Skip to navigation

Apple iMac 27in (2011) review

Verdict

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

Review Date: 13 May 2011

Reviewed By: David Bayon

Price when reviewed: £1,166 (£1,399 inc VAT)

Buy it now for: £903
(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 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.

1 2

Best Prices

Price comparison powered by Reevoo

£903
£1905
Subscribe to PC Pro magazine. We'll give you 3 issues for £1 plus a free gift - click here
User comments

I read on another site that they now also use a proprietary HDD power supply and firmware so you can only use their HDDs (until a kit comes out).

http://www.macrumors.com/2011/05/12/apple-restrict
s-hard-drive-replacements-on-new-imacs/

By tech3475 on 13 May 2011

Word

...Which means that other oems will probably do the same. What does apple hope to gain from this? Idiotic decision.

As usual someone will defend such a change

By rhythm on 14 May 2011

Not idiotic

Very simple reason actually. The old design had a temperature sensor that sat on top of the hard drive and often didn't get fitted correctly to replacement drives causing the fans to run all the time... This happened to me when I took my Mac to be repaired by a 3rd party shop and thats how it came back.

By the looks of things, they have integrated the sensor into the hard-drive so that stupid technicians don't forget to attach the sensor- its in the HDD power cable now (look at iFixit).

Hard Drive is not upgradeable on these machines by users anyway- so no big deal?!

By willdamien on 14 May 2011

Not happy about the HDD

That HDD is a pain, just make sure you get the 3 year brilliant Applecare and make it Apple's problem, not yours.

However the comment on cost is off the mark.

To build an equivalent (noisy, ugly and shambolic) PC, with all the iMacs inclusions, you will be badly out of pocket by at least US$300-400 and still have to assemble, test and support it yourself.

And

By rubaiyat on 15 May 2011

@rubaiyat

Just wondering, what did you base that price on?

Take a look at the UK store first because our prices are typically higher than the states for Apple computers (including tax).

The lowest end imac is £999 ($1616.58), not $1270.94 (based on 6% tax and Google currency exchange).

By tech3475 on 16 May 2011

Expensive?

I used to believe iMacs were expensive or overpriced compared to desktop equivalent Windows PCs. I'm not so sure now though.

I need an upgrade and want a big lovely monitor for photo/video editing. By the time I added a Dell U2711 (same spec as iMac screen) to the Bit-Tech "enthusiast" base PC which is as close to iMac spec as makes no difference (core i5, 4GB, 1TB, HD6850 [equivalent to 6970M], DVDRW) and added any outstanding items (webcam, OS, speakers) the price 'saving' over the iMac was only £100. And that's before delivery, support, build, etc.

I'm no Apple fanboy either. I've been a PC man since 1994 and regularily build my own rigs. I genuinely from doing unbiased research found so little difference in price it near as made no difference.


http://planet-veato.blogspot.com/2011/05/price-war
s-imac-vs-windows-pc.html

By pveater on 16 May 2011

Expensive?

I used to believe iMacs were expensive or overpriced compared to desktop equivalent Windows PCs. I'm not so sure now though.

I need an upgrade and want a big lovely monitor for photo/video editing. By the time I added a Dell U2711 (same spec as iMac screen) to the Bit-Tech "enthusiast" base PC which is as close to iMac spec as makes no difference (core i5, 4GB, 1TB, HD6850 [equivalent to 6970M], DVDRW) and added any outstanding items (webcam, OS, speakers) the price 'saving' over the iMac was only £100. And that's before delivery, support, build, etc.

I'm no Apple fanboy either. I've been a PC man since 1994 and regularily build my own rigs. I genuinely from doing unbiased research found so little difference in price it near as made no difference.


http://planet-veato.blogspot.com/2011/05/price-war
s-imac-vs-windows-pc.html

By pveater on 16 May 2011

Thuderbolt/USB

I'm looking at the pic of the rear of the screen...

Is that 4 USB and 2 Thunderbolt?

And how on earth does Jobs think he can persuade the world to dump USB in favour of Apple/Intel's proprietry Thunderbolt? Cos you just know that's where he'd like it to go.

By fingerbob69 on 16 May 2011

USB Ports and Price

If you find the USB ports at the rear a problem ditch the wireless keyboard and select the no cost option wired one, this has 2 USB ports on it which are perfect for pluging in temporary devices like USB sticks and cameras. Personaly I prefer this option because it has the keypad and just looks better. The wireless one looks pathetic next to such a big screen.

Regarding the prices, Apple are still ripping off Uk punters, the base 21" works out at 820 pounds inluding California sales tax (9.2%) and the base 27" is 1150GBP. It's a shame they are a bit big to bring back in a suitcase.

By Chris22 on 19 May 2011

Screen resolution

Helped some relatives pick out the a pre-Sandy Bridge version a few months ago. Very attractive, tho relatively pricey computer. However, one thing I noticed and was bothered by after some time using it was the small screen text. No surprise, this is 1920x1080 expanded to a 27" screen. But it is too small for aging eyes and the magnification (zoom) options are not very functional, with everything blown up and the need to go back and forth.

By genegold on 26 May 2011

Heat

You state that the review models runs hot and then recommend upgrading the processor and graphics (at least you do in the printed mag)- how will this affect the temperature of the case?

By monkeyhanger on 11 Aug 2011

@monkeyhanger - Heat 2

They do run very hot. Pop into a store and check for yourself, even at idling they are almost too hot to touch.

Apple will argue that is part of the design, the aluminium shell absorbs heat. True, but their iMacs and even MacBooks have been suffering overheating problems for years now and I worry that this will be no different.

So if anyone shells out for this, you have to budget for Applecare over three years too, because Apple have never yet fessed up and recalled their products because of the heat crashes.

By Longfellow on 17 Aug 2011

of course if you buy the Dell U2711 then you can upgrade your computer at any time and you don't have to upgrade the screen. You don't get that luxury with the iMac

By TimoGunt on 12 Oct 2011

Leave a comment

You need to Login or Register to comment.

(optional)

Latest Category Reviews
Asus Chromebox M031U review

Asus Chromebox M031U

Category: Desktop PCs
Rating: 5 out of 6
Price: £205
Scan 3XS GW-HT20 review

Scan 3XS GW-HT20

Category: Desktop PCs
Rating: 5 out of 6
Price: £2,699
Acer Aspire ZC-606 review

Acer Aspire ZC-606

Category: Desktop PCs
Rating: 3 out of 6
Price: £319
Acer Aspire U5-620 review

Acer Aspire U5-620

Category: Desktop PCs
Rating: 4 out of 6
Price: £1,025
Compare reviews: Desktop PCs

advertisement

Most Commented Reviews
Latest News Stories Subscribe to our RSS Feeds
Latest Blog Posts Subscribe to our RSS Feeds
Latest Features
Latest Real World Computing

advertisement

Sponsored Links
 

 
SEARCH
Loading
WEB ID
SIGN UP

Your email:

Your password:

remember me

advertisement


Hitwise Top 10 Website 2010
 
 

PCPro-Computing in the Real World Printed from www.pcpro.co.uk

Register to receive our regular email newsletter at http://www.pcpro.co.uk/registration.

The newsletter contains links to our latest PC news, product reviews, features and how-to guides, plus special offers and competitions.