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Apple iMac 27in review

Verdict

Powerful, beautifully designed and with a magnificent screen, so we can forgive the few niggles

Review Date: 13 Aug 2010

Reviewed By: David Bayon

Price when reviewed: £1,191 (£1,399 inc VAT)

Buy it now for: £1905
(see more store prices)

Overall Rating
5 stars out of 6

Features & Design
5 stars out of 6

Value for Money
5 stars out of 6

Performance
5 stars out of 6

PCPRO Recommended

The 27in iMac was gorgeous when it first launched and it's still gorgeous now. Sure, Apple has revamped the line with new processors and the latest graphics cards, but it's hard to look past the pure aesthetics of the thing when it's sat on your desk. There just isn't another all-in-one that comes close.

Whether it's the glossy blackness of the edge-to-edge screen when it's switched off, or the unbroken finish of the precision-forged aluminium shell - barely 60mm at its thickest point with everything including the power supply inside - it's as much a work of art as it is a piece of technology. And it comes with Apple's wireless keyboard and Magic Mouse to complete the look.

The screen remains this iMac's finest feature, with its 27in diagonal, its LED backlight for greater efficiency and its 2,560 x 1,440 resolution. We've long bemoaned the way manufacturers use the same Full HD resolution from 22in TFTs right up to 27in monsters, and Apple's big display just emphasises that point: the extra sharpness and desktop space soon become invaluable.

Apple iMac 27in

It's an IPS panel, so viewing angles are excellent and the sheer vibrancy of its colours would be tough to match in the world of professional monitors, never mind most all-in-one PCs. Gradients are smooth and detail can be picked out in the darkest blacks and lightest whites, and the 350cd/m2 backlight is even and tremendously powerful.

The main changes are predominantly internal, and they boost this iMac's potential. The old Core 2 Duo has finally been replaced by a 3.2GHz Core i3-550 in this base model, and the graphics chip has been upgraded to ATI's Radeon HD 5670. If you're willing to add £250 inc VAT to the price you can opt for a quad-core 2.8GHz Core i5-760 and Radeon HD 5750, and either model can be further configured via Apple's web store, but for the majority of users the cheaper option offers ample power.

Our benchmarks are Windows-based, so for the purposes of comparison we had to install Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit via Boot Camp - which, incidentally, ran with none of the graphical errors that plagued the last 27in iMac at launch. In our 2D benchmarks it coasted to an impressive score of 1.89, putting it ahead of the majority of all-in-ones we've tested - only the business-focused Lenovo ThinkCentre M90z has it beaten for application performance.

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User comments

Price

hmmm... PC Pro giving a mac 5 star value for money? No neutral PC reviewer gives a mac 5 star for value for money surely!

By eliot94 on 13 Aug 2010

Lazy design?

It seems to me that Apple is the Porsche of the computer industry.

All their products seem to be the same design, an aluminium box with rounded corners.

Don't get me wrong, they are pretty, but Jonny Ive has the easiest job in the world. 5 minutes sketching and then it's down the pub.

By Grunthos on 13 Aug 2010

Price.

I would disagree on the comment earlier on price. The screen is way beyond anything else in an all in one, both colour and resolution. With the additional new componants well worth it.
Still without blu-ray though, which makes it a non starter for me. If they put that in I'd have one like a shot. Never owned anything appley yet

By mikepgood on 13 Aug 2010

It's called refinement..

Iconic design hardly ever need anything more than a few tweaks..

By ihsan on 13 Aug 2010

Heat shouldn't be a problem...

Been reading up on forums, most users report decent internal temps (GPU 40 degrees idle, 80-ish load is what I keep reading) so it's most likely the case acts as a heatsink. Uncomfortable to touch, but clever. And on the bright side, at least you won't have lots of messy fingerprints over it!

By conkerbot on 14 Aug 2010

don't touch the case

not only might you burn your fingers but it'll drop the wifi too :-) only kidding!

By sihaz2 on 14 Aug 2010

I've really got to get one. I've been looking for a screen as big as this with the same resolution and I think it was the Dell at £850 that was the one. I thought to myself that why not pay the extra and get this computer and whack Win 7 on it

By marklitt on 14 Aug 2010

I Propose an Extended Test!

