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New Apple iMac gets beautiful Retina 5K treatment but it sure is expensive

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Everybody might have been waiting for new iPads at Apple's media event on Thursday; however, while Apple unveiled the new iPad Air 2, it was kind of a disappointment to anyone who was expecting a blockbuster announcement. The real showstopper was the new Apple iMac that gets 27 full inches of stunning 5K Retina display.

The world is barely getting used to 4K resolution displays but Apple is already getting ahead with a new desktop computer with a bigger, brighter display. No, it's not 4K. It's a 5K display with 5120 x 2880 resolution. That is 218 pixels per inch or a whopping 14.7 million pixels for the entire screen, which is 67 percent more pixels than a 4K television screen and four times more than the pixels in the previous 27-inch iMac.

For that image quality, the display retains its original thinness of just 5 millimeters and consumes 30 percent less energy than previous iMac displays. Apple says it had to invent a new timing controller chip specifically made for 5K to allow for more energy-efficient LED and a new photo alignment process to generate deeper blacks against other colors. The company also used an oxide TFT-based panel to provide brighter images and deeper contrast ratios.

But there's a catch, and as with everything that comes out of Cupertino's headquarters, the catch is usually the price. The entry-level iMac with top-of-the-line 5K display sets any buyer back by $2,499. That price includes the entire computer, which comes with a 3.5GHz quad-core Intel Core i5 processor and AMD's Radeon R9 M290x graphics processing unit. This is the same graphics card used in gaming-focused computers such as the Alienware I7 and, as Apple says, is 45 percent faster than the Nvidia GeForce GTX graphics cards that powered its older iMacs. The low-end iMac will also get 8GB of RAM and 1TB of Apple's Fusion drive, or a hybrid flash storage and hard-disk drive.

For the fully pimped iMac, buyers will have to pay a whopping $4,478. For this price, it will get them the same 27-inch 5K Retina display, a 4GHz Core i7 system-on-a-chip, an R9 M295X graphics card, 32GB of RAM and 3TB of Fusion drive.

There aren't very many computers with a comparable price. Dell is planning to make available its own UltraSharp 5K computer monitor in time for the holiday shopping spree, and rumor has it that the PC maker is planning to sell the display alone for $2,500. Given that Dell's offer does not include a whole computer package like Apple does; the $2,500 price tag for Apple's new iMac is considered a steal.

However, the new iMac is certainly not for everybody. Apple has never been big on gaming, but the powerful new graphics cards will provide the muscle needed for other graphics-intensive tasks, such as design, engineering and video editing.

"The Mac enables people to do amazing things," says [video] Dan Riccio, senior vice president of hardware engineering at Apple. "For many people, it's the most important creative tool they use."

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