iMac 2021 with M1 vs. iMac 2020: Is it worth the change?

iMac 2021 with M1 vs. iMac 2020: Is it worth the change?

New processor, bright colors, slim but smaller screen: Apple has completely redesigned the iMac in 2021. But how does the device compare to the iMac 2020? We compare the two computers.

Text by Claudia Frickel

Apple is launching the 9th generation of its all-in-one computer: the iMac is available in three new versions. At the same time, there is also the 2020 model of the Apple computer, also in three versions. The first difference is immediately apparent: The iMac 2021 has got a new design – it has become more compact and slimmer.

The side profile of the new computer disappears almost completely, the back is flat and the display has narrower edges and is very thin: it is only 11.5 millimeters deep. Overall, according to Apple, the device is 50 percent smaller than the 21.5-inch iMac from 2019 – which also applies to the unchanged 2020 model.

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The two computer generations also differ in terms of dimensions:

  • The iMac 2021's screen measures 24 inches. With the stand, the device is 46.1 x 54.7 x 14.7 centimeters and weighs 4.46 or 4.48 kilograms , depending on the version.
  • The iMac 2020 comes with a 27-inch display . Overall, the computer measures 65 x 51.6 x 20.3 centimeters with a base . At 8.92 kilograms, it is almost twice as heavy as the iMac 2021 .

In addition, the Apple computer has become more colorful in 2021: You can choose between the seven colors green, yellow, orange, rose, purple, blue and silver . Even the accessories such as the Magic Keyboard, Magic Mouse and optionally the trackpad are color-matched. The iMac 2020, on the other hand, is only available in gray.

Processor: super-fast new M1 chip in the new iMac

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Apple's first own chip, the M1, is also used in the iMac. Image: © Apple 2020

The slim dimensions of the new iMac are possible because Apple has built in a new processor, the silicon CPU. This needs less cooling and therefore less space.

The manufacturer had already equipped MacBook Pro, MacBook Air and Mac mini with this M1 chip at the end of 2020. Now iPad Pro and the iMac can also be enjoyed. That increases the pace significantly:

  • The M1 with 8 cores now works up to 85 percent faster than the iMac 2019, the graphics card is twice as fast. This should pay off especially with high-resolution videos and games.
  • The iMac 2020 has the same processor as the iMac 2019: the Intel Core i5 with 8 cores. You can optionally upgrade it to the more powerful Intel Core i9 with 10 cores. These processors are also fast, but the M1 should outperform both.

The standard memory for both the new and the old models is 8 gigabytes.

Resolution, connections, storage and camera in comparison

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The more expensive versions have four USB ports on board. Image: © Apple 2021

Resolution: The 24-inch screen of the iMac 2021 has 4,480 x 2,520 pixels – that's a 4.5k resolution. The much larger monitor of the iMac 2020 has 5,120 x 2,880 pixels and 5K. The rest of the equipment is the same: Both variants support a billion colors, have a brightness of 500 nits, a large color space (P3) and True Tone.

Connections: The base model of the 2021 iMac has two Thunderbolt / USB 4 ports. With the two higher-quality models, you also get two USB 3 slots without Thunderbolt and Gigabit Ethernet. Compared to the 27-inch computer from 2020, there are significantly fewer ports: There you will find two USB-C / Thunderbolt 3 slots, an SD card slot, Gigabit Ethernet and four USB-A ports.

Storage: The iMac models of 2021 and 2020 all offer 256 or 512 gigabytes of storage space out of the box. You can upgrade it if you wish – with the new model up to 2 terabytes. With the top model of the predecessor, either 4 or 8 terabytes are possible.

Camera: At first glance, the old and new iMacs have the same camera: a 1080p device. However, according to Apple, the camera of the 2021 iMac benefits from the fast M1 processor. It should therefore improve noise reduction, automatic exposure and white balance.

Further innovations of the iMac 2021: microphones, loudspeakers and Touch-ID

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The new Magic Keyboard has a Touch ID button. Image: © Apple 2021

Apple has given the current iMac a few more extras. As before, there are three microphones. But you should now record in studio quality: You reduce feedback and filter out a voice even with background noise.

While the iMac 2020 still had stereo speakers, there are now six speakers with Dolby Atmos surround sound. What's also new is that you can now unlock the iMac with Touch ID if you use the corresponding keyboard. In addition, iPhone and iPad apps will also run on the new iMac in the future.

iMac 2021 vs. iMac 2020: Not so many upgrade options anymore

Compared to the iMac 2020, the new models have one shortcoming: You can no longer upgrade them as flexibly. An example shows this: With the older model, for example, you could upgrade up to 128 gigabytes of RAM and 8 terabytes of SSD storage. With the 2021 base model, on the other hand, you use a maximum of 16 gigabytes of RAM and a maximum of 2 terabytes of memory when you upgrade.

In addition, you can only connect one additional screen to the new devices, with the 2020 model there are two.

iMac 2021: Price and release date of the different models

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The choice is yours: the iMac is available in many different colors. Image: © Apple 2021

With the new, slim all-in-one computer, you can choose between three versions, each with different prices:

  • The basic model with 256 gigabytes of memory, 7 gigabytes of GPU, two Thunderbolt connections, Magic Keyboard and Magic Mouse costs from 1,449 euros. It is available in blue, green, rose, silver.
  • The medium-sized iMac with 256 GB SSD, 8 GB GPU, two Thunderbolt and two additional USB 3 slots, Magic Keyboard with Touch ID, Magic Mouse and Ethernet is available from 1,669 euros. Colors: blue, green, rose, silver, yellow, orange, purple.
  • The best equipped iMac 2021 costs from 1,899 euros. The only difference to the middle model: It has 512 gigabytes of memory.

The three versions of the iMac 2020 with a larger monitor are more expensive: You pay from 1,999, 2,249 and 2,599 euros for them.

The iMac 2021 release date Apple kept vague when it launched the new computer. The release is planned for the second half of May.

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