Is the 21.5" iMac finally ready for Creative Users?

Apple has released a plethora of updates to its iMac line, releasing a new 4K iMac that boasts a whopping 4096x2304 pixels. So I think it's about time that we revisit the internal specs of the 21.5" iMac and see if it is decent enough to use as a content creating workhorse. 

It comes standard with a 3.1Ghz Intel quad-core i5 CPU (that automatically boosts to 3.6Ghz). It can be upgraded to a 3.3Ghz Intel quad-core i7 (3.8Ghz Turbo-boosted). Both are perfectly capable of running any Adobe software.

Apple's newest 21.5" iMac with 4K Retina Display

Apple's newest 21.5" iMac with 4K Retina Display

So far so good...

8GB 1867Mhz of LPDDR3 memory, pretty good. With the ability to upgrade to 16GB which you will need to do. Please note however, that RAM on the 21.5" iMac is soldered in place, so you can't upgrade it later on. This isn't a good thing.

But we're still going strong so far. 

It comes standard with a 1TB fusion drive. These are great, however the fusion drive in the 21.5" iMac is only 5400 RPM. That is really slow and sadly it will slow down your Mac. The fusion drive now only comes with 24GB of integrated SSD storage. I wouldn't recommend getting the Fusion Drive anymore. However if you can afford 512GB of SSD goodness go right ahead. It's really the only option for decent storage.

Intel Iris Pro Graphics 6200. Pretty good I must say. This GPU can run three 4K displays at 60Hz and can compete with some mid-range AMD Radeon cards. It'll run Lightroom and Photoshop just fine, without any hitches, but if you want to do any 3D work or video editing you might be out of luck.

Now this one is pretty cool. The colour space of the new Retina display in both 21.5" and 27" iMacs is DCI-P3. What is P3 you ask? It's a colour space that outputs 25% MORE colours than sRGB. This is fantastic for photographers as we can now see a bit more colour. It still doesn't come close to the wide-gamut of Adobe RGB 1998 that we all love and want, but it's just that little bit more colour to make editing more enjoyable. To learn more about colour space, I have an article about it.

Finally, the price. By the time you upgrade it to feature specs that are generally needed for our line of work, you're going to be in the range of spending only a couple of hundred dollars less than what you could spend on getting a decent 27" 5K iMac.

It's a marvel of a personal home office computer and with Apple updating the Magic Keyboard, Magic Mouse and Magic trackpad you'll have one beautiful office setup. But is the new 21.5" 4K iMac worth it for creatives professionals? Unfortunately, not just yet. But if you're a novelist, business person or someone who uses a desktop for office use then go right ahead.