Apple iMac 27in review
Powerful, beautifully designed and with a magnificent screen, so we can forgive the few niggles
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.
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/m[sup]2[/sup] 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 The old Core 2 Duo has finally been replaced by a 3.2GHz Core i3-550 in this base model, and the graphics chip has been upgraded to ATI's Radeon HD 5670.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.
|Price ex VAT||£1,191|
|Price inc VAT||£1,399|
|Features & Design||5|
|Value for Money||5|
|Warranty||1 yr return to base|
|Total hard disk capacity||1,000|
|CPU family||Intel Core i3|
|CPU nominal frequency||3.20GHz|
|Wired adapter speed||1,000Mbits/sec|
|Memory sockets free||2|
|Memory sockets total||4|
|Graphics card||ATI Radeon HD 5670|
|Multiple SLI/CrossFire cards?||no|
|3D performance setting||Low|
|Graphics chipset||ATI Radeon HD 5670|
|Graphics card RAM||512MB|
|VGA (D-SUB) outputs||0|
|Number of graphics cards||1|
|Hard disk||Seagate Barracuda 7200.12|
|Internal disk interface||SATA/300|
|Optical drive||Optiarc AD-5680H|
|Optical disc technology||DVD writer|
|Resolution screen horizontal||2,560|
|Resolution screen vertical||1,440|
|Resolution||2560 x 1440|
|Dimensions||650 x 207 x 517mm (WDH)|
|USB ports (downstream)||4|
|Optical S/PDIF audio output ports||1|
|3.5mm audio jacks||2|
Mouse & Keyboard
|Mouse and keyboard||Apple Wireless Keyboard, Magic Mouse|
Operating system and software
|OS family||Mac OS X|
|Overall application benchmark score||1.89|
|Office application benchmark score||1.56|
|2D graphics application benchmark score||2.03|
|Encoding application benchmark score||1.76|
|Multitasking application benchmark score||2.22|
|3D performance (crysis) low settings||90fps|
|3D performance setting||Low|