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2020 iMac 5K: Recommended Models and Accessories
Related: 2019 iMac 5K, 2020 iMac 5K, 4K and 5K display, backup, computer display, CPU cores, display connectivity, DisplayPort, iMac, iMac 5K, Macs, memory, Other World Computing, OWC Thunderbay, SSD, Thunderbolt, video
re: recommended Macs for photographers and videographers
re: 2020 iMac 5K: Recommended Models and Accessories.
MPG tested the 2020 iMac 5K 3.6 GHz Intel Core i9 10-core / 128GB / 2TB / Radeon 5700. Smart move: buy with 8GB memory, then add 64GB or 128GB OWC memory to save a ton on memory cost (same memory as 2019 iMac 5K).
Please buy your gear at B&H Photo and OWC/MacSales.com using any link from this site.
Unsure which Mac to get or how to configure it? Consult with Lloyd.
Both iMacs can easily beat the 28-core 2019 Mac Pro when CPU core utilization is modest.
One the whole, the 2020 iMac 5K offers better performance than the 2019 iMac 5K—sometimes no better, sometimes a little better, and sometimes significantly better. But there is no “wins all the time” scenario, and there are surprises, like being no faster at raw file conversion.
Overall, the 2020 iMac 5K is a decent step up overall if you do work that regularly uses more CPU cores.
As for myself, I concluded that spending $4000 was a poor use of my money, so I returned the 2020 iMac 5K and will be sticking to the 2019 iMac 5K—I will wait for an Apple Silicon equivalent with at least 10 and hopefullly 20 CPU cores for a major performance boost.
Which 2020 iMac 5K?
See the 2020 iMac 5K models at B&H Photo. B&H Photo Payboo pays the sale tax for you in most states.
Not sure? Contact Lloyd for consulting to discuss.
MPG recommends the following for serious use, in priority order:
- 10-core CPU. Cores matter in Photoshop and Lightroom but 8 CPU cores is no slouch.
- 64GB or 128GB memory installed post-purchase (buy the iMac with 8GB).
Get 128GB for $548 vs $2600 from Apple (as of Jan 2022)—savings of 78%...!
- SSD — MPG strongly recommends 2TB so that things like Lightroom catalog can fit over time and run at full speed. Avoid “Fusion” models—noisy and slow.
- Radeon 5700 or 5700 XT. For most purposes, the least effective use of your money is the video card. If you’re in a cost pinch, spend the money on the 10-core CPU, 64GB or 128GB memory, 2TB or 4TB SSD before jumping past the 5500 XT video card option.
The configurations shown below are all excellent, or see all recommended 2020 iMac 5K.
If below are out of date: view current Mac wishlist and all current OWC wishlists.
Backup, peripherals, etc
Budget for peripherals as well as AppleCare.
Memory Upgrades • External SSD • Internal SSD • External Storage • Hard Drives • Port Expansion • Cables
Everyone should have an absolute minimum of two backups drives and preferably four: two always-attached, and two offsite. Single drives are best for offsite backup (separable and multiply redundant on power supply).
The OWC Thunderbay 4 makes an excellent “always attached” backup unit for Time Machine and clones spread across its 4 drives (use the drives individually, not RAID).
See the OWC storage wishlist.
Most photographers are going to need large storage like the OWC Thunderbay 4 or OWC Thunderbay 6.
See the OWC storage wishlist.
To attach Mini DisplayPort display, the OWC Thunderbolt 3 Dock is best.
See the OWC port expansion wishlist.
See also OWC Offers Dual DisplayPort and dual HDMI Adapter for Thunderbolt 3 Macs or PCs.
Apple 13.3" MacBook Pro M1 Chip with Retina Display (Late 2020, Space Gray)