Apple Uses Retina 5K Display for New iMac

Apple iMac with 5K Retina Display

Apple iMac with 5k Retina Display

4K -Apple launched a new iMac that it is calling the Retina 5k display, with a whopping 5120 x 2880 pixel (just under 15 megapixels) resolution upgrade to the previous 27″ (2560 x 1440 pixel) panel. In a pre-Christmas product launch, the company has turned once again to the display as a differentiating factor now offering 67% more pixels on its new iMac than a traditional 4k display. At the Apple special announcement, the company went into details on just how it achieved the feat.

Apple is using a new Oxide TFT backplane originally developed by Sharp (IGZO) plus a new LED backlight which the company claims delivers 30% lower power consumption than the previous model. At the Apple event, VP Phil Shiller showed an exploded view of the new display highlighting the removal of the air gap, a new TCON (timing controller chip) with four times the bandwidth, needed to address the Retina 5k display pixels. The company also emphasized a new IGZO backplane and said it has also improved the image using what the company calls “organic passivation” to help reduce pixel cross talk and save energy, Shiller said. In the Apple Press release the group referred to a new photo alignment process and a compensation film that delivers “…blacker blacks and more vibrant colors”.

The Apple display is four times the resolution of its previous generation panel, making the display upgrade application friendly. The company hinted at this new resolution with the beta software launch of Yosemite (OSX 10.10) at the Apple WWDC (World Wide Developers Conference) back in June.OSX 10.10 offered support for the 5k resolution.

But Apple was not the first to announce a Retina 5k Display. Dell previewed its 5120 x 2880 pixel 27″ display back in September. The new Dell monitor is expected to sell for $2500 and that’s the same price Apple is now selling its iMac with Retina 5k display. This point was not lost on Apple. As Tim Cook quipped at the launch event, “it’s like getting a full blown computer free”, referring to the announced selling price of competing 5k monitors.

Other features in the new iMac with Retina 5k Display include an AMD Radeon GPU (R9 M290X or -295X) and a 3.5Ghz Intel i5 Quad core CPU (base model) with an i7 (4.0Ghz) upgrade. Both chips support a turbo boost mode that can add up to 0.4GHZ to its speed. The PC still uses an Intel Haswell CPU class chip with the Intel Broadwell line still waiting in the wings for Apple. The iMac 8GB RAM version with 1TB storage sells for $2,499 and the company said it’s available today.

So once again, Apple has turned to the display as a differentiating factor in launching its newest hardware, this time for the desktop. The company is making it hard for display competitors like Dell, that now must contend with Apple’s 5k Retina display that ships for the same price as the planned Dell’s Retina 5k display, only with a full blown Apple computer with 1TB drive to boot. We expect Dell to lower its price accordingly, bringing once again benefits to consumers. – Steve Sechrist