on February 7, 2014
I doubt that I'll ever go back to Windows again (other than the machine that I use at work). This is something that I've wanted to do for a while but I didn't want to take the time to learn it. I finaly bit the bullet and did it. I ordered it on a Saturday and it arrived on the following Wednesday (free shipping).
Within a few days, I'd figured out most of what I care about. I bought a book but found it only marginally helpful. In the several days bewteen ordering it and the arrival, I watched tons of YouTube videos on the iMac and that's where I learned most of what I know so far. Note: FINDER is to the iMac what Windows Explorer is to a PC.
I keep all personal files on an exernal drive, the only thing on the internal drive is the OS, applications, etc. That's a holdover from my Windows days.
Music is loaded although I don't like iTunes so I downloaded WinAmp. Pictures are loaded including some old photos that I've scanned, retouched and then saved back to disc (not just in iPhoto). It has a fairly decent photo editor;basic but good for someone like me who doesn't have the patience for spending 2 hours fixing a picure. Disc formatting and partitioning is quick and easy. I downloaded SuperDuper (free) and created an image in one of the partitions of an external drive. I'm used to using things like Ghost and Acronis on Windows platforms so this SuperDuper image is comforting.
It goes to sleep and remembers how to wake up. I don't think I ever owned a Windows machine that could handle that through several sleep/wake cycles, they always seem to get confused and need a forced shutdown. I attached a watt meter to it and it uses about 40 watts when awake and about 2-3 watts when asleep. The battery in the keyboard is still at 100% but the batterry in the mouse is at about 90% after 10 days. That's understandable considering how much more the mouse is used. A wired mouse would fix that but I like not seeing wires anyplace.
It's incredibly quiet and I'm very sensitive to PC noise.
I bought MS office because it's so much easier (for me) than using what the iMac came with or things like OpenOffice. The interface is not identical to the Windows version; it's close but not identical - don't know why Miscrosoft couldn't have done a better job of that.
It comes with some parameteers set in 10.9 Mavericks that didn't make sense and I thought I was stuck with them until I figured out that they could be changed. The 2 that come to mind are (1) the vertcal scroll bar is not always visible on a web page and (2) a right click on the mouse is not active. I changed both of those things.
I was able to play with the 27 inch version at a local library and found the sceeen too big. Maybe I would have gotten used to it but the 21.5 inch version that I got seems just right.
To put it simply, the iMac with Retina 5K Display is nothing short of spectacular. At this moment, there is no computer in the world like it.
First of all, look at the price. High quality 4K monitors can cost between $1000 and $2000 or more, just for the monitor. Apple reminds me of Spinal Tap... This one goes to 5K. 5K may not sound like much more than 4K, but the difference is actually an increase of over 67% more pixels. We're talking about a screen that can show a 14.7 Megapixel photo, without zooming. That's simply amazing.
When I first saw the Apple event where they announced this, my first thought was, if they are jamming that many pixels into this, they are going to need a super fast graphics card, because playback and editing in 4K requires 4 times more bandwidth than 1080p, much less 5K. So, I was skeptical. I went to the Apple store and they had a lot of 4K footage loaded into Final Cut Pro X. I was able to skim around, make edits and playback the 4K video as quickly as my current i7 MacBook Pro handles 1080p. What's even more amazing was the demo computer in the Apple Store was the entry level i5 model, with the stock low end graphics card.
What's even more amazing is that because of the massive number of pixels, the only other 5K monitors out there require more than one monitor cable to connect them, because today's cable standards can't even carry a picture that large through one cable. Because the monitor is built-in, they can drive the screen directly from the graphics card.
Another major benefit is that this is the first generation of iMac to use Thunderbolt 2, which doubles the speed of the previous generation. It has two such ports, and because the monitor is built-in, you won't need to use either to connect the monitor.
PLEASE NOTE: As of today, most Apple Retail stores and Amazon are only selling the ENTRY LEVEL configuration. To me, that's like going into the Chevy dealership and to buy the Camaro, but finding out that if you spend just a little bit more, they'll ship you a Corvette.
As far as I'm concerned, the price difference for upgrades is so small, that just about everyone who is in the market for this system should upgrade to the 4.0 Ghz i7 and the AMD Radeon R9 M295X with 4GB of GDDR5 memory... that configuration cranks out 3.5 Teraflops of graphics power. That's simply amazing.
