Apple iMac 27in (2011) review

13 May 2011

A few flaws remain, but Sandy Bridge and a superb screen put it way ahead of every other all-in-one PC we’ve seen

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

The launch of the new Apple MacBook Pro range a few months ago may have spoiled the surprise for the rest of Apple’s updates, but there’s no doubt most of us at PC Pro were far more excited to see Sandy Bridge make its way into Apple’s beautiful 27in iMac than in its laptops.

Sure enough, it’s now a suitably powerful beast to complement its glorious screen. The shift to Sandy Bridge brings a choice of new processors: the 27in iMac comes with either a 2.7GHz Core i5-2500S or a 3.1GHz Core i5-2400, with the latter upgradeable to a 3.4GHz Core i7-2600 if you’re feeling really flush.

Apple sent us the cheapest model for this review and, aided by 4GB of 1,333MHz DDR3 RAM and a fast 7,200rpm hard disk, the low-power Core i5 coped admirably with our real-world benchmarks. An overall score of 0.83 can’t compete with the latest blisteringly quick desktop PCs, but it trounces the previous fastest all-in-one we’ve tested by a good 10%. It’s a quad-core CPU, so it also coasted through the Multitasking segment with a solid score of 0.76.

Apple iMac 27in (2011)

The AMD graphics chip has seen an upgrade to the latest generation, inching the iMac closer to being a genuine entertainment machine as well as a do-it-all professional solution. The Radeon HD 6770 powered through our Low and Medium Crysis tests with ease, and managed a creditable 26fps at 1,920 x 1,080 and High settings.

It’s not quite powerful enough for real high-resolution gaming, though: if you want to play at the screen’s native 2,560 x 1,440, you’ll have to lower those settings to Medium, at which point it averaged a playable 32fps. Crysis aside, less demanding games should run at 1080p with few problems, and you may even be able to bump more mainstream games up to native resolution at their highest settings.

There’s still no Blu-ray option – we can understand it not coming as standard but it seems petty to exclude it from the upgrade path completely – but the iMac handled all our HD video smoothly. The FaceTime HD webcam also supports chat with other capable devices, although you’ll be limited by the resolution of the camera at the other end – don’t expect an iPhone user to look as good on your screen as you do on theirs.

Details

Price ex VAT £1,166
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 1,000GB
RAM capacity 4.00GB
Screen size 27.0in

Processor

CPU family Intel Core i5
CPU nominal frequency 2.70GHz

Motherboard

Wired adapter speed 1,000Mbits/sec

Memory

Memory type DDR3

Graphics card

Graphics card AMD Radeon HD 6770M
3D performance setting Low
Graphics chipset AMD Radeon HD 6770M
DVI-I outputs 0
HDMI outputs 0
VGA (D-SUB) outputs 0
DisplayPort outputs 1
Number of graphics cards 1

Hard disk

Hard disk Western Digital Caviar Black
Capacity 1.00TB
Spindle speed 7,200RPM

Drives

Optical disc technology DVD writer

Monitor

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

Additional Peripherals

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
3.5mm audio jacks 2

Front ports

Front panel memory card reader no

Mouse & Keyboard

Mouse and keyboard Apple Wireless Keyboard, Magic Mouse

Operating system and software

OS family Mac OS X

Performance tests

3D performance (crysis) low settings 106fps
3D performance setting Low
Overall Real World Benchmark score 0.83
Responsiveness score 0.90
Media score 0.83
Multitasking score 0.76

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