Which model iMac should I buy: Price, configurations, colors, and more
Apple’s new 24-inch iMac was refreshed at its Spring event earlier this year as an all-purpose PC for the masses. It’s now powered by the M1 Silicon, Apple’s ARM-based processor that currently powers the MacBook Air, MacBook Pro 13, iMac mini, and even the new iPad Pro 2021. The new iMac also gets a much-needed design refresh where Apple is offering the machine in seven different colors in a sleek and slender design.
If you’re planning to buy one, there are some important things to consider and we’re going to list all the differences so you can make an informed decision. Before we list the differences, let’s take a look at all the common features on the new iMac that are available across variants.
The most obvious one is the chipset, the M1 Silicon, Apple’s first ARM-based microprocessor that’s based on TSMC’s 5nm process. According to Apple, it has the world’s fastest CPU core in low power silicon and the world’s best CPU performance per watt. It’s also Apple’s first step into moving away from Intel chipsets.
The new iMac comes with an updated 23.5-inch 4.5K Retina display which offers a brightness of up to 500-nits, support for one billion colors, P3 color gamut, and Apple’s True Tone technology. All models of the new iMac also feature at least 8GB of memory, the new and improved 1080p camera, a six-speaker system with support for Dolby Atmos, triple microphone array, Wi-Fi 6, Bluetooth 5.0, and, last but not least, a 3.5mm headphone jack. All models also come with two Thunderbolt 4/USB 4 ports, however the higher tier models have additional ports (more about this later). There are a total three configurations available priced at $1,299, $1,499, and $1,699.
24-inch iMac Colors
The new colors are one of the most attractive selling points on the new iMac. It’s available in Blue, Green, Pink, Silver, Yellow, Orange, and Purple. However, if you’re planning to buy the $1,299 base variant, you can only choose between Blue, Green, Pink, and Silver. Only the more expensive models of the iMac offer all seven color options.
24-inch iMac Storage
There are plenty of SSD storage options on the iMac. The base storage starts at 256GB on the $1,299 model which can be configured with 512GB and 1TB for an additional $200 and $400 respectively. The $1,499 model also starts at 256GB with upgrade options of 512GB, 1TB and 2TB for an additional $200, $400 and $800. The top $1,699 model comes with 512GB as standard and offers an upgrade to 1TB storage for an additional $200 and 2TB for $600.
Unless you’re a content creator who deals with a lot of heavy files, we suggest that 256GB of SSD storage should be more than enough. You can always look at cloud storage or external USB drives in case you fall short on storage space.
24-inch iMac Memory and GPU
Apple uses the new M1 chip on all three models, however the chipset also has different variants with different GPU and memory options. The base variant comes with a 7-core GPU while the other two get an 8-core version. As for the memory, 8GB is standard on all, but you can bump up to 16GB for an additional $200. There’s only a marginal difference between the two GPU options when it comes to performance, however getting extra memory is advised if you plan on heavy multitasking workloads. If you plan on using the iMac as a regular home PC, then 8GB of memory shouldn’t be an issue.
24-inch iMac Port selection
The new iMac comes with a limited number of ports due to its super slim design. All three models come with two Thunderbolt 4/USB 4 ports and a 3.5mm headphone jack. Note the $1,499 and $1,699 models offer two additional USB-C ports. You don’t get any USB-A or HDMI ports, which means the port selection is very limited and you might have to invest in a good USB or even better a Thunderbolt dock for additional ports. It’s worth noting that the new iMac supports one external monitor with up to 6K resolution and a 60Hz refresh rate. This is a limitation of all M1-powered Macs and according to Apple’s documentation, you can’t increase the number of supported monitors by using a dock either.
The new iMac also comes with an Ethernet port that’s placed right into the charging brick, which is a neat solution to cut down on cable clutter. The base model doesn’t come with an Ethernet port, but you can pay an extra $30 for one. Both the $1,499 and $1,699 models come with Ethernet embedded into the charging brick.
24-inch iMac Touch ID
A new introduction to the iMac, Apple has added Touch ID via the Magic Keyboard which now comes in the same colors as the new iMac itself. Having fingerprint authentication not only lets you log in securely, but you can use Apple Pay and switch between profiles with just a finger. The feature should be great for consumers who have multiple users at home.
The new Magic Keyboard with Touch ID is available on the $1,499 and $1,699 models. The $1,299 model comes with a standard wireless Magic Keyboard, however you can upgrade for an additional $50. If you’re going for the base variant, our recommendation is to pay that extra $50 for the Touch ID-equipped Magic Keyboard for seamless authentication without the need for typing in passwords.
In our opinion, it’s worth spending the extra $200 for the $1,499 iMac rather than the base variant. For the extra money you’re getting additional USB-C ports along with an Ethernet connection, Magic Keyboard with Touch ID, slightly better graphics performance, and of course more color choices.
If you’re planning on getting one, make sure you check our guides on the best external monitors, docks, mice, and keyboards for the new 24-inch iMac with M1. Additionally, check out our roundup of the best laptops for 2021.