Why I Downsized from a 27″ to a 21.5″ iMac

The last iMac I bought was a late 2014 5K iMac, the first with the retina display. I tricked it out with the fastest processor, the best video card, and lots of extra RAM. It’s still fine, but for accounting reasons, it was beneficial to me to upgrade.

So I bought a 21.5″ iMac.

I’ve been using 27″ displays for about five years; prior to the iMac, I had an Apple Thunderbolt Display which was the same size. It’s great for having two big windows open side by side, or a bunch of smaller windows. But in the past year or so, I realized that it was just too big; that it took up too much space on my desk, and especially in my field of vision.

A computer is a tool, and is only useful as long as it works efficiently. But I found the size of the iMac somewhat oppressive, as if too much of what I saw during my work day was a computer screen. Yes, this may be parodical, since most of my work is done on a screen, but I realized that I could be more comfortable if I had more space.

The smaller iMac isn’t that much narrower than the larger model; only 12cm. And its height from foot to top is only about 6cm less. But that’s enough to make it feel much smaller. There’s more space between my iMac and my speakers; there’s more room to see the walls behind my desk, to see the items on my desk. There more room in my mind because my eyes see more beyond the screen.

I won’t miss the extra size. The only work I do where I need a large amount of space is photo editing and screencast creation, and I can zoom in when I need to see either of those with more magnification. If I worked all day editing video, then the 27″ iMac would be essential (frankly, if I did that kind of work, I’d want a larger display). But for what I do, it’s overkill. Bigger isn’t always better.