Just thinking about the new 24-inch Apple iMac in the box, the old curved-back 27-inch iMac was a living corpse. The long-standing iMac design, which has been essentially unchanged since 2012, has held up well over time, but a change was long overdue. The new smaller iMac model (previously 21.5 inches, now 24 inches) sports a streamlined, updated appearance and comes in a range of colors. It feels especially new because this is the first Mac to feature a completely new design to complement its new M1 CPU/GPU platform. On May 21, the new models will be available for purchase.
The general Mac line is evolving, and it’s the most significant change since Intel CPU was added to Macs in 2006. The entire portfolio, including laptops and desktops, is transitioning away from Intel processors in favor of Apple’s own design. With the Apple M1 models of the MacBook Air, 13-inch MacBook Pro, and Mac Mini, the changeover began in late 2020.
Apple’s M1, which combines a CPU, a GPU, an NPU, an ISP, and a shared memory pool on a single chip, is at the center of everything. This is the same M1 that we’ve seen in a variety of Mac and iPad products.
The M1’s CPU contains four high-performance cores and four efficiency cores, just as those Macs. The most affordable 24-inch iMac ($1,299) contains seven GPU cores, while the others have eight. In addition, the cheapest model includes a different cooling system, with only one fan instead of the two in the other configurations.
The computer can come with 8GB or 16GB of unified memory and 256GB, 512GB, or 1TB of solid-state storage when purchased. Ethernet is also an optional $30 upgrade for the base configuration (it’s included automatically in the more expensive configurations), although the Ethernet port is located in the power brick rather than on the Mac itself.
Never before have we seen a personal computer that is both futuristic and nostalgic at the same time.
The new iMac’s thickness is only 11.5 mm (0.45 inches). As a result, the new 24-inch iMac has 50% less volume and a 30% smaller footprint than the 21.5-inch iMac it replaces. It also has half-size bezels above and to the sides of the dial screen.
Because it’s so thin, the headphone jack has to be on the side to put the plug in, and the Ethernet connector has to be in the power brick as well. Many consumers desired Ethernet ports, but Apple’s laptops (and now desktops) have gotten so thin that they wouldn’t fit.
The M1 CPU is used in the 24-inch iMac. That means it’s powered by the same chip as the Mac mini, MacBook Pro, MacBook Air, and, now, the iPad Pro. If you’re already familiar with how wonderful the M1 is in those devices, you won’t be surprised by anything here. Let me put any doubts you might have about a mobile chip in a desktop to rest right now. The M1 iMac is very powerful.
The 24-inch iMac is the most powerful M1 implementation yet. However, it isn’t by much. In scores like Cinebench R23, we’re talking about a 3% boost in multi-core performance over the MacBook Pro and Mac mini.
The actual 8-core CPU is the same across all configurations, but the graphics are where you may enhance. The combination I tested came with an 8-core GPU, 16GB of RAM, and a 1 terabyte SSD, allowing me to choose from orange, yellow, or purple. This costs $2,228 and is a significant improvement over the original model’s $1,299 price.
Apple, on the other hand, adds a beefed-up cooling solution with two fans instead of just one with this GPU. It’s not like you can ever hear them spin up. Except when you’re conducting heavy operations, such as ones that tax the CPU, it’s virtually silent throughout use. Below the screen, a new line of small vents for draining hot air has been installed.
If there’s one universal reality that everyone has had to confront over the last 15 months, it’s that the majority of people have awful webcams. Almost any laptop you use for a Zoom meeting (yes, this includes all current MacBooks) will have a low-resolution, 720p-at-best camera, along with sluggish software and signal processing. You were trapped with whatever was on your laptop because many standalone webcams were sold out and difficult to get by in 2020 and beyond.
At the very least, the 2020 27-inch iMac, which is still powered by an Intel processor, now has a standard full-HD 1080p webcam.
Apple claims that the hardware is different from that of the 27-inch iMac and that the M1 architecture allows for better picture processing software. On paper, it appears to be a better camera, yet it appeared to be quite evenly matched with the 27-inch iMac version. Changing lighting circumstances, on the other hand, may throw the 27-inch iMac camera’s exposure settings off, whereas the new 24-inch iMac camera handled similar demanding lighting situations with ease.
The 24-inch iMac will appeal to many power users and creative professionals. You’ll be quite delighted with your purchase if you mostly use Apple’s own software ecosystem or apps that are already optimized for the M1. Meanwhile, the screen’s small size, restricted connections, and lack of discrete graphics will make room for a real Pro-level iMac in the future. The 24-inch iMac is aimed at a considerably larger audience, for whom it is a near-perfect all-in-one computer.