Skip to navigation

Apple iMac 27in (2012) review

Verdict

Apple revisits its top-end iMac, and reasserts its position as the best all-in-one bar none

Review Date: 12 Feb 2013

Reviewed By: Sasha Muller

Price when reviewed: £1,816 (£2,179 inc VAT)

Buy it now for: £1805
(see more store prices)

Overall Rating
5 stars out of 6

Features & Design
6 stars out of 6

Value for Money
4 stars out of 6

Performance
6 stars out of 6

PCPRO Recommended

Although we saw the new iMac 21.5in at the end of 2012, Apple has kept us waiting impatiently for the redesigned iMac 27in. Thankfully, that wait is now over. It’s a stunning transformation: where the previous model was a thick slab of metal and glass, the all-new iMac 27in squeezes into a body that measures only 5mm thick at its edges.

Apple iMac 27in (2012)

Peer around the iMac’s sides, and those millimetres-thick edges arc into a bulged rear, a metal stand sprouting from its centre. The wide expanse of silver metal is interrupted only by a strip of ports at its bottom corner, and the Apple logo at its centre. It’s beautifully plain and minimalist and, as king-sized all-in-one PCs go, impressively svelte.

As ever, the glossy 27in display is the focus of attention. There’s the same 2,560 x 1,440 resolution as on last year’s model (Retina technology hasn’t made its way into the iMac range quite yet), but that’s no disappointment. There’s oodles of space for multiple applications on the desktop, and the huge pixel count is matched with outstanding image quality thanks to the IPS panel within.

Put to the test with our X-Rite colorimeter, the iMac’s display measures up superbly. With a maximum brightness of 437cd/m2 and a contrast ratio of 949:1, movies and photographs simply burst from the glossy panel. Colour accuracy is excellent, too. With an average Delta E of only 1.6, the iMac’s display compares favourably to the best monitors money can buy. If there’s any cause for complaint, it’s relatively minor: just as we’ve noticed with Apple’s iPad, the very darkest greys are, seemingly deliberately, crushed into black to give images a more solid, contrasty look.

Apple iMac 27in (2012)

With a starting price of £1,499 inc VAT, Apple’s iMac 27in is anything but cheap. The entry-level model partners a quad-core Core i5 CPU with an Nvidia GeForce GTX 660M GPU, 8GB of RAM and a 1TB HDD. Our review unit was substantially more expensive. Taking the £1,699 model as its base, our review unit featured an upgraded Core i7 processor (£160), an Nvidia GeForce GTX 680MX GPU (£120) and a 1TB Fusion Drive (£200), Apple’s hybrid combination of a 128GB SSD and 1TB HDD. It’s also worth mentioning that the RAM can potentially be quadrupled via the four user-accessible SODIMM slots at the rear.

1 2

Best Prices

Price comparison powered by Reevoo

£1805
Subscribe to PC Pro magazine. We'll give you 3 issues for £1 plus a free gift - click here
User comments

Deliberately bad

"the very darkest greys are, seemingly deliberately, crushed into black to give images a more solid, contrasty look."

Well, so long as the image quality is deliberately bad, there's no need to criticise...

By grimerking on 12 Feb 2013

Brave move...

A-listing this. Let the abuse begin :-)

By kingjulian on 12 Feb 2013

Damn, too late!!!

By kingjulian on 12 Feb 2013

How much???!!??

I can live without thinness if it means a fatter wallet.

By Alfresco on 12 Feb 2013

"Well, so long as the image quality is deliberately bad, there's no need to criticise..."

I look forward to Dell, LG etc. getting a similar "free pass" in the name of achieving a "more solid, contrasty look".

I do love it when PC Pro reviews Apple stuff, it's like the writers from the Daily Mash have taken over for the day.

By Alfresco on 12 Feb 2013

@Alfresco

Made me lol

By AlphaGeeK on 12 Feb 2013

Blinded by the shiny reflection?

You give this one more star than the Dell in Features & Design and Performance, but your benchmarks aren't that different.

The Dell is over £450 cheaper yet gets the same Value for Money score. Doesn't the power used count in the value for money score? iMac peak 254W against Dells 155W!

The Dells warranty is on-site where as this is return to base.