In my case, I also upgraded to 512 GB Flash Storage, because speed is more important to me than storage. The stock configurations come with at Fusion Drives, which is a mixture of 128GB of flash storage with a conventional hard drive. I'm not a fan of conventional drives... I like the speed, silence and durability of solid state drives.
on October 31, 2014
I bought this using my student discount so I did it via the Apple website instead. The student discount brought it to $2299.
I BOUGHT IT BECAUSE IT'S RELATIVELY CHEAP? REALLY?
The iMac 5k is probably the only "value" oriented device Apple makes. It's ironic because it's the most expensive iMac. Let's put it this way, the 5k screen itself is sold for $2.5k by Dell(not available until Dec). I don't know yet if it's the same panel as Dell but Dell have historically used the same panels as Apple before with the previous 1440p thunderbolt display.
For a more mainstream comparison, the new LG 4k IPS monitor is a very good monitor. The price tag is $1399. However, I doubt it would have the same contrast and accurate color reproduction as this iMac. The reality is that any decent IPS 4k or 5k screen is going to cost you a fortune regardless of brand.
What Apple essentially gave you is the first professional 5K screen and a free computer. Considering that there's no wire that can transfer enough data to supply a 5k screen, the iMac is an even bigger bonus. 4k monitors will have to use 2 HDMI or display port to drive that much data. The Dell 5k monitor will probably use 2 X Display Port. The problem with that is obvious(possible lag, screen anomaly, etc...) if software isn't right. compatibility will be tough as well.
WHAT'S IN THE BOX?
1. The iMac 5k itself w/stand.
2. Wireless keyboard w/batteries
3. Magic Mouse w/batteries
4. Power cord
This was my accessories config but I changed my mind when I received the iMac. I went to the store and they just switch the magic mouse for the pad with no questions asked.
THE IMAC 5K OVERVIEW
1. The hardware itself didn't change much. You get a slightly faster i5 CPU, same 1TB fusion drive (1TB 2.5" drive and 128GB SSD), 8GB of RAM(upgrade it yourself to 16GB and save about $140), and the mobile M290X GPU. Although I would recommend people to choose the 256 GB or 512 GB SSD rather than the fusion if they're more serious with speed. Just get an external if you need more storage.
2. Running apps feels about the same as the previous iMacs. Benchmarks are similar until you get to GPU benchmarks which is less or more depending on what you run. But for Adobe and FCP, I don't see much speed differences overall when working.
3. General shape and aesthetics looks exactly the same. I can't spot a difference compared to the old one. Cooling seems to be fine with very little throttling when ran full speed. It seems to weigh about the same as the 1440p version.
4. The AMD M290X is the mobile version so don't expect it to be like the R9 290X. It is close to the performance of the R9 270X desktop GPU (basically a rebadged Radeon 7850). Editing videos and photos did not take a hit from the older NVIDIA Geforce 700s. Overall, the speed is the same as the previous generation's Geforce GPUs. It is slightly slower than the Geforce 775. Yes, all the popular software(FCPX, Photoshop, etc...) are optimized and support AMD GPU acceleration.
5. The screen is simply AMAZING. What's even more amazing is you can view the entire screen pixel for pixel of a 4k video with plenty of screen space for your FCP buttons and tool bars. Same with Photoshop, pixelmator, lightroom, etc.. for most photos. At 5120 X 2880, it is roughly 15 megapixels. The GPU may not be any faster, but you spend less time scrolling. Overall, it saves you a ton of time because you don't have to scroll much at all.
6. Gaming at 2880p is hopeless. You'll have to scale it down below 1440p to get decent frame rates.
7. The iMac is surprisingly stable and solid despite its high center of gravity. I have never felt that it would tip over or get knocked down if I bump the desk accidentally. This was one of my biggest fears because $2300 isn't exactly cheap and the screen would surely shatter.
So there you have it. Only buy it for the screen upgrade and don't expect any crazy performance boost. It is faster but not by much. Again, buy it for the screen, not anything else. You can get the non-5k 27" and save $700 if all you're going to do is blog, play a few games, read emails, and surf the web. This machine's premium is the best value for photo and video editors. That is unless you just have money to burn and wants the best.
