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Home / Technology / Apple iMac 27-inch review (2020): New webcam, new display option, same iMac

Apple iMac 27-inch review (2020): New webcam, new display option, same iMac

Apple’s new version of the 2020 27-inch iMac looks exactly like the one for eight years now. Updates are all inside, adding improvements that bring it up to the specs you’d expect on a 2020 computer, with 10 Intel processors and standard SSDs instead of supporting disk drives. It starts at $ 1,799 for the base Core i5 model, but you can certainly appreciate it much higher. A very expensive option is a $ 500 nano finish on the glass, which Apple says is a huge improvement over traditional matte displays. (For $ 500, that would be better.)

But there is a specific clash that is extremely uncharacteristic for Apple, even in this pandemic year: the quality of the camera has finally improved. If you are video conferencing a lot, the new 1

080p camera is likely to be the thing that enhances your days the most. I hate to say this, but you really look more professional to your colleagues when your camera is a little sharper.

After using a unit for a little over a week, it is easily recommended for anyone who needs a new desktop computer right now. It is fast, capable and reliable. Just your basic iMac, and beyond a tired model, there is a bit of a mistake with that.

But if you do not need a new desktop Mac now, you might consider waiting. This iMac could very well be the last Mac ever made with an Intel processor instead of Apple’s own silicone inside it. Apple has publicly said that its transition to its own potatoes will take about two years, so this is a pretty good estimate for when the next iMac update may come. This does not mean that getting an Intel-based Mac is a mistake – it will last and be supported for many years – but it does mean that you will have more options if you do not need to spend money now.

Improved iMac webcam

Let’s start with that Webcam. I don’t think it’s worth upgrading to a new iMac just to get it, but I’m glad Apple has made it better. I also do not know that I would say it is the best I have used, but it is not as embarrassing as most other Apple cameras.

Let us give you the best. Here’s the change, taken from a still frame by the QuickTime recorder. I happen to have an iMac 2017 for work, so that’s a direct comparison:

Left: 2017 iMac with 720p camera; Right: 2020 iMac with 1080p camera. Since the 1080p image has more pixels (duh), it is slightly larger than the 720p camera, resulting in the framing you can see on this slider.

Webcam is not simply better because it has more pixels; is also better because Apple is finally applying some modern image processing to the video stream. The IMac has a T2 chip, which is used to control many components on the Mac. Apple is using it to process certain image elements of this camera. Is able to do tone mapping, exposure control and face detection.

2017 iMac on the left, 2020 iMac on the right.  The difference in the quality of webcams is immediately apparent.

2017 iMac on the left, 2020 iMac on the right. The difference in the quality of webcams is immediately apparent.

Face exposure is for prioritizing keeping your face well lit with accurate skin tones. I can move the face in the frame and see it by adjusting the exposure in real time, ensuring that my face is never too dark or blushing. It feels a lot like what the iPhone does with the face. (Apple says it’s not doing any facial softening, if you’re wondering.)

It works really well, and thankfully, it doesn’t just work in Apple apps. Since these fixes are coming through the T2 chip, the improved performance is just the video stream on the Webcam that any video conferencing application will receive.

One thing that does not feel at all modern with the iMac 2020 is the entry. Unless you have an Apple Watch and use it to unlock your computer, the only way to get inside is to enter your password like a pet. Apple controls Apple T2 chip Touch fingerprint identification on Mac laptops, but Apple decided not to add a fingerprint sensor to the keyboard or a Face ID set on this iMac.

It’s annoying, but it’s also a feature of Apple’s decision not to change anything about the design of this iMac. It has the same Thano-esque beard, the same screen and the same ports as before.

However, there are some improvements in those areas. The screen is identical, but that T2 chip I’m mentioning means you can turn on True Tone to match it with the color balance in your room.

Performance on the 27-inch iMac

Fast fast! It should be, as the model I am trying on is the Core i9 model with 32 GB RAM and a Radeon Pro 5700 XT graphics card. With the nano-structure display option and a 1TB SSD, the Apple car envisioned for review would retail for around $ 4,500. 30 is 30 percent faster on one of our standard 4K Adobe Premiere Pro exports than the iMac im Core i7 2017 with a Radeon Pro 580.

But really, performance on an iMac should not be an X factor. How these cars work – even under heavy thermal loads – is almost a known amount. The good news is that, so far, the new 10th Intel chips are simply found inside this very popular chassis.

