Let’s get the important things out of the way first. One: no, the new iMac doesn’t really have to be this thin; after all, it’s a desktop computer, not a laptop. Two: thin or no, this is the best iMac ever.
“This” being the 27-inch iMac at the “Apple Daily Report” headquarters. A build-to-order option, it came with a 3.2GHz quad-core Intel Core i5 (Ivy Bridge) processor, 8GB of memory, a 3TB Fusion Drive, and an Nvidia GeForce 675MX graphics card with 1GB of GDDR5. We upgraded the memory to 32GB via OWC as their memory is a LOT less expensive than Apple’s.
Unlike the 21-inch iMac, you can upgrade the memory on the 27-inch model. If you want to, like us, max it out you can either fork out to Apple $600 for 32GB of RAM — or pay OWC about $200 by going to http://tinyurl.com/d8335el .
The thin design of the new iMac meant Apple had to move the memory slot access to the rear of the system. To open the port, you’ll have to remove the power cable, push a button above the plug input, then pull off a plastic cover. It’s a fairly easy process.
The iMac sports a striking aluminum and glass enclosure that Apple says offers up to 40% less volume than its predecessor and an edge that measures just 5 mm thin. This is accomplished in part by ditching the optical drive. Apple is, of course, under the delusion that everyone is giving up physical media and buying all their music and movies at the iTunes Store.
They’re wrong, of course, but I can live with the lack of a built-in optical drive since Apple offers the external SuperDrive for $79. Buy one and you can use it with any Mac that comes without a built-in optical drive.
I’d still prefer that Apple would put the necessary “hooks” into Mac OS X so that we could easily play back Blu-ray movies on third-party drives. However, that’s obviously never going to happen.
The new iMac also features a completely reengineered display that Apple says reduces reflection by 75%. I’m a bit dubious of that figure, but the new all-in-one is definitely less reflective than its predecessor thanks to a new process in which the cover glass is fully laminated to the LCD and an anti-reflective coating is applied using a high-precision plasma deposition process.
Apple says every iMac display is individually color calibrated using an advanced spectroradiometer. I’ll buy that, as the iMac’s screen pops with vibrant colors. It may not be a Retina display, but, darn, it’s beautiful.
The new iMac features third generation quad-core Intel Core i5 processors that can be upgraded to Core i7. The latest Nvidia GeForce processors purportedly deliver up to 60% faster performance for advanced gaming and graphics intensive apps. The latest gen all-in-ones also boast two Thunderbolt ports and four USB 3.0 ports. Sorry, but there are no FireWire ports. If you’ve invested in FW accessories, you’ll have to spring for a Thunderbolt-to-FireWire converter, which will set you back about 30 bucks.
Every new iMac now comes standard with 8GB of 1600 MHz memory and a 1TB hard drive. You can choose to configure your iMac with up to 32GB of memory and a new 3TB hard drive, or 768GB of flash storage. However, if you want to go with the maximum amount of flash storage, you should really, REALLY want it. In fact, you should want it about $1,300 worth.
The Fusion Drive
You should instead, in my opinion, choose the Fusion Drive, which combines the performance of flash storage and the capacity of a hard drive. It combines 128GB of flash with a standard 1TB or 3TB hard drive — an extra $250 or $400, respectively — to create a single storage volume that “intelligently” manages files to optimize read and write performance.
Apple says the Fusion Drive adapts to the way you use your iMac and automatically moves the files and apps you use most often to flash storage to enable faster performance and quicker access. In other words, the drive notes the programs you use most often and automatically moves them over to the flash drive.
This did seem to be the case as our iMac with a 3TB Fusion Drive offered blistering performance as well as plenty of storage space — all without any tweaking from the end user. (For specific tests and speedmarks, go to http://tinyurl.com/c343ssf, http://barefeats.com/imac12p.html and http://barefeats.com/imac12g1.html .)
I’m not sure how many users this will affect, but you should note that the Fusion Drive requires a special version of Disk Utility, so you can’t use older Disk Utility releases with the new setup. What’s more, the Fusion Drive will allow users to add at most one extra partition. Boot Camp isn’t supported on the 3TB configuration. For more info go to http://tinyurl.com/9vsvqyn .
Critiques of the speakers on the new iMac have been all over the place. Some folks say they’re not as good as the speakers on previous iMacs. Others say they’re the best yet. I tend to fall into the latter category.
The speaker chambers are located
on either side of the display, with the sound firing down from the bottom edge of the screen. Considering the audio is aimed down, instead of toward you, the soundstage is surprisingly wide. Though no Bose speakers, the iMac’s audio, when listening to movies or music, is more than adequately warm, full and crisp with decent bass. In fact, for the first time ever, I can use my iMac without external speakers.
The new iMac is snazzy, but I do have some complaints. There’s no HDMI input. There’s no built-in TV tuner, something I find personally aggravating as the iMac is a great, all-purpose computer for work and entertainment.
The 27-inch iMac remains my favorite computer of all time. It looks performs splendidly, looks great, makes a great work computer and a fine entertainment hub. The latest generation may have a few shortcomings, but, overall, it makes a good desktop even better and should cement the iMac’s status as the best-selling all-in-one in the U.S.
ADR rating: 9 out of 10
iMac options and pricing
The 21.5-inch iMac is available with a 2.7 GHz quad-core Intel Core i5 with Turbo Boost speeds up to 3.2GHz and Nvidia GeForce GT 640M for a suggested retail price of $1,299; and with a 2.9GHz quad-core Intel Core i5 with Turbo Boost speeds up to 3.6GHz and NVIDIA GeForce GT 650M for a suggested retail price of $1,499.
The 27-inch iMac is available with a 2.9GHz quad-core Intel Core i5 with Turbo Boost speeds up to 3.6GHz and Nvidia GeForce GTX 660M for a suggested retail price of $1,799; and with a 3.2GHz quad-core Intel Core i5 with Turbo Boost speeds up to 3.6GHz and NVIDIA GeForce GTX 675MX for a suggested retail price of $1,999. Check with your local Apple Specialist for more info.