24" M1 iMac: how do you like the display

I’m one of those folks who have an Intel iMac 27". With the latest announcements I’m ruminating my next steps as I definitely plan on getting a new desktop within the next 9 months, probably less.

I’m a bit apprehensive about getting the newer M1 24" iMac only because of the smaller display. I love the 27". But I’m also wondering if I’m being to clingy to 27". How do others feel about the 24" screen on the new iMacs. Happy with them? Notice any real restrictions relative to 27". Any other observations. On all other fronts the 24 iMac seems like the perfect replacement … it’s just the screen size that has me nervous.

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I always had my choice of equipment and used a base model 13” MacBook Pro for my last five years of employment. I “evaluated” on of the first 27” retina iMacs for a few days, before I gave it to the VP who had requisitioned it. :grinning: It was way too big for me. I’d recommend you visit an Apple store and spend some time with one.

I’m in the same situation. I was really disappointed there was no 27+ iMac announced. For the immediate future I’m gonna hang on. I really don’t care for the aesthetics of the current M1 iMac anyway.

It’s also 4.5k, not 5k like the 27”.
And 23.5”, not 24”. I think the 27” are actually 27”, so that’s 3.5” smaller. About 75 in2 less display area.

My wife went from a 27" iMac to the 24" M1 iMac and doesn’t have any issues with the display. I found the the major shortcoming is that the sound quality is inferior. Luckily I have no need to replace my 27" which I intentionally bought as the last generation Intel iMac last year.

Sound quality isn’t an issue for me: always using headphones. A better built-in webcam would be useful though relative to the awful camera on my 2017 iMac 27.

Good points. Thanks for the extra details.

I realize I may end up getting a new Studio Display and Mac Mini … I’ll have to visit an Apple Store and experience this difference in size.

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You might find This post helpful.

I went from a MBP & MBA with a Thunderbolt Display to the 24” iMac. I really prefer the smaller screen. The 27” was just too big to use comfortably. After I got my iMac my wife decided she liked that size better than her 5k iMac so we got her one too. We like the color options, she got blue while I went with red.

Some people need massive amounts of screen real estate, we don’t. YMMV.


Thanks for the link. Plus very useful to hear your experience. I don’t know when I need the full display … once in awhile, but not that often.

If display size of the M1 24 inch iMac is your only concern, why not just get a 27 inch Studio Display and pair it with a Mac Studio or Mac Mini unit? Or are there other issues of concern that you are not telling us?

It’s a fair question. Mac Studio is out of the question as it’s too expensive for power I don’t need. But the Mac Mini is my alternative choice. However, I very much like the design on the M1 iMacs. They are beautiful. I have limited desk space so having an all in one solution is a big plus. So for me the only negative (potentially) in the 24" iMac is display size. And it’s only a “potential” negative. I think I need to spend some time looking at one.

I work in a quiet environment so I already now the Mac Studio would drive me a bit crazy with fan noise. (Yes, I realize it’s low but I would definitely notice it.) That’s not potential: it’s a known negative for me.

I’m in the same boat here. I think I’m going to let my tax return decide. Do I need 27"? No, not really. Nor do I need the power offered by the studio. But truthfully, I think I’d like the Studio combo better. I have a nagging feeling that if I bought the 24" iMac, I’d always be wondering ‘what if?’. I’m thinking I might break it up a little and just buy the base-level Mac Studio and use it with my existing 27" LG 4K screen and pick up the next generation of the Studio Display when it drops.

…unless I go nuts looking at the LG screen. My main concern is that sometimes the scaling doesn’t play nice, or so I’ve heard.

OK, so you did have additional concerns beyond screen size, namely cost and space. OK then.

I agree with you, and think you need to take a look at the units in person to see which would be best for you.

I am late to this post. But I’ll throw in my 2c: I used to use a 27" iMac until the 24" iMac came out in May last year, and now I have just received my Studio Display last Friday. The headlines from a usage point of view:

  1. yes, the 24" (23.5") display is notably smaller than 27". I found myself using apps full screen, or in split view with multiple desktops, which I rarely if ever do on 27" displays.
  2. however, the iMac 24" is delightfully compact and slim and depending on desk size and placement those could be a bonus for you or not. It feels more intimate.
  3. the image quality as you’d expect is great and consistent across all three devices in question.
  4. back in the day when it came out some reviewers tried to emphasize that it’s so light you can move it around your house. It’s true, and I did actually find myself doing that a couple of times.
  5. the iMac 24" is beastly powerful for what it is. that said, I did manage to crash it (everything unresponsive, fans spinning to the max, and eventually rebooting by itself) by opening 1400 PDFs (about 3GB) in Highlights at once. It was a mistake. But I since wanted to try the same thing on my MacBook Pro (M1 Pro) and, while it was unresponsive for 15 minutes or so, it did not crash in the same way. Just in case you were wondering!