I am around two metal-case iMacs regularily. One is in the guard's booth of my car park. It runs the web-published CCTV system so that the rich bankers can see who just scratched their Freelander. I expect it's running Windows but I can't be sure - any fiddling sets off a load of alarms somewhere. It' is the cheapest way to deliver CCTV like that, apparently.

The other one was 6,000 feet up in the alps. It didn't last very long there because Apple's fan controller firmware has no way of knowing it is moving 20% less air, and that's all that is needed for the thing to fry.

By Steve_Cassidy on 14 Aug 2010

A few points

If ionic design only needs a few tweaks, why has the iMac had at least 3 wildly different incarnations since it first came out in 1998.

Secondly, this IS still PC Pro magazine isn't it? Why is a Mac even being reviewed at all? Will MacUser start reviewing the latest model from Chillblast etc.?

Thirdly,

"but it's hard to look past the pure aesthetics of the thing when it's sat on your desk".

Mac fan-boi alert! Mac fan-boi alert!

This review was clearly not written by a PC user. You know, the kind of person who thinks function is more important than ornamental toys.

PC users get on with real world things, like work, rather than spending all day staring at the thing and rubbing parts of themselves that they really shouldn't be rubbing.

By Lacrobat on 14 Aug 2010

@ Lacrobat

In regards to your second point it is a piece of hardware that can run windows and most pc software. Why shouldn't it get reviewed in a pc magazine.

As for your third point. Complete rubbish. Its a sweeping statement to suggest all pc users prefer function over style. I'm sure for a lot of people there's is a certain level of trade off in regards to functionality vs performance.

By Hooch_uk on 14 Aug 2010

@Lacrobat

The iMac is a computer, and it's personal. Therefore I think it meets the brief of Personal Computer. Combine that with the increasing market share of Apple products (especially in business sectors) and if PCP didn't review them that would show Bias, which is the last thing we want in this fine publication.

--------------
Sent from my HP G62

By conkerbot on 14 Aug 2010

Branding Windows as _THE_ PC is nothing more than slang

PC means personal computer, Macs are also personal computers.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with a PC magazine reviewing macs, because they're a PC magazine, it makes no sense at all.

By QassimF on 15 Aug 2010

Why don't MAC users need power

The tenure of almost all Wintel PCs in PCPro is that more speed is always better -yet in this review you state "but for the majority of users the cheaper option offers ample power".
Obviously the i3 is no slouch but there does seem to be a double standard.
Is this because OS-X is better or because MAC users don't have the same needs as Wintel users?

By milliganp on 16 Aug 2010

Power

@milliganp: The iMac scored 1.89 in our benchmarks. For the majority of users - whether on PC or Mac - that *is* ample for an all-in-one. Had it been a Windows all-in-one I'd have said the same.

In fact I did - http://www.pcpro.co.uk/reviews/desktops/360205/len
ovo-thinkcentre-m90z

David Bayon
Deputy reviews editor

By DavidBayon on 16 Aug 2010

Power -is there such a thing as enough!

@DavidBayon -I do a lot of work on a PC that scores 0.4! Apple's 1.89 does seem more than enough even for some real power-hungry apps. Perhaps the pact between Microsoft and Intel to make ever slower OS so that Intel can sell ever faster chips has finally run out of steam ;)
Given the superb display it is one very desirable piece of kit.

By milliganp on 16 Aug 2010

Splitting hairs

The Mac can run windows so why not test it.Same as if your testing a Linux based PC or a solaris based PC.OR ore you all saying that PC Pro should only test computers that run windows?

By Jaberwocky on 16 Aug 2010

@Lacrobat

It is a PC (Personal Computer) and this is PC Pro, not Windows Pro... I am glad that they are reviewing things outside of just Windows PCs these days.

It used to frustrate the heck out of me, when I was running Windows, OS X and Linux and all the PC Pro covered was Windows...

PC covers a lot more than Windows.

