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At the core of every setup there is a computer. For many they are way more than just a means to an end. They might be a statement, a piece of art, in short the center of attention.
At the time this is written, the iMac (2019) is my main device of choice. Due to a combination of MacOS, elegance, power and it’s incredible display, the iMac completely won me over.
It is a beautiful all in one machine, which means that the computer itself is built into the display. Having a machine such as that makes a setup so much cleaner. It’s the dream of any minimalist and so far it’s without any competition.
My iMac originally came with the following hardware:
At around 2400$ it’s one of the cheaper configurations of the 27″ iMac, considering that the price can go up to 5250$.
Why did I choose this configuration?
The iMac was originally supposed to replace my Macbook Pro (2016). That’s why any graphics card with less than 8GB VRAM wouldn’t be much of an upgrade. Being used to working on a 32″ 4k screen by BenQ, there was no way I could go down to a screen size of 21.5″. Choosing the bigger iMac also gives you access to the RAM, making it easily upgradable.
At the time of me buying this device I wasn’t yet sure how much RAM I was actually going to need. Due to that, I decided to go with the 8GB and upgrade once I realize it’s not enough.
And as predicted, I needed to upgrade…
Within a few days of regularly checking the convenient activity monitor I knew that I had to upgrade. If the memory pressure is regularly within the yellow area, then that shows that the machine is beginning to slow down (while it is in that area).
I also knew that I needed to do some rendering for university, which is why I bought an additional 32GB of RAM*. I bought them in two 16GB pieces so I could still use the 8GB that were preinstalled. In total my machine now has 40GB. While that might seem excessive, I regularly have 26-32GB in use.
Thanks to the easy RAM installation the iMac offers, the upgrade was an absolute breeze. The device has 4 slots available. Two of them were already filled up with 4GB each. I was able to simply buy two 16GB modules for ~200$ on Amazon. After a few minutes they were installed and ready to go.
But what about storage?
The storage was a harder choice to make since it’s not easily accessible. I couldn’t see myself going with a fusion drive so I opted for a fast SSD instead. Fusion drives are a mixture between an SSD and an HDD, where the SSD is automatically used for the files that are being used the most. Because of that, the files you didn’t use for a while are going to be as slow as on an HDD. Additionally they generate more heat and are generally louder than an SSD would be. I was already going to spend that much money on my iMac. Considering that, I didn’t want to make any compromises.
512 GB SSD storage is the sweat spot…
Initially I thought that I’d need 1TB at least, since that was how much storage capacity my Macbook Pro had. I decided that I’d go for 512GB of storage plus an additional external storage. At the moment I am using an external SSD which is permanently connected to my iMac, blocking one of the Thunderbolt ports on the device. For every day files I am using the internal storage of my iMac, while relying on the external one for videos and files that I might need to access at some point.
Having a desktop rather than a laptop makes it way easier to justify using external storage options. For a laptop it never crossed my mind since it’s meant to be moved around. With that, any extra devices (as small as they might be) seem contra intuitive.
The base CPU and GPU are enough for the average user…
Most of the tasks I wanted to perform on my iMac aren’t actually that graphic intense. I am using it every day, which means that most of my work is going to be text focused. Writing, coding and browsing the net is my average workload. That being said, I sometimes need to do some photo and video editing, 3D-Design or similar as well. Whilst not being the focus, I still did not want to have any performance issues.
Considering the intense rise in cost for an even stronger GPU or CPU I then didn’t deem it necessary. That’s especially the case since both are way stronger than any of the Apple devices I was using prior to the iMac. Even with those devices I rarely had any performance issues.
So for anybody who isn’t primarily relying on their CPU and GPU, the base versions pack more than enough power.
Timeless design or outdated?
In my personal opinion, the iMac is an absolutely beautiful machine, that looks great by itself. It leaves your desk simple and clean, especially when combined with the sleek wireless peripherals by Apple or an alternative company. That being said, multiple monitor setups don’t go all that well with the device. It’s immense bezels do stand out when being placed next to other monitors. Using it as a standalone device though, that is not an issue at all.
Having said that, I would call the design neither outdated nor timeless. Even after all that time (design hasn’t changed since 2012) it still works great as a standalone machine. It would be great however, if there were more alternations of the iMac. A designer variant that’s similar to Microsofts Surface Studio would be a nice addition. That’s especially the case since having an all in one machine prevents you from choosing your main monitor. The iMac’s display is amazing as it is, but having touch versions, 32″ versions and maybe an ultrawide version as well would be exciting.
Apple’s iMac doesn’t come without its flaws…
There are really only two issues that I have with the iMac (2019). The first issue is, that the base fan speed is 1200RPM and can not be changed. That means, that even if idle, the fans are audible to some. As soon as you have some environmental noise, such as coworkers talking, some music playing or even an external HDD spinning, the fan’s noise is drowned entirely. It only bothered me at first because I was used to working on my Macbook Pro at home. While being idle, the Macbook Pro’s fans don’t kick in at all. Additionally to that, my room is really quiet since I am living by myself. As soon as I plugged my backup HDD into the iMac however, I didn’t notice the fans anymore.
The second issue is, that the iMac is not easily upgradable (except the RAM) and that you can’t use the screen separately. That means that as soon as the iMac dies or becomes too weak, it can’t be upgraded to meet the new needs and it can’t be used as a monitor either. If you are able to make peace with that, then the iMac is an outstanding machine that can’t be beat by anything in that price range. That is if you are looking for a MacOS based system. Even if you are willing to go with a hackintosh, it’s going to be impossible to achieve the same power with a similarly good screen in such a form factor.
If the iMac covers all or most of your basic needs and you are willing to dish out over 2000 $, then this device is an amazing choice. That is especially the case if the working space is limited or if the preference goes towards a clean setup.Maybe you don’t need as much power but want to have MacOS? Then the Mac Mini might be right for you.
If the iMac is too weak for your needs though, it might be worth waiting for the new Mac Pro’s.
To view a version of the iMac on Amazon, simply click here*.