Apple iMac 27in review
Apple's latest 27in iMacs are slim, lovely and very expensive. They don't have optical drives anymore, as Apple switched to online software distribution and OS recovery last year. What this polished all-in-one does have is four USB3 ports, an SDHC card reader and two Thunderbolt ports on its back panel. Thunderbolt can be used to connect either high-speed external storage or up to two extra displays to complement the 27in 2,560x1,440 integrated screen. The standard is fast and reliable, but all Thunderbolt hardware shares the disadvantage of being relatively expensive when compared to USB3 hardware.
The top-of-the-range iMac is available with a quad-core 3.4Ghz Intel Core i7 processor, which appears to be an i7-3770. It benefits from Intel Turbo boost, increasing the clock speed of its active cores to 3.9GHz when it’s operating within certain thermal limits. It's incredibly powerful and scored 116 overall in our benchmarks, while the 2GB Nvidia GeForce GTX 680MX is one of the most powerful graphics processors we've ever seen in an all-in-one PC. While compatibility issues prevent us from running our standard Crysis 2 and Dirt Showdown tests, we ran Call of Duty 4 at a resolution of 2,560x1,440 with 4x anti-aliasing and got a frame rate of 37.2fps. With an increasing number of modern cross-platform games being released with Mac support, we're pleased to see a GPU that can render them well.
However, no one buys an iMac primarily for its gaming abilities. More often, it’s the destiny of these powerful all-in-one PCs to be used for music production or image and video editing. Only two of the iMac's four memory slots are currently in use, each occupied by a 4GB module of 1,600MHz RAM. That should be enough memory for the most enthusiastic digital artist, but those who need extra RAM can upgrade to a maximum 32GB.
The display is a thing of beauty. The 27in IPS screen is huge, with very wide viewing angles, and its 2,560x1,440 resolution means everything's brilliantly sharp. The high resolution and large panel size also make it ideal for image editing. Our colour accuracy tests showed that the display provided 97.5% of the sRGB colour gamut, making it a shade better than most quality IPS displays. The iMac's integrated speakers are also better than those you'll find in your average all-in-one PC. Not much bass, but good mid-range and high-frequency reproduction. Although there aren't any analogue surround sound outputs, the 3.5mm headset output at the back doubles as an optical S/PDIF output.
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