Apple iMac 24-inch with M1 vs iMac 27-inch: Which size iMac should you buy?

Apple iMac 24-inch with M1 vs iMac 27-inch: Which size iMac should you buy?

pple introduced the new 24-inch iMac back at its Spring event earlier this year, powered by its ARM-based chipset, the M1 Silicon. Featuring a new design with some peppy color options along with a bunch of value additions, the new iMac definitely makes for an attractive buy. But if you are out in the market looking for an Apple AiO (all-in-one), you still have the option of the larger 27-inch iMac, which received a refresh last year.

So which size iMac should you go for? Does it make sense to buy the larger Intel-based mode?

Design

The most obvious difference is the design. The new 24-inch iMac is completely flat and doesn’t have a bulge around the stand. It measures 11.5mm in terms of thickness, and while you still get a chin below the display, the bezels around the display are now thinner and come in white. You can also get the new iMac in various colors, including Blue, Green, Pink, Silver, Yellow, Orange, and Purple.

24-inch iMac showing dimensions

The 27-inch iMac features a simple aluminum silver finish with a thick black border around the display. It isn’t a bulky machine by any standards, but the contoured back makes it look thicker than compared to the new smaller iMac. Additionally, it also offers a wider set of I/O ports.

iMac 27-inch with dimensions

Display

The new iMac has a 23.5-inch display, while the older one has a 27-inch screen. The new iMac comes with an upgraded resolution of 4.5K (4480 x 2520) at 218 pixels per inch, which makes it quite sharp. The 27-inch, on the other hand, comes with a 5K resolution, 5120 x 2880 pixels, which also amounts to 218 pixels per inch. So in terms of pixel density, they’re similar. Even the rest of the specifications are similar, including peak brightness of 500 nits, P3 wide color gamut support, and Apple’s TrueTone tech that can automatically shift the color balance of the panel.

As for external monitor support, the 24-inch iMac supports one external monitor with up to 6K resolution and a 60Hz refresh rate. However, the 27-inch iMac supports two 4K monitors at 60Hz, and if you go for the higher tier model, it can stretch that to two 6K external displays at 60Hz.

In the end, it is all about the size and kind of space you have on your desk. It’s worth noting that the white bezels on the new 24-inch iMac are thinner and should blend well if you have a white background.

Processor and graphics

As mentioned above, the new 24-inch iMac features Apple’s new M1 chipset that also powers the MacBook Pro 13, MacBook Air, Mac mini, and even the iPad Pro. Available with up to an 8-core CPU and 8-core GPU packed into a tiny package, the chipset performs surprisingly well. On paper, the new chipset can beat the Intel chips in single-core performance with ease, making it great for simple everyday tasks. This is actually where Apple is aiming for with its new 24-inch iMac.

The larger 27-inch model is currently available with the option of Intel’s 10th-gen processors with up to 10-cores on the Core i9 and AMD Radeon Pro 5700 XT graphics chip with 16GB of GDDR6 memory. This means that when it comes to heavy tasks, especially ones that involve a lot of graphics, the larger iMac is going to be the clear winner.

Memory and I/O

Apple is offering up to 2TB of storage option on the new 24-inch iMac, which seems to be a limitation of the M1 chipset. For memory, you can either choose 8GB or 16GB, which is not upgradable and soldered onto the board. The new iMac is also limited in terms of ports, with the base model coming with only two Thunderbolt/USB 4 ports, while the higher tier model gets two additional USB-C ports. Other than that, there’s a headphone jack, while an ethernet jack is embedded in the power brick.

On the other hand, the larger 27-inch model is available in various tiers, with the highest one offering 8TB of storage. There’s plenty of memory here as well, with users having the option of choosing up to 128GB of DDR4 RAM. In the I/O department, the 27-inch Mac comes with two Thunderbolt 3 ports, four USB Type-A ports, a headphone jack, Ethernet, and even an SD card reader.

Pricing

The 27-inch iMac is available at a starting price of $1,799, which gets you the 3.1GHz 6-core Intel Core i5, 8GB of memory, 256GB of SSD storage, and Radeon Pro 5300 graphics. For an extra $200, you get the 3.3Ghz 6-core Core i5 with 512GB of SSD storage, while the 8-core Core i7 with the Radeon Pro 5500 XT and a 512GB SSD is priced at $2,299. Going for the beefy 10-core Core i9 chip adds $400, while graphics upgrades can stretch your budget to $4,499. Then there are memory and storage upgrade options, Nano-texture glass coating, and even 10-gigabit Ethernet for additional costs.

The new 24-inch iMac is available with storage capacities starting from 256GB SSDs up to 512GB and 1TB on the two-port version, going up to 2TB on the four-port model. However, customers at the moment are limited to the two-port model with a 7-core GPU, 256GB of storage, 8GB of memory, and the Magic Keyboard without Touch ID for $1,299. At $1,499, you can get the four-port model with an 8-core GPU, 256GB of storage, 8GB of memory, Gigabit Ethernet, and the Magic Keyboard with Touch ID. The third tier is available for an additional $200 that only doubles the storage to 512GB.

Verdict

The new 24-inch iMac is meant to cater to a wide set of audiences with its approachable design and price point and is an excellent everyday computer for your home or office desk. It can glide through almost every single task with ease, at the same time, brings a clutter-free, minimalistic setup.

The 27-inch iMac powered by Intel and AMD graphics is meant for a smaller audience, specifically professional users who need maximum power and the choice to customize various components. Depending on the configuration you choose, it can easily match up or go beyond the M1-based 24-inch iMac in terms of raw performance.