An all-in-one computer with a remarkably slender profile
The all-in-one iMac is Apple's flagship desktop computer. This latest 21.5in model takes some design cues from the Macbook Air laptop – it's incredibly thin and it's remarkably light. It's not consistently thin though – there is a slight bulge towards the middle of the computer. One of the reasons for this slenderness is the omission of a DVD drive which are used less and less, but if you need one a basic USB model costs around £25.
Apart from the DVD drive, the iMac is a very well-equipped computer. Our review model came with 16GB of memory and a powerful quad core 3.1GHz Intel Core i7 processor – it blitzed through our benchmarks easily making it one of the fastest computers we've seen. Graphics performance wasn't as impressive – the Nvidia Geforce GT 650M graphics chip is just quick enough to play today's 3D games, but it will struggle with especially demanding titles. Despite its speed, the iMac was virtually silent – even when running our demanding benchmarks.
There's a 1TB hard disk for storing your files. It's paired with a small 120GB solid state drive (SSD) – Apple calls this pairing a Fusion Drive. Apple's MacOS X operating system automatically moves your most frequently used files from the hard disk to the SSD. This makes using the computer feel very snappy with starting up and wake from sleep times especially rapid.
The catch is that all of these powerful components make the iMac very expensive. Cheaper models are available, but with slower processors, only 8GB of memory and with a standard hard disk rather than the Fusion Drive. Another catch is that memory can only be upgraded when ordering – this model isn't designed to be user upgradeable.
There is at least a good selection of ports on all models – three USB3 connectors, a SD memory card slot and a Gigabit Ethernet port. The headphone socket can also be used for connecting microphones or home cinema surround sound speakers. The two Thunderbolt sockets can be used for connecting exceptionally fast storage or extra monitors using adapters.
We're used to seeing all-in-one desktops with poor to merely average quality displays, but the iMac is refreshingly different. The 21.5in screen has a resolution of 1,920x1,080 pixels and is almost painfully bright. Image quality is very good with colours that look vivid yet accurate from almost any angle. Although it's not completely immune from glare caused by reflections from overhead lights, it's much less distracting compared to previous iMacs and other all-in-ones.
A compact keyboard and an uncomfortable mouse are included. Both connect using Bluetooth. We are not fond of either, but if you order from Apple the mouse can be swapped out for a large, comfy wireless touchpad and the keyboard substituted with a full-size USB keyboard at no extra charge.
The latest iMac is a very good all-in-one computer, but even without some of the optional high-end specifications it is pricey and it doesn't have some of the extras included with Windows all-in-one PCs such as Blu-ray drives and TV tuners. Still, if you have the money it is the all-in-one computer to buy.
Read more reviews
Expensive, even without all the optional enhancements, but the iMac is still a good all-in-one computer
Slender design; very fast; high-quality screen
Very expensive; no DVD drive; memory can't be upgraded later
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