Apple engineers supercharged the timing controller of the new 27-inch iMac to manage up to 40 Gbps of bandwidth and keep the heat under control while spraying four times as many pixels onto the film transistor. It's a collection of technical feats that culminate in a 5K display that's sure to wow most but prove useful to few.
During the second of Apple's press conferences in as many months, the premium tech manufacturer revealed the $2,499 27-inch iMac with 5K Retina display.
The desktop packs 218 pixels per inch into a monitor likely to sit a foot and a half or so from its users' eyes in the most intimate of interactions. That bests the iPhone's retina certification of 326 PPI as handsets are typically held less than half the distance from a user's face in comparison with monitors.
In cramming those 14.7 million pixels onto the 5K monitor's thin film transistor (TFT) without them intercepting one another's signals and bleeding out into a blurry mess, Apple borrowed the organic passation tech it created for the iPad. Organic passation places clear separation between pixels and the LED that tells them how to behave.
"Together with the oxide TFT, these innovations not only made the massive 27-inch Retina 5K display possible, they also enabled it to consume 30 percent less power than the previous-generation iMac display," says Apple.
The 4K resolution is yet to be embraced as a consumer standard, given the slim selection of movies and TV shows available. The video game industry's lack of support for OS X makes a 4K PC setup a more viable option for gaming in ultraHD.
It's the people producing 4K games and movie content who will be best-served by the iMac with 5K retina. Those pouring over the quality of 4K videos and tightening the texture maps on in-development games will benefit from the 5K graphical fidelity.
The 5K monitor is also ideal for the health care, architectural and engineering fields where it's almost impossible to have too many pixels when examining X-rays or reviewing computer-aided designs. For those who are unconcerned about the premium desktop's price tag, the 5K clarity brings minor enhancements to life working in front of screens.
"I mean, you spend your whole day staring at a screen, so if you look at the details of the font, you can really see the blurriness," says Jordan Metzner, CEO of tech startup Washio. "So once you see the HD display, it really relieves your eyes from staring at the screen all day."