Apple iMac 27-Inch With Retina 5K Display (2015) Review

Apple iMac 27-Inch With Retina 5K Display (2015) Review

Apple is probably the most recognizable brand in the world right now, not just in handheld devices, but also in the computer market. Their iMac series is widely popular for its dazzling display. Last year, 2015 they released their Apple iMac 5K Retina display, which stomped many of its competitors, as it set a new standard in display technology. Of course, it comes with a premium price tag. Can the display quality justify the price? What else is in the Apple iMac 27-inch Retina 5K 2015? Let’s find out in this in-depth review from Dual Monitors Guide.


Apple iMac 27-inch Retina 5K 2015 is a the top of the line for 27-inch iMac, what’s even better is Apple slashed a couple hundreds of dollars from its original price to make it affordable for professional users. It comes with a decent Core i5 processor, a standard hard drive, as well as AMD Radeon R9 M290.


Who is it for?

The Apple iMac 27-inch Retina 5K 2015 is the high-end all-in-one desktop for people looking to run crazy level of visual details, such as photography, graphics design, scientific analysis, video editing, etc.




Stunning 5K Resolution Makes Everything Look Beautiful

Apple iMac 27-Inch With Retina 5K Display (2015) Review

Apple iMac 27-Inch With Retina 5K Display (image from Amazon)

The 5K resolution means the display runs at 5210×2880 native resolution. Huge number of pixel results to stunning images with life-like quality, but normally, it causes every to look tiny. Apple on the other hand, has a solution for this. Rather than displaying graphics and texts at 1:1 pixel, Apple actually zooms UI elements, so they look 2560×1440 resolution, with window elements and texts scaled and smoothened accordingly. There are also four other scaled resolution users can make use of in its System Preferences Display area. Graphics in programs are updated for Retina Display, which renders native resolution, allowing users to edit videos on the screen, whether they’re Full HD (1080p) or 4K, with room for toolbars.

As said earlier, the 5K Retina Display easily justifies the premium price tag of iMac 27-inch 2015. Colors simply pop on screen, and simple things like looking at free wallpapers is a joy. The same thing goes when open raw photos and videos, at native resolution.


Incredible Colour Coverage Through Organic Passivation

Apple iMac 27-Inch With Retina 5K Display (2015) Review

Apple iMac 27-Inch With Retina 5K Display (image from Amazon)

Apple used “organic passivation” underneath the pixels, which works by combining with the oxide TFT layer. As a result, it reduces the amount of crosstalk between pixels, ensuring crystal-clear images free of pixel bleeds.

The biggest upgrade of iMac 27-inch 2015 however, is its massive colour gamut. This means the incredibly sharp Adobe EGB colour coverage of last year, is even made better with DCI-P3 colour space. This technology has been used in cinemas since 2013, as it presents incredibly large number of colours, especially in reds and greens. As a matter of fact, it covers 100% sRGB colours, with 20% more than what we see from monitors. DCI-P3 coverage is at 93%, while Adobe RGB is only at 87%. The former has more red and green, while the latter has more blues.

Both offer standard colour coverage for almost everything, from photographers, graphic artists, videographers, etc., as the iMac showcases incredibly natural-looking display.


Decent Processor and Graphics Card for Everyday Use

Apple iMac 27-Inch With Retina 5K Display (2015) Review

Apple iMac 27-Inch With Retina 5K Display (image from Amazon)

Apple may have taken one step backwards with the Intel Core i5-4590 processor and AMD Radeon R9 M290 graphics card, as most iMac configurations use top-of-the line components. Both components however, performer quite similar performance based on benchmark test.

Multimedia score from Handbrake test is at 1 minute and 15 seconds, which is a downgrade, while Adobe Photoshop test is at 3:19. CineBench R15 has 510 points. The last iMac 27-inch was only 5 seconds faster on Handbrake test, and 11 seconds faster on Photoshop. Both iMacs (2014 and 2015) had the same Retina Display performance as the MSI AG270 Gaming All-In-One (2PC-006US) and the MSI 24GE 2QE-014US, which comes with a faster-clocked Core i7-powered Windows system. Another rival Lenovo Horizon 2, is a bit slower, due to the Core i5 processor. HP Z1 G2 on the other hand, leads the market at multimedia test, posting a score of 1:06 in Handbrake test, 2:49 in PhotoShop, and 742 CineBench points. Despite the limitations in hardware components, iMac is still fast enough to run project-based worked on a timely manner.


Basically, we can put AMD R9 M290 graphics card to moderate-enthusiast level category, since iMac scored impressively smooth frame rates in Heaven and Valley test when set at medium-quality levels. Cranking it to Ultra quality for 1080p resolution will also give you a very playable setting of 20 to 26 fps. AMD R9 M290X graphics card only improved the scores for a few more s fps in similar tests. It can however, still run games with medium to high quality settings at 1080p resolution, or higher, such as Civilization 5 and Diablo III.

The 3D performance is not too far off from computers sporting MSI gaming 24GE. Meaning, the iMac is fully capable of providing you decent gaming experience during your work breaks. Pushing the screen all the way up to its maximum resolution (5K) is discouraged in 3D gaming, as frame rates will significantly drop, and could be unplayable. But you could get at least two or three times of the GPU power to run games at 4K or 5K resolution.