SHOULD YOU CUSTOM ORDER?
Custom ordering from the Apple Store gives you a lot more options. I'll list the pros and cons here.
1. Get exactly what you want since the stock in store is usually very basic specs. If you want a 3TB Fusion drive or the 512 GB SSD, then you most likely have to custom order.
2. iMac 5k does have a VESA option for those who like their own mount or base. You have to custom order this one as I've never seen any store carry this in their inventory.
3. Student discounts can only be applied at the Apple Store online or in store.
4. You can order online and pick up in store on the same day if it's available.
5. 0% APR financing if you're a college student and doesn't have thousands in the bank sitting around.
6. Choose any combinations of keyboard/mouse/pad. If you change your mind after you received the iMac(like I did), then just walk into the Apple Store and they'll switch it to whatever you want. You don't have to bring the whole computer, just the accessory you want switched.
1. Wait time can be terrible. If your build is not in inventory, it may take weeks to build and ship it to you. I've done a custom build before and it took 3 weeks. This is way better than Dell a few years back where I waited nearly 3 months.
2. The prices for additional RAM is outrageous as usual. Just stay at 8GB and buy your own RAM. Installation is easy.
Some people are saying "You can tell the huge difference between the 2 screens because X site showed it"
Let me be clear about why this is not possible in most cases. The pic must be at least 15MP since that extra "clarity and crispness" is from the 4x resolution from 1440p. If you are viewing from a 1080p monitor, which only shows 1/7 the number of pixels, the picture they would need to show the difference would be more than 7x larger than your screen. So how would they be able to show if your text are crisp and clean? by pixel peeping of course, or magnifying it. I'm using the iMac 5k right now and I can tell you for most tasks, the iMac 5k is just as good as the 1440p iMacs. Everything is scaled up(eg. webpages) so there's really no extra crispness or clarity. That's because there's no content made for 5k, or even 4k yet. For the regular consumer, this huge screen upgrade will mostly go unnoticeable. The content isn't there for it yet.
The one improvement the iMac 5k will have over the regular 1440p iMac is slightly better texts that are not images. Apple have updated it to make it sharper as it scales up. In reality, most people wouldn't really notice until you tell them.
So who would get the most benefits from $700 to get 4x resolution increase? Back to my original point, photo and video editors. For a regular consumer, it's a nice "spec" upgrade but it won't do you any good until you fire up Photoshop or FCPX with your high res content. Now if you're going from a 2009 iMac to this, then you will see a night and day difference but that's only because you missed several generations of upgrade.
As you know, I have the Fusion drive. The speed was not that great at first and there was some slowness. After a few weeks of use, my computer is running everything at blazing speed.
For the first 2 weeks, the iMac experienced some stuttering, lock ups, and even a few crashes especially with Safari running. Videos were also acting weird. After several updates, most of these problems seemed to stop. I'm guessing the new OSX was the cause.
I have the wireless keyboard and magic pad combo instead of magic mouse. The magic pad uses bluetooth to connect to the iMac. I experienced repeated problems with bluetooth connectivity every couple hours. The magic pad seems to lose connection for a few seconds. I noticed the light on it lit up when it tries to reconnect. It is very annoying. I am not sure if this is the magic pad, the iMac or a software issue. Will report back if I find anything.
I used the Panasonic Eneloop AA rechargeable batteries in my Magic Pad now(Amazonbasics white AA rechargeable NiMH is the same battery rebranded). No more bluetooth connection drops for the past 5 weeks. The Eneloop batteries have incredibly stable voltage compared to the alkaline batteries that most people use. Alkaline batteries start at 1.5V and drop below 1.0V as you use it. The eneloop batteries hold steady with very little decline at around 1.2V throughout their whole discharge cycle. I use these batteries for electronics everywhere in the house and they work great.
The wireless keyboard and pad seems to suck down battery fairly quickly. I have to change them about every 1-2 months. I also have the magic mouse which seems to last about 2 months between swapping batteries. This is a stark contrast to my Logitech wireless mouse and keyboard that would literally take years to deplete a set of batteries. I really like the design of the keyboard and its small foot print but I may have to switch to a Logitech K750 keyboard and a G602.
on March 23, 2014
I bought this iMac to replace my previous 20" iMac that was 8 years old. I stayed with the Apple name brand, because of ingenuity that Windows has never caught up with and 8 years virus free (in the 8 years of owning my iMac we went through 3 Windows laptops with Norton installed due to viruses). I was blown away with how far Apple has come in gaming since I purchased my first iMac. I had just determined to do most of my gaming on my Xbox 360, but once I began using this new generation iMac I realized that tons of games are now produced Mac compatible. I bought Diablo 3 and put the settings on the highest quality. It runs it masterfully.