Some room decor considerations that may or may not apply to your situation:

The way I have things arranged now, my computer sits in the living room with the back exposed towards the main sitting area, so the colors of the iMac’s back are a great asset to play with, and the slimness of the iMac is stunning (guests don’t believe me that it’s not just a monitor). On the other hand, the Studio Display is much wider and heftier: it’s more like having a computer on your desk than like having a strange modernist piece. The old iMacs, with their bulging back, were cool at the time but look desperately dated next to the new iMac.
The iMac also has the advantage that it can have only one cable coming out of its back; the Studio Display needs at least two (and one is mind-boggingly off to the side, whereas it should’ve been centered like on the Thunderbolt Display). However the iMac has a power brick.


This is incredibly useful information. The apps that take the most screen real estate for me are:

  1. iThoughts mind mapping: often pretty complex
  2. ScreenFlow: though the timeline in this screencasting app is the key thing. Having a smaller view of an individual frame is much less important
  3. Keynote: I use it occasionally. Bigger tends to be more helpful.

… hopefully I’ll get to visit an Apple Store this week, but your detailed descriptions are high encouraging. I appreciate that you took the time!


Yes, you’ll be able to try Keynotes in the stores, as for the others I don’t know if you’ll be able to install them on the display units … But either way I would suggest taking your time to make sure you’re ok with the shrink to 23.5", if you know you’re the person who’s likely to be unsettled by it. I personally cannot deal with most laptop screens sizes, I end up with everything fullscreen all of the time (or as I call it “horizontal computing”, which a dozen desktops and my fingers swiping the trackpad left and right). I was able to live with the 23.5" without too much pain for the last 10 months. But when I think back at when I was completing my dissertation a couple of years ago, for example, where having multiple text documents visible at once was really crucial, I wonder whether I would have had a hard time on the smaller iMac (I had a 27" intel iMac at the time).

Even right now, as I type this I’m using the Studio Display, I have a safari window open up front, and Messages, Reeder and two half-written emails floating in the back, partially covered by the front window. But I can still see enough of them to identify what they are, I can still command-tab to them instantly and I still have several inches of desktop background visible all around. What’s the value of the visible background? Hard to say. But I think it lends a sense of airiness to the whole desktop experience (for me, obvs). That’s why using iPadOS or fullscreen for prolonged periods of time ends up feeling…claustrophobic – again, for me. I like that little bit of extra margin. I think I’d find it hard to go back to the smaller desktop once again, especially now that you can have both M1 and 27" with the Studio Display.

@va1984 The weird thing is I have a newish M1 MacBook Air and I love it. I don’t find that screen too small for most things. I just like the beauty of a bigger screen, but “need” is a different thing. I hardly ever use split-windows on the 27 inch. I’m a shift-tab sort of guy and don’t like the distraction of more than one app at a time in front of me. Super quick to get to the other one. (I also don’t have a ton of apps open at one time: just the ones I need.)

… so all that you describe is interesting and informative. I don’t have quite the same needs as you … but the details you’ve provided allow me to see I may fit into a different camp.

… and my wife phoned me to let me know she has a new 24 iMac at her office. So I’ll go visit her office tomorrow to test things out a bit. Thanks again

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Follow up and let us know what you think! I have a 24" iMac and am perfectly content with the size. I was using a 16" MBP before, though. I like to put my iPad as a shared screen underneath.

Thanks for letting me know about your experience. I hope to get a look today.

I was forgetting the app that probably needs the most screen space is RapidWeaver (a web design app). But since I can use it well on my MBA, I’m assuming it will be fine on the M1 iMac.

How would you describe the kinds of apps you most use on the iMac 24? Or the apps that demand the most screenspace to work comfortably?

The app I use that demands the most screen space is Tinderbox. Honestly, I don’t know if I could ever have enough space for it.

Other apps I use a lot are Safari (Google Docs and Canvas especially), Preview, DEVONthink, and Scrivener. I do a lot of tiling to the right/left in fullscreen mode.