As to the iMac, it is just too expensive, although the 27" model isn't too bad, considering the monitor size and resolution, but still expensive.

I bought my 24" iMac, when Apple switched to Intel, back in 2006. Back then, the iMac cost about 15-20% more than an equivalent Windows desktop PC with a 24" monitor.

The problem is, the normal PC & monitor prices have plummeted in the mean time, whilst Apple's have continued to rise.

One of the reasons I ended up buying a Sony Vaio Core i7 laptop this time round, it cost less than half the price of a 17" MacBook Pro, had more memory and more processing cores, plus Blu-Ray...

By big_D on 16 Aug 2010

Be open-minded

@Lacrobat

I think reviews of Apple products have their place in PC Pro. I prefer PCs myself and don't own one Apple product but it doesn't hurt to keep abreast of what's going on in the other camp. It's also not like Apple releases a product every month so hardly the space of PC Pro is threatened with these products.

I always thought that the difference between a typical PC enthusiast and Apple one is that an Apple enthusiast knows only what is happening in the Apple camp, while the PC one knows about both. If you want to close yourself on Apple product you're becoming an ignorant similar to Apple fanboys.

By ThomasR on 16 Aug 2010

Well I'm a computer enthusiast not a fanboi. This house has an iMac, a FreeBSD server, and two Windows machines. If PC Pro didn't cover the computer market I wouldn't buy it. If you stopped covering enterprise computing I wouldn't buy it either. The Mac reviews should stay.

By c6ten on 16 Aug 2010

Too hot to handle

Last time I used one of these it was too hot to touch after being left on for about 5 hours. It then decided to switch itself off in the middle of a presentation. Definitely need more reviewers to 'live' with the hardware for longer...

By stefani on 18 Aug 2010

PC's or Mac's?

Anormacs!!
I have been a avid PC user for longer than I can write.
Previous comments are all valid, Mac's are just another form of PC in the truest sense.
I have had the 27in iMac for 8 months,it is a dream.
The benefit to the PC market as some call it is obvious, it stretches boundaries, every product that has been produced that can achieve these standards of performance in such a pleasant way, stretches other manufacturers to do more,
I stll have to other pc's in the form of a Dell XPS 1730 and a Dell Desktop, the Laptop is a sheer beauty, the heat issue with 27in iMac, is only a issue if you touch the back panel, so "DON'T TOUCH IT"

By smurf60 on 19 Aug 2010

Fundraised

To answer the question, why is PC Pro reviewing a Mac?

It may have escaped your notice that this iMac is definitely a "Personal Computer", a PC in other words.

When the magazine changes its title to "Windows Pro" your point will then be valid. Until then, just accept the fact that Mac's are "Personal Computers" too.

By fundraised on 19 Aug 2010

Not entirely convinced.

Can I boot off any PC OS dvd and install it without any cludges or intermediate software?

If so then fair enough. But I find it difficult to accept OSX as a 'PC' OS until it is realeased into the wild to run on as many hardware variations as Windows et al.

By Tomble2 on 19 Aug 2010

@Tomble2

I must have missed the OSX review in there somewhere.

By Shuflie on 9 Sep 2010

PC = Windows???

@Lacrobat,

How embarrassing to admit that you have been suckered by Microsofts hijack of the term PC (just like they hijacked the PC market).

And how amusing that you that you should imply that Windows beats anything in the functionality stakes! As we all know Windows is the most hacked, virus-ridden, buggy piece of software out there. I feel for you dude.
Real work? You are an office secretary, aren't you? Thought so.

By Loquela on 7 Oct 2010

Screen resolution beyond usability

The pixels are 0.23mm, your eyes hurt after couple of hours of use, the glossy screen and the fact that you're seeing everything what's behind rather then what's on the screen doesn't help. But mainly it's the pixel size - things like videos and images embedded in websites that you can't change the size of become major problem. I'm selling mine after 6 months of use - arrived here to see what other all-in-ones are available and been surprised to see the iMac come on top.

By hiedk on 24 Dec 2010

jean12

I have just ordered one of these and with these review I hope I have not made a big mistake.

By jean12 on 15 Jan 2011

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