I was also impressed that all of the iLife suite is now included for free! That is the equivalent of Windows throwing Microsoft Office for free....except that the Mac software makes Office look ancient. If you are worried that the Mac operating system will be too difficult to adjust to, don't! It is by far the easiest operating system I've ever encountered. Also, Microsoft just recently overhauled Windows with the release of Windows 8, so what a better time to switch? My 8 year old iMac is still running like the day I bought it; I just transferred it to my daughter.
Buying the iMac on Amazon will save you about $125. That's $25 less than the teacher discount that my wife could have received by buying through Apple. Plus zero tax and free shipping. The only downfall is that you don't get to choose between the magic mouse and the trackpad. I prefer the trackpad, but if you buy through Amazon then it will ship with the magic mouse. I just took the trackpad from my 8 year old iMac and gave the new magic mouse to my daughter.
One more thing....spend the extra money and go for the 27" screen! It is amazing! Clearly made for multitasking!
on December 4, 2013
I have just switched back to a Mac after years of using a PC. The difference is night and day. The Mac is so much easier to use (although it took me a short while to get the hang of it), and has many more options and abilities. I am an artist, so I had to switch all my art files from PC to the Mac. It was easy to do and the Mac is so much more art friendly. I have to write quite a lot of documents, so I needed the Mac to handle that too, and it does.
I happen to own an iPhone and iPad Air as well. My son set my iPad Air (he's more tech savvy than me) to show and act as my Mac's desktop. So when I am away from my Mac, I can use the iPad as my computer and work with it as if I had a mini desktop! All in all I wouldn't go back to PC if you paid me. I love it.
on November 3, 2014
Revised: 11 August 2015
I still Love this iMac and Amazon.com's customer support. I ordered the new Retina iMac October 31st and had it delivered the next day. We got it all set up and everything was going great. That's when I saw a strange line just left of center on the wallpaper. The line was small, the width of a single column of pixels. I then got another image and moved it around which allowed me to identify that the line went the entire height of the screen. I restarted the computer several time and didn't notice it when the screen was white or all black. Then opened up Photoshop changing the color of the layer until we were able to figure out that it was in fact the screen. When the Photoshop layer was painted brown or blue, the line was distinct. I snapped some screenshots (later realized that screen shots are at the software level, hot hardware thus didn't show anything) and called Amazon. They sent a new one right away. I did have to deal with re-licensing all the software which was a pain ad required I call Microsoft to get office to work.
The image is amazing (other than the dead pixels on the first machine), the computer fast & Amazon support is great. just make sure it's all working before you re-license everything so you don't have to do it a second time if it need replaced. And inspect the screen like a hawk. Given that's what you're buying this computer for, you should make sure it's 100%
Since it's a more expensive model, I advise getting some sort of coverage such as Square Trade or Apple Care. Pick the one that works best for you. NOTE: if you're a student, showing your student ID will save you $50 when getting Apple Care from an Apple store.
