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IMAC 21.5"

The 21-inch iMac was last updated in October 2015 and, to be frank, that update was a little disappointing because, despite the fact that this was the first generation of 21-inch iMac to offer a 4K Retina display, the processor in that model was a Broadwell CPU, rather than the Skylake CPU offered by the 27-inch iMac of the same generation.

The good news is that this time round both the 21-inch iMac and the 27-inch iMac have received a processor boost to the newer Intel Kaby Lake range. So no more lagging behind for the 21-inch model.

The other big change this time round is that where in 2015 there was only one 21-inch iMac with a 4K Retina display. This time round there are two models offering 4K displays. These two 4K iMacs also offer discreet graphics processors, rather than the integrated Intel graphics that had been offered on older generations.

As a result, these 4K iMacs, with their quad-core Kaby Lake processors, Radeon Pro graphics cards, and the option to configure RAM to 32GB, are looking more powerful than ever.

We’ll take a more in-depth look at all the aspects of the new models below, starting with display.

If you want to find out more about the 27-inch iMac, our review of that model is here: 27-inch 2017 iMac review.

Thinking of buying a new Mac? Here's our complete buying guide, which covers every model Apple makes. Which Mac: Mac Buying guide 2017. We also have a guide showing you the best place to buy a Mac.

Display
When it updated the iMac in 2015, Apple added a 4K Retina display to the 21-inch range. This time round there are two 4K Retina iMacs: a 3GHz quad-core model and a 3.4GHz model.

At launch in 2015 the 3.1GHz 4K 2015 model with a Retina display cost £1,199. This year’s entry-level 4K Retina, with its 3GHz processor, costs slightly more at £1,249. However, we should note that the prices of the previous generation iMac increased in October 2016, so that model was eventually priced at £1,449. So in some ways Apple could sell this as a price drop (and will probably try to).

As for the 4K display Apple’s made some improvements there. All the new iMacs with Retina displays (including the 27-inch models reviewed here) feature new Retina displays with 500nits and 10-bit dithering, which probably sounds like gobbledegook to anyone who doesn’t speak ‘monitor’ but basically means that they are 43 per cent brighter and capable of reproducing even more colours - one billion colours, according to the company.

Apple says that iMac users will be able to enjoy an “even more vivid and true-to-life viewing experience” from these new screens.


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The resolution is the same as before, at 4,096x2,304 pixels for the 21-inch Retina iMacs. This is a P3 display, as per the 2015 models. A P3 display is capable of producing colours outside the sRGB colour gamut.

The non-Retina 2.3GHz model offers a 1920x1080 sRGB display. It is possible that if you didn’t see the Retina display model you would be more than satisfied with the standard display on the entry-level iMac. But at just £200 extra, and with the other benefits the Retina model brings (faster processor, better graphics) we think it’s worth considering the pricier 3GHz Retina model.

It’s interesting to note that the £1,249 Retina display 3GHz iMac has the same price attached to it as the 12-inch MacBook, which offers a 1.2GHz processor, and the 2.3GHz 13-inch MacBook Pro. You won’t get a Retina display for less than £1,249 and the iMac certainly looks like it offers the best value for money.

Processor
All the new 21-inch and 27-inch iMacs feature new Intel Kaby Lake processors. The 21in iMac models will get Kaby Lake processors running at up to 3.6GHz (which is a build-to-order option). The processors are as follows:

21.5in iMac
    •    2.3GHz i5 dual-core
    •    3.0GHz i5 quad-core
    •    3.4GHz i5 quad-core
    •    3.6GHz i7 quad-core (BTO)

27in iMac
    •    3.4GHz i5 quad-core
    •    3.5GHz i5 quad-core
    •    3.8GHz i5 quad-core
    •    4.2GHz i7 quad-core (BTO)

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