Apple iMac 27in 3.2GHz review

The latest 27in iMac is a stylish, compact and quiet computer with a superb quality screen. Considering its price, we wish it had faster performance in both applications and games though.

15 Oct 2010
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Page 1 of 3Apple iMac 27in 3.2GHz review


3.2GHz Intel Core i3-550, 4GB RAM, 27in 2560x1440 display, MacOS X 10.6

Apple is famed for its stylish and well-built computers, and the company's latest 27in iMac is no exception. It hasn't changed much in appearance from the last model, but this isn't a bad thing.

The 27in screen immediately catches your eye due to its sheer size. It has a huge resolution of 2,560x1,440 pixels, which is roughly equivalent to four 1,280x800 MacBook displays stuck together. It's great for tasks such as working in multiple documents side-by-side or using applications with lots of palettes such as Photoshop. The screen is also very bright, with wide viewing angles and accurate colours. Despite its size, it's easy to tilt or swivel the display single-handed for a more comfortable viewing position.

There's a Mini DisplayPort for connecting another monitor or a high definition TV, but you'll almost certainly need to buy an adapter since screens with Mini DisplayPorts aren't very common. Another device with a Mini DisplayPort output, such as a MacBook, can use the iMac's huge screen as a display, but this requires yet another adapter.

Apple iMac 27in 3.2GHz

The iMac is equipped with a 3.2GHz Core i3 550 processor and 4GB of RAM. It's by no means slow, scoring 111 overall in our demanding Windows benchmarks, but we'd expect to see an even faster Core i5 processor in a computer at this price. The ATI Radeon 5670 graphics chip has 512MB of dedicated memory. It's powerful enough to play most 3D games, but will struggle with the very latest, most graphically-intensive titles. In Call of Duty 4 it scored a smooth 28.3fps, but only managed 14fps in Crysis. A model with an even faster i5 quad core processor and Radeon HD 5750 graphics card is available, but it costs £250 more.

The aluminium rear of the iMac became very warm when running our demanding benchmarks. It stayed almost silent though, which is impressive, so it won't sound intrusive in a quiet office.

If the 1TB hard disk isn't big enough for your needs, you'll need to add a USB2 or FireWire 800 hard disk, as the internal disk can't be accessed without disassembling the entire computer using specialist tools. Annoyingly, all of the ports are located on the rear of the iMac, so you have to swivel the computer around to access them. Only the DVD writer and SDXC memory card slot are located on the easier-to-reach right hand side.

It's a shame there isn't an internal Blu-ray drive, or even an option to add one – Apple would no doubt rather sell you HD movies through its iTunes Store. The built-in stereo speakers are surprisingly loud, although they sound muddier than we'd like. Thankfully, the headphone jack doubles as an optical S/PDIF connector for connecting a surround sound amplifier.

We were taken with the iMac's generally elegant design and superb, high quality screen. However, we found the slightly stingy choice of graphics card and processor annoying, as is the lack of a Blu-ray drive. If you can live with these limitations, and can afford it, the iMac is nonetheless a great all-in-one computer.

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