Great Viewing Angles

As with other IPS panels, viewing angle is excellent in Apple iMac 27-inch Retina 5K (2015), there no color shifting, and picture quality remains the same even when viewing at extreme angles.

Design and Features

Apple iMac 27-Inch With Retina 5K Display (2015) Review

Apple iMac 27-Inch With Retina 5K Display (image from Amazon)

Simple, Minimalist Yet Elegant Design, Like Previous iMacs

Just by look at the exterior, it is difficult to distinguish iMac 27-inch 2015 from the previous models in the past years, as Apple has been consistent on its design, which has remained untouched since 2012. It sports the familiar aluminum glass chassis for a modern class look, and it easily defines the iconic look of an all-in-one desktop. Also, it still sports the same 5K Retina Display screen as the last year’s model, and encased in an edge-to-edge glass. The system nicely floats above your desk through a simple hinge connected to the arm’s aluminum support.

It maintained the thin top and side bezels, while the bottom bezel is chunky, considering more and more HDTVs and Ultra-wide monitors now sport thinner bezels to emphasize the screen.

We see other all-in-one desktops such as MSI Gaming 24GE 2WQ – 014US try to emulate the simplicity of iMac design, but ultimately, it is Apple’s take that prevails simply because of its minimalism.

Huge Storage Capacity

The 1TB hard drive storage is paired with 8GB system memory, that’s more than enough storage capacity for the most intricate graphics work. There’s also the Fusion Drive option (a self-regulating combination of Flash Storage memory and 1TB spinning hard drive) upon purchase, which comes standard with top-of-the-line iMac.

The slowed hard drive keeps the apps and data you don’t use on a regular basis, while smaller 128GB Flash storage provides quick access to the OS, along with the apps and files you often use. Should you need more memory, you can open the hatch located at the back of the cabinet and expose two free DIMM slows, which would allow you to amp the RAM size to 32GB. However, upgrading the system is not that simple. You will need time and specialized tools to get in to the chassis. Thus, it is way easier to upgrade the storage right from the selection of Fusion Drive and Flash Storage options upon your order.

Like other Mac computers, the Apple iMac 27-inch Retina 5K (2015) uses OS X Yosemite and a set of Apple apps such as Pages, Photos, Numbers, iMovie, GarageBand and Time Machine, which are very convenient apps. Its competitor Lenovo Horizon 2 requires paid subscription for the Office 365.


Generous Set of I/O Ports

Apple iMac 27-Inch With Retina 5K Display (2015) Review

Apple iMac 27-Inch With Retina 5K Display (image from Amazon)

Apple iMac 27-inch Retina 5K (2015) has generous set of I/O ports, yet inconveniently placed. The chassis is a 5mm slim on its side, which makes it impossible to house ports. Instead, the Ethernet jack, two Thunderbolt 2 ports, headset port, SDXC card slot, and four USB 3.0 ports are all located at the back of the cabinet. Fortunately, they’re not hidden in a recessed compartment, and quite exposed.

Note that this monitor doesn’t support Target Display mode, which means you can’t use its display to support your MacBook or Apple Mac mini.


Stand with Limited Adjustability

If there’s any drawback in its design, it would be in the stand, as it only allows height adjustment. No tilt, swivel, and pivot. Apple however, provides an identical model with fully-adjustable stand configuration that skips the stand and uses an integrated VESA mount adapter, for a slightly more expensive price.


 Tech Specs

Apple iMac 27-Inch With Retina 5K Display (2015) Review
Apple iMac 27-Inch With Retina 5K Display (2015) Review

Package includes the iMac with Retina 5K display, Apple Magic Keyboard, Apple Magic Mouse 2, Power cord, Lightning to USB Cable.



Bottom Line

Obviously, the Apple iMac 27-inch Retina 5K (2015) is NOT cheap, because as with other high-end all-in-one computer, it comes with a premium price tag. Each and every element of this product, from design, display, to performance is simply top-notch.

Should you decide to invest, then you should consider the mid-range variant, at the very least. It may be more expensive, but the performance you get from the improvements such as the 1TB Fusion Drive and upgraded cards, can spell a huge difference. This is especially important if you intent to invest on a computer that you’ll be using for the next 5 years. You should know that iMacs don’t depreciate fast, so if you intend to sell it after a few years of use; you will get a good amount of money back.

Unfortunately, the display is NOT touchscreen, which is quite a drawback, since the OS X don’t support touch input. Should you need touchscreen interface however, you can opt for Windows-based all-in-one desktop such as HP Sprout or its brother HP Z1 G2, which is a better in all areas.

For its discounted price, the Apple iMac 27-inch Retina 5K 2015 is a great deal, considering it’s a top-of-the-line model. It has a slight speed bump, similar to those with Fusion Drive and some slightly faster 3D graphics with higher configuration. Users will definitely not miss the processor with added 200MHz, and even though it lacks Target Display Mode, the iMac is definitely an excellent alternative to buying a windows computer worth $1250 plus a $2000 5K display. This makes the iMac 27-inch with Retina 5K Display as one of the best all-in-one desktop in the market today.

Performance wise, the Apple iMac 5K (2015) has no flaws. Though it may be hard to recommend to avid gamers, it is easily the best in all-around performance.

For more in-depth reviews like this, check out Dual Monitors Guide today!

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