The most exciting release for many at Apple in over a decade of the same design Spring Loaded Event that was totally All-in-one Mac redesigned. Let’s take a look at the M1 iMac versus the Intel iMac, from the move to Apple Silicon and bright new colors to a super-thin design, a bigger 24-inch size, and much more.

The 2021 M1 iMac replaces the 21.5-inch 4K Intel iMac. But with the first iMac that makes the transition to Apple Silicon as an entry-level model, the company continues to sell it 27-inch 5K iMac. The latter can be configured with up to 8 TB of SSD storage, 128 GB of RAM and high-end GPUs (Apple continues to sell the 21.5-inch iMac without a Retina).

That’s not to say the M1 iMac will be slow in any way. Just like we’ve seen with the M1 MacBook Air, Pro, and Mac mini, Apple’s first-class desktop SoC outperforms a wide variety of more expensive computers with Intel courage – including machines like the 2019 16-inch MacBook Pro.

The high-end Apple Silicon Macs are yet to come, but the new iMac will be powerful enough for regular users and even some professional workflows. However, since there are some limitations, we’ve included the 27-inch 5K Intel iMac for reference in the following comparisons.

M1 iMac versus Intel iMac hardware

When comparing the new M1 iMac with the 21.5-inch Intel iMac, Apple offers up to 85% faster CPU performance, up to 2 times faster GPU performance and up to 3 times faster performance with machine learning. Apple did not report any improvement numbers when compared to the 27-inch iMac.

With the M1 chip, the new iMac can also process up to five streams of 4K video material “without saving a frame in Final Cut Pro”.

M1 iMac 21.5 “4K Intel iMac 27 “5K Intel iMac
Central processor M1 – 8 core Up to 3.2 GHz 6-core Intel i7 Up to 3.6 GHz 10-core Intel i9
GPU M1 – 8 core (7 core for basic model) Up to AMD Radeon Vega 20 Up to AMD Radeon Pro 5700 XT
warehouse Up to 2 TB SSD Up to 1 TB Fusion Drive Up to 8 TB SSD
R.A.M. 8 or 16 GB 8, 16 or 32 GB 8 – 128 GB
Neural motor 16 core

Like the first three M1 Macs, the new iMac is limited to a maximum of 16 GB of unified RAM. While this sounds easy to some, Apple’s tight integration with the custom SoC and macOS offers more performance than expected. As my colleague Stephen Hall wrote about the M1 MacBook Air, 8 GB of RAM will be sufficient on Apple Silicon computers for many users, but for 16GB if you’re on the fence.

M1 iMac vs Intel display

The M1 iMac offers a handful of nice improvements to the display. First of all, of course, you have the bump from a 21.5-inch panel to 24-inch. And Apple not only kept the 4K resolution of the 2019 Intel Retina iMac, the M1 iMac has a 4.5K resolution of 4480 x 2520.

The bezels are also much slimmer (see image above), but Apple kept the chin – there is likely room for the fan system somewhere. Removing the Apple logo from the front results in a more minimalist design.

M1 iMac vs Intel iMac - display comparison

The new display has also been enhanced with Apple’s True Tone technology for a better viewing experience that adapts to the ambient light. However, the nano-texture screen option remains exclusive to the 27-inch iMac and Apple’s Pro Display XDR.

M1 iMac 21.5 “4K Intel iMac 27 “Intel 5K iMac
size 24 inches 21.5 in 27 in
resolution 4480 x 2520 (4.5 KB) 4096 x 2304 (4K) 5120 x 2880 (5 K)
Aspect ratio 16: 9 16: 9 16: 9
brightness 500 nits 500 nits 500 nits
Retina display
P3 wide color
Right sound
Nano texture option

M1 iMac versus Intel – I / O.

The M1 iMac receives a number of improvements and modernizations in terms of I / O. The included ports are now 2 Thunderbolt / USB 4 + 2 more USB 3 Type C on high-end models. This means that there is no USB-A or SD card slot.

M1 iMac vs Intel iMac - I / O Comparison

Gigabit Ethernet has been cleverly converted to the Power Brick for more expensive models (optional for the basic version), and the power cable is connected magnetically.

Other improvements include WiFi 6, Bluetooth 5, a 1080p FaceTime camera and Touch ID on the new Magic Keyboard (optional for the basic model, incl. for the Mid + models).