Oh, being 5mm thin at the edges means nothing unless you spend your time looking at it sideways.

By stephen_d_morris on 12 Feb 2013

Not very good looking

I genuinely don't think this looks good.

The thinness is actually detrimental to the looks in my opinion. (The big bowed back has echoes of the old CRTs!)

And that big white bar at the bottom of the screen is just plain ugly.

Apple's designs, while clean and simple, are increasingly bland.

Along with Porsche, Jony Ive has to be the world's laziest designer.

By Grunthos on 12 Feb 2013

@Grimerking

What you seem to have deliberately omitted from your quote of our review is the bit that precedes your quote: "*If there’s any cause for complaint*, the very darkest greys are, seemingly deliberately, crushed into black to give images a more solid, contrasty look."

Barry Collins
Editor

By Barry_Collins on 12 Feb 2013

@Grimerking @Alfresco

The iMac's display is much, much better than any of it's all-in-one rivals. That I have to delve into such minutiae to criticise it implies as much.

It measures well in almost every regard, and there are only the slightly high gamma readings in the dark greys which give any cause for criticism. Otherwise, brightness, contrast and colour accuracy are spot on.

For those who think I'm unfairly biased towards Apple, Dell's XPS One 27 actually measures worse in this regard - whereas the Apple has an average gamma of 2.38 in the 17 to 25% dark grey regions, the Dell averages 2.61. An ideal reading is 2.2.

In laymans terms, that means the Dell - which sports the finest display of any Windows all-in-one PC - exhibits more black crush.

I don't normally get into the finest details of our monitor testing, as it'd bore the pants off everyone. But for those expecting the absolute best that money can buy, I think it's worth pinpointing even the most minor of weaknesses.

By SashaMuller on 12 Feb 2013

You get what you pay for

iMacs are expensive just as a BMW car is more expensive that a Kia but does basically the same thing. I have owned an iMac for over 2 years - it's fast and quiet, and the screen which is such an important part of a computer is fanstastic. It still feels like a brand new computer and runs the newest Apple OS. I can't see me upgrading for some time. It is however something of a luxury and a big PC box under the desk with noisier fans, and cables everywhere could do the same thing for half the price. Indeed my old PC does (albeit slower). The iMac is just more of a pleasure to use. Good review.

By AdamD6 on 12 Feb 2013

I'm only 15mm thick ....

... at my fingertips!

I really hoped that reality distortion nonsense like "measures only 5mm thick at its edges" had died with Jobs!

The thickness of a tapered object at its edges is a design decision not a technical accomplishment! It could as easily have been made 1mm, or 1um if you do not mind cutting yourself! If the pixels extended all the way to the edge, this thickness would be worth commenting on, but they do not, and it is not!

By JohnAHind on 12 Feb 2013

Why do you always review custom-built higher spec models?

You reviewed the latest 21" iMac, the Mac mini and now the 27" iMac - all with custom built higher-specs (SSD drives and faster processors). It would be more interesting and perhaps fairer overall to review the off the shelf models that most customers would likely buy.

By Christianoliff on 12 Feb 2013

Try telling the

Try telling the post office your letters only 5mm at the edges, if does not go through the slot then it aint 5mm.

I only weigh 75kgs, at my lightest and 32 years ago.

A meaningless specification for when there is little else to seperate you from the competition.

As for the price.... double ouch

By davidk1962 on 12 Feb 2013

Why do you always review custom-built higher spec models?

You reviewed the latest 21" iMac, the Mac mini and now the 27" iMac - all with custom built higher-specs (SSD drives and faster processors). It would be more interesting and perhaps fairer overall to review the off the shelf models that most customers would likely buy.

By Christianoliff on 12 Feb 2013

@Christianoliff

Hiya,

We review the models Apple sends us - it's not a conscious decision on our part. It just so happens that the models submitted for review tend towards the upper end of the price spectrum.

By SashaMuller on 12 Feb 2013

Here We Go Again...

I dread reading comments on any Apple story on PCPro. The Haters or the Fanbois or the PCPro bias conspiracy theorists are always out in force making their usual pointless, empty headed, oft repeated comments. If you don't like the stories on this site then, please, Bu99er Off and read something else.

Rant over. As you were.

