How does the 24-inch iMac M1 hold up against older iMacs?


A new iMac is here, and this one is a huge upgrade. The latest 24-inch iMac marks the debut of a new design language and the introduction of internal silicon in the Apple all-in-one system instead of Intel processors. However, these are just a few of the major improvements as a lot has changed inside too. Here is a detailed comparison of the new 24-inch iMac with Apple silicon versus the older 21.5-inch iMac 4K and the 27-inch iMac with 5K panel. Take a look at what has changed:

A brand new design language for iMac

The biggest change is of course the design. Apple is finally saying goodbye to the boring all-silver metallic profile of the older iMacs with a new design that includes bright colors. The chin is here to stay, but the bezels have shrunk. The side profile now looks flat compared to the curved appearance of the older iMacs. Apple is aiming for a symmetrical approach with its new 24-inch M1 iMac that extends to the straight lines of the base stand. And oh, the bezels are now white instead of black.

iMac yellow color

In addition, the power plug is now connected magnetically, similar to the MagSafe charger for the iPhone 12 series. The new 24-inch iMac with M1 silicone will be available in blue, green, pink, silver, yellow, orange and purple. Apple has also spiced up the accessories with a similar pop of color.

In terms of accessories, Apple has also redesigned the Magic Keyboard, as it is now also available in a variant with a Touch ID fingerprint sensor. And yes, it rocks some bright colors too, just like the updated iMac, and not just a mild white color.

Massive internal changes for the iMac

The latest iMac features the same M1 silicon that powers the new MacBooks and Mac Mini. Apple offers the machine in two variants – one with a 7-core GPU, while the high-end model is equipped with an 8-core graphics engine. There is either 8GB or 16GB of soldered storage and 256GB / 512GB of onboard storage, but you can use up to 2TB SSD.

The 27-inch 5K iMac is equipped with 10th generation Intel processors. Your options range from the 3.1 GHz 6-core Intel Core i5 CPU, a 3.3 GHz 6-core Intel Core i5 chip, and a 3.8 GHz 8 -Core Intel Core i7 core processor and the 10-core Intel Core i9 giant with 3.6 GHz. The graphics options start with the AMD Radeon Pro 5300 with 4 GB VRAM and go up to the AMD Radeon Pro 5700 XT with 16 GB GDDR6 memory. The device can be configured with 8/16/32/64/128 GB RAM and up to 8 TB onboard storage.

Details imac title

With the smaller 21.5-inch iMac, you can choose between the older 8th generation Intel processors. The SKUs start with a 3.6 GHz quad-core Intel Core i3 processor and are equipped with an Intel Core i7 CPU running at 3.2 GHz. For the GPU you can choose between AMD Radeon Pro 555X (2 GB GDDR5), AMD Radeon Pro 560X (4 GB GDDR5) and AMD Radeon Pro Vega 20 (4 GB HBM2 memory). It can be equipped with 8/16/32 GB RAM and 256 GB SSD / 1 TB Fusion Drive.

The M1 iMac has much better camera and audio hardware

Apple has built in a 1080p FaceTime HD camera in the new iMac, which is supported by a special image signal processor, and also uses the 16-core NPU. Thanks to the updated hardware and AI intelligence, the company promises better low-light output, better dynamic range, better exposure, and better white balance on video calls.

old imac front

The 27-inch iMac also has a 1080p FaceTime camera, but without a dedicated image processing chip. The smaller 21.5-inch iMac has a lower-resolution HD FaceTime front camera for video calls. But that’s not all, as the microphone and speaker hardware are also very different.

The colorful new 24-inch iMac features a three-microphone array with a high signal-to-noise ratio and directional beamforming support. In addition, it is equipped with a high-fidelity system with six speakers and force-suppressing woofers and supports spatial audio during playback of Dolby Atmos content. On the flip side, the 27-inch iMac has stereo speakers and a standard three-microphone array, while the 21-inch model has a single microphone and stereo speakers. The latter also lacks support for hands-free voice commands “Hey Siri”.


Imac angled apple

The new iMac with M1 silicon offers a 24-inch 4.5 K display with a resolution of 4480 x 2520 pixels. It covers the P3 gamut and is backed by True Tone technology, while peak brightness is limited to 500 nits – a number that stays the same for the two models it is compared to.

With the 21.5-inch iMac, you get a 4K display, but without True Tone technology. On the other hand, the 27-inch iMac offers a 5K screen that also covers the wide P3 color gamut and uses True Tone technology. In addition, with the latter, users can also opt for a nano-texture glass layer.

Ports and Connectivity

old imac front

The choice of ports between the two 24-inch iMac models also varies. The base model offers two Type C Thunderbolt ports that support the DisplayPort, Thunderbolt 3 (up to 40 Gbit / s), USB 4.0 (up to 40 Gbit / s) and USB 3.1 Gen 2 (up to 10 Gbit / s) standards support. The high-end sibling has two additional USB 3.0 Type-C ports (up to 10 Gbit / s) and a Gigabit Ethernet port. There’s also a 3.5mm headphone jack on the side, while the Thunderbolt port can drive a 6K panel with a maximum refresh rate of 60Hz.

The smaller 21.5-inch iMac 4K has two Thunderbolt 3 (USB-C) ports, four USB-A ports, a Gigabit Ethernet port, and an SDXC card slot. The 27-inch iMac 5K has the same port selection but increases performance by increasing the peak output of the Ethernet port to 10 gigabits and supports the UHS-II standard for the SDXC card slot.

blue and pink imac

Another area where the new 24-inch iMac ranks first over its older siblings is in the wireless connectivity suite. It has support for faster Wi-Fi 6 (802.11ax) and Bluetooth 5.0 standard. The 27-inch iMac supports Wi-Fi 802.11ac and Bluetooth v5.0, while the 21.5-inch version works with 802.11ac Wi-Fi and the older (and slower) Bluetooth v4.2 standard.

Price & availability

The M1 iMac starts at $ 1,299 and will be available in the US and many other markets starting Friday. The 21.5-inch iMac 4K is no longer available for purchase on Apple’s website, while the 27-inch iMac 5K starts at $ 1,799 in a single silver hue.

Nadeem Sarwar

I’ve been writing about consumer technology for over three years, having worked with names like NDTV and Beebom in the past. Leaving the latest news aside, I’ve checked out my fair share of devices that range from smartphones and laptops to smart home devices. I’ve also interviewed tech managers and appeared as a presenter on YouTube videos talking about the latest and greatest gadgets.

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