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27-inch iMac with Retina 5K display (2017) review: The fastest, most stunning iMac ever made

Our Rating :
Price when reviewed : £1749
inc VAT

An amazing display with so many pixels makes the 27-inch iMac a real winner and puts itself in a league of its own


  • Stunning 5K display
  • Performance


  • Price

27-inch iMac with Retina 5K display (2017) review: Storage

Unlike the 2015 entry model, which shipped with a 1TB 7,200rpm hard disk, the 2017 model comes with a 1TB Fusion Drive as standard, something that was a must-have upgrade in the older model. This combines 32GB of fast flash storage with a regular hard disk: your most commonly used files and apps are stored in flash, while the hard disk gives you plenty of capacity.

And it works well, with my test Mac booting quickly and feeling as responsive as a computer with only flash in it. As you start to fill up your Mac, the flash storage will fill up quite quickly, so it might be worth upgrading to the 2TB Fusion Drive (an additional £180), which comes with 128GB of flash storage.

The performance is quick, with the Fusion Drive clocking 927MB/sec read speeds and write speeds of 130MB/sec in Xbench. If you want the best performance, you’ll need to upgrade to an SSD-only model: 256GB, 512GB and 1TB options are available. These cost an extra £90, £270 and £630 respectively, which makes the Fusion Drives the better-value option by far.

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27-inch iMac with Retina 5K display (2017) review: Build quality

The one thing that hasn’t changed is build quality: the 27-inch iMac remains one of the best-made, most attractive all-in-one computers that I’ve ever reviewed. The full metal body and stand give it that distinctive Apple look while reassuring you that it’s an expensive and rugged computer. If I have one minor complaint it’s that the screen doesn’t have any height adjustment: you can only tilt it. Even so, this is one computer that I’d proudly have out on display.

I would have liked to see a bezel-less design, which would make it fit a little better on certain desks. Its rather large black bezels take your attention away from its magnificent screen. Who knows, maybe in the future we’ll see a redesigned 5K iMac.

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27-inch iMac with Retina 5K display (2017) review: Ports and expansion

Due to the thin screen, all of the ports are round the back of the screen. It’s a little inconvenient if you spend a lot of time plugging in memory cards and USB devices, but the iMac swivels easily on its base, so the ports are fairly quick to get to when you need them. At the back, you’ll find four USB 3 and two Thunderbolt 3 (USB Type-C) ports, alongside a Gigabit Ethernet adapter (there’s built-in 802.11ac Wi-Fi), an SDXC card slot and a headphone output: in other words everything you really need to use.

27-inch iMac with Retina 5K display (2017) review: Magic Keyboard, Magic Mouse 2 and Magic Trackpad 2

With every 5k iMac purchase, you’ll get the Magic Keyboard and Mouse 2. 

The range of peripherals all have integrated batteries that are charged via their Lightning ports. Apple has redesigned the keyboard so that it takes up less room but has bigger keys with less travel. It took me a little while to get used to it, coming from an older USB Mac keyboard, but once I did I found the new keyboard to be extremely comfortable and quick to type on. Apple definitely knows how to make a good keyboard, and this is the best desktop version yet.

The Magic Mouse 2 is back, and I’m not a big fan of it. It’s a little uncomfortable to hold, although the integrated touch sensors for scrolling and moving back/forwards in apps are useful. That said, I know people that swear by this mouse, so it’s definitely a matter of preference. The Lightning port is in the base, so you can’t charge it while you use it, but it charges very quickly – as little as two minutes connected will give you several hours of use.

Special praise has to be saved for the Magic Trackpad 2, which costs £50 extra if you swap the bundled mouse for it, or £129 if you buy it in addition. That sounds like a lot of money, but macOS is designed to be used with a Trackpad, with so many multi-touch gestures that make navigating the web and switching apps a lot easier than resorting to the keyboard. This time around the Trackpad 2 supports Force Touch, which is brilliant, as I’d got so used to using it on my MacBook that I missed it when using the old Magic Trackpad. In other words, my advice is: hang the expense and buy the Magic Trackpad 2, as it’s brilliant.

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27-inch iMac with Retina 5K display (2017) review: Verdict

Although the 27-inch iMac starts at £1,749, it is particularly “cheap” when you factor in the cost of a standalone 5K monitor. On its own, a 5K monitor will set you back around £680 for the Iiyama ProLite XB2779QQS. This puts the 5K iMac in a league of its own, offering a stunning display and a computer all in one stylish metal body.

Buy the 27in iMac from John Lewis

When you look at it like that, the 27-inch iMac with 5K Retina Display isn’t just amazing value, it’s a complete steal. Given the quality of the display, the speed of the internals, the build quality and the amazing wireless peripherals, there’s nothing out there that can touch this computer: it’s the ultimate all-in-one for professionals and for those that want the best, winning it a Best Buy award. If this isn’t quite what you’re after, our regularly updated best desktop PC guide will have something that suits you.

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Core specs
Processor3.4GHz quad-core Intel Core i5-7500
Processor socketLGA-1151
Memory type2400MHz DDR4
Maximum memory32GB
MotherboardNot disclosed
Motherboard chipsetNot disclosed
Ports and expansion
Front USB ports0
Rear USB ports4x USB3
Other ports2x Thunderbolt 3 (USB-C)
Networking1x 10/100/1000BATE-T, 802.11ac
Case typeAll-in-one
Case dimensions HxWxD516x650x203m
Total storage1TB fusion drive
Memory card readerSDXC
Optical drive typeN/A
Graphics cardAMD Radeon Pro 570 (4GB of VRAM)
Graphics/video ports2x Thunderbolt 3 (USB-C)
Sound cardApple
Sound card outputs3.5mm headphone jack
Speakers2x stereo
DisplayApple 27in integrated
Native resolution5,120 x 2,880
Other hardware
KeyboardApple Magic Keyboard 2
MouseApple Magic Mouse 2
ExtrasApple Magic Trackpad 2 (£129)
Operating systemApple macOS X 10.12.5 Sierra
Operating system restore optionInternet

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