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The personal site of Jamie Knight, an autistic web developer, speaker and mountain biker who is never seen far from his plush sidekick Lion. View the Archive

Topics: Autism Development

iMac 5K Review


The iMac 5K is the best computer I have ever used, I have never been more productive. It will probably be replaced when Apple offer a 27” Retina external display and new MacBook Pro but i am not in a rush.

Long version:

I didn’t want to buy an iMac, but a few months with a Mac mini highlighted to me that a desktop in my life was a very good thing.

Rather than wait for new MacBooks and retina external displays (to approximate a desktop) I decided to just go for the real things and got the iMac. I was very excited.

What I use it for.

The iMac is my daily workhorse Mac and gets used for everything. I have accounts setup for my freelance work and my day job, plus it gets called on for some video editing and video encoding. It’s gets a bit of usage for gaming too.

What I don’t use it for is storage or file serving. I have a Mac mini server to handle all of that keeping the iMacs SSD as a clear workspace.

The display.

The reason for this iMac is the display. It’s a fantastic display and worth the price alone. It’s not my first retina display but it is the largest and blimey it makes a huge difference to usability and comfort.

As a developer I mostly work with text. The displays sharpness reduces reading strain and the displays size gives me a large surface to work on. I love it.


The iMac has kept up with everything I needed, tho not always everything I wanted.

For my work tasks it’s never missed a beat and always had computing and graphics performance to spare. However when pushing the limits gaming the iMac can become overwhelmed.

The iMac has 3.7 tflops of rendering capability which is over twice as much as a current generation console like the Xbox One. However at native resolution is has almost 7x as many pixels to fill….

On older games the iMac is fine, the games I play most like Lego The Movie or Lego Marvels play fine. As does games like F1 2013.

However on more modern titles like Forza Apex to run it at native resolution requires a big step back in quality settings. This isn’t really a huge issues but it would have been nice for Apple to be providing higher quality graphics on such a high end Mac.


I don’t like that Apple made the iMac thinner. The old one was plenty thin enough and the lack of easy upgrades and repairs bothers me. However I do appreciate that they made it so much lighter.

I frequently move my iMac between two rooms, using it in the office for work and in my bedroom for play and and the lack of mass makes that much easier. I am almost tempted to buy a second power cable to make it even easier still.

Beyond the lack of easy access to the internals the other design decision which annoys me is the difficult to access ports along the back. They don’t have to be tucked out the way that much. At least one easy to find USB port would be nice.

Conclusion and the future.

The iMacs is the best computer i have ever owned. I don’t care that much for the form factor and would prefer better access to the insides but these are not killer blows. The iMac is a tool i use for my job and in that capacity is is the best tool i have found for what i need. Gaming performance could be better but its hardly a slouch once the resolution is taken back to a more sensible level.

The iMac treads the space between consumer and pro very well. A Mac Pro wouldn’t be able to power a display of this quality and no Mac Pro offers the same single threaded performance. A MacBook probably could offer the performance i need, but having the extra performance on tap is really useful when encoding a large video job or doing a big data analysis project.

While i really love the iMac i know it is a stopgap solution. I will be surprised if i keep it another year as hopefully by then Apple will have released a external retina display and a MacBook Pro which can offer the same performance in a more portable package.

Published: 1 September 2016 | Categories: , Permalink


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