What fills the gap left by Apple’s 27-inch iMac discontinuation?

By SteveJack

Apple on Tuesday discontinued the 27-inch iMac, leaving the 24-inch machine as the only iMac option. So what fills that gap in Apple’s Mac lineup?

The 27-inch iMac now has a 1080p FaceTime HD camera for a higher quality experience when connecting with friends, family, and colleagues.
Apple’s now discontinued 27-inch iMac

Today, a buyer in the market for a 27-inch iMac would be looking at a Mac mini with a 27-inch Apple Studio Display.

In August 2020, Apple last spec-bumped the 27-inch iMac. $1,799 got you a hot to crawl 6-Core Intel Core i5, 8GB of DDR4 RAM, 256GB SSD storage, AMD Radeon Pro 5300 (4GB GDDR6) graphics, and a built-in 27″ 5120 x 2880 IPS Retina 5K Display.

That machine cost $1,799. Options such as CPU, storage, RAM would bump the price higher, of course, but the base model comparison serves our purpose here.

M1 Mac mini with a 27-inch Studio Display
M1 Mac mini with a 27-inch Studio Display

A base model Mac mini offers a much better Apple M1 chip with an 8-core CPU, 8-core GPU, and 16-core Neural Engine along with faster 8GB unified memory and the same 256GB SSD storage. It costs $699. The Studio Display is a 27-inch 5K Retina display. It offers a much better camera than the iMac (12MP Ultra Wide camera with Center Stage), plus studio-quality mics, and six-speaker sound system with Spatial Audio. It costs $1,599.

Add them both up and yes, you’re paying $499 more ($2,298) to start, but you’re getting a much more capable Mac setup than you would with the former 27-inch Intel-handicapped iMac.

Price-sensitive and/or chin-loving users have an option: the 24‑inch iMac with an Apple M1 chip with 8-core CPU, 7-core GPU, and 16-core Neural Engine, 8GB unified memory, and 256GB SSD storage for $1,299.

The all-new iMac models in green, pink, blue, and silver will be available for purchase at Apple Store locations, and all seven colors of iMac will be available at apple.com and on display at most stores.
Apple’s 24-inch M1 iMac

You save $500 vs. the old 27-inch iMac, but you lose 3-inches diagonally on the display (which is significant area, but not nearly as cramped as the old entry-level 21.5-inch iMac). You do get that chin, albeit blank (Apple logo stickers can be applied). Bump up the unified memory to 16GB and SSD storage 512GB and the 24‑inch iMac comes in at $1,699.

Of course, there are still 27-inch iMacs to be had at Apple resellers, but those machines are the past. Intel-handicapped. I wouldn’t buy Mac with an Intel snail inside today any more than I’d buy a Dell.

A future-proofed and significantly better-performing Mac contains Apple Silicon.

SteveJack is a long-time Macintosh user, web designer, multimedia producer, and contributor to the MacDailyNews Opinion section.

18 Comments

  1. I’m in no hurry but I guess as I am mostly retired now I will probably go for a Mac mini whenever it’s updated and (presumably) can use it with my 27inch Mac screen giving me flexibility to use old software when required while keeping me up to date with the latest tech/experience when I don’t, or am just using it for personal use and don’t need ps etc and thus means I don’t need the cost of a new display. Can it be that easy I wonder, have to be cost conscious in the present environment that’s for sure.

  2. I was in the market for a new high-end 27″ iMac to replace an aging 27″ iMac. I allocated $4,000 to get what I thought was going to be a highly-spec’d, top of the line iMac. When they didn’t announce, I ended up having to plunk down an additional $1000 to that inflated budget to get a slightly upgraded but still the low-end M1 Max Mac Studio and Studio display setup. Don’t get me wrong… it’s going to be an awesome setup and will easily be 600% faster than my existing iMac, but I had to pay through the nose to get it.

        1. Not to worry. The Dell website offers 5 different monitors between 30-34” with at least 4K resolution.

          If you don’t need fancy Apple spatial audio and stuff, Dell monitors are absolutely a good value.

  3. Remember… Soon after Steve Jobs returned to Apple, he trimmed down Apple’s excessive lineup of beige Mac models with confusing numbered names like Performa 5260. The created the simple four-quadrant lineup with iMac, Power Mac, iBook, and PowerBook. The iMac was in the consumer desktop square. Over time, the overall Mac lineup expanded with iMac no longer JUST the consumer desktop choice. There was even a Xeon-based iMac Pro (in Darth Vader colors) to cover for the unpopular “trash can” Mac Pro.

