2017 iMac

If you've been thinking about buying a new desktop computer and you've had your eye on the iMac for a while, this is the time to seriously think about buying. Apple now offers the iMac with a Kaby Lake processor, DDR4 memory, and a 40% brighter screen. It's one of the fastest Macs on the market (next to the iMac Pro, of course). So, is it time for you to upgrade to the iMac? Let's see.

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Are you upgrading from a 2012 or earlier iMac?

2017 iMac

If you bought your iMac prior to late 2014, it's starting to show its age. It's a little chubbier, a little slower, or may have begun to slow down in the face of ancient cruft and modern apps. Meanwhile, Apple now has a 4K 21.5-inch iMac and a 5K 27-inch iMac, both with Retina displays, latest-generation Intel Kaby Lake processors, and super-fast storage.

If your iMac is the mid-2012 model or older, you might want to make the leap to the current version. 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.

Do you need the most powerful Mac possible?

2017 iMac

Though the Mac Pro was rejiggered in 2017 with a minor price-to-performance improvement, it's still stuck in 2013 and that's not going to change. And come this December, Apple will be launching the iMac Pro, which is capable of supporting up to an 18-core XEON processor, configurable with up to 128GB of ECC memory, has AMD Vega graphics, and it comes with a Retina 5K display screen. The new iMac Pro will be Apples most powerful Mac ever ... At least until the next next-gen Mac Pro comes out in 2018.

So, if you're looking for the most power, the iMac is not for you. You should see if the Mac Pro is right for you, instead. If you can hold out a little longer, the iMac Pro coming this December will be the perfect upgrade for many professionals in the tech, music, and movie industry. If you don't feel the need to rush things and are really looking forward to what Apple does with the new Mac Pro, you'll be rewarded for your patience sometime in 2018 with the newest top-grade Mac on the market.

Do you already have a late 2016 or newer MacBook Pro?

MacBook Pro

The newest MacBook Pro is Apple's most powerful laptop. The 13-inch MacBook Pro with Touch Bar can hold its own against the 27-inch iMac with Retina 5K. Both have fantastic displays (500 nits!) and start with the same amount of memory. The MacBook Pro, both 13-inch and 15-inch, deliver a top-of-the-line computing experience right out of the box.

In other words, the late 2016 or early 2017 MacBook Pro is good enough to be your desktop driver if you invest in a good quality 5K display. That way, you can get nearly the same level of productivity and efficiency as an iMac.

If you've just spent upwards of $2000 on a MacBook Pro, your pocketbook might be looking a little thin and a brand new iMac might not fit into this year's budget.

You can get a lot of life out of your desktop computing by turning your brand new MacBook Pro into your workstation with the cost of a display screen, which could be a lot easier on the pocketbook than a full iMac purchase.

Are you a VR Head?

Mac VR

Apple just announced that virtual reality (VR) support is coming to macOS in the (somewhat) near future. That doesn't mean every and all computers running macOS High Sierra will be able to handle a VR headset. In fact, there are only a few Macs across the entire line that are capable of natively supporting VR headsets without needing an external GPU.

The 21.5-inch iMac with the Radeon Pro 560 graphics processor, the 27-inch Retina 5K, and the Mac Pro are the only Macs currently outfitted with the hardware capable of handling VR without an external GPU.

So, if you're really into VR, you're going to want to get the 27-inch iMac or at least the 21.5-inch model with the highest graphics card.

Later this year, the iMac Pro will fully support VR natively, and of course, the Mac Pro coming in 2018 will. But, if you want a new Mac now, and you want it to handle VR without needing an external GPU, the 27-inch iMac is a great choice.

So, should you upgrade to the 2017 iMac or not?

2017 iMac

Cost is always one of the most important things to consider when buying a new computer. But, if we don't take into consideration financial obligations (which we can't because everyone's situation is different), then we can consider why you should or shouldn't get a new iMac based on your wants and needs.

  • Is your current Mac computer older than 2012? Then the answer is yes. It may still run great, but you're missing out on a lot of fantastic new technology that wasn't available back then.
  • Do you need the most powerful computing device? Then the answer is no. You should hold off until December and invest in the iMac Pro. Or, for the top-of-the-line computing power, save your pennies for the Mac Pro coming sometime in 2018.
  • Do you have a late 2016 or 2017 MacBook Pro? You might be able to make due with what you have, plus a nice external display. The current model MacBook Pro is incredibly powerful and can handle much of your daily workflow, especially if you can view it all on a 4K screen.
  • Do you want VR on Mac without needing an external GPU? Then, the answer is yes, with a few caveats. First, the 27-inch iMac offers more variety in options (the 21.5-inch iMac must have the Radeon Pro 560 graphics card). Second, if you can wait a few months longer, the iMac Pro will support VR natively and it's a much more powerful beast. Third, if you aren't in a hurry to buy a new Mac, the Mac Pro will be around sometime in 2018, and that's really where VR will shine the brightest (especially if it is capable of 8K).

2017 iMac review

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