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Staring into the Retina iMac: Apple's desktop PC gets a gorgeous upgrade

The pixels. The pixels!

Apple loves making the iMac easier on the eyes. It was made much sleeker, then much thinner, and today Apple focused not on the shell but on the screen. And what a screen: the new 27-inch iMac with Retina display's 5K, 5120 x 2880 display looks incredible. Like, incredible. How much more can you really say? The screen is gorgeous. It's quite reflective, but it's crisp and sharp and accurate. Watching a 4K video back pixel-for-pixel with room to spare is a pretty fun thing to do.

The big worry with a screen this good, and this high-res, is that it would cause performance problems. It's hard to say for sure in a demonstration, but based on what we've seen performance doesn't seem to be an issue. The iMac with Retina display comes with a 3.5GHz Intel Core i5 processor, 8GB of RAM, and a 1TB Fusion Drive, and it's upgradeable to a crazy degree — the model we saw was scrubbing seamlessly through dozens of clips of 4K video, moving through photos and edits with ease, and generally behaving like it wasn't also powering a 5K display.

The new model is a welcome upgrade for desktop users, which Apple has begun to treat like ever more of an elite professional class. First the Mac Pro, the massively powerful black tube that is all but explicitly designed to run on a 4K monitor; now the iMac, more capable and higher-res than ever. Like the Mac Pro, the new iMac comes at a price: $2,499, which is actually slightly cheaper than we might have guessed but is nonetheless hardly an impulse purchase.

Along with Yosemite, the new version of OS X that's coming installed on all the new iMacs, the iMac with Retina display makes for an impressive addition to Apple's desktop line. It won't come cheap, but it'll look really good on any desk you can think of.