Review: Apple iMac 21.5 4K (2017)
You might be hard-pressed to find much visual difference between last year’s 21.5-inch iMac and the 2017 refresh. The minimalistic personality of the all-aluminium shell remains, making the iMac the best-looking all-in-one computing device by far. There are no visible seams on the entire surface. The iMac’s casing measures 5mm at the edges—this is thinner than your iPhone 7 Plus.
The power button and connectivity ports sit at the back, and this is where you will notice the fine changes. Apart from the four USB 3.0 ports, there are also two USB-C ports (these double up as the Thunderbolt 3 ports), as well as a memory card slot.
The wireless Magic Keyboard and Magic Mouse 2 both have rechargeable batteries, and Apple has also bundled a lightning cable.
Apple made the upgrade to the DCI-P3 colour standard for the 4K screen on last year’s iMac, a segment-defining move at a time when Windows PCs were still rocking the older sRGB colour reproduction capabilities. This year’s Retina 4K screen (4,096x2,304 resolution) adds a feature known as “dithering”. Simply put, some wizardry allows the colours of each pixel to be tweaked so you can see more colours that the panel may otherwise not be able to reproduce. TV makers use similar techniques to improve colour reproduction.
On the iMac, this will be very useful for photo and video editors in particular. Any media that you watch, including 4K videos, looks significantly better. The colours are well distinguished, without any distortion textures. The screen is 43% brighter than last year’s iMac 21.5.
There are changes under the hood as well. The iMac 21.5 4K now runs the Intel 7th generation Kaby Lake Core i5 processor. While this isn’t an outright performance improvement (the 2016 iMacs on the previous Intel processors were no slouches), the new processors do open newer horizons. First, these will be able to accelerate the new HEVC and HEIF video codecs that will be introduced in MacOS High Sierra software, which will be available later this year. Second, the new chips remain cooler than their predecessors even when stressed, which means this iMac will be a better multitasker for longer durations.
The AMD Radeon Pro 560 graphics (4 GB), three times faster than before, make this a robust gaming machine for some of the newer game titles—the same-day release of the F1 2017 game (Rs1,179 on Steam Store) for MacOS testifies to that.
With the improved 4K display, the iMac 21.5 packs in upgrades that make the best all-in-one computing device even better. There is more power for productivity and, most importantly, prices aren’t very different from last year’s edition.