As with the other M1 Macs, one limitation compared to Intel iMacs is that only one external display is supported. However, this may not be as much of a problem as it is an iMac with a built-in display.

M1 iMac 21.5 “4K Intel iMac 27 “5K Intel iMac
Thunderbolt 4 / USB 4 2x
Thunderbolt 3 / USB – – 2x 2x
USB 3 type C. 2x for non-basic models – – – –
USB-A 4x 4x
Gigabit Ethernet Optional with basic model, incl. With mid +
10 GB Ethernet Optional
SDXC slot
Wireless Internet access WiFi 6 (802.11 ax) Wi-Fi 5 (802.11ac) Wi-Fi 5 (802.11ac)
Bluetooth 5.0 4.2 5.0
Touch identification Optional with basic model, incl. With mid +
Hey Siri support
Webcam FaceTime 1080p HD + M1 ISP FaceTime 720p HD FaceTime 1080p HD
Video output An external display up to 6K at 60Hz Up to two external 4K displays at 60 Hz or one at 5 or 6K 60 Hz Up to two external 6K displays at 60 Hz

Audio

It’s not yet clear whether the new M1 iMac’s 6-speaker system can keep up with external speakers, but Apple says they’re impressive.

M1 iMac vs Intel iMac - Audio Comparison

You get wide stereo sound created by two sets of power-boosting woofers + tweeters, Dolby Atmos support, and the studio-quality 3-mic array we’ve seen on other Macs.

M1 iMac 21.5 “4K Intel iMac 27 “5K Intel iMac
6 speaker system
Stereo speakers – –
Broad stereo sound
Dolby Atmos support
3-microphone array in studio quality
3.5 mm headphone jack

Colors, size, weight

2021 iMac - all colors

The M1 iMacs get a lot of attention not only because of the new form factor, but especially because of the surfaces. There are seven colors to choose from (four with the base model). And many people are excited to see the fun vibe Come back to the Mac. For those who don’t dig this up, there’s the silver option. However, none of the new iMacs have black bezels – just white ones.

The new M1 iMac has a super-thin depth of 11.5 mm (14.7 cm without the stand).

M1 iMac 21.5 “4K Intel iMac 27 “Intel 5K iMac
Colours blue, green, pink, silver, yellow, orange, purple (white bezels) Silver (black bezels) Silver (black bezels)
Weight 4.48 kg (9.88 pounds) 5.48 kg 8.92 kg
height 46.1 cm (18.1 in) 45 cm 51.6 cm (20.3 in)
width 54.7 cm (21.5 in) 52.8 cm (20.8 in) 65 cm
Depth with stand 14.7 cm 17.5 cm 20.3 cm

Pricing

Starting at $ 1,299, the M1 iMac is good value for money considering everything you get. Please note, however, that the basic model skips special features such as the Magic Keyboard with Touch ID, 2x USB-C ports, Ethernet in the power supply and four instead of seven color options.

M1 iMac 21.5 “4K Intel iMac 27 “5K Intel iMac
Base model 256 GB SSD / 8 GB RAM $ 1,299 Orig. 1,299 US dollars $ 1,799
4 ports with 256/8 $ 1,499 – – – –
4 ports with 512 GB SSD 8 GB RAM $ 1,699 – – – –
512 GB SSD and 8 GB RAM – – Orig. $ 1,499 $ 1,999
512/8 + updated GPU – – – – $ 2,299
Custom configurations TBA – – Up to $ 8,599

M1 iMac vs Intel wrap-up

The new M1 iMac is a big step forward for Apple’s iconic all-in-one desktop. It offers great value for the same starting price as the old 21.5-inch 4K Intel iMac – a bigger, sharper screen, significantly faster performance with the M1 chip, Thunderbolt / USB 4, brand new design, Touch ID, 1080p FaceTime camera and more.

I think the colors are really fun and for those who want to keep it simple there is still the classic silver around. The only downside I see is that those who want black bezels are out of luck.

The new iMac is a convincing buy starting at $ 1,299, unless you’re waiting for the high-end iMac to release or need a really powerful computer like a Mac Pro or the portability of a MacBook. It’s also very competitive with the Mac mini, which starts at $ 699, as the display, mouse, and keyboard are sold separately.

Orders open for the new M1 iMac on April 30th with the first deliveries from the second half of May.

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