iMac Retina 5K Display Hands-on: Jaw-Dropping Screen

Editor in Chief

iMac with Retina Display Hands-On

It should probably come with a drool cup. Whether I viewed it head-on or from the side (extreme sides), the new iMac with 5K Retina Display ($2,499) wowed with its highly detailed and colorful visuals.

Packing 5120 x 2880 pixels, the new iMac has the sharpest screen I've seen on any PC. But it's not just about the resolution. Apple shifted to oxide TFT from amorphous TFT in order to charge the pixels faster and let them hold longer for your viewing pleasure. The company also employs organic passivation technology, which takes the data lines and pixels and puts them on different planes, inserting an organic layer in-between to make the video signals clearer.

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Add in a new backlighting system, a new dedicated timer controller chip with 4X the bandwidth and photo alignment for better on-axis contrast ratio, and you have a wonderful canvas for editing photos and videos. The Retina iMac also uses a compensation film for better off-axis viewing. Even from the sides, the various desktop wallpapers looked incredibly life-like.

When an Apple rep fired up Final Cut Pro, the main window fit a full 4K video clip, with plenty of room left over for the timeline and other assets off to the left. Even up very close, all of the icons and menu items looked tack sharp.

Apple stressed that the 5K display makes other everyday activities more immersive. The Mail app offered crystal-clear photos, and websites in Safari had text that looked like I was reading paper.

The Retina iMac has some fairly beefy hardware under the hood, including a 3.5-GHz quad-core Core i5 processor (configurable up to 4-GHz Core i7), 8GB of memory (I'd expect more standard) and a 1TB Fusion Drive. AMD Radeon R9 M290X graphics come standard, but you can also get a higher-end R295X GPU. We're talking up to up to 3.5 teraflops of graphics power.

Other specs include a Thunderbolt 2 port, which promises up to 20 Gbps of transfer speed. That's nearly double the original Thunderbolt, although I'd like to see more peripherals offered.

No, this is not a desktop PC for the masses. It’s for creative pros, power users and others who can take full advantage of the 14.7 million pixels this screen can push. But if you can afford it, this could be the ultimate all-in-one PC.

Mark Spoonauer is editor in chief of Tom's Guide. Follow him at @mspoonauer. Follow Tom's Guide at @tomsguide, on Facebook and onGoogle+.