iMac With Retina 5K Display First Impressions: A Screen In Which To Lose Oneself

Apple’s new iMac boasts a screen with an almost preposterous resolution of 5180×2880 pixels, which makes it the world’s highest resolution display. The screen is the key ingredient here, despite changes under the hood, and after a couple of days of use, it’s still the screen that (stating the obvious here) catches my eye.

Amid the flurry and elbow-throwing of the Apple hands-on room at their unveiling event this past Thursday, truly coming to grips with the quality of the iMac’s screen wasn’t really possible – only when I got my review unit home and stared at it untroubled by throngs of competing journalists was it clear just how much of an achievement Apple has pulled off here.

It’s even more apparent in my home desktop setup, where the new iMac is flanked by a 2011 27-inch iMac on the left, and a 27-inch Thunderbolt display on the right: The iMac with Retina 5K display is far and away the best visual experience ever produced, for any kind of computing device, and likely for any kind of A/V device, period. It’s easy to make a big screen look good when it’s designed to be seen from five or more feet back; this iMac is made for use with only a couple of feet at most between it and the viewer, and it looks absolutely stunning even when seen with a gap of just a few inches.


What’s even more amazing is that the display quality doesn’t seem to come with any trade-offs – it’s brighter and has better contrast and color rendering than the two Apple-made monitors flanking it on my desktop currently, which is no small feat. Performance doesn’t stutter, and you don’t even see the kind of minor visual hiccups on image-rich pages that we witnessed with early Retina MacBook Pro tech. When you can find 4K video samples (which took some digging), they render beautifully, but even standard HD content upscales remarkably well.

This isn’t just a video and image geek’s dream machine, however: Text on the new iMac is rendered with a whole new level of crispness and legibility. More than once, I’ve found myself staring at a block of text not because I’m engrossed in the content, but because I’m infatuated with the detail and quality of the rendered type.

Our full review will go into much more detail, but suffice it to say for now, the new iMac’s display alone is worth the price of admission.