Apple 27-inch iMac
3.4GHz Intel Core i5-4670K, 8GB RAM, 27in 2560x1440 display, MacOS X 10.9
You generally know what to expect from an Apple iMac: a powerful all-in-one computer with a fantastic display and looks to shame a supermodel, but one accompanied by a slightly wince-inducing price. This late 2013 version of the 27in iMac is all of those things.
The version we've reviewed has a 3.4GHz Intel Core i5-4670K processor, which achieved an overall score of 106 in our benchmark tests, making it one of the most powerful all-in-one PCs around. The iMac is also equipped with a 2GB Nvidia GeForce GTX 775M graphics card. Our normal gaming benchmarks don't run under Mac OS, but we ran Call of Duty 4 on the PC at maximum quality settings and the iMac's full resolution of 2,560x1440. It's not as demanding as the very latest games, but the high-resolution alone makes this a fair test of gaming ability, and the 775M did well, achieving a frame rate of 34.7fps.
The iMac ships with the latest version of Mac OS X 10.9, called Mavericks. This marks the end of Apple's big-cat based naming system and a switch to Californian place names as a theme. More significant changes include better support for multi-display users, such as the ability to access the menu bar and dock on all available screens; tweaks to the Finder file manager which now has tags and tabs to help you sort your files and folders; a new keychain to keep track of all your passwords and a handful of tweaks to the operating system's appearance that'll be more significant to established Mac OS users than first-timers.
The operating system is now free and, like other recent versions of Mac OS X, is only available from the Mac App Store. Apple has fully adopted an online-only model of software distribution, which means that, as far as the company is concerned, there's no need for a disc drive of any sort.
While software installation is generally more convenient to do over the internet, assuming you have a decent broadband connection, those who still collect music and films on disc formats will have to buy an appropriate external drive if they wish to watch them on their Mac. When it comes to internal drives, this version of the iMac is equipped with a 128GB SSD and a 1TB hard disk.
If you want to connect external devices, the iMac isn't massively well equipped compared to many Windows all-in-one PCs. It has just four USB3 ports, which can all too quickly be occupied by the masses of phones, eBook readers, USB headsets and sundry dongles PC users tend to have around. There are also two Thunderbolt ports, which serve two purposes: as mini DisplayPorts to attach additional monitors and as a means to connect compatible storage hardware. Unfortunately, although Thunderbolt is fast, equipment that supports it tends to be expensive. Also at the back of the computer, you'll find a Gigabit Ethernet port, an SDXC card reader and a 3.5mm headset port that is also an optical S/PDIF output for 5.1 digital surround sound. The computer also supports the very latest 802.11ac Wi-Fi standard, which is ultra-fast and backwards compatible with all older wireless networking standards.