    The current lack of big iMac may be Apple’s reset for iMac. Apple wants iMac to be THE consumer desktop Mac again. That doesn’t mean low-end (Mac mini is there), but not “pro.” So, for the Apple Silicon transition, Apple skips having a big M1-based iMac and moves the small iMac up to 24-inch (between old 21 and 27). And now Apple provides powerful Mac Studio as a “Mac Pro mini” for use with the new Studio, XDR, or third-party display.

    The big iMac will probably return when M2 arrives, as the luxury consumer all-in-one choice, maybe 30-inch 7K display. Customer expectations for “iMac” reset… The PRO desktop choices will be the more flexible Mac models (Mac Studio and Mac Pro) with user’s pick of separate display(s).

  4. You forgot the magic keyboard and mouse for an additional $248. So $747 more. Unless you’re a current Mac user and already have them. Tough luck for new users switching.

  5. A gap still exists.

    While disappointed by the loss of the 27″ iMac I’ve been waiting for, Apple has always proved that change is good in the end.

    However, there is still a gap. There is no M1 Pro chip in the desktop line-up. The gap between the top-of -the-line Mac mini and the low-end Mac Studio is nearly a 2x price gap and performance gap.

    Apple still needs something in-between these two; maybe a Mac mini+.

    1. Could Apple’s decision to continue using the old Mac Mini form factor during the switch to Apple Silicon have prevented them from installing M1 Pro or Max chips in the consumer desktop?

      Or perhaps Apple feels that their more profitable MacBook Pros can fill the performance gap between Mini and Studio. This would likely be the tactic if the new chips are supply constrained.

      Regardless, over the years there has intermittently been significant performance gaps in the Mac lineup, this is nothing new. Next year Apple may choose to fill it, or they may feel the 27″ iMac / iMac Pro are not as popular as a modular setup and again make iMacs strictly consumer machines, as they historically were. It would be nice if they could let us know at WWDC this year.

    2. I would have thought that Apple would quickly offer a new version of the Mac mini with the newer, upgraded M1 Pro/Max chips. Seems like this should have happened sooner rather than later. The M1Pro and M1 Max chips have been out for 4 months now.

      And yes, Apple still charges too much for their SSDs.

    3. I’m guessing/hoping that the delay in a more powerful Mac mini is tied to a form factor redesign to accommodate the thermals of the M1 Pro.

      In the first round of Apple Silicon, the Air/Mini/and 13” MacBook Pro did not get any form factor changes. Now we hear rumors of a redesign on the Air. So, possibly for the mini too.

  6. I have a friend who was waiting the new 27″ iMac (specifically, as with everyone, waiting for Apple Silicon as well as the spec bumps). He’s bummed, he loves the bigger iMac. The problem for him, as I told him, is Apple just didn’t have enough success with it. If they had they’d be selling new version with Apple Silicon right now. Much like the iPhone Mini, if it doesn’t sell in sufficient quantity they’ll cut it.
    Advice: get a Studio, use existing monitor and peripherals…but wait for a sale and get the base model for 1799.

  7. Epic disappointment! Epic! My 2014 27″ iMac will have to do. I will NOT buy one of those ugly, generic-looking 24″ iMacs that don’t even have Apple logos on the front. It’s hard to believe Jony Ive had anything to do with them. When I say them in Best Buy, I didn’t even recognize them as Apple products. Looked like Cheap iMac knockoffs. Steve must be rolling over in his grave. Good one, Tim Cook! Thanks for ruining another great product!

    1. Well if you feel that strong about it, buy an Apple sticker or two and display your consumerist pride.

      Or you can do what most people do and cover the ugly iMac chin with postit notes.

  8. The 24″ iMac has been a big disappointment sales wise. Apple has acted accordingly by cancelling any plans it might’ve had for a new bigger iMac, and hasilty cobbled together this unruly mix of a decade old (and counting) screen and a new Mac (no longer-)Mini. I was in the market for a new iMac 27″ last year but when I saw the new design, I guessed it would be a flop and the last thin I’d want would be a 27″ version, if they made one. So, loving black/space gray, I forked out for a souped up refurbished iMac Pro and am delighted with it. While it’s certainly power hungry, it effortlessly deals with any task I need to throw at it, keeps supercool, is whisper quiet and looks divine. Back to black (bezels), Apple

  9. Spot on! The new Easter egg, pastel, feminine, generic-liking, Tim Cookish, sans-Apple logo iMacs were an aesthetic embarrassment day one. I’ll never forget seeing them in Best Buy for the first time and gasping. Jony Ive blew it with this one if he indeed had a hand in it. And the elimination of the gorgeous space gray was the death pill. Silver is nauseatingly overdone, and the color alternatives are, well, a joke. Apple blew it. They rarely do, but they did. I’m keeping my 27” iMac until Apple fixes their blunder.

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