My Mac at home is an aging 27-inch Retina 5K iMac; about as tricked out as I could get three or four years ago. The new iMacs look good, of course– upgraded hardware can do that to specifications– but they have one thing that sets them apart from the riffraff of PCs.
Do the math. Apple’s 27-inch Retina 5K display comes with 5120‑by‑2880 resolution with support for one billion colors. I’m sure there’s someone in the graphics design department who can name all the colors, but 14.7456-million pixels is a lot of pixels.
Is there anything better?
Well, uh, no; or, at best, probably not. I checked Amazon and about the best you can get are some refurbished Retina 5K displays for almost $1,000. B&H has new models for about $1,399. I don’t know if Apple bought most of the Retina 5K displays in the world but the company appears to have a lock on the market.
Apple may not have upgraded the new iMacs with anything that smacks of futuristic or revolutionary, but the iMac display remains at the top despite being on the market for more than four years (late 2014).
New Mac notebooks and the Mac mini can drive multiple Retina displays at the same time, but Apple doesn’t sell a standalone display. If you want a Retina 5K display of any kind you’ll have to hunt and be prepared to pay.
Does Retina 5K matter?
Try using an iPhone without a Retina display and you’ll see what happens to your eyes. Apple’s iPhone 4 and 4S were the first models to sport so-called Retina resolution; 980×640 pixels, or 326 pixels per inch.
Early iPad models had the same problem. Fuzzy display resolution that made going backwards a visual pain. Today’s iPhone XS Max has 458 pixels per inch, and some Android smartphones have even higher resolution.
I want and need a new iMac for home. What I want is exactly what Apple no longer provides. There is nothing with more resolution than that Retina 5K display that has been around for years. New iMacs have upgraded hardware, but no Touch ID, no Face ID, and nothing to set it apart from yesteryear.
I would be in the market for a higher resolution standalone display if Apple made one available for sale. For whatever reason, Apple seems to think that such matching accessories are something Dell or HP would sell, and that just doesn’t fly in Cupertino.