Best iMac iMore 2019

The top-tier 21.5-inch iMac 4K is the iMac most users should consider. The desktop computer is a suitable choice for families and small businesses alike because of its speedy internals available at a good price.

Our pick

21.5-inch iMac 4K (2019)

It's all here: a Retina 4K display, 1TB Fusion drive, and much more

Ready to provide years of service, this iMac 4K model is a powerhouse. Plus, as the top-tier 21.5-inch iMac model, it should be future proof – at least for a while.

Who should buy this iMac

Apple iMacs have long been a popular choice for families. Beautiful, yet practical, iMacs have been designed to stand out and provide years of enjoyment. The model recommended here includes amazing internals at a fair price. If you're new to iMac or haven't replaced one in a few years, this is the one to get. Still, this update isn't necessary for recent iMac buyers.

As Lori Gil explained when the 2019 iMacs were first announced, if you bought your iMac prior to late 2014, it's probably starting to show its age. It's a little chubbier, a little slower, or may have begun to slow down. Meanwhile, Apple now has a 4K 21.5-inch iMac and a 5K 27-inch iMac, both with Retina displays, latest-generation Intel Coffee Lake processors, updated AMD graphics.

If your iMac is the mid-2012 model or older, you might want to make the leap to the current version. It is no longer part of the macOS upgrade cycle. It's just past it's prime. The late 2012 iMac is actually still a pretty solid workhorse but does lack some of the processor and graphics enhancements under the hood that would make your daily use more efficient.

If your iMac is starting to feel sluggish, it's probably because you're regularly using some processing or graphics heavy programs that are pushing your workhorse to its limits.

Is it a good time to buy this computer?

Apple refreshed the iMac lineup in March 2019 making this an ideal time to purchase a new computer for your home or office.

Reasons to buy

  • 4K Retina
  • Fusion Drive
  • Lots of add-on options

Reasons not to buy

  • If you want a bigger screen
  • The most expensive 21.5-inch model

Say hello to the 2019 iMac 4K

What allows the iMac 4K to stand out is its impressive display. With up to 14.7 million pixels, 1 billion colors, 500 nits of brightness, P3 wide color gamut and an excellent viewing angle, the iMac 4K delivers a great viewing experience every day of the year.

For the first time, you can purchase a 21.5-inch iMac with a 6-core 8th-generation Intel Core i5 processor. This processor allows it to deliver up to 60 percent faster performance than previous models. The model mentioned here includes a 3.0GHz 6-core 8th-generation Intel Core i5 processor with a Turbo Boost up to 4.1GHz by default. For $200 more, you can add a 3.2GHz 6-core 8th-generation Intel Core i7 processor with a Turbo Boost up to 4.6GHz.

Apple offers 8GB 2666MHz DDR4 memory by default, although I'd recommend updating this to 16GB to make it even snappier. You can also buy the iMac with 32GB of memory.

Cupertino's signature Fusion Drive is on display here. First introduced in 2012, the Fusion Drive combines fast SSD storage with a high-capacity hard drive. In doing so, macOS intelligently manages what goes where using the SSD storage for files you access frequently and keeping the rest on the roomier hard drive. The Fusion Drive is not available by default on less expensive 21.5-inch iMac models including our value pick mentioned below.

Want more? When ordering your iMac through Apple, add Radeon Pro Vega graphics, which delivers up to 80 percent faster graphics performance. By default, this iMac 4K ships with Radeon Pro 560X with 4GB of GDDR5 memory.

What allows the iMac 4K to stand out is its impressive display.

Featuring an aluminum and glass enclosure with a five millimeter-thin profile, the iMac 4K ships with a matching Magic Keyboard and Magic Mouse 2. In doing so, you can create a beautiful, highly functional workspace. Yes, this is still the same iMac chassis that Apple's been shipping since 2012 and one that doesn't include Touch ID or Face ID. That isn't going to change anytime soon (at least not until 2020 at the very earliest).

The iMac 4K (2019) ships with macOS Mojave, which includes a system-wide dark mode for the first time and new privacy controls. The latest version of macOS also includes three iOS apps jumping to Mac for the first time: Home, News, and Stocks. There's also a new desktop Stacks feature and improvements to Finder.

Alternatives to the 21.5-inch iMac 4K (2019)

If you want to save a little money or go in the other direction, we've got you covered.


27-inch iMac 4K (2019) (entry-level)

Almost the same computer, but with a much larger display

If you need an iMac 4K with a bigger screen and similar internals, go with the entry-level 27-inch iMac 4K (2019).

Besides a bigger screen, this model also offers a better graphics card by default versus the 21.5-inch model. Everything else is the same, including the CPU, memory, and storage.

Value pick

21.5-inch iMac 4K (entry-level)

Still a great choice, but for less

You can save around $200 by buying this model which includes a non-Fusion hard drive and a 3.6GHz Quad-Core Processor. The display is identical to the one found on our best pick.

Buy this model if you want to save some money. However, if you do, don't upgrade any of the parts. By doing so, you might pay more for the value pick. Be sure to compare prices when you're building a customized iMac on the Apple website.

Professional pick

27-inch iMac Pro 5K

An aging powerhouse

The iMac Pro made a big splash when it was first announced in June 2017. Still, with an update more than likely later this year, you might want to wait.

When money is no object, consider the iMac Pro. At the minimum, however, you should delay your purchase until a next-generation model arrives.

Bottom line

Case closed, the 21.5-inch iMac 4K (2019) is the iMac you should purchase. It provides all the bells and whistles most folks need without going overboard.

Best one for most folks

21.5-inch iMac 4K (2019)

The Goldilocks pick

In the end, this is the iMac 4K model we recommend. It includes powerful internals at a great price.

Credits — The team that worked on this guide

Bryan M. Wolfe is a dad who loves technology, especially anything new from Apple. A Penn State (go Nittany Lions) graduate, Bryan's also a huge fan of the New England Patriots. @bryanmwolfe.

Rene Richie has been covering the personal technology industry for a decade. Follow him @reneritchie on Twitter and Instagram..

Adam Oram studied Media at Newcastle University and has been writing about technology since 2013. He hung up his virtual pen to spend three years as an Apple Genius and now leads the charge on UK and CA deals content at Thrifter.

This post may contain affiliate links. See our disclosure policy for more details.

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