Apple makes six different types of Mac, with additional categories and variations within each type.
In this feature we’re going to look at the iMac to find the fastest model for your particular needs, taking into account specific performance features and recent upgrades.
The complete iMac range was updated in October 2015 (over two years since Apple’s 21.5-inch model) but Apple has been fairly consistent in upgrading the iMac range.
The iMac range includes three 21.5in models (one of which features a 4K Retina display) and another three 27in models, all of which feature the new 5K Retina display.
Processor speeds vary between different iMacs, as do processor types.
The 21.5in model features an Intel Broadwell processor and the 27in model uses the newer Skylake chip.
Older 21.5in models could not use Skylake chips because Skylake doesn’t yet support integrated graphics, but Apple says Broadwell processors are still a significant upgrade from previous generation processors.
Driver sizes also vary, as well as RAM and graphics cards. Entry-level iMacs include a 1.66GHz dual core i5 processor, Intel HD Graphics 6000, 8GB RAM and 1TB hard drive.
The next level iMac features the same hard drive and RAM, but the processor is 2.8Hz i5 and graphics are Intel HD 6200.
A premium 21in iMac includes a 3.1GHz processor in addition to 8GB RAM and 1TB HDD.
The only major difference between these models is the 4K display, which comes in 4,096×2304 pixels.
27in iMacs also come in i5 but the processors are Quad Core, so users can expect more processing power.
Entry level 27in iMacs feature a 3.2GHz quad core processor (i5) and 8GB RAM and 1TB HDD.
Next up is a top-of-the-range 27in model that features an additional 1TB Fusion Drive.
RAM configurations vary between the different 27in models- for instance you can upgrade the standard 8GB RAM to 16GB or 32GB.
Which iMac is faster?
The Retina iMac is one of the fastest Macs from Apple, even rivaling the Mac Pro.
As a matter of fact, the Retina iMac some would recommend the Retina iMac over the Mac Pro largely because of its fantastic 5K Retina display.
The hard drive can slow down even a powerful iMac if it doesn’t ship with Fusion Drives but on the whole the fastest model has to be the 27in 3.5 GHz quad core, complete with 8GB RAM (of more if you upgrade), 3TB Fusion Drive, at least 4GB graphics (Nvidia GeForce GTX 780M).
That particular model is considerably expensive but if you need it for media work- such as image apps, PowerPoint, writing, etc., the 27-inch iMac Retina is the best option.