Best desktop for graphic design in 2021: Top expert picks

Apple iMac 27-inch (2020)

Intel-based AIO Mac


Apple’s move to the Arm-based M1 SoC platform is clearly the future for the Mac (and high-end iPads), but Intel-based Macs will be around for a while — particularly at the professional end of the market, given that the M1 platform currently tops out at 16GB of RAM and is restricted to integrated graphics. It will be a while, too, before all key apps for creators are optimised for the M1 (although most will still perform well using Rosetta 2 automatic code translation).

In the meantime, the mid-2020 27-inch iMac running on 10th-generation Intel Core i5, i7 or i9 processors remains an attractive AIO option for creators. It lacks the expansion slots and user-upgradeability of the Mac Pro’s tower enclosure, but the 27-inch Intel iMac does include an impressive 5K display (5,120 x 2,880 resolution, 217.6dpi) that supports the DCI-P3 colour space widely used in video editing, and comes with some powerful purchase-time options.

Apple’s website offers three base configurations for the 27-inch iMac: $1,799 buys you a 3.1-4.5GHz 6-core Core i5 processor, 8GB of RAM, 256GB of SSD storage and AMD Radeon Pro 5300 graphics with 4GB of dedicated video memory; for $1,999 you get a 3.3-4.8GHz 6-core Core i5 CPU, 8GB of RAM, 512GB of SSD storage and 4GB Radeon Pro 5300 graphics; and $2,299 gets you a 3.8-5GHz 8-core Core i7 CPU, 8GB of RAM, 512GB of SSD storage and 8GB Radeon Pro 550XT graphics.

Customisation options include nano-texture glass, a 3.6-5GHz 10-core Core i9 CPU, up to 128GB of RAM, up to 8TB of SSD storage, 8GB Radeon Pro 5700 or 16GB Radeon Pro 5700 XT graphics, and 10-Gigabit Ethernet. Activate these to the max, and you’re looking at a powerful but pricey system costing $8,599.

When Apple announced the move to Apple Silicon at WWDC in June 2020, it took care to point out that Intel-based Macs would continue to be delivered and supported for several years to come. The arrival in August of this powerful 27-inch iMac was proof of that, even if it did render the 2017 iMac Pro, now discontinued, redundant.

Read review: Apple 27-inch iMac (mid-2020)

$2,300 at Best Buy $2,199 at Adorama $2,299 at Apple

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