And if you need to call Apple Care, expect to be on the phone for an hour before they get to you. If you need to call Amazon, it's like 2 min. (my experience when I called)
on January 23, 2014
I'm hoping this will help others considering whether to buy an apple computer or stick with a PC. I bought my first apple computer new years eve, so I've had it 23 days now. There are things I love about it, ( the mouse) and things that are definitely not as good as my old PC. Positives- I am running this with no virus scan program, to me this is a major plus and those program really bog down computers. Sleek, good looking- the wireless mouse and keyboard, that said, keyboard looks cute, but =well try it out, it's not as easy to use ergonomically. As far as programs iPhotos is a great program, really easy to use, extremely easy to post pics to Facebook or send them to people. Safari ( apple's search engine) is not as good as Google Chrome. Apple's Autofill remembers each element, like your name and address but you need to click in each box and start typing first. Whereas Chrome, fills in entire forms with my name, email, address, phone number etc. as soon as I start typing and select my name. Chrome's search goes right to the site instead of to the search engine page. That said, you can definitely use Chrome on an apple computer, I do it all the time. Apple email also is not as good as gmail. I just had an upgrade on the main operating system and now my mouse won't do the fantastic swipe that lets me go forward through pages or back through pages. That was my absolute favorite feature, also by tapping on mouse I can enlarge my picture, and by double swiping I can go to my page that has the clock and calculator. Scrolling down, all I need to do is swipe my finger down the mouse. As I said, the mouse is absolutely fantastic. Unfortunately, just like when you upgrade programs on the PC there seem to be glitches that take significant time to fix. There is a lot of talk among Apple people about how apple programs work so well because they were made to work together, and that is true. The problem with that is that every apple program is more expensive than the alternative, and there are a lot of other alternatives. Amazon cloud player music seems to always be less expensive than iTunes and cloud player works just as well. Pandora has more alternatives for "radio like" stations. I guess, what I'm saying is that apple people sometimes don't know what else is out there because they are adamant that "apple is best". For most PC'ers Google has so many fantastic programs that work great together. And of course they can all be used from an Apple computer too. So is it worth the money? Maybe. but in my opinion for only 2 reasons, the fact that it is very resistant to viruses and so you don't need the virus scan programs, and maybe (time will tell) it will last longer. I'm not sure about this, but I'm hopeful. One thing about this iMac is that there is no doubt that no one but an apple repair person could even attempt any repairs. I did buy the 3 year protection program (if you are buying your computer from bestbuy- do not get their program, get apple's- better price and cover's hardware), but I'm hoping this will last a very long time. before you buy you may wish to check out apple support communities and there you can see that apple has some problems too. ( after writing this I found how to fix my mouse)
8/22/14- update. I continue to have issues with Apple's exclusivity - When I plugged in Sansa MP3 player everything on it was deleted, so I am hesitant to plug in my Android phone to transfer my pictures. I contacted Apple support and this is their exact words to me, "We actually don't have any troubleshooting knowledge with Android devices so I can't tell you with 100% certainty what will happen when you connect that phone to your mac. I do believe that you will need special software to get the pics off your phone and on your mac I believe it's called Android File Transfer. Heres a link:https://www.android.com/filetransfer/" .
I really have an issue with this. I have never been afraid to plug anything into a PC, but I certainly am with my iMac. The other thing that made me upset is that I "won" a free photobook from Shutterfly. It wasn't easy trying to figure out how to transfer pictures to Shutterfly. It's really easy to transfer pictures to facebook, email, Apple's photo book, but not to Shutterfly, or any other photo book company. The computer works fine, but it just seems to keep slapping my face with this issue, Apple wants you to buy all Apple products. I also really wish I had gotten a laptop. I miss being able to take by computer around the house and show things to my granddaughters when on Skype.
on January 4, 2014
Great experience buying this computer. It was delivered on time and the set up was very easy. My family had a Dell PC for a while but ever since I got an iPhone we were headed towards buying an Apple computer. There certainly is a transition period. But the times I go back and use the old computer I am reminded of all the really nice iMac features. Bright screen and quick response time. Also if you have old Microsoft files to use, we are trying Open Office which is free. Was a bit difficult to load (part of the transition), but it runs and allows you to save files with MS file extensions.
on December 19, 2013
So had a base model 2012 21.5 inch iMac. I almost loved it--but I found it was a little too prone to stuttering and choppiness with clicking and scrolling. Also I found the 102 ppi screen surprisingly fuzzy looking.
So I made a decision I thought I might regret--but don't. I ordered a maxed out version of the 2013 model: i7 processor, 16 GB RAM, 256 GB solid state drive, and NVIDIA 750M graphics. Big difference. It's much faster and smoother. Also, to my pleasant surprise, the screen is far less pixellated even though it's the exact same resolution. I assume it's the better graphics card?
I would say splurge for an upgraded customized version--at least you can get the top specs for cheaper than a similar 27 inch iMac--and save yourself from neck strain in the process.
on July 9, 2015
Love our new computer. The screen looks amazing and is so big and bright. The computer is easy to use, even when switching from PC. I don't regret not getting the retina screen. This computer is beautiful and quick.