By Pantagoon on 12 Feb 2013

@SashaMuller

Hi Sasha, this definitely looks like an impressive piece of engineering and an incredibly powerful machine. As it happens I don't want a Mac (for various reasons). However, in your comment above I noticed that you mentioned the Dell AIO as having the best display of a Windows AIO machine. I wonder if you include the HP Z1 in that comparison - as I'm currently weighing the two up and the Z1s have dropped in price significantly.

By paperwire on 12 Feb 2013

@paperwire

I hadn't really thought of the Z1. Mainly because of the price differential, but also possibly because I've mentally filed it with high-end business workstations. It's interesting to hear that the price has dropped, actually.

Back on topic, I didn't personally review the Z1, but reading Mike's review, it's not a clear-cut victory in terms of display quality. The Z1 betters the XPS One 27 for colour accuracy and brightness, but narrowly loses out to the Dell with its contrast ratio. I'd have to pore over their respective display reports to make any scientific judgment on the pair, though.

Given an appropriate discount, though, the Z1's greater flexibility is immensely attractive. It's quite unlike any consumer all-in-one in that regard.

By SashaMuller on 12 Feb 2013

@Pantagoon

That's a rubbish argument - "if you don't like the stories on this site then, please, Bu99er Off and read something else." We all have a right to read and comment. PC Pro is supposed to be representing professional IT journalism - if we believe that's not the case we have every right to complain. Just as the "change the channel" argument for not complaining about TV programmes is equally poor.

I don't think there's bias BUT I do agree with the comments about the thinness of the screen - this should not be one of the first comments being made but, if made at all, should be way down on the list of "pros". Let's be honest, looks are important here BUT the price, quality and features should come first.

Personally, I wouldn't buy one - the specification is okay and, yes, it's better than anything else on the market but it has a price to match. If you consider what you're actually getting for that price difference (and whether most people need it) then I don't think it represents good value.

David.

By artiss on 12 Feb 2013

Is it better than the old model?

That was adequately thin, had a perfectly good picture and was cheaper.

By tirons1 on 12 Feb 2013

@SashaMuller

I'm curious as to whether the Crysis test was performed in a virtual machine, eg. Parallels, or if you used BootCamp to install Windows.

ICT Tower

By ICT_Tower on 12 Feb 2013

@artiss

I was a little surprised that my comment got passed by the mods. but anyway, to address some points.

Of course you are right - we can all post comments on here it's just that I have to wade through the same rubbish all the time.

There are people that always think PC Pro is biassed.
There are people that always irrationally hate Apple.
There are people that always irrationally love Apple.

These people always post the same stuff and it is very boring.

The forums should have an 'Ignore Commenter' button so that the dross can be filtered out.

I am sure the reason screen thinness was mentioned early on was because it is the one thing (apart from the size of the screen) that you notice first when clapping eyes on it. And price, quality and features don't come first if your priority is for a good looking PC.

Value for money is a very subjective 'measurement'. People buy Apple gear mainly because it looks good, is easy to use together and has a self-contained eco-system. If bang per buck was all that mattered then we'd probably all have over-clocked i5 clone boxes.

A star rating is just something magazines do based on who they expect will be buying the kit in question. You need to come up with your own value for money score before buying equipment. What is important to you? How much money are you willing to part with?

And as for rubbish TV - don't just change channel, get rid of it altogether and take up a hobby. ;o)

By Pantagoon on 12 Feb 2013

Machine that is 25% more expensive is bigger and faster than it's nearest rival. I'm really shocked....

However, it is a great machine. And if you're in the market at that price range then this is the machine to go for. If you're in the market at £1,500, then I'd go for the Dell.

Serious question here, Sasha. In the Value for Money score, could we see a comparison with an equally priced competitor? Feels a bit like comparing apples and oranges otherwise.

By TigerUnleashed on 13 Feb 2013

@ICT_Tower & @TigerUnleashed

@ICT_Tower:
The Crysis tests were conducted in Win 7 64-bit running in Boot Camp.

@TigerUnleashed:
As for the value for money question, I think it's easy to be misled by the high price of our review unit.

