to take engineering data, and use that to create publicity videos... so there is some scope to push against the inertia (see AutoDesk Fusion on OSX), but really this often happens infrequently on the workflow so that it isn't too much of a faff to boot into Windows from time to time.

              In engineering and CAD, you often use what your your client uses, or what your customer uses. The whole 'Mac/PC' malarkey is a complete non-argument.

              And then you have the new element: rent computer time off AWS, fuck it our engineers around the world are working on the same models anyway.

  9. The First Dave

    What's with the placement of that SD-Card slot?

    It's on the side of my current iMac, and that's hard enough to find.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Whopping

    Whopping is the sort of word used by the sort of tabloid journalist who still thinks that "Life's a beach" is a clever and original headline. And £1,999 for a retina iMac is not 'whopping', it's 'reasonable for what you get'.

  11. Jan 0

    Wot, no 5k Thunderbolt Display yet?

    A tad bigger than 27" as well, to really float my boat!

    Chad.

  12. Jim84

    Still has a mobile graphics card in it

    I understand that they probably can't fit a full sized Nvidia 980 or AMD R9 290X card into an all in one PC. But you might be better to wait for the next refresh as AMD will by then have greatly reduced the size of their card through the use of High bandwidth Memory (HBM).

    http://www.tomshardware.com/news/amd-gpu-radeon-2015-hbm,29054.html

    On the other hand if you wait 6 months you can almost always get a much better computer...

  13. NightFox

    YOYOY?

    I just can't understand why Apple don't include some form of video-in on these things? I'd take a bet that I'm not the only person out there wanting a Mac somewhere in between a Mini and a Pro in terms of spec, but needing a monitor I can still share with my Xbox and Windows laptop.

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