Apple iMac 27in review

13 Aug 2010

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

Price when reviewed: 
1,399(£1,399 inc VAT)
Buy it now for 
5

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/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 The old Core 2 Duo has finally been replaced by a 3.2GHz Core i3-550 in this base model, and the graphics chip has been upgraded to ATI's Radeon HD 5670.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.

Details

Price ex VAT £1,191
Price inc VAT £1,399
Overall rating 5
Performance 5
Features & Design 5
Value for Money 5

Warranty

Warranty 1 yr return to base

Basic specifications

Total hard disk capacity 1,000
RAM capacity 4.00GB
Screen size 27.0in

Processor

CPU family Intel Core i3
CPU nominal frequency 3.20GHz

Motherboard

Wired adapter speed 1,000Mbits/sec

Memory

Memory type DDR3
Memory sockets free 2
Memory sockets total 4

Graphics card

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
DVI-I outputs 0
HDMI outputs 0
VGA (D-SUB) outputs 0
DisplayPort outputs 1
Number of graphics cards 1

Hard disk

Hard disk Seagate Barracuda 7200.12
Capacity 1.00TB
Internal disk interface SATA/300
Spindle speed 7,200RPM
Cache size 32MB

Drives

Optical drive Optiarc AD-5680H
Optical disc technology DVD writer

Monitor

Resolution screen horizontal 2,560
Resolution screen vertical 1,440
Resolution 2560 x 1440

Additional Peripherals

Speakers Internal
Speaker type Stereo

Case

Case format All-in-one
Dimensions 650 x 207 x 517mm (WDH)

Rear ports

USB ports (downstream) 4
FireWire ports 1
Optical S/PDIF audio output ports 1
Modem no
3.5mm audio jacks 2

Mouse & Keyboard

Mouse and keyboard Apple Wireless Keyboard, Magic Mouse

Operating system and software

OS family Mac OS X

Performance tests

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

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£1905