The 'basic' £1,499 iMac will be a smidgen behind the Dell in application performance (in all honesty, the Core i5 CPUs really aren't a huge way behind the Core i7s), but it'll surpass the Dell for display quality, and even the GTX 660M GPU is almost twice as fast as the GT 640M chip in the Dell. Whichever way you cut it, the iMac will emerge on top.

One final thing to ponder: if you could upgrade the GPU in the Dell to a GTX 680M, which you unfortunately can't, I would wager the price differential would be very, very small indeed. If you take a look at the Alienware M17x on Dell's website, you'll find that upgrading from a GTX 660M to a GTX 680M costs £430 inc VAT.

By SashaMuller on 13 Feb 2013

Bet you hate reviewing Apples?

The responses here are sooo predictable.

What is wrong with mentioning 5mm thickness at the edges? If it is so achievable and looks so good (and it does), why doesn't everyone do it? Design (both in impression and depth) matter at that price, not as an alternative to specification, but in addition to it. Otherwise why pay more? They all do the same job after all? Why buy Loewe instead of Bush?

Knee-jerk anti-apple nonsense once again and before I get accused, I'm a software consultant using Windows on a Dell Laptop with a Sony Media Centre, Windows Homeserver, numerous PC's etc. Ok, I admit I have an iPhone and iPad...:-)

Thanks for a great review. If I could afford one, I would not hesitate because I want to support innovation in design as much as in technology. Is there a race to mediocrity that I do not know about?

By jefferson30 on 13 Feb 2013

Use as a Monitor

Sasha - you mention that one of the thunderbolt ports can be used as an input to effectively turn the iMac into a monitor. Is this option available on the 21.5" model, and could you do this to use the iMac as an external monitor for a laptop running windows? I've asked in my local apple store and them seem uncertain. Thanks.

By Eddied on 13 Feb 2013

I own this model ...

... and although it only arrived 10 days ago I absolutely LOVE it. It is without doubt the best personal computer I've ever had the privilege to own (or use) up to my 45th trip around the Sun.

Yes, it's expensive. Yes, it's too thin and the ommission of the optical drive and the limitation on changing components is not ideal but comparing it to a Dell running Windows 7 (or the abomination called Windows 8)? Come on people, that's like saying a Mondeo is as good as a Mercedes*. The experience of OSX alligned with the speed of the Fusion drive, the simple yet efficient use of touch gestures on the Magic Pad, the wealth of (almost professional quality) software that comes as standard and all this being displayed on that beautiful 27in screen? It's an absolute pleasure to use. I've had plenty of years of buidling and upgrading Windows PC's and to be honest, I've become tired up of things not working as well as they should.

A case in point is installing a wireless HP printer on a PC - you still have to connect it via USB for the initial install. On the iMac, just turn the printer on, click on printers in OSX, it downloads and installs the driver and it just works. This simplicity, this 'It Just Works' is worth it for me. I don't want to be messing around inside the iMac and I'm happy that I cannot. If something goes wrong I have Apple Care so they can look after it.

Having said all this I still like the occasional game and this weekend I'm going to a 4 day gaming LAN (with almost 300 others!) and I'll be taking my gaming PC. I don't see the iMac, even with Steam, ever overtaking the abilities of the PC on a gaming front but as an all-round machine the iMac is rightly at the top of the All-in-One tree. The icing on the cake is that in 3 years time I would like to bet my iMac is still worth a hell of a lot more than a 3 year old Dell.

Knock it as much as you want people. It's my money. It was my decision to buy it and I don't think I'll ever tire of how elegant it looks, how easy it is to use or how fast it is.

* I'm not knocking Mondeo's, I've had two of them and I'd have another in a heartbeat - but if I could afford a Mercedes I'd have one!

By Elsie on 14 Feb 2013

DVD Writer?

Your review states this comes with a DVD Writer. I've read elsewhere there is no optical drive with this. Also one of the previous comments states no optical drive, can you confirm either way please?

thanks.

By NotNowNorice on 21 Feb 2013

Erm...

It looks to me as though PCPro is fast becoming an Apple fan club. I have the Dell XPS One 27 (touch) and it is by far the best pc I have ever owned. Who cares if the Apple is 5mm thick at the sides? I spend my time looking at the screen.. not the side! The stand doesn't look like it is very adjustable, no optical drive is supplied and the standard keyboard looks like it was made for midgets... Oh and because its Apple it automatically goes on the "A" list....