Unless you specify your iMac in high paradise like this, most likely the biggest performance change you may notice is the read and write speed. This is because Apple is finally offering SSD as the standard option instead of Fusion Drives. If you need more storage and do not want to pay for SSD updates, you can switch to Fusion drives on some models at no extra charge. As someone who uses a Fusion Drive every day, my advice is to get the SSD and avoid the strange pauses that a rotating disk sometimes causes.

You can spend $ 100 and upgrade to a 10 Gigabit Ethernet gateway, but otherwise, the IO is the same as before. There are two Thunderbolt ports, four USB-A ports, an SD card slot and a headphone jack.

Matte version of iMac nano structure

The next big update is that nano structure option. It’s great, but I have some reservations. But first, here is a picture that shows her doing her job, reducing the brightness:

2020 iMac on the left, 2017 iMac on the right.  The nano structure completes everything in the 2020 iMac, but loses its luster.

2020 iMac on the left, 2017 iMac on the right. The nano structure completes everything in the 2020 iMac, but loses its luster.

My first two big stocks are, unfortunately, the kinds of things that can’t be solved with just two days of testing. One is the price: at $ 500, it’s a super expensive update, and only your tolerance for brightness can tell you if the price is worth it. Another thing that can help you decide if it is worth it is whether the finish is sustainable. This is my second reservation: I just do not know.

To explain why, I need to clarify what even this nano structure ends up with. Instead of placing just one matte layer on top of the glass, Apple is literally carving the glass on a nanometer scale. This process gives the nano structure a foot finish on traditional matte screens in those images will not look cluttered. On matte screens, light from the pixels is scattered out. Apple’s ending, the company claims, mainly scatters light that hits from the outside and does not scatter light from the pixels as much.

It is a very fancy solution, very expensive for the problem. Summer very Apple. Also a lot of Apple: the instructions that come with it specify that you should only clean the microfiber cloth included and that doing otherwise could damage the finish. Yikes.

A slim display on a $ 5,000 Pro Display XDR screen used in professional settings by adult professionals who know what they have is one thing. A delicate screen on the iMac in the family room, where kids covered in dirt will bend over because they rightly assume all screens should be tactile, is something else entirely.

I asked Apple about the durability of the finish. I was told that they do not want to give anyone the impression that it is fragile, but that, yes: over time, using something very abrasive can grab that conclusion. Unlike other screens, there is actually no coating on top of the nano finish; it is simply stained, bare glass.

I suspect anyone but Apple has a critical mass of user data on how quality has reached the price in XDR that can inform you if it is a responsible thing to pay for a family iMac.

So again, I can not tell you if it is a good option. But I can tell you it works a lot. I completely turned off the light bulb to the point that, for the first time, I managed to position my computer with a window behind me in my living room. It also does not affect the sharpness of the images or text on the screen at all – but if you really close your eyes, you may see some ambiguity.

This kind of thing is almost impossible to photograph. (I tried.) You will only have to believe me that it is close to invisible directly and not at all bad at an angle.

2020 iMac 27-inch

2020 iMac 27-inch.

There really is no surprise with the 27-inch iMac of 2020. It looks and works like a very fast iMac, which is exactly what it is. Standard SSDs turn out to be the best quality of life improvement day by day for me, but for my co-workers who need to see me on the other end of video calling, it’s probably that new camera.

But as I mentioned above, there is also a variable in the process of deciding to buy this iMac. At some point in the next two years, it will be replaced by another model that uses Apple’s own ARM processors instead of Intel. Apparently, that iMac will finally get a refreshing drink that removes the grateful chin and inability to register biometrically. But whether ARM Macs are a good buy is impossible to say today – as is guessing if you should wait for them.

Apple has given every indication that it will fully support Intel-based Macs for a long time, and I hope the programs and applications you need will continue to be compatible with Intel-based Macs for a while. long.

What I’m saying is: if you need a 27-inch iMac, this is a good iMac and you should buy it. I’m sorry the process will involve 45 minutes checking and unchecking the nano structure option as you create your mind.

Updated, 14 August, 1:50 PM ET: This story was originally published with early impressions on August 6, 2020. It has been updated with more impressions, tests, and conclusions as a complete summary.

Photo by Dieter Bohn / The Verge

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