By ajbates1 on 12 Mar 2013

Erm...

It looks to me as though PCPro is fast becoming an Apple fan club. I have the Dell XPS One 27 (touch) and it is by far the best pc I have ever owned. Who cares if the Apple is 5mm thick at the sides? I spend my time looking at the screen.. not the side! The stand doesn't look like it is very adjustable, no optical drive is supplied and the standard keyboard looks like it was made for midgets... Oh and because its Apple it automatically goes on the "A" list....

By ajbates1 on 12 Mar 2013

Erm...

It looks to me as though PCPro is fast becoming an Apple fan club. I have the Dell XPS One 27 (touch) and it is by far the best pc I have ever owned. Who cares if the Apple is 5mm thick at the sides? I spend my time looking at the screen.. not the side! The stand doesn't look like it is very adjustable, no optical drive is supplied and the standard keyboard looks like it was made for midgets... Oh and because its Apple it automatically goes on the "A" list....

By ajbates1 on 12 Mar 2013

Erm...

It looks to me as though PCPro is fast becoming an Apple fan club. I have the Dell XPS One 27 (touch) and it is by far the best pc I have ever owned. Who cares if the Apple is 5mm thick at the sides? I spend my time looking at the screen.. not the side! The stand doesn't look like it is very adjustable, no optical drive is supplied and the standard keyboard looks like it was made for midgets... Oh and because its Apple it automatically goes on the "A" list....

By ajbates1 on 12 Mar 2013

Erm...

It looks to me as though PCPro is fast becoming an Apple fan club. I have the Dell XPS One 27 (touch) and it is by far the best pc I have ever owned. Who cares if the Apple is 5mm thick at the sides? I spend my time looking at the screen.. not the side! The stand doesn't look like it is very adjustable, no optical drive is supplied and the standard keyboard looks like it was made for midgets... Oh and because its Apple it automatically goes on the "A" list....

By ajbates1 on 12 Mar 2013

Erm...

It looks to me as though PCPro is fast becoming an Apple fan club. I have the Dell XPS One 27 (touch) and it is by far the best pc I have ever owned. Who cares if the Apple is 5mm thick at the sides? I spend my time looking at the screen.. not the side! The stand doesn't look like it is very adjustable, no optical drive is supplied and the standard keyboard looks like it was made for midgets... Oh and because its Apple it automatically goes on the "A" list....

By ajbates1 on 12 Mar 2013

Ruwantha

I own a XPS one 27 touch. Before buying this I did check out on the iMac as well.
To be honest I thought it has extremely good build quality, style, and unmatchable screen quality. Its fast, looks good. What put me off was:
1) The price - yes it may be like owning BMs or Mercs but i don't see the point. (I don't buy those high end cars either.. I am happy with less than that!)
2) The AIO lacks an optic drive. I do understand that Apple was the first to say bye to the floppy disks. I appreciate there are no floppy's around now. But at present we still use BlueRays and DVDs. What is the point of a good screen if i don't use Blue ray movies on it. I don't think its still time that we say bye bye to the optic drives... may be few years later.
3)I don't like the monopoly apple maintains with software and hardware... limits my options (i don't own ipads or iphones... i guess the point is different if you own those as well.)
Saying all this I still mention i believe it is a great AIO

By Ruwantha on 1 May 2013

the best all-in-one bar none

Well, there's not much non-Apple competition is there?

By Alfresco on 24 Aug 2013

Leave a comment

You need to Login or Register to comment.

(optional)

Latest Category Reviews
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
Chillblast Fusion Dragon review

Chillblast Fusion Dragon

Category: Desktop PCs
Rating: 5 out of 6
Price: £1,694
Yoyotech Warbird Nightblade 1 review

Yoyotech Warbird Nightblade 1

Category: Desktop PCs
Rating: 5 out of 6
Price: £950
PC World  Advent DT 3411 review

PC World Advent DT 3411

Category: Desktop PCs
Rating: 3 out of 6
Price: £480
Compare reviews: Desktop PCs

advertisement

Latest News Stories Subscribe to our RSS Feeds
Latest Blog Posts Subscribe to our RSS Feeds